Another good day’s walking, if somewhat demanding! 25kms, with a fair amount of steady ascent. Another clear, sunny day with little wind.
Carlos was my companion again today. We left the Hostal around 8.00am. The first part of the morning was level terrain, but then climbed steadily upwards to Aldeanueva del Camino, about 12kms, where we arrived at 11.00am. Here’s a view of the scenery we passed. I particularly liked the reflection in the dam, and the way the scene is framed by the trees.
Here’s a view of Carlos at the Roman Bridge in Aldeanueva del Camino.
Here’s a view of the morning ahead.
While the immediate path is level, you can see mountains looming in the distance. I knew from my guide book that later in the day we had a steep climb, so when I saw these mountains, I had some trepidation. Surely I didn’t have to climb these!? Surely there was a valley or pass we could go through instead?! Here’s a photo of the relevant page from my guidebook, which makes clear why I was concerned:
You can clearly see the rise all the way from Aldenueva (0kms on this particular map, though we had already walked 12kms to get there) to Banos de Montemayor (10kms) at about 20 degrees, then the last section from there (10kms) to Puerto de Bejar (3kms) at about 80 degrees, looking so steep that it seems like climbing a wall!!! My mind recoiled from the thought; my legs trembled; my lungs heaved; even my mantra quivered!!! So you can imagine why I didn’t like seeing those mountains looming in the earlier photo.
However, the reality was not so bad. Of course, the map in the book is not to scale in both vectors. The height is shown in metres, but the distances in kilometres are not shown to the same scale, so the image is condensed, making the rises seem steeper than they actually are. Here’s what the reality looked like:
It was long and steady and uphill all the way! Not a stroll in the park, as the perspiration dripping off the brim of my hat testified. It was along the shoulder of the road, so finding the way was not difficult, and the heat beat off the macadam surface, but it was not an interesting walk through the countryside, and, did I say, it was all uphill?!?!
We arrived in Banos de Monetmayor around 2.00. Carlos took a photo of me standing next to a Camino marker in the town, which shows Santiago still 569kms away. The scallop shells are another traditional sign of the camino. Carlos was impressed that I could read and translate the Arabic script!
And yes, in the afternoon I had unzipped the lower half of the trouser legs, lathered on sunscreen, and walked in shorts. It was quite hot – and did I mention that it was all uphill!? – so the extra ventilation and cooling was appreciated!
Carlos was concluding his particular journey at Banos de Montemayor today and returning to his home in Sevilla by bus on the morrow. He will resume and complete the Via de la Plata in the summer. I was continuing on to another town 3kms ahead, recommended by some of the other veteran pilgrims. Banos was a bit “touristy” even according to my guidebook. It is a place where people come to take the baths. So there must be hot springs. There were a lot of hotels. I heard the “bath” experience could be quite expensive, 50 Euros, so wasn’t tempted.
Carlos and I had a celebratory/farewell beer together and had our photo taken.
Then he accompanied me to the top end of town where we farewelled each other. We had travelled together for two days. I had appreciated his guidance in finding the way. Being Spanish, be could ask locals and get information that was otherwise inaccessible to me, so he had certainly made those days very much easier for me. He seemed to have appreciated my company too, as there was genuine affection in his farewell hug. I was feeling a bit lonely as I continued walking alone again uphill to the next town.
Here’s a view back over Banos de Montemayor, with one of the dams visible, the vista along the valley giving some idea of how high we had climbed through the late morning and early afternoon.
It had been a long, hot, climb through much of the day, so I was glad to arrive at the albergue in Puerto de Bejar. Again, the washing and drying of clothes is being done for me. There is a meal served here in the facilities. There is wifi. I have been given a room to myself, though there are two beds in it.
I forgot to mention, how good it was to sleep in a real bed the previous night, instead of a bunk. And how good it was to sleep in a room, shared with Carlos as I think the management had overbooked, rather than in a dormitory with 4- 20 other people!
I didn’t go into the town, but stayed here in the albergue writing this blog. I asked and was told there is no Mass in the town. I am happy to be taking it easy. I will have a well-earned rest tonight, for whatever tomorrow holds.
Ultreia! To the northwards!!