Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Day 11 - 3 May - Cirueña to Quintanilla

As the Eagles famously sang:

On a damp Spanish highway                             

Cool wind in my hair                                       

Warm smell of Canola                                    

Rising up through the air                                     

Up ahead in the distance                                        

I saw a shimmering light                                      

My rucksack heavy and my legs hurt a bit              

I had to stop for the night

It was grey and drizzly as we set off from the albergue at eight o’clock this morning. We turned round one last time to wave a final farewell to our luxury accommodation (below) as we squelched away in our damp boots, ponchos and wet weather leggings.

We arrived at Santo Domingo de Calzado after an hour and exited ten minutes later having missed the one place that was open for coffee. We strode on, arriving at the town of Grañon ninety minutes later where, at the entrance to the town, there was a delightful rest stop playing classical music and serving coffees out of a converted Citroen van. Grañon itself was very quaint on a day when very quaint was generally in pretty short supply. Out of Grañon however, the Camino path turned into a sloshy, muddy way. Add to this that much of the path shadowed a busy dual carriageway and the heady days of sunshine and scenery seemed long behind us.

It was certainly not the conditions one might want to push a double buggy with a two-year old and a four-month old baby but that is exactly what two American (possibly Canadian?) women were doing. Fortunately we caught up with them right at the end of a long, long muddy ascent as otherwise I would have felt duty bound to feign some sort of injury which would, unfortunately, have prevented my offering any assistance. I’m not as young as I used to be you know.

We took a rest stop in the village of Redecilla del Camino, sat on a wet bench by the side of the busy road eating yesterday’s leftover jamon and queso bocadillo. Sophistication epitomised. Thereafter we passed through Castildelgado and on to Viloria de la Rioja where we stopped for a coffee at a Donativo (albergue and refreshment stop where you simply make a donation) where we met an English couple Tony and Pat. Tony is/was a football coach in and around South Yorkshire and his dad played for Sheffield Wednesday! It goes without saying that he is a splendid fellow.

Following last night’s private albergue experience at Cirueña, we decided to upgrade tonight to a hotel rural in the tiny, tiny village of Quintanilla del Monte en Rioja. The village is more derelict than deserted but both descriptions remain apt. The hotel, not much more than a private house, is nonetheless very nice and we are the only guests. Accordingly we have the master bedroom with double bed and flat screen TV. None of your 75” rubbish either, I’ve just measured it and it’s a 14” flat screen TV so put that in your pipe and smoke it! Our host Ana is lovely and, to be honest, after a day of wet weather and mundane walking conditions, a few home comforts have been just what we needed. No suave, sophisticated french blokes to deal with and no witty repartee to keep up with. Welcome to the Hotel Quintanilla, it’s a lovely place. 

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