43 kilometers, 8 hours and 30 minutes. Through Montamarta and Riego del Camino. More farm track. Gray, drizzly day.
Looking back through my notes, I find so very little to relate about this day. It was gray with a little rain here and there, so that may have dampened the mood. I left Zamora before the other pilgrims at the albergue (hostel), leaving at first light, and walked all day alone.
I do remember an excellent lunch of tortilla española (Spanish tortilla—more like a simple quiche of egg and potato) and café con leche (coffee with steamed milk) in the small village of Montamarta. The bar was on the Camino path, near the little church. The town, and so much of that day, was very quiet, sleepy. As I looked about for something to eat, I saw some women in blue coverall uniforms (what the English call boilersuits) cleaning the streets, sweeping, and collecting. I asked one of the women if the bar I could see ahead was open, and she indicated that it was. I ate the warm and delicious meal by myself, as the owner quietly read a newspaper behind his bar.
Later in the day, I met Mike and Cici, an Australian couple, at the ruins of the Castillo de Castrotorafe (Castle of Castrotorafe), beside the Rio Esla. They were taking a break from their trekking near some interpretive signs inside the ruins, a short walk off the Camino path. I ran into Mike and Cici many more times in the days ahead, and they became an integral part of my Camino experience. Truly wonderful people.
Granja was a decision point. Along the Via de la Plata, the peregrino (pilgrim) must decide left or right at a fork represented by an unceremonious sign in the center of the village, not far from the church. From here, the peregrino can continue north toward Astorga to meet the Camino Francés (the path most of us understand as the Camino de Santiago), or turn west toward Ourense and Santiago, on the Camino Sanabrés.
Some months prior to my start on the VDLP, I had sought advice on a Camino-specific forum (click here for the forum) from veterans of the route on which route to take from Granja. The best guidance I received was to make that decision when I got to Granja. It was an easy decision to make: I had walked the Camino Francés route the previous year, there were normally many more people walking the Camino Francés, and it’s the one everybody knows. So I would turn west in the morning, toward Ourense. The Camino Sanabrés it would be.
Costs: €22 for the casa rural (guest house), €8.75 for a makeshift dinner and lunch and breakfast for the next day, and €1 for a beer at an unfriendly bar.