What a long and boring walk. First, it was freezing cold (38ºF) when I left Reliegos in the dark at 7 a.m. with two nice ladies, Janine and Margaret from Australia and New Zealand. There was nothing to eat in Reliegos, so we planned to eat in 6.2 km at Mansilla de las Mulas. We entered the town through the 12th-century Puerta Castillo, the medieval gate in an old wall of adobe and boulders, up to Iglesia de Santa María.
Reliegos to Mansilla de las Mulas Centro (6.2 km)
At the far end of town, we still hadn’t found an open cafe. We’d never encountered a town of this size without a bar or cafe on the Camino.
The two ladies decided to walk on, but I backtracked into the town, determined to find an open cafe. I ran into to Harold and Joan from Texas, who pointed me to a bar we had earlier walked by but thought was closed. There I met lots of pilgrims: Tom from Alaska, Joyce and John from Oregon, and Sheryl from Seattle. I had my café con leche and toast with tomato and jambon. We all lingered in the bar before heading back out into the cold. Darina came in as I was leaving.
Mansilla de las Mulas, with a population of about 1,900, is a town which marks the convergence of two routes, the Real Camino Francés, which enters by the east gate, and the Calzada Romana, which enters by the north gate.
The name of this town comes from Mano en Silla, which means “hand on the saddle,” and features on the coat of arms. The added de las mulas (of the mules) likely refers to the town’s earlier function as a livestock market.
After leaving the town, I walked for ages along a busy highway. It is said that the stretch between Mansilla de las Mulas and Villarmoros is the worst on the stage, because it runs beside a noisy, dusty road in suburban surroundings. I came to a town, Villarmoros, with confusing arrows every which way. I followed the arrows to the left into a very small town with a bar.
Inside was a wood burning stove, so I sat for a while to warm up while downing some orange juice. I looked at my Brierley map and saw there wasn’t really a stop here. So I had gone off the beaten path a bit and had to make my way back.
I came to a bar, Casablanca, at the entrance to Puente Villarente and had a pain au chocolate and café con leche. Sheryl stopped by the cafe and said she’d hoped to walk with Darina, but she’d disappeared from the cafe in Mansilla de las Mulas. She had also hoped to walk with an 80-year-old woman she’d met at dinner the night before, but she’d disappeared too. I wondered if she thought people were avoiding her. I said Darina was like me in that she usually liked to walk alone. Some people didn’t enjoy walking alone, and I think Sheryl was one of those people.
Mansilla de las Mulas Centro to Villarmoros to Puente Villarente (6.1 km)
After crossing the unusual curved bridge over the río Porma, I walked straight through the modern and ugly town of Puente Villarente another 4.5 km to Arcahueja on an unattractive track running beneath pylons. I passed a herd of cows stretched out in a pasture.
After that, there wasn’t much to look at as we approached the outskirts of León. Ugh. I hated the approaches to big cities. I’d liken it to walking through the outskirts of a city like Richmond, VA to get to downtown. I stopped about 8km from León just to avoid going into the city at the end of the day. I also twisted my ankle today, so it was slow going.
Puente Villarente to Arcahueja (4.5 km)
There wasn’t much in Arcahueja. It was the last chance to rest in the relative quiet before hitting the traffic of León. I was happy to have a private room there. It was so cold and my ankle was so sore that I stopped at every single cafe, making me arrive at the same time I arrived in Reliegos after 20km!
When I arrived at Albergue Turistico la Torre at around 1:00, Sheryl was sitting inside the bar having a salad. Before showering and doing laundry, I went outside and had a mixed salad and a Radler (limon cerveza) in a bottle.
Sheryl talked about her Camino partner Sharon who she called high maintenance; Sharon had taken a bus today to meet her husband John in León. Because Sheryl had paid Sharon to organize her entire trip for her, she was tied to her for the duration. Sheryl had been struggling with knee and leg pain and didn’t really feel like walking to León today, but she finally decided to go ahead and walk.
That guy Phil from Britain was staying in the albergue, but he brushed off Sheryl and me. When he decided to talk to the men, you couldn’t shut him up. I met Mark from the Lake District in U.K. who now lived in Spain. He was covered in dust after walking 45km today. He had divorced his wife but was still friends with her and was walking the Camino this time to figure out what he wanted.
I took a little stroll around the town and enjoyed resting in the afternoon.
At our small pilgrim meal in the albergue — a meal of lentil soup, albondigas and fries — I talked with Mark, Phil, and Wendy from Vancouver. They got into a big political discussion. Phil talked about the split between conservative baby boomers and liberal millennials. His generalizations irritated me because I’m a baby boomer and I’m not at all conservative. They had a long discussion about Putin playing the long game and Trump’s Mafia connections. Phil went on making generalizations about the indigenous people in America (mainly Cherokees) sitting around and getting drunk and not working. He really irritated the crap out of me with his know-it-all-attitude.
Wendy showed me how to use Whatsapp to communicate with Jacotransfer to arrange for sending my bag ahead. I tried it out tonight and it seemed to work. We would see how it would work going forward.
*Day 29: Tuesday, October 2, 2018*
*28,814 steps, or 12.21 miles: Reliegos to Arcahueja (16.7 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Capela, Sáo Miguel – Not quite a Monday Walk. I know Jo is out of town for a while, but I figured I’d link anyway. 🙂
Morning, lovely lady! 🙂 🙂 I suppose it can’t all be excitement along the way, Cathy. That’s not really the point, is it? It amazes me how nobody seems to get lost on the Camino. I have a talent for that. Would it be wasted? 🙂
Good morning to you, Jo! I hope all is going well on your journey to the north. Actually, I did hear of people getting lost, and I got a little lost by following those confusing arrows on this day. I remember Ingrid got lost early on and wasted a couple of hours before she found her way back. I don’t think your talent for getting lost would be wasted. 🙂
Like Jo says there are less interesting parts on most walks, especially long ones like this. You just have to suck it up (lol) and keep going. Not many people in your pictures today .. perhaps due to your early start?
For sure I had to “suck it up” and keep going, Albert, no matter how boring or how hot or cold or demanding. It was definitely quiet in that town in the early morning hours. There were long stretches where I didn’t see other pilgrims, but most days I saw many people, usually passing me!
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Great post 🙂
Thank you. 🙂
Your true perseverance was on display today, surviving cold temperatures, a sore ankle, boring surroundings and know-it-all fellow travelers. Not-so-great days like this one must have made those other days all that more rewarding!
That’s for sure. The bad days definitely made me appreciate the good ones! 🙂
I hope the ankle recovered quickly (i’ll find out next week no doubt!) Another mixed bag of people. Phil sounds a real pain with bigoted views. Sorry he had to be British!
Yes, my ankle was fine the next day, luckily. Phil did sound like a know-it-all and a bigot. Oh well, every nationality has them. Plenty here in the U.S.A.
I suppose at home we can avoid them. In your circumstances you had less chance of that if they turned up in the same accommodation!
That’s true. But I can be very good at ignoring people unless I’m stuck beside them at a dinner table – held captive so to speak!
Good skill to have!
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The least interesting part of the Camino Frances.
One of the least interesting, I would agree! 🙂
Oh but it livens up after León 🙂
I’ve already completed the Camino, David; I’m writing about it in retrospect. So I know what follows, but to be honest, I liked the first third of the Camino Frances the best. 🙂 Thanks for dropping by to visit and for commenting. 🙂
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Ah, well. You get know-it-alls on all sorts of trips and not only Brits! At least you weren’t stuck with the same people every day and could get away from them on your own. I wonder how many people fall out with their companions whilst walking such a long trail? So much to irritate one – early starts or later, stops for breakfast / coffee / lunch – how far to walk – where to stay – who to walk with – who to avoid. Haha… I think you had the right idea to do this alone. I’m sure I’d get irritated and be irritating doing all this walking. Can’t believe this is almost a year ago now!!
That’s true, there are a bunch of know-it-alls everywhere, of all nationalities. We have plenty here in the U.S. That was exactly why I enjoyed walking alone; I wasn’t stuck with anyone and could choose to interact with or ignore others. I would have had little patience for following anyone else’s schedule! I have actually recommended to Mike that he should do it – alone – once he retires. I think that is the only way to do it. I know I did meet a number of people who were traveling together, but they’d split during the day while walking and just meet up at night. I know, I can’t believe that I started this in September, less than a year ago! 🙂
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I don’t like the sound of Phil at all and I’m afraid I would have either have had to leave the company or resist his arguments with some of my own and probably getting too heated into the bargain. But I’m intrigued. I haven’t heard of Trump’s Mafia connections before? Now I’ve got to Google to find out about them. Do you think I’ll find anything?
Another enjoyable piece from you but you must be getting tired of lentils by now!
I didn’t want to get into a big argument with him, Mari, so I just ignored him and left shortly after. If you talk to people who live in New York, they insist Trump has Mafia connections, but I don’t know if it’s true. People in New York hate him with a passion. So do a lot of people, me included, and his having Mafia connections wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Everything about the man is despicable.
I did eat a lot of lentils in Spain!! 🙂
With so many miles to walk, it would be a little disheartening to walk more than you needed to because of confusing signs. Glad you returned to that cafe for breakfast though.
Luckily the detour I took wasn’t too far off the path. There are other confusing spots as well on the Camino, where some people got lost for hours! I was glad I returned for breakfast too, otherwise it would have been a very long walk on an empty stomach. 🙂
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