Thursday, October 16, 2014

Camino Levante - Day 12 Las PedroƱeras (end of my first leg)

A very misty and cold day. Brrrrr. Was 8 degrees at 7 am and no more than 10-12 degrees the rest of the day. At least it was not raining. Temperature is expected to go up back into the 20s over the next few days. This is probably just a dip in the past two days due to the cold rain front.

The whole route today is essentially on the Ruta de Don Quijote. Interesting name for a route based on a fictional character.

Onions and more roadside grapes along the way. Seems that I bought less fruits on this Camino in the supermarket and just help myself to them along the way (except the onions).

Had our lunch at the ruin of Santiago del Torre. This very old structure is a fort that protects the people and the nearby river stream in the old days.

The day ended in an average working town of Las PedroƱeras. A distance of 24 km (plus 2 km) since we have to look for the only hostal here (strange as this is quite a big town) instead of the Parish albergue with only 2 beds. The reason for the hostal is that we end our walk here today. When Mike or me ever decide to continue the Camino de Levante the next time we will know where to stay before we start the next leg. Also, we need to check for the bus station and schedule so that we would know how to come back here.

I would love to be able to walk one more day but there doesn't seems to have public transport facilties (from the guide) in tomorrow's destination for me to get to Madrid on Friday.

So now no longer a pilgrim but a tourist again. With a spare day, we have decided to take a bus to Cuenca tomorrow, a very nice cliff side city that I had visited before but not Mike. Then on Friday morning I will go to Madrid while Mike will return to his place near Malaga from Cuenca.

Interesting that with last12 days of walking I would have already arrive in Zamora if I am doing it on a bicycle (10-11 days?). With walking I will still need another 17 more days or so.

We had walk officially at least officially 327.29 km out of 801.01 km.

Many firsts for this Camino.

1. First camino for me in autumn.
2. First camino where I did not complete but in stages.
3. First camino with lots of fruit/nut picking (due to the season I guess)
4. First camino where I did not walk alone but someone else.

Also first to walk more than 40 km on sandals (Crocs) after my boots disintegrated.

This is it. Signing off till the next time.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Camino Levante - Day 11

A servere day to walk. The distance 34 km (Actually 36 km because of wrong directions), the weather turned cold, intermittent rain, some mud in certain places and wind in the afternoon contributed to this. It takes much more out of us than yesterday. It was still 12 degrees in the evening and 10 degrees now at 10 pm.

A replica of the old windmill in La Mancha. Wonder if there are any real old ones left?

Tried picking some grapes along the vineyard. The grapes are quite small and very sweet and tasty, very different from the norm where the grapes are bigger and more bitter. This is my first Caminon in the autumn (the others in the past have always been in the Spring with no grapes to pick).

San Clementine is the old capital of La Mancha. The cathedral has a side altar for Saint James (represented not as a pilgrim unfortunately but as a killer of the Moors).

The albergue is basic with only three beds. I guess they don't expect too many pilgrims on this route. Only two of us here now.

After a big dinner ready to rest and recharge for tomorrow's walk which will probably be our last day for this trip. I will probably come back in the near future to continue the journey. This is also the first time other than walking in autumn that I broke the Camino into stages rather than finishing it all in one go.

Camino de Levante is around 800 km from Valencia to Zamora where it joins the Via de La Plata to Santiago de Compostela. Since I have already walked the Via de La Plata, Zamora will be a good end (and one of my favorite cities in Spain). There are still Toledo and Avila on the Camino de Levante to look forward to for the next time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Camino Levante - Day 10 - La Roda

A long 38 km today. If you think the via de la Plata is flat, this is even more so, which is good for such a high mileage day. A bit boring and the way is essentially parallel to the highway or rail.

The rabbits are out with a vengeance. They are so fast it's impossible to take their photo. Their burrows can be seen all over but it doesn't mean they are there. They are mostly seen scampering around. The rabbit season I was told is in mid October and it has been confirmed that they are the source for the chicken and rabbit Paella Valenciano. Unlike those in France which are more like hares the ones here looks more like a rabbit and are quite cute with cotton tails and all. Sad fate for many of them here.

The albergue in La Roda is at the Plaza de Torros. We were looking around but could not find the albergue when we realized it was actually in the bull ring! The albergue is in the infirmary (wounded matador?) with a chapel next door (dead matador?). I don't really approve of bull fights but still can't resist posing in the ring. The albergue has only four beds (2 on the cosy room and the other 2 in the kitchen). Mike and me has the cosy room and Carlos has the kitchen all to himself. Today is his last day and he will be returning home to Valencia. He does a short stretch at a time.

Only the three of us are here. The others cut the stage into two 20 km day and are behind in La Gineta, including Manfried. We attempt this only because the terrain today is flat and boring. Don't want to walk two short days in this boring terrain. Really tired. Need the rest and sleep for the 30 km tomorrow.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Camino Levante - Day 9 - Albecete

An interesting hooded statue and a house built into the side of the hill with a long chimney in Chinchilla on our way out. Again we split with Manfried, this time he wanted to follow the waymarking into the main Plaza up the hill but for us we wanted to detour around the hill (easier) since we were already there yesterday (including climbing up to the castle). Naturally Manfried wants to be follow the official waymarking. In any case we will meet up in Albecete at the hostal, showing the lack of albergues here on this Camino.

Albacete is only 14 km by the highway from Chinchilla and only 16-17 km on foot so it is a relatively short day. Basically it is a path next to the highway/rail so nothing too special in today's walk.

There are lots of cyclist on mountain bikes using this track coming out from Albacete this Sunday. Even more interesting is a sheppard with 102 sheeps just 5 km outside Albecete considering it is quite an urban city.

There are no special attractions here in Albecete. Even the Cathedral is a bit a little plain. But as a livable city it is very clean and green. Parks everywhere and very bicycle friendly with lots of bicycle path on the road.

Today is also Spain's national day and there is a military display outside the cathedral (including the soldiers wearing the unique Spanish headdress). The Prince of Spain was also on TV presiding over a military parade in Madrid.

What is special about Albecete are their knives and daggers. The design goes way back to the Moors, with a safety catch that locks the blade when extended. Mike and me bought a pocket size knife, a great souvenir and also better than the tiny blade I am currently using to cut cheese on the road. We were lucky as the owner says he is the only shop that opens on Sunday. He is seen holding a much bigger dagger in the picture.

The rain did not come but there was some drizzling rain in the afternoon.

Tomorrow is a 40 km day with a town about halfway. Problem is buying provisions/food as today is Sunday and the supermarket and breadshops are not open. Since this is a big enough city, we can get a pizza later after dinner and just carry it along for tomorrow.

We are keeping it open as we might actually attempt this 40 km distance unless the weather or other factors intervene.

Camino Levante - Day 8 - Chinchilla

Around 29 km today. Manfried has fallen behind, probably to do more scetches. After a quick break at Hoya Gonzalo, lunch under an acorn tree plus another quick break we got into Chinchilla. This place is the crossroad for Camino de Levante and Camino Sureste. One would imagine that it would have an albergue here, but no, just the couple of affordable hostal at the bottom of the hill. It's more like motel for truckers/cars along the highway. At least we got to go up to the castle (with our backpacks!). Hope to catch up with Manfried for dinner, not sure when he will up.

The castle in Chinchilla is old (Roman) but the looks and built suggest that it has been rebuilt many times over. We can even see Albacete (tomorrow), only 17 km (walk). Albecete is one of the four big city in La Mancha, the others are Toledo, Guadalajara and Cuenca. The Camino Levante will pass through my only Albacete and Toledo. To bad my journey this trip will end before Toledo. Next time then.

The weather forecast is for rain tomorrow. Thank goodness it is a short walk.

Update: Once again, Manfried shows up right on time for dinner.