Camino Trip Notes: Stage 18 (Frómista – Carrión de los Condes) 

 Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Distance: 20.8 km

8:45 – I am leaving Pension La Via Lactea which feels like leaving grandma’s house, only grandma would be there to give you a kiss and a hug and maybe some hard candies for the road. Here there’s only a slightly confusing note instructing you to leave the key in the door and let yourself out.

9:05 – I stop at a nearby cafe for a piece of a Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Tortilla). This is nothing like a Mexican tortilla or anything you’d get at Taco Bell. It’s an egg and potato mixture that is more quiche-like, started on the stovetop and finished in the oven. It’s often served at room temperature and this bartender can’t seem to fathom the concept of warming food in a microwave even though he has two.

9:15 – I step out the door into bright sunshine. This should be the warmest day yet. I’m wearing my light parka to start the day but it will be coming off within the hour.

10:50 – I decide to follow a secondary route that takes you along the Rio Ucieza for about 6 km. It’s said to be a softer track with a bit of shade as opposed to the main route that runs parallel to a busy highway and feels a bit like walking from Regina to Moose Jaw on the shoulder of the Trans Canada. 

12:27 -I have arrived in Villalcázar de Sirga where the first sign of civilization is the monumental Templar church on the outskirts of town. Unfortunately it’s locked up tight.

The second sign of life is a very nice looking winery with a shady patio, extensive wine list, tapas, fast wifi, and classical music playing softly in the background. This could be Napa or Sonoma!  
I took a few minutes to compose a reply to a job posting that seemed promising at first glancebut after some research turned out to be something other than advertised. This date might go down in history as the day I rejected a salary and a return to some semblance of normalcy. I’ll blame it on the wine.

2:20 – I been through three tiny towns in the last hour and I have come across exactly one person. She may have been a nun. She was in a hurry to get somewhere and had no interest in chatting.

2:57 – The hostels and albergues of Carrión de los Condes are filling quickly but one pension in the heart of town is advertising private rooms at a bargain price. I’m not sure if there’s a catch but I grab the last room, sight unseen. Before stamping my passport, the lady at reception made a big production of hauling her sign in off the street. I think she’s blaming me for causing her this extra work!  

16:20 – After some quick laundry, I head out for dinner. The owner of the pension has provided detailed instructions on how to find two pharmacies, two grocery stores and four bars. What is this, New York City? Apparently the town has more than a dozen businesses and they’re actually open!  What a concept!

19:00 – After a little stroll around town I’m sitting on the outdoor patio of a bustling bar on the Plaza Mayor. A dozen kids are playing soccer in the square, their dads are in the bar watching soccer on a big screen, and the moms are gathered in small groups on the edge of the plaza.  I’m not sure why the men drink wine and beer and eat great tapas why the women sit in the hot sun without a drink but that’s the way it is.

19:18 – The free tapas were a little skimpy but a squeeze of lemon brought them to life!

19:50 – The paella mixta was good but not the best I’ve had. Since many bars have identical and very professional signage advertising six varieties of paella, I have to wonder if it’s freshly made or perhaps comes in a bag from a supplier who also provides the signage.

3 Responses to “Camino Trip Notes: Stage 18 (Frómista – Carrión de los Condes) ”

  1. Grant Reimer

    Your story about Grandma’s place reminded me of a woman in Poblaçion who served the whole place from one giant delicious paella. The next morning she stopped us as we were trying to sneak out at 6:00 am and insisted that she make us coffee and breakfast while everyone else slept. Then, in her housecoat and slippers, she walked us down the street to make sure we found the yellow arrow. After stuffing our pockets with apples, she hugged and kissed us and sent us on our way. We stood there for a minute, astounded with tears in our eyes. A perfect Camino moment.

    • 100Saturdays

      Awesome story, Grant. Some of the people you meet are indifferent to pilgrims but many really go out of their way for you. I haven’t seen or heard of anyone being rude or hostile to pilgrims.

  2. Grant Reimer

    Yes Mike
    In many of the smaller communities along the way, pilgrims have been the life blood and raison d’être of the community for generations/centuries.


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