Camino Day 23: Salamanca to Calzada de Valdunciel

As we’ve mentioned before, one of the hardest parts of staying in a private room at a hotel is leaving it behind. So, instead of waking early to beat the AM bathroom rush, we hit snooze and relaxed knowing that there was no competition for sinks or whatnot this morning. Yes, we packed most of our things last night, but as skydiving involves abandoning a perfectly good airplane, try prying Mikey from a hotel room prior to the checkout deadline.

We did have a wonderfully filling “Spanish Breakfast” at the backpackers’ hostel/restaurant next door. In case you’re wondering, that’s tortilla de patata and toast with tomato purée and jamón. Yeah, it was Spanish food, but definitely not a Spanish breakfast. No complaints from us, though!

We finally left the city at 11 am. While Mikey thought this was fine, considering our 12 pm checkout time, it was about 4 hours later than we had planned and aligned our departure with the main heat of the day.

On the positive side, we passed this pretty cool airplane that was displayed above a junkyard.

Much of our walk was on dirt/gravel pathways not too far off from the main highway. Yeah, it could have been worse, but there was definitely no shade for us today.

Now, this was a fun find. We stopped after about 12km to rest at a cafe and saw this power-chair/golf-cart hybrid. Mikey figures that he could remove the vehicle’s literal trunk and strap on his pack. Talk about doing the Camino in style!

Aside from Mikey’s dream ride, there wasn’t much in this town save a unique water tower.

This is a closeup of the mural (?) that was painted on one side of the water tower. It’s interesting how the Camino is big (and often the only) business for some of these towns.

Oh, and there’s farming. This was the only other soul we saw for miles along the flat farmlands through which we walked today.

Yes, it was a very solitary day, but we really enjoyed walking under a vast canopy of blue sky with puffy clouds just begging to be plucked from it.

By 2 pm, we reached the first town with an albergue. At this point, we had to choose whether to stay here (a mere 16km from Salamanca) or continue on for 4 hours. Given the absence of shade, we decided to pay our 5€ and grab a bottom bunk.

As we walked around our digs (we say our because there were no other pilgrims – yet), Mikey mentioned that we haven’t really posted much concerning the albergues’ setups.

As you can see, there is a room with bunk beds (this albergue sleeps 8), a small kitchen, a lounge, and (2) bathrooms. Additionally, there is both a back and front patio along with a small dining room. It’s pretty basic, but it works for a mere 5€.

Although there was a kitchen at the albergue, we opted to eat lunch at one of two restaurants in the village. This one also dubbed as a truck-stop, so we surmised that what it might lack in quality would be made up in quantity. Let’s just say that the mushroom risotto and steak did not disappoint in either way. The wine was another story. Still, as Mikey likes to point out at times like these, we can use it as a teaching moment!

Although Spain produces a myriad of exceptional wines, there exist some which are really not that tasty. Today’s example was a 2017 “young” Grenache that really was thick and harsh. In cases such as this, since it was the house wine that was included in the fixed-price menu, one can simply ask for gaseosa water to mix into the wine. Gaseosa is basically a sweetened carbonated water that turns a rotgut wine into something of a basic, yet tasty sangria. (So now you know what to do with that 2-buck Chuck that your neighbor brought over for the potluck!)

After lunch, we returned to find our humble abode overtaken by a foursome of German pilgrims. They were very nice but spoke little English. Ergo, Mikey communicated in Spanish with the one guy who understood, but it was a pretty solitary night in the company of strangers. Time to catch up on some downloaded Netflix shows and get ready for tomorrow’s much longer hike. Buenas noches.

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