Vía de la Plata – Day 11: Cañaveral to Galisteo

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28 kilometers, 6 hours. Path mostly trail after I left Cañaveral. I bypassed Grimaldo, a short seven-tenths of a kilometer off path, and I bypassed a turnoff for a “new trail” that passed through Riolobos. I opted to stay on the official trail as much as possible.

When I left Cañaveral at daybreak, it was obvious there were various paths that led to the same destination. I preferred the off-highway options, so I eventually made my way to a long, steep climb that followed a high-voltage power line right-of-way. By then, a wonderful sunrise over my right shoulder added to the rapidly increasing streams of sweat that ran down my face.

The payoff was that I walked on some of the prettiest path I’d been on yet. Oak- and cork-tree-studded grasslands quickly turned green, more so everyday. More cows and sheep, a single goat, and signs of pigs rutting in the newly softened soil. More gates to pass through, that reminded me of the rule: if it’s open, leave it open, and if it’s closed, leave it closed. And magnificent mushrooms, large as your hand.

In the early afternoon, I saw a couple of people a kilometer or so ahead on the trail and wondered if they might be Johann and Eva, the couple from Sweden I had met the night before. I eventually caught up to the two and, yes, I was right. Johann was a lanky man with thin blonde hair and a grey beard—a man with a look of experience in the field, so much so that he might have been just as comfortable crossing Africa two hundred years ago. Eva had an earthy beauty and a friendly manner. They were easy to chat with over a beer. The previous evening, after they asked what I thought of the presidential election back home, Eva said she had another question: “What do you think of Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize?” More fun conversation followed.

The previous night, after meeting the Swedish couple, I was on my bunk in the albergue (hostel) with the door closed, working on a new blog series about Italy when I thought I heard my name and then more conversation. All in Spanish; more names were said. I grew curious and rose to open the door. There stood Eric, the guy from Belgium I had met my first night out of Seville.

For slideshow, click on imagine.

It was late, and he was a bit knackered, so I left him to clean up and to relax some before asking him about his last few days. His plan had been to cover less ground than what was included in my plan, so I didn’t expect to see him again. But, as it turned out, he was trying to get ahead of some snoring Frenchmen, so he put in an extra-long day to do so. We were the only two in the Cañaveral Albergue, so maybe he succeeded.

You just never know, though. As I entered Galisteo, I passed Juan and Javier, the two men I enjoyed my birthday dinner with three nights earlier. They were not covering the distances they had hoped, so they took a bus and bypassed one stage. Their primary goal was to spend the week together. Brothers catching up.

Spent that night at the Albergue Turistico Galisteo. Eric caught up to me, and we were the only two in the albergue again that night. After cleaning up, we made the small climb to the old walled city and explored; we climbed the wall and walked around it as much as possible before we found a bar for a cold beer, this time a jara (big frozen mug) full of draft beer. Yum!

Later, we walked to the outskirts of town to have dinner at the Hotel Medina Ghaliayah, sort of a truck-stop arrangement beside the highway. It had a decent enough menu del dia (menu of the day), which included wine and dessert. Here, we met Juan and Mercedi, a couple on Camino who were staying at the hotel, rather than at the albergue. Johann and Eva were staying at the Pension Los Emigrantes, over the bar of the same name, near our albergue.

Costs: €7 for the albergue and €9 for dinner.