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.
Day 9, Sunday, 19.09.2021, Merida – Alcuescar 40 km
The day was fine until the last 3 km. There I lost the plot and added unnessery 3 more km. Below right: Happy End at Albergue San Andres.
Day 10, Monday, 20.09.2021, Alcuescar – Aldea de Cano, 18 km
That makes the Camino Via Plata so special: original Roman milestones and roads and bridges, around 2.000 years old.
Day 11, Tuesday, 21.09.2021, Aldea del Cano – Casar de Caceres, 34 km
21.09. is Solar Solstice (Sommersonnenwende), beginning of autumn, the full moon still high at sunrise exactly opposite.
The nurse of a small group from a “Kindergarden” insisted we make pics together in Caceres.
Day 12, Wednesday, 22.09.2021, Casar de Caceres to Canveral, 36 km
The first half of the day quite picturesque again, the second half rather one dimensional.
Day 13, Thursday, 23.09.2021, Canaveral to Galisteo, 26,6 km
Morning stretch rainy but tranquil, afternoon clearing up. Difficult to find a restaurant in Galisteo. Isabel from Belguim joined Alain and myself from time to time (center image through the gate)
Day 14, Friday, 24.09.2021, Galisteo to Carabasco, 10,5 km
The short distance indicates a light tiredness after two weeks. Also mentally. But great company with “new” friend Arthur and with Laurel & Hardy reinvigorated lots of energy.
Day 15, Saturday, 25.09.2021, Carabosco to Aldenueva del Camino, 39 km
Early birds catch the flies, we cought lit crosses and magic reflections in an oak tree country.
Highlight of the day was finding “Arco de Caparra“, an impressive Roman arche in the middle of nowhere, from first century.
Before meeting Isabelle (and Arthur) in the evening, Alain and I had an endless stretch mostly on tarr after the Arco until Aldenueva. Great service in Albergue Turistico.
Day 16, Sunday, 26.09.2021, Aldenueva del Camino to Calzada de Bejar, 22 km
A day with a rather short distance to enjoy. the three of us went different paces so that I was on my own most of the day. Just the very first stretch was on a busy road with Sunday cyclists, etc. But after Banos de Montemajor ( one of the oldest spas in Spain from Roman times), it was all forests and meadows.
Out of Banos de Montemajor we found a remainder of the original Roman Via Plata again. And a view back to Banos.
The “Circels in the forest” with sunlight breaking through the treetops and giving light on the path produced lots of endorphines in my mind.
Albergue Alba – Soraya was bigger than it looks. The three of us had a room with 5 bunk beds all for us. After some snacks and washing clothes we went to town for a wonderful Pilgrim’s Menu.
Day 17, Monday, 27.09.2021, Calzada de Bejar to Fuenterroble del Salvatiera, 20,6 km
Still highly motivated by pleasant landscapes and greayt company.
The three of us, Alain, Isabelle and myself were an efficient and supporting team.
Day 18, Tuesday, 28.09.2021, Fuenterobble del Salvitiera to San Pedro de Rozaros, 29 km
Peaceful morning, a little chilly, warming up soon.
A day smooth as silk
Cloudy means balanced temperatures providing great rhythm matching the landscape.
Pre-dinner snacks, good mood and good fun, comfortable beds in the Albergue 🙂
Day 19, Wednesday, 29.09.2021, San Pedro de Rozaros to SALAMANCA, 23 km
Needless to say we were looking forward to this famous city – and we were not dissappointed at all. Reality surpassed imagination by far 🙂
Perfect weather and mood.
There are hundreds of Placa de Major in Spain – but none like in Slamanca. And we enjoyed every moment.
A place to come back sometimes.
Day 20, Thursday, 30.09.2021, Salamanca to Calzade del Velunice, 16,4 km
Out of Salamca, still fascinating old Roman Puente
Lovely villages and tough straights…
According to my notes it was an eventful day with heated discussions about Politics and more. Should not have happened. And in the evening we waited long for our food in the restaurant, but were rewarded with great quality.
Day 21, Friday, 01.10.2021, Clazade de Velunice to El Cubo, 20,7 km
Short distance, early arrival, Isabelle left us to catch up on her schedule. We met up with Norbert from Berlin again, had some beers and later a set dinner in “Hotel” La Ruta (rather a normal hostel 🙂 )
Day 22, Saturday,02.10.2021, El Cubo to Zamora, 31,5 km
Isabelle was ahead from the next town, Alain, Norbert and myself found and lost each other a couple of times. Company and privacy, just as it suitds you best sometimes.
Rovering towards Zamora, breathing freedom.
We met all together in the Albergue and strolled around Zamora. Isabelle left neyt morning for Belgium.