Distance: 22.5 km
Time: 5:45 hours, 9:00 am to 2:45 pm
Terrain: mostly flat, one small hill, lovely gravel trail with only one muddy section.
Weather: mostly sunny with only a few clouds. Warm. Wore sunscreen.
Total distance to date: 403 km (+12km taxi)
What a wonderful day! The weather was great, we went through a village every 3-4 km, the trail was well maintained, and the views were lovely. Erik and I both felt pretty good – just a few niggling pains but nothing worrisome. I was a little worried about a slightly longer walk today but I felt good.
We ran into Gloria and Peter from the UK at our first stop, and Irvin at our 2nd stop. I know that Wolfgang and Rudy are staying at the same hotel as us again, and I read that April and Sam were in Sahagún last night. They might still be here because Sam wasn’t feeling well with a bad cold.
Our hotel is right at the entrance to town so we haven’t been in town to see what is here. Sahagún looks like a pretty big place but we will wait to tour it on our way through tomorrow morning. We are not fans of doing a lot of walking once we arrived at our destination. 🙂
Our hotel today is a great deal. Quite new, very clean, roomy – for only 36€. We only paid 30€ last night so it kind of balances off San Zoilo.
I am really loving these small, family run hotels (hostals). The staff are all so friendly, outgoing, and helpful despite the long hours they work.
The owner of the place we stayed last night has done the Camino 7 times and he really understands what pilgrims need. He owns both an albergue and a hostal (where we stayed) so he can cater to both kinds of pilgrims. I believe he also owns Jacotrans which is a baggage transfer service that some people use.
It is amazing the long hard hours these people put in. They are often open for breakfast before 7 and then after everyone checks out, they have to clean the rooms, and prepare massive meals for lunch and dinner (as pilgrims stop in all day long, looking for a snack or a meal). By noon, pilgrims begin to arrive for check in. It’s steady all afternoon. Then at 7ish, they feed us. They work from 6am to 11pm with hardly a break. Every day. Wow.
The place we stayed last night was an interesting set up – although a little noisy if you go to bed at 8:00 like some of the pilgrims.
You enter into a room with a bar on one side and a check in desk on the other. There is a casual dining room off one side of the room( to order snacks, sandwiches, drinks etc) and the Comedor (dining room) off the other side. The room had a stair case wrapping around one side going up two floors and it was open to the top. The rooms ran all the walls in the two floors upstairs, and hallway was open to the bar below. It was quite noisy in the afternoon as all the locals seemed to hang out there. So much fun! (Unless you wanted a nap. Lol. )
Despite working so hard, the staff are usually very helpful, friendly, and often joking around and seem to enjoy making fun of my attempts to speak Spanish.
When we first arrived, I said “yo tengo una reserva” and he looked me in the eye and said he was full. I looked alarmed and he laughed and put his hands around my face, indicating he was just kidding.
The bartender was a funny guy as well. When I went down and asked for some ice, he told me to feel his arm and so I did and then he and all the other people around laughed. I laughed as well but I had no idea what the joke was. I have no doubt it was at my expense but all in good fun. Then he gave me the ice and wanted to put some whisky into the bag as well. I said no, no, and tried to tell him it was for my legs. More laughter all around.
So this morning, I went down and asked for some water in my bottle. He rattled off something fast and so I told him told to fill it with whiskey. He laughed and pinched my cheek like I was 5 years old. Funny, funny guys.
Mealtimes are amazingly well orchestrated affairs, this one particularly so. Around 7:20, we went into the dining room to find it almost full of hungry pilgrims – there were about 60 people I think. There was no menu and no prices but we’ve done the pilgrim meal many times and have a pretty good idea what to expect.
The owner-turned-waiter came around to each table of 6-10 people and told us the 3 options for first plate (noodle soup, bean soup, or salad) and 3 options for second plate (pork, beef, or fish). He didn’t write down names or tables, he just kept a tally of how many plates of each dish he needed on a scrap of paper. Then he went to the kitchen and in a few minutes the staff came out carrying the first plates. They just went to each table and asked if you had ordered noodle soup or whatever and handed it all out. As people finished, they cleared away the plates and then brought out the 2nd plates out the same way.
For dessert we had a choice of fruit, flan, or icecream. I laughed the first time I ordered ice cream because they just bring you a plate with some sort of ice cream bar, like a revel, still in its wrapper.
There were baskets of bread, and bottles of wine and water on the table, and you just helped yourself to as much as you wanted, and all for only 10€ each!
The food is very simple but filling. I can never eat it all. The soups and salads are excellent. The meats are fine but they don’t have much in the way of sauce or anything, and they usually just come with fries. Still it’s a great deal. Sometimes I have ordered two first plates such as soup and salad and they are usually fine with that. I think the most we’ve paid for a pilgrim meal is about 15€ but most places it’s 10-11€ person.
My advice if you are walking with a partner, look for private albergues or casa rurales with double rooms and then call or email ahead to reserva una habitacion doble con baño. They tend to run 30-45€ per room so it’s only a few extra euros to pay for peace and quiet at night. And the staff are almost always superb!
I feel good that I’m leaving the albergue bunk beds for the young ones who can’t afford a hotel. 😉