Vía de la Plata – Day 22: Santa Marta de Tera to Rionegro del Puente

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27 kilometers, 5 hours. Through the villages of Calzadilla de Tera, Olleros de Tera, and Villar de Farfón. Crossing a large dam on the Rio Tera at Embalse de Agavanzal with a short bit of overgrown single-track trail below the dam. Finished with a great stretch of disused double track for the last six kilometers into Rionegro de Puente.

Donettes to Gourmet

It all started the evening before. I had a basic but filling combination plate for dinner and a couple of glasses of red wine at the Bar Stop in Santa Marta. After I paid for dinner, I asked the bar owner when the bar would reopen in the morning. It wouldn’t, she indicated in Spanish; it was closed on Mondays. Okay, I thought, and I asked if I could buy some snacks to get me to the next village. She promptly brought over a box of this and that, and I picked out chocolate covered Donettes (mini doughnuts); a wannabe, prepackaged croissant; and some chips. That would have to do, I supposed.

After waking late, I ate the Donettes and drank a couple of cups of tea (down to my last few tea bags at that point), while I chatted with a Spanish man who had come into the albergue (hostel) late the previous night and was walking the VDLP in the opposite direction. He was a wealth of information about what I should expect in the days ahead. We later said our Buen Caminos (Good Caminos) and went our separate ways.

I figured at this point that the snacks were just backups. I could find a café con leche (espresso with steamed milk) and a bocadillo (sandwich) somewhere down the path. Wrong! Everything in every little town was closed. You’d think logically that one café would stay open on an opposite day. But, oh no!

For slideshow, click on imagine.

So I snacked as I got hungry, snagging an old apple from a tree here and some grapes still on a vine there, as I reminded myself that the Camino would provide.

My destination for that day was twenty-seven kilometers off from the start, and near the end, I was famished. Even water didn’t help. Usually, water would help to fill the void. All it did was make for more frequent nature calls.

I easily found the municipal albergue in Rionegro and had to cross the highway to a bar/restaurant for its key. When I walked into the place, my mouth started to salivate uncontrollably as the aromas of garlic and olive oil and pork and beef hit my olfactory senses.

I got the key for the albergue and found out the hours for meals; I was going to be back ASAP. I returned to the albergue to claim a bunk bed (the first of the available thirty-two) and to take a shower, and then I returned to the restaurant for my big meal of the day.

After a few moments and some help from the chef’s son, who spoke some English, I happily accepted the menu del dia (menu of the day). To be upfront, the name of the restaurant was Asociación Gastrónomica / Me Gusta Comer (Gastronomic Association / I Like to Eat), meaning the owners knew what they were doing. Me Gusta Comer seemed quite out of place but was so very welcome.

The fixed menu of the day was a fresh local vegetable in a light cheese sauce with tiny slices of an excellent Iberico (Spanish) ham, a thick stew of beef rib and potatoes, a large pork lomo (thin chop) with roasted peppers and crispy garlic slices, and a dessert of ice cream and tiramisu.

All of this came with a half liter of red wine, café con leche, and lemon liquor—for €10!

Costs: €10 for a donation to the albergue, €2 for breakfast of junk food bought the night before, and €10 for the menu del dia at Me Gusta Comer. And €5 for tapas and wine later at Bar Palacio across the plaza from the albergue.