Via de la Plata – Day 17: Salamanca to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino

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39 kilometers, 7 hours and 30 minutes. Route through Castellanos de Villiquera and Calzada de Valdunciel. Rather plain route near to the N-630 highway and the A-66 autovia (freeway).

Leaving the hotel that morning, I stepped out into the dawning of a chilly morning; rush hour traffic started to build following the holiday weekend. Most people had had a four-day holiday weekend for All Saints’ Day, a Spanish national holiday.

I crossed the Puente Romano, just another ancient bridge built by the Roman Empire thousands of years ago. I say “just another” because I’d already crossed dozens on the Via de la Plata, it seemed. But then that history and a long walk through Spain were what prompted that particular Camino.

From the river, my route took me up into the old city center of Salamanca, past the Old Cathedral and the New Cathedral and through Plaza Mayor before continuing north out of the city passing a large, still-in-use bullring.

As I walked through the city at that early hour, I was once again reminded of why I liked visiting Spain. There was a pride, one we don’t see everywhere in the world. The previous day, I had seen many people out for the holiday, sitting in the sun at street cafés with family and friends, drinking and eating and talking up a storm.

The morning after brought the cleanup crews and the sound of street sweepers and vacuum tractors busily making everything shine again. Restaurateurs had brought in all of their tables and chairs—quite literally hundreds of them, dozens at every café and restaurant. And once the streets were polished and wet from cleaning, they put their paraphernalia back into place, a practiced ritual of carrying and carting furniture out onto the street, into a square, or to their sliver of sidewalk.

Menu boards were placed in their proper order. Planters and dividers were brought back to place, giving an added ambiance. All with perfection and order. Sure, it was a ritual, one with not only commerce and tradition in mind but also a sense of pride. Salamanca, and most of the Spain that I had seen, was proud. A worthy pride, one steeped in history not even the Spanish may appreciate.

By nature, I like tidiness and order—cleanliness. In the city streets of Pamplona or Salamanca, or some tiny pueblo miles from anything, Spain has got it right—in my mind.

Stayed that night in El Cubo de Tierra del Vino, at the Albergue F y M. Super clean and tidy. Carmen, the owner who lived around the corner, treated me as a grandmother would. Was I okay . . . warm enough? She served up wine and a light snack when I arrived. Later that evening, Carmen fixed me an excellent dinner of salad, soup, and pork.

Costs: €12 for the albergue (hostel), €8.50 for breakfast at the hotel, €3.50 for lunch of nuts and chips, and €8.50 for dinner.