Salamanca to Vérin (Galicia)

Tuesday 26/5/15
A bus station at 2am is a strange place. People waiting, sleeping, chatting quietly until the bus comes in. Then, action. Everyone springs up to get on the bus or to meet and greet people. 

To manage starting a trip at 2am, later yesterday we both had brief sleeps and then spent hours walking around Salamanca and taking nighttime photos.

I forgot to include the storks we saw and heard earlier as they clattered to each other or the world from their perches atop cathedrals and other high buildings. 

Back to our hotel for another sleep and we were ready to face checking out and getting to the bus station about 1.30am. Not much was happening when we arrived, or for a while afterwards.

 Once the bus arrived at 02:12: action. We were pleased to see a driver swap, thinking our new guy would be safer than a tired driver. Well! What we didn’t expect was his inability to sit still or to concentrate. He fidgeted, changed his seat position repeatedly, along with the radio station and volume, nibbled, picked his teeth etc. etc. He did not sit still and the bus spent a lot of time drifting over the central line. A problem when on a two way road and he often jerked the wheel to get the bus back. I’m not even going to try to remember our transits around some tight roundabouts. Very unusual behaviour from a Dainco bus driver in my experience. 

Despite the driver’s best efforts we each managed some sleep prior to a 15 minute coffee stop not long before we reached our destination, Verin. We arrived in darkness. We were the only people to get off. Had planned to catch a taxi but, no taxis. No life in the town at all at 05:40! Then a solitary car went passed us. Still no taxis. The birds started chirping and we hoped for light. And kept walking towards the Parador, our hotel a km or so away and up on the hill overlooking Vérin and seen here from the castle above it.
Maps showing the location of the Parador are clearly intended for car drivers who can take the long and indirect route here, up a steep road around the back. We had a solar torch and a GPS map showing a rough track up the side of the hill. Possibly an old roman road. So, up we climbed, up a roundabout track that eventually brought us out at the Parador, overshadowed by the nearby 12th century Monterrei Castle. 

We were very pleased to arrive and that we’d arranged a very early checkin. Cost us an extra €12 but that seemed reasonable, a better deal than waiting hours. And yes, we’d paid a full night in Salamanca for Monday/Tuesday but that was also worth it. 

So, another brief sleep for an hour or so before breakfast. This was very pleasant, fewer options than in most Paradores but with the important basics: including coffee, toast, tomatoes, olive oil, etc. 
Breakfast finished we headed off to the Castle overlooking Vérin and nearby towns. 


   The interior was shut as it is being reconstructed. We were able to walk around the battlements and explore the rather impressive exterior of the castle. 


 The wild flowers include red poppies, still at their best.

 Next, off to see the town and to get a few things for the first stage of our walk: oranges and chocolate milk and some Pepsi-light, lime flavoured. 


Vérin is a not-very-big town north of Zamora. For us, it’s the starting point for our walk to Santiago, about 180km northwest of here.
The best part of the town was the line of cute 7 year olds who crossed in front of us. The town has some interesting houses, churches and appears relatively unexciting. Yes, it was Tuesday and some shops were shut but it does not look to be a busy and thriving place. 

The river is clean and is part of a ‘water route’ with other mineral springs and thermal pools along the way. Having tried hot springs once in Spain I wasn’t interested. Last time the water was luke warm and I got colder and colder as we went through successively ‘warmer’ baths. So, not in a hurry to replay that.

After watching trout-like fish in the clear river water we headed back to the Parador for lunch/dinner at 15:20. This was easier than staying awake for dinner which starts at 20:45. The food was Galician and we tried different options. Having a menu with an english translation helped considerably as the Galician language is different from Spanish and figuring out what’s what is an interesting challenge. Even with the internet it’s slow and hard!  But with an english language menu we knew what was coming and between us we had croquettes, two types of soup, pulpo (octopus) and bread. We enjoyed it. 
So, the final arranging of our packs tonight. An early breakfast, which is 08:00 here (I agree, not exactly early), and then we leave. Our route will be along the Via de la Plata only once we reach Laza, later tomorrow. We are first walking upstream to there from Vérin. Versions of this route connect part of one of the Portugese caminos to the VdlP at Laza. I only discovered this today, thanks to the French walker staying at an albergue in Vérin.

So, wish us ‘Buen camino’. Jane is still a little nervous about us not being on a well known and marked route tomorrow. However, we will be following yellow arrows very soon. And to get us there I’m now equipped with clever electronic maps, an iPhone and a solar charger. Thinking of useful apps: the upcoming weather looks good so far too.  Warm and clear. 

First though, look at Jane’s wonderful views of the past few days in Madrid, Salamanca and Verin.         <>

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