I left at 6:55 a.m. in the cold dark (46°F), but it was just as well; I didn’t miss a thing. I felt like all I wanted was to get away from the road! The whole solitary walk today was alongside a busy highway, the N-120, with trucks and cars roaring past and nothing much of interest to see. Even the towns along the way held no charm. Supposedly from Valverde de la Virgen, there would be only 25km of the monotonous plain of Castilla y León still remaining.
I hoped to find breakfast in two kilometers in San Miguel del Camino, but that town was snoozing away.
Valverde de la Virgen to San Miguel del Camino (2.0 km)
It was another 7.4km to Villadangos del Páramo, where I found one bar on a side street to set me up with café con leche and a chocolate croissant.
Villadangos del Páramo is an old town of Roman origins that sits on the main road. In the past, it supported a pilgrim hospital. Legend has it that in 1111, a battle was waged here between the forces of Doña Urraca of Léon and those of her former spouse, Alfonso of Aragón.
San Miguel del Camino to Villadangos del Páramo (7.4 km)
In another 4.7 km, I was in San Martín del Camino, yet another featureless town.
Villadangos del Páramo to San Martín del Camino (Centro) (4.7 km)
It was another 6.6km to Hospital de Órbigo. I tried hard to keep my eyes down and stop hoping for a glimpse of the town. I know in life, that’s like wishing your life away. I drank water to keep cool on the hot, shadeless track, sat down to rest where I could, looked at cornstalks and dandelions and spiky weeds and butterflies, white and yellow, fluttering about. I even enjoyed a short stretch of shade. And then voila! There it was! Wait! That added up to 20.7 km.
I was happy to see the water tower and rooftops and then the Puente de Órbigo, one of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges from the 13th century, built over an earlier Roman bridge.
San Martín del Camino (Centro) to Puente de Órbigo (6.6 km)
The significance of Puente de Órbigo diminished in the 12th century when the Knights Hospitaller of St. John built a hospital on the far side of the river.
The nineteen arches of the Puente de Órbigo carried me across the Río Órbigo via Paso Honroso (the honorable pass), called such because of a famous jousting tournament that took place here in the Holy Year of 1434. In that year, Suero de Quiñones stood guard on the bridge for a month challenging whoever came across to a joust. He supposedly defeated 166 opponents in that time, keeping his promise to a lady.
Walking across, I heard the murmur of the running water, birdsong, and a breeze tickling the nearby poplars.
The bridge also witnessed the 452 battle when the Visigoths slaughtered the Swabians and it subsequently became the scene of a confrontation between Christian forces under Alfonso III and the Moors. The bridge has also facilitated a cattle trade since Roman times as part of the camino de la cañada (cattle trail).
Finally, I arrived at tonight’s destination: Albergue La Encina in Hospital de Órbigo. It was clean, new, and only had four beds to a room, but I wouldn’t say I got a warm and fuzzy welcome.
Hospital de Órbigo is home to a Knights Commandery of the ancient order of St. John, who maintained a pilgrim hospital here. It is also home to Iglesia de San Juan Bautista, the parish church of John the Baptist.
Puente de Órbigo to Hospital de Órbigo (0.5 km)
I went out to wander and stopped for lunch at an indoor restaurant, where I had trout soup, a local specialty, that had way too much bread in it! As always, I enjoyed a cool limon y cerveza too.
The town seemed all spiffy, “done up” in recent years. I met and chatted with a lady named Coreen, from Oregon, as I wandered around the town.
At dinner, I met two Irish sisters, Marian and Anne; we shared a glass of wine and then dinner together. We talked of everything from our sons and young men in general to politics – Trump and Brexit – and our Camino experiences. What a pleasure these two were.
For dinner, I had garlic soup, with too much bread again, trout, fries and flan for 10€. And of course all the wine we could drink.
I shared our 4-bed room with only one other lady; two beds were empty and we had our own bathroom. There was no place outdoors to hang laundry, just a big indoor room; it took all night for my clothes to dry.
*Day 32: Friday, October 5, 2018*
*34,427 steps, or 14.59 miles: Valverde de la Virgen to Hospital de Órbigo (18.3 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 Jo’s Monday Walk: Carvoeiro Boxes.