Distance: 21km, Steps: 28,989, Time total: 7 hrs.
The loud bunch of people at our Albergue partied on downstairs long after we crawled exhausted into our sleeping bags. The more they drunk, the louder they got. Despite this we got a good nights sleep, Mr D woke up with a dry itchy cough & couldn’t sleep for awhile in the wee small hours of the morning. But when he got up to get ready, he was feeling a lot better than yesterday. We made our way downstairs for breakfast after packing up. Four people from the noisy big group were sitting at the breakfast bar having their coffees. Two English women & two Irish men. The Irish men were the loud ones already creating a raucous. They call each other ‘Big Boy’ & one of them carries two big rocks – one of which he was showing to the group yesterday that it had broken in 2 pieces. He chugged down a shot of Brandy after his coffee to get him going which caused him to laugh & joke even louder. Thankfully they left soon after, the two ‘big boys’ with their ‘big rocks’ haha!
We enjoyed our simple toast, OJ & hot drink in peace & quiet. Mr D’s skin lumps were still present with more coming up. He is paranoid about it being bedbugs which can be a problem on the Camino. These look more contact allergy related. Upon leaving, the really nice Spanish lady working there wanted to take our photo. I guess our faces will be joining the collage of photos on the walls of past Pilgrims that have come through there. Leaving town just after 8am & it wasn’t too cold but still dark. The sun doesn’t rise until 8.45am ish. The temperature dropped quickly once we were out on the open country road. The first 5kms is walking on bitumen road totally straight with crops of cornfields on each side. As it got light, many workers came out in their big tractors to attend to the cornfields, creating noise & dirt especially when we moved onto dirt road for another 4kms. Old rotten cobs of corn were everywhere besides the road.
We came to a very small town called Villavante where we stopped at a cafe bar for morning tea. Just a simple hot drink & cake sweet to keep us going after our very small breakfast. Going over the bridge out of town, Mr D decided this was the end point of the Meseta as there were many tall trees ahead as the landscape was changing. The day was quickly warming up to a hot cloudless day. Heading into the town of Puente there were two options & both rejoin the original Camino Frances route. We didn’t choose the better one which would of taken us through the towns cobblestoned laneways. We ended up going around the noisy & smelly industrial part, across a busy highway to the end point of town where the impressive bridge connects Puente & the town on the other side called Hospital De Orbigo. This bridge is one of the longest & best preserved medieval bridges in Spain, dating back to the 13th Century.
So we arrived at the bridge & I was looking forward to lunch as it was almost 1pm already & we were taking our time today. Mr D refers to me as ‘Boss’ because I order him about! So I ordered him to take photos & who else should arrive at the bridge at the same time from the other route – Harold & Sabine! We caught up & chatted for a bit, walking into Orbigo. Then they were just continuing onwards while we stopped to find a place to eat. I ended up spotting a restaurant off the Camino street & we went in. The restaurant was empty. We went through it to the bar & they said no problems sit in the restaurant & we bring you menus. 1pm is too early for the Spanish people to have lunch. We had the restaurant all to ourselves & ordered a paella dish each. I had a glass of wine & Mr D held himself back & had a Coke.
The lunch was fantastic & I didn’t feel like walking anymore! There were nice looking Albergues in town that looked enticing. But it was only 5kms more to our end point so can’t be too bad?! Walking out of town one lady was looking confused as to where the Camino continued & had been searching around town for markers. Mr D pointed her in the right direction. Which may not of been correct! The sun was truly hot now with no shade. The track continued up to the highway & alongside it. It was noisy & unenjoyable & after some time I said to Mr D that a Camino marker from time to time would be nice. He got out his E-trex & goes ‘Well that’s because we are not on the Camino! It is further in, on our right!’ Boy o boy! Not what we needed. We continued along as I could see a road turnoff for our endpoint town. Then there were yellow arrows but they disappeared again! With Mr D’s tracker & cool headedness we found a back road entry into the town of Santibanez.
Afterwards I checked the book. We should of turned right before leaving town. We thought it was right to an Albergue. We went straight ahead on the second option along the highway which says it is shorter but bypasses our town. How frustrating! It was good to get into an Albergue & not walk anymore today! There is only two Albergues in town. One is a Donativo so we went into the other called Camino Frances. It is a nice enough comfy Albergue. Mr D asked if there was a double room. There was one left. So we took it. Own bathroom with 2 separate single beds in it. As soon as we opened the door we noticed it was toasty warm inside the room. They leave the heater on! I couldn’t find an off switch so just have to put up with our very warm room. At least we won’t be cold tonight! The first thing Mr D did was strip off his clothes for a shower. The next thing; someone opened the door to our room thinking it was their room & got a full view of Mr D standing stark naked in the middle of the room! He was taken by surprise & moved out of view grabbing his cap for modesty. The guy that opened the door quickly shut it & left. Mr D’s sympathetic wife was rolling about in hysterics, laughing so hard tears were rolling down her cheeks! ( Would I do that?!? No, not me!🤣 )
I took awhile attending to my blisters that were coming back again & washing my clothes. Mr D went down for a beer & found Harold & Sabine there. I joined in & had a Sangria for a change. Harold & Sabine were also staying at the same Albergue & had got in after us, so they missed getting our room. They sleep in a bunk room of 10 beds. They really must of taken their time as they continued when we stopped for lunch. And they went the right way! So we enjoyed what was left of the afternoon to drink, chat & have some laughs. The confused lady from earlier came in after 5pm & was looking frazzled & weary. I hope she didn’t get lost like we had!
Mr D went upstairs to our sauna for a late siesta before dinner. He was so peacefully asleep when the church bells close by suddenly went off, startling him awake! It was 6pm. They do BONGGGG! on time. I had assumed today was meant to be a short day. I don’t know how it ended up being such a long day! That John Brierley book is not always spot on. It gives one calculation of distance, my Fitbit gives another, & Mr D’s a total different number. So I just pick the one that sounds more accurate. Today was meant to be 17kms. Oh well, we survived it, all that matters!
We had another peregrino meal downstairs in the restaurant. We joined Harold, Sabine & two French Pilgrims. At least the menu was better, the food tasted good ( besides the beans & ham plate which was a whole lotta green beans, garlic & onion with a few tiny pieces of ham thrown in ). The French man sat quietly as he only spoke French. The French woman could speak a little English, there were no loud people so it was an enjoyable quiet evening. Mr D said if the German couple had not been here, it would of been a dull & boring evening. Harold & Sabine finish up tomorrow to head back home, they had become good company to have around. Upon leaving the restaurant, Mr D grabbed the portable clothes rack in the courtyard & quickly whisked it upstairs to our room. I grabbed our wet clothes & now they hang by our hot heater so have better chance of drying overnight. It has been too long a day today, time for zzzzzzzz…..