Once again, I’m on the Via de la Plata – walking with friends, Michael and Ewa this time.
We took a bus from Madrid to Zamora yesterday and presented ourselves at the excellent Zamora albergue, where à Spanish volunteer hospitalera issued us with pilgrim credentials and made us welcome. We had time to see the 11th Century church of San Cipriano, the Cathedral and my favourite Zamoran museum – dedicated to the sculptor Balthazar Lobo. Then dinner in the plaza by the church of San Martin and an early night.
After a breakfast of bread and jam at the albergue, we set off just after 7:00 AM through the streets of the sleeping city. Our aim – to reach Montamarta, 20km away, before the day got too hot. The outskirts of cities can be unpleasant but we were soon out of the scruffy industrial exurbs and on the open road. Appropriately, in the village of Roales del Pan, the wafting aroma of freshly baked bread led us to a bakery, where we watched loaves emerging from the oven and bought one for ourselves.
The Via de la Plata here runs between fields of red earth – with sunflowers in some and bales of hay in others. There is little shade or shelter but we found a seat of hay bails that provided shade and comfort – a perfect for second breakfast.
At some point, Michael observed that we were managing a decent pace of 5.5km/hr and at that speed we reached Montamarta with its statue of a masked figure – El Zangarron – who features in local festivals. I remembered him from when I walked this way in 2017. It feels strange to see these things that on the first day of a Camino in the heat of the summer – I last encountered them on a chilly November day when I already had a thousand kilometres behind me. Fortunately, the bar near the church was as friendly as I remembered it.
We’re staying tonight at the super-cheap municipal albergue – €5.00 each to be deposited in the honesty box. It has almost everything that pilgrims need – 20 beds in a large dormitory, hot showers, a basically equipped kitchen, picnic tables, a washing machine and line… but no clothes pegs. So after washing our clothes, we got creative with bits of string and safety pins. With the heat of the sun and the pleasant breeze, they dried quickly.
After stocking up for tomorrow from the little coviran supermarket, we’ll have dinner at the truck stop on the main road or the posher restaurant in town. The Camino has started well.