Oct. 1- Fromista: 15 and one-half miles, 5 and one-half hours
This is our kind of road (flat and dirt) and we are making good time on the meseta. We prepared ourselves for the steep incline, but the descent is even steeper than I had imagined. Luckily, I am mesmerized by the life stories of two women from New York and before I know it, we are back on the flat path.
While Fromista is not a big town (population 840), it is famous for its Iglesia de San Martin. Built in 1066, this church is considered to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in all of Spain.
Our Hotel Doña Mayor is very contemporary. Our room has a nice terrace an (a great treat). We are sleepy, but we freshen up and go exploring. We run into our friend from California and enjoy a glass of wine together.
Oct. 2- Carriòn de Los Condes: 12 miles, 3 and one-half hours
We start the morning out with a good laugh, when a German Pilgrim wonders out loud if those are real roosters crowing (as if on cue) every time we leave and arrive in a new town.
Today’s route is on what is called the “Soul-less Senda,” a gravel path that follows along the highway. Only a ravine divides the road from the path, but luckily today is Sunday, so traffic is sparse (everything shuts down on Sundays in Spain except restaurants and bars).
I pass the time thinking about how pilgrims made this trip hundreds of years ago without the latest equipment from REI and wondering if all these lovely little towns we’ve visited would even still exist without the Camino.
We have to walk to the end of town to get to our hotel, San Zoilo Real Monesterio and we are captivated from the moment we see it. Dating back to the 11th century, this monastery has been meticulously restored and is now a national monument.
We investigate every nook and cranny of this immense building. Only guests may visit the cloisters and the church. The door is opened for us and we are the only ones to enter. The cloisters are so still, so peaceful and we can almost still hear the Gregorian chant CD that was playing at reception. We marvel at how ornate the church is, with its impressive artwork and sculptures.
Oct. 3- Terradillos de Los Templarios: 17 miles, 5 and one-half hours
Another morning ritual is the gathering of toilet paper into our pockets. We have been lucky to find bathrooms in every little town, but sometimes they are not very well stocked.
Today, there are no services for miles, so it is suggested that we eat before starting out. The path is somewhat flat and featureless. We pass the time by chatting with pilgrims from England, Australia and Michigan.
We are pleased to see that Albergue Templarios is right at the beginning of town. We meet up with a couple from Utah and enjoy dinner together.
Oct. 4- Calzadilla de Los Hermanillos:, 17 miles, 6 and one-half hours
We are walking on history. This is the longest stretch of Roman Road left in Spain today, with probably little change. It’s a wide path with loose rocks, pebbles and ruts. There is no refuge from the sun and the flies are swarming around our heads as we try to focus on the path.
When we arrive at Casa el Cura we hear someone singing in the kitchen. It is the husband, Leo, and he and his wife, Jemma, the owners, come to greet us. The place is so charming and we feel right at home.
We enjoy Leo’s cooking at a big table with pilgrims from Iceland, France, Ireland, Montana and Oregon. The wine flows and we enjoy the stimulating conversation.