38 kilometers, 9 hours. Two kilometers back to VDLP route, then through Aldeanueva del Camino, Baños de Montemayor and Puerto de Béjar to Calzada. New terrain—into the mountains we went.
Our previous day, we made it to Arcos Romano de Cáparra and had the docent at that facility call the Hostal Asturias to come to get us to stay the night. We were led to believe that this approach was the best, since we thought that there was nowhere else to stay until Aldeanueva, twenty-two kilometers further on. That would have made a fifty-two-kilometer day. Hostal Asturias knew this and was entrepreneurial enough to seize the opportunity. I wish I knew then it was only ten kilometers further to the Hostal Asturias, not twenty-two kilometers away in Aldeanueva as I’d thought. We could have managed that shorter distance. We could have managed that distance and would not have been concerned with the two-kilometer off-trail excursion.
No big deal, but to lock in the deal as soon as the staff members had us at their hostal (another Spanish word for hostel), they gave us a “souvenir,” a string pack with their logo. The minor hitch was that we arrived at 3:40 p.m., and meals were only served until 4:00—the restaurant not reopening until 9:00 p.m.! I would never get used to the dining schedule in Spain. We ordered our meal and showered later, and generously sat far from everyone else as we ate.
The next morning, after we witnessed a crew drop a dead tree outside our room well before daylight, chainsaws blaring, we had café con leche (espresso with steamed milk) and hit the trail. I wanted to go back the two kilometers to the proper route, and Eric went on a more direct path toward Aldeanueva.
About three hours later, I came into Aldeanueva and started looking for churros (breakfast snacks). I was determined to have this Spanish equivalent of the American doughnut—in a confectionary way, not in looks. We had been too early or too late for them on previous days. I set my intention and expected to find a churro that morning. It was Saturday, and things didn’t open early, or at all, on Saturdays in rural Spain.
As I wandered the streets of this smallish puebla (village), I turned down one street and saw an open café, and there was Eric, eating a bocadillo (sandwich). After we said our hellos, I went in to order something to eat, and there was a huge tray of fresh churros! Big smile.
With bocadillo, churros, and coffee consumed, I was happy and ready to head into the mountains. Something new.
From light valley fog at daybreak to mountainous terrain and a hint of fall colors, it was always great to have new scenery, even though I had absolutely enjoyed the previous twelve days.
Albergue Alba-Soraya was owned and run by Manuela, mother of sisters Alba and Soraya. Alba was helping her mother when we were there. (Side note for me as a runner: Alba is a trail runner and was training for a trail half marathon.) Manuela made an excellent vegetable soup and lomo de cerado (thin pork steaks) with wine and salad for our dinner, plus a dessert for €9. Very filling and very good. The next morning, Manuela’s husband came to the albergue (hostel) to make us a simple breakfast of coffee and toast before we departed.
Costs: €15 for the Albergue Alba-Soraya, €9 for dinner, and €10 for other meals during the day.