This part of the camino is totally flat - it runs on a wide path beside the highway. We were part of a parade of fellow pilgrims - a stream of lemmings - all heading in the same direction. There was an alternate route which we took -- it went along a river with shade, birds, frogs (very loud)... delightful ...very few people, probably because it added .4 km to the route.
We reached Villaleazan de Sirga by noon -saw the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Blance before it closed for siesta time... very dark inside -- but we paid the euro which made the alter lights come on for minute or so. The outside of the church was being refurbished and had scaffolding all round. As it was still early, we pushed on to Carrion de los Condes - arriving by 2:30 PM. Karen had a blister on her heel - and two sore pinkie toes. A girl from Romania directed us to a hotel where they wash clothes for free -- but it turned out they don't use soap - and no drying is included -- so our clothes ended up gray and still smelled.
We had supper at a nice restaurant full of peregrinos -we sat with an old German couple and 3 old Italians - they ignored us and made no attempt to communicate. We had fish soup - full of bones - Karen ordered fish as the main course -- also full of bones. "With a little practice, I'll get better at this," she said.
Thur. May 5 -- Karen woke up with sore feet -- and we had 18.5 km to walk. The path was fairly featureless. flat - fields on either side. There is a 2000 Roman road - in good condition - Those Roman knew how to build roads!
We arrived at calzadilla de la Cueraza aroundnoon - got a room at the Camino Real Hostal -and were given keys to someone else's room! Finally - we got into an empty room - Karen was totally exhausted.
On TV they said something about President Obama and Bin Laden (he had been killed, it seems). The Brits and Assies we met were not that interested in this and it was had to find out news.
At dinner we met Sef, a Pakistani guy, and Peter from the Chech Republic. We also saw the Americans from Oregon. We ate huge bowl of peas, 3 nasty chicken wings and fried potatoes (this menu is important because we will see it again).
Friday, May 6 - what a day! As soon as we left the hostal, it started to rain. Karen's blister got really bad - Jim lanced it again. Then, later in the morning, Karen threw up everything in her stomach in a spectacular manner. Would we be able to get to Sahagun? What choices did we have? Karen finished throwing up and said that she could continue walking (although she didn't look good - she began walking).
And eventually, around noon, we came to a small town -- and found a small bar -- and inside, they said we could arrange a taxi -- which turned out to be fairly reasonable -- and off we went - on to Sahagun - where we found a small hotel.
Karen needed something to help her stomach - Jim went off for Pepto Bismo or something like that from the Farmacia -- but they said I needed to take Karen to a doctor. After searching around, he found a clinic - came back -- got Karen ready and off we went -- to the Urgent Care center.
A thunderstorm began while all this was going on -- an hailstones, big ones, fell - filling the streets with ice! We walked to Urgent Care where the nurse was surprised -- we had no umbrella! Without waiting very long, Karen was seen by a doctor (probably a doctor) -- who hooked her up to an IV line - gave her anti-nausea medicine to replenish fluids and reduce stomach cramps - they checked her temperature (slightly elivated), blood pressure, and sugar. The doctor said Karen had a byrus (virus) and prescribed Gatorade stuff to replenish her electrolytes.
Jim was sick but didn't ask for any treatment -- we planned to hang around this town until we recovered.
Saturday, May 7 - Karen was feeling better - we went out and ate some yogurt and fruit - found an internet connection at an Alburgue -walked around to look at the monuments listed in our guidebook - ruins - looked at a street fair/market in town, stands selling vegetables, clothing, fruit. Karen bought some underwear to replace what she lost.
Karen's blister was not much better - she had to stay off it most of the day. Jim went out to walk around - brought home roasted chicken - good!!!
Karen watched Spanish TV - read the last of her book. South Park, Sponge Bob, lots of Westerns - with Spanished dubbed. In the evening, we found a channel without dubbing - watched Two and a Half Men - in English!
Sunday, May 8 - The revelers were out last night until 3 Am - very noisy. People party on Saturday night here!
Karen is better - wants to walk! This is somewhat of a miracle! SO -- we are off to Calzadilla de los Hermannillos. We take the Roman road - accross the countryside - it seems as if we are the only ones who take this path. It is colder - windy - threat of rain - we pass a train track and fields as far as the eye can see. We stay at a lovely hostal in a deserted town (typical for the Camino - the economy is not doing well - people must leave these towns to seek work elsewhere) Our hostel: Casa el Cura - and Karen seeks a cure for her blister.
The other two guests at our hostel - Ogden and Sindra - from Oregon, USA. Sindra has had foot problems - now they are not so hot on the idea of walking the whole way. We share a late dinner - Their son became a Muslim after being in the Peace Corp -meeting a Muslim girl - getting married to her.
Monday May 9th. We are back on the Roman road - going toward Leon. Not so many people on the Camino today. very few waymarkers - but there is only one road. Karen twists her ankle - her blister is bad again.
We eat ham, cheese, tomato - bocadillas prepared by the hostel. We hobble to a small town - an alburgue with 20 bunks to a room. Supper - not so hot - spaghetti, fried eggs. Jim had potato croquettes.
The menu of the day - this works against weight loss --each meal is carb loaded - every night we have ice cream. But we want/need the calories, it seems.
Alburgue and good night's sleep do not go together - Everyone's bed springs creak loudly with the slightest movement. Karen was up half the night.
The good news: Karen found a book in English -actually it is half a book -- torn in half to save weight. But this is something.
Tuesday -May 10 -We left by 6 AM - no coffee -- gotta get away.
Karen has a new blister plaster on. We are off to Mansilla de las Mulas where we intend to catch a bus to the large city of Leon. We do this to miss the city walking of Leon - spending many hours walking through the city.
We made good time - Karen figured out a way of walking with less pain. So we had a cafe con leche - get on the bus!
We ride past the hundreds of pilgrims - walking along the city streets. then we arrive - in the historic part of town. And there is the Catheral -- not far from our hostal - Hostal Guzman y Gueno. We had a double bed and our own bath!
Good city - we found an International newstand - bought an International Herald Tribute - read some - went to the Cathedral. It is called the Cathedral of Light - it has more stained glass than any other cathedral. We viewed the many chapels through iron bars - although the light was supposedly coming in the overall effect was somewhat dark. Burgos seemed to win -- if there was a cathedral contest.
The newspaper even had a crossword puzzle!
Wednesday, May 11 - Jim got another Herald Tribune - we had orange juice, ham, cheese - in bed while reading the news.
Then we were off for Iglesia de San Isador - we sat quietly in the sanctuary for a while -- but the church was filling up with people - a German tour group. We went to the museum -saw old stuff. Burial vault in the cloister - 12th century paintings on the ceiling - old library - choirbooks notated in plainsong for chanting, illustrated Bibles.
After siesta, we went out for empanadas de carne and shared a beer.
Thursday, May 12 - We were out the door by 7 AM and on our way to the bus station-we want to avoid the city walk out of town- had to walk around a bit -searching for the right place to catch the city bus. We looked with perpelexity at the city map and were surrounded by people offering assistance - One lady stopped a city bus and inquired for us - not the right bus -- but eventually, the right bus came - Virgin del Camino bus. But until that happened - each bus came - yes -this is the one, we hoped.. - no - people said - not the one. But the Virgin del Camino bus -that was the one - and after slow ride - we arrived at Virgin del Camino and were back on the trail. We took the scenic route on the trail - going through meadows and fields.
Halfway there - we ran in the Oregon people - Sandra's feet were better, she said. We ended up on a road way - 5 km into town - Villar de Mazariffe - the alburgue : San Antonio de Padua- whose owner is a graduae Physiotherapist. They had a garden - we got a private room for 2. This alburgue was run by vegetarians -a concept little understood by carnivour Spain. We were treated to a gourment salad, vegetable soup, veggie paella, awarm crepe drizzled in dark chocalate -- mmmmm.
Dinner companions -mostly German -a woman with plebitis (wearing dark stockings). We met Yolanda, who just started the camino today. Michael from Galway -he and his wife are doing the third section of the camino, they have done the beginning and the end -- now they do the middle.
Friday May 13 -we are the last ones out of the alburgue - leaving at 7:45 AM. We liked our room! Karen's feet hurt - what else is new? path - flat - weather - sunny. For Karen, every step hurts. The thing to see in Hospital de Orbigo is a really long stone bridge, which a knight defended against all comers-- he did this after being rejected by his lady love. Unfortunately for the touristas, the bridge is being refurbished - so there is much scaffolding - but it is a long bridge - very old.
There was only one main hotel - one with a great view of the bridge - so we take many photos -We had lunch in bed -Karen kept off her feet all afternoon. we had a great dinner - white asparagus, ham, pimentos, fish soup, lasagna.
This bridge was the scene of a great medieval tournament. In 1434, the knight Suero de Quinones helf forth on this bridge against all comers - he had been scorned by his lady and wore an iron collar around his neck as a sign that he considered himself bound to her. He resolved to challenge the best lances of Europe to meet him on the Orbigo Bridge. So along the side of the river, a great tournament was held -- and on July 11, 1434, it began with great music, church masses, bells ringing, jousting for several weeks, dancing in the flickering torchlight -- Suero defeated many -- even the greater Catalan challenger and on July 20 Suero and his close companions stood off 9 kinghts of Gutierre de Quijada -- who rode off swearing vengence. By breaking 300 lances at the jouistss, Suero completed his vow and continued his pilgrimage to the catherdral in Compostela.
Twenty-four years later, after takign part in many battles in the 15th century civil wars, Suero happened to meet Sutierre de Quijada in an open field. The two men dropped their visors and charged at each other and, a few moments later, Wuero de Quinones lay dead.
Saturday, May 14 - beautiful sunrise - sun over the bridge. We slept in until 7. Karen's feet are a real problem - much anxiety over this. We will have to take more days off, probably.
Saturday, May 14 - (cont.) this is our last day on the meseta - and we have some climbing to do. Karen's feet limber up a bit - we talked to a guy from Croatia -and approached Astorga. It's a big place - several plazas. They have a church where traditionally dressed statues strike a bell on the hour - a crowd gathers to watch - it is the show in town!