Thursday, May 5, 2022

Day 12 - 4 May - Quintanilla to Villafranca Montes de Oca

As Fat Les famously sang:

Where on earth are you from?                        

We’re from England                                        

Where do you come from.                                    

Do you put the kettle on?

We had already decided to treat ourselves to a gentle eleven miles today so we breakfasted at the ludicrously late hour of half past eight and set off thirty minutes later on our way to Villafranca Montes de Oca. This was much more like it. It wasn’t raining, we didn’t have too far to go and there were plenty of rest stops en route. And today had a distinctly English feel to it.

Our first stop was in Belorado, a really nice town, where we bumped into Simon Mayo again (who we first met in Urdaniz on Day 3). And it turns out that Simon Mayo isn’t really Simon Mayo but Janna (pronounced Yanna) from the Czech Republic and on her fourth Camino! Each Camino warrants an additional shell tattoo working its way up her right calf. She hopes/ intends that it reaches her arse in the fullness of time. In all respects, that is a worthwhile ambition in my book and I like and admire her for that. 

Belorado would make for a good overnight stay with plenty of bars, an impressive church complete with stork nests and lots of impressive murals on walls and the sides of buildings. My favourite mural was this one (below) of Fat Les and other England fans at the European Championships in France in 2016.

One of the first books I read about the Camino was Miracles on the Camino by Mike Gardner. It is an enjoyable read and one of the best read books about the Camino, even if the author’s definition of a miracle is a little more generous than mine. Still, two can play at that game.

After Belorado the walk characteristics became very English with country lanes and puddles through rolling, green countryside and with a few nettles thrown in to the mix. Our next stop was three miles along in Tosantos where the emergence of blue sky and sunshine tempted me to my first beer of the day at a tidy little albergue bar. It was a bit disconcerting though to be waved off with a cheery danke shoen. I don’t look German do I? I’m English. I mean, do I look like the kind of bloke who would rebuff the advances of a bar maid?

Anyway, then on to Villambistia, a mere one and a quarter miles beyond and which was not even far enough for my feet to start aching between stops. A Camino miracle. I celebrated with a beer.

Then, a mere one mile further we arrived at the village of Espinosa del Camino. Imagine our disappointment to find the one bar in the village with a Cerrado sign hanging on the door. Disappointed, we turned around to set off when, just a few seconds later, the bar owner came running after us shouting estamos abiertos, estamos abiertos. Another Camino miracle! And another beer.

Villafranca was but a further two miles away and we were there in no time. We checked in to our cheap but entirely acceptable twin room and took the opportunity to do very little for the next two hours. But you can’t do very little for too long and we needed food so we set off to explore the town. Five minutes later, having explored the town, we had a beer in a cafeteria bar with a warming fire but no food, then headed to the last remaining bar in town which had food but no warmth (I’m talking temperature not ambiance). Here we met Shaul from Israel who was great company. Within the space of ninety minutes we had the Ukraine situation sorted, Brexit explained and the generation gap put into historical context. And we were well fed.

I quite like it that the rest of the world doesn’t really understand the Brits in general and the English in particular, nor we them for that matter. I also like it that despite all that, we generally all rub along together pretty well. 

And finally, it’s a sad thing to admit but I haven’t worked out how to leave, or reply to, a comment on my own blog. In the circumstances, I will take this opportunity instead to thank Susan from Canada for her kind comments to a recent post. El Real Thing has gone international. Yet another Camino miracle!


  1. Ha! Thanks for the shoutout. You may be amused to know that I messed up our entire Google account trying to leave that comment.

  2. I am enjoying reading about your journey from ere in West Virginia, USA. Add another country to your blog name is Nellie