A pilgrimage on a Camino in Spain is so special to me, that I needed to do a third one this year. After the Camino Francais in 2016, the Camino del Norte/Primitivo in 2018 I took the challenge of the Via de la Plata. This one would be more demanding and rewarding than the ones before. I feel I can talk from experience to state that one needs a very clear and strong focus on the goal. About 1.100 km in 33 days is demanding and could easily tempt you to put in a break or even resign in case of doubts. I am grateful to say I had a stable mindset and that the amount of endorphines all along the way and foremost at arrival in Santiago and 3 days later in Finesterre are insurmountable.
View at the route:
Actual distances and times:
Day 1, Saturday, 11.09.21 – Sevilla – Guillena – 22 km
The day become the entrance ticket to the Camino: Temperatures rose to easily to 35 dgr and only the tough survived.
Alain from the foto right above on the left hand was at the sime time at the cathedral in Sevilla as myself, but on the other side. We met a short time later and walked briefly together. But I lost him by testing an alternative route. I had to turn around and never cought up with him as he is a fit fellow. After a few days we then walked together for about two weeks but then lost sight of each other. Norbert I “overtook” on that day one, but he joined up with me only now and then. He preferred his own pace and peace of mind. But we had great conversations about his life in old East Germany.
Day 2, Sunday, 12.09.21, Guillena – Castilblanco de los Arroyos – 17,5 km
A shorter distance to recover from tough day 1.
Summary of day 2:
Not as hot as day 1, a bit shorter and still a very good mood to meet the challenges. One had the feeling, day 1 was the entrance ticket to the Camino via de la Plata. It was close to make it or brake it. And speaking for myself, it was a matter of a strong will and a “can do it” attitude. So after day 2, I knew, I am in the game.
Day 3, Monday, 13.09.2021, Castilblanco de los Arroyo – Almaden de la Plata – 29,4 km
Early start as for most of the days.
Between the start and the finish on day 3 was a an uphill stretch of +/- 300 m. It was cloudy and therefore not too difficult.
Looking down from the top of the hill I could already see Almaden de la Plata, as mall and quiet village. I met a Portueguese couple with whom I am still in touch on FB and a young woman from Germany whose name I did not note down. But they invited me for a pasta dinner Portueguese style and bananas covered with chocolate German style. The Portueguese did already a lot of Caminos, especially the connections between the longer ones and the not so popular ones. They had a firm pace and clearly set goals day by day.
Day 4, Tuesday, 14.09.2021, Almaden de la Plata – Monesterio – 34 km
This image 0f coffee and toasted white bread with jam would repeat almost daily on this Camino. Not too healthy, but lots of energy for the start of the day. In the oak forests were plenty of semi-wild pigs and we spoke nicely to them, hoping for a safe passage 🙂
Alain and I originally wanted to stop here in El Real de la Jara. But the village was tiny and we were very early. So after a nice coffe we moved on – into a thunderstorm.
We were hopful to escape the storm, it moved in a distance on our left and behind us. But suddenly we were cought and loughed it off.
The Albergue was closed as in so many of the villages after the Pandemic and we had to book a hotel room. We were a bit worn out from the rain and rewarded ourselves with a fine dinner.
Unexpected smart dishes in Monesterio.
Day 5, Wednesday, 15.09.2021, Monesterio – Calzadilla des los Barros – 27 km
What a peaceful morning with company next to the path and a small river guiding the way.
After a while I realized I missed a turn-off and tried a short cut to come back to the Camino by crossing over a pig farm. Met the farmer, in broad Spanish he explained I cannot cross but can turn left a few km later. Good luck.
The Camino displayed its beauty and tranquility day by day. I met the German lady again and we walked together to find an albergue in the next town.
We were unlucky, all hostels and albergues were fully booked or closed. After some snacks and phone calls to the next village we moved on and found a nice surprise.
A suprise reunion with the Portueguese couple and lots of fun that evening.
Day 6, Thursday, 16.09.2021, Calzadilla des los Barros – Zafra – 21,4 km
I am accompanied by my shadow.
Short stop in Puebla de Sancho Perez – meeting with Norbert – and a visit in church.
Zafra has style, charm and tranquility and friendly restaurants with great food. Ask for more?
Day 7, Friday, 17.09.2021, Zafra – Villafranca de los Barrios, 19,4 km
A short stage and we arrived shortly after lunch at Villafranca. We found a comfortable simple hotel Extrenatura Alojamientos. In this small town was no albergue for pilgrims left.
Day 8, Saturday, 18.09.2021, Villafranca de los Barrios – Merida, 43,8 km
There are days with great landscapes and days with rather flat ones. I was lucky to find some shade under the olive trees for a rest and picknick.
I was looking forward to Merida based on the notes in my tour guide. I underestimated that beauty and the attraction to tourists. All albergues were full and it took quite some time to find a hotel. That reduced my time to stroll and visit the amphitheatre and the Acueducto de los Milagros from Roman times. Still, I found many of the temples where theater performances were prepared. A place to return at a later stage.