After a pitiful breakfast at the Hotel Jacobeo (one of my fellow Raw travellers thought it was the worst of the smaller places For her), I made my way back to the marked Camino, and was walking down a narrow cobbled street when two acquaintances, Jeff from Ohio and Lois from Melbourne, appeared almost simultaneously from opposite hostal doorways.
So the three off us shared a nice morning just strolling, no real pace, through the country lanes.
We were still going upwards through the small towns spaced conveniently every 3-4km along the track. Belorado is at 800m and the next bigger town Villafranca Montes de Oca is around 900m. But you hardly noticed.
Jeff and Lois opted for a short day and to stay in Villafranca. I decided to push on over the two mountain passes at 1100m and 1050m to my next stop of San Juan de Ortega – he was a disciple of Saint Dominic and another Camino builder.
Along the way we had passed an historic hermitage (with church off course), carved in to the side of a cliff face. Hermits would dedicate themselves to a life of solitude and live in the caves beside the church.
The first climb particularly was hard, but I am much stronger in the legs now and neither were too bad and I took breaks for breath whenever I needed.
I think I still arrived in San Juan in mid afternoon. This is the smallest of the places I have stayed in so far. According to the town map there are only 18 structures in the entire village – it’s really a hamlet.
Two brothers seemed to run the town businesses, and I had to check in at Bar Marcelo before walking back a little to put my gear into the Rural Hotel across the square (there were no staff or locks – you were just given your room key). We had to go back to the bar at 7pm for the meal, and to be given our “picnic” breakfast plastic bag – croissant, orange juice, jamon y queso sandwich, banana, apple and water. Then we were to just let ourselves out in the morning!
The Hotel Rural is on the left and the Bar Marcelo was just to the left in the right hand picture. You can’t help but feel good when you walk into the room and one table (my fellow pilgrims) yells “Jeff”, then the second table (the 4 Spanish couples) call “Jeff”, and 5 minutes later Alex walks in and we greet each other with a hug.
San Juan is at 1000m, the log fire was alight and it was a nice evening.
But the long promised rain started while we were having dinner.