After a good night’s sleep it was great to get coffee at 7.15. What was so unusual was the patron asked me what time I wanted it! Like yesterday, when I was able to have lunch at 2ish and dinner at 6pm.
This is not usual in Spain. Rather than be flexible so you can flog more food and drinks to foreigners bars keep time that suits locals and not a major part of their market in many cases, walkers. Like dinner at 8.30pm. I finally made that work for me as lunch goes ’til about 4 and you can get 3 courses. Dinner! Forget it! Too late! Snack instead, supermarkets win and cafes miss another sale.
I paid my bill at the lovely El Patio Hostal this morning: €41 for a night, many coffees, 2 cokes, 2 course lunch, soup for dinner and yet more coffee this morning. The room was warm, wifi worked (only just in the room), shower was good. Only downside was a very musty room, making me suspect few customers much of the year. I felt guilty paying only €41 as I’d expected closer to €50.
Early morning, I like looking back on a sleeping town, in this case, San Bartolome de Pinares.
What made today easier was the very clear, frequent and appropriate yellow arrows. First time I’ve found them so good on the Camino Levante. I hardly needed to use my iPhone t navigate, more just to estimate the remaining distance. You know, when I only had xkm to go and it was taking forever and never getting any closer. Sigh.
Not like yesterday when I had my iPhone out every few minutes to find out where I was. I did notice the gps points I’ve got were again not fully congruous with today’s very well marked path. Wonder if they are old or what. They have helped considerably though. Wouldn’t be without them, it’s just they are indicative rather than prescriptive.
After the first town I had to climb a goat track up a hill, then through paddocks for much of the remainder of the walk. Climbing, climbing. Top point on the road the Camino crossed was 1300m, a little under what it actually reached, probably about 1400m.
Oh I was so cold. Was around 0C when I started today. Possibly less as I needed gloves and, unusually, had cold legs. By the time I reached Avila it was considerably warmer, 6C according to a pharmacy thermometer.
Walking up on the high section of today’s sector all I could think, when I could think, was that I wished I had long johns to wear under my shorts or that a taxi could appear on the hillside. And also that I was so lucky it was neither raining nor snowing. So lucky. And only one creek to walk up. The various other crossings were easy. So was this one.
As it was, the wind whistled up my shorts and up the sleeves of my jacket, past my gloves. The coldest stretch yet. So cold my hands were almost frozen despite my walking pace and wonderful Mont vest and jacket (mont.com.au). And it was one of those charming stretches where the wind is always in your face, no matter how the path twists and turns. Sort of a miracle us walkers and bike riders are very familiar with.
Law 1: the wind will always be in your face 😋 Corollary: changing direction makes no difference.
I stopped for a break. The last town before Avila, and many hours after I started. The woman I asked the location of an open bar was an American/Spaniard. Lucky her. Much more interesting than just being a Tasmanian.
She had a dog and so I couldn’t buy her a coffee as it wasn’t allowed in. Coffee was, unusually, very average and the lovely looking tortilla had a week’s supply of salt. Sorry kidneys. Won’t hurt you just this once.
As I left town a guy my age drove past and wished me Buen Camino. He drove by again a few minutes later and asked if I wanted anything. Asking for a ride was tempting but no. I said no thanks.
And then the last 6 or so km took forever. And forever. And longer. My Fitbit says I did 28.5km and my iPhone, 25.5. Take your choice. Either way, again, more than the expected kms (22 today – ha ha).
The entry into Avila showed the same pattern: many apartments in the tower blocks on the outskirts are for sale or for rent. Three multi-storey buildings alongside the road were long unfinished, one just near the street, one behind it and another over to the side.
I couldn’t get to the Avila Parador soon enough. I had eyed it off from on top of the Avila wall when I was last here. Good choice. It’s a modern Parador. Wifi and plumbing both work. As does the heating. And I’m pleased the owner of room 118 was not in as I tried to force my key in their door instead of mine. Finding my room at the end of the usual type of Parador maze was so nice. So was getting into it and later into a hot bath!
Semana Santa in Avila
The number of Easter (Semana Santa) processions over the next few days is amazing. Today, for example, one starts at 8.30pm and another at 11pm. Each has a clearly defined route and a notice provides descriptions of the costumes of the members of the relevant confraternity.
At 8.30pm the group is Our Senora of the Augustias. And they wear a blue tunic, a white cingulo and, from the photo on the brochure, a white pointy cap, like the Klu Klux Klan.
Tomorrow starts with a dawn parade at 2am and then another at 8.30pm. Friday looks more reasonable at 5.30am, 12.00 and 19.30.
Before you ask how you can join a confraternity: I’ve no idea!
8.30pm today might be a hard ask. Heater is on. I’m lying on the bed. Feet are very happy! And so am I. I’d have to find my way to another part of town in the dark. Soup here for lunch was very nice. And I’ve yet to have a bath. Think the answer is clear……