Last nights accommodation worked out well. As it was in the sports stadium complex it meant I had the key to the whole place. Can't see that happening in U.K.! Left at 0700 and arrived at 1500 after a short stop in Las Mensas. Thankfully, it was dry at the start and stayed dry all day. I even saw the sun for a short while. Route from EP was simple a very well marked and after LM it was along the road for about 11km and then the rest was on a good track. Markings very good all the way. Got into DP fine and headed for Hostel Don Quijote. The local convent offers beds but I thought the Hostel would be easier. I got there at what must have been peak time for their family Sunday lunch! It was utter chaos. Managed to confirm I was in the right place but I needed to talk with Papa for the room. Well Papa was working As frantically as possible (but not efficiently) and was clear pressed for time! Managed to catch his attention and got the 'in a moment ' response. After 15 mins I got the chef to give me a beer and then 15 mins stopped Papa and explained I just wanted to if there was a room or not. He said yes, so I got another beer and had lunch. Afterwards I got the key to the room, killed the resident cockroach and settled in - maybe I should have gone to the convent. However, I looked around the convent later on and could see no way in or a sign for access. Otherwise ok and as my legs are tired from 3 long days I had no desire to go hunting for a room elsewhere. Tomorrow is a short day of only 25 kms so I'll get a rest. I called tomorrow's place earlier today-El Rincon del Infante- which is highly recommended for peregrino's - but when I asked for a room I got a very long winded reply of which I understood very little!! Lucky, I found them on Booking.com so reserved that way!!
Saturday, 29 April 2017
La Roda to El Provencio via Minaya 43 kms
Left at 0700 arrived at 1520
It rained all day! Track from LR was good and clearly marked. Almost a straight path all the way. Stopped in Minaya for coffee and toast with olive oil and headed out after my short break. After a small place call Casas de Roldan the directions almost disappeared. In fact without my excellent sense of direction ( otherwise known as Apple maps) I'd have had little chance of finding my way. Many junctions had no arrows at all and it was made more difficult by the circular fields that the paths followed. After about 20 kms it sorted itself out and the signs for the final section are very good. The beds are sports mattress on a floor in the sports hall changing rooms. Better than it sound as its warm, clean and I can lock the door. I also have 4 mattresses to myself as no one else is here. Getting into these places is often problematic as it can be hard to find who has the key. However, it could not of been better here as Manuel, who I phoned yesterday to say I was coming, must have seen me walking down the street as he came and met me about 1km from the sports hall and led me in. Then, no only was he very efficient getting me settled, but he gave me a load of other info about future places to stay. He is the star of the Camino Sureste to date.
Friday, 28 April 2017
Albacete to La Roda 40kms
Started at 0720 and arrived at 1500 after a shot stopper for a coffee at La Gineta.
Albacete was a typical Spanish city in that there is no suburb - you go straight from the city to farmland. Pity about the open drain, that used to be a river, on the way out. An Europe had the cheek to call UK "the dirty man of Europe!!"
Simple well marked track out of town after getting over the rail tracks. Mainly dry to start with but it gradually got damper until after 2 hours I had to put my poncho on. Then kept raining to rest of the way. As recommended in my Spanish guided I had phoned the AdP the day before. When I found it there was no sign or any info about access. So I called the same number again and was told he be over in 40 mins. Lovely to hang around in the rain and it was only 10 degs He did turn up as promised and explained that all the beds had been taken! By now there were 3 of us as 2 German ladies had arrived who are walking the Camino Levante and the 2 routes cross here - which is why it was busy. 11 people and only 2 of us are on the Sureste. Fortunately, they had some spare mattresses- one look and the German ladies left! I did not fancy wandering around any more so I grabbed one and got on with it. The AdP is fairly basic and a bit of a mess. The standards on the Sureste seem a lot lower than on other routes. I can understand for the Sureste as it's not walked often, but the Levante is much busier.
Thursday, 27 April 2017
Got up to a wet day today so put on my trusty poncho and headed out at 0700. Arrived just before 1400 and it rained or drizzled most of the time. Luckily, Albacete had the least as the track in would have been very muddy otherwise. I could see heavy rain either side in the distance but I stayed fairly lucky. In fact, yesterday in this region there was an extremely heavy hailstorm for 30 mins that damaged large areas of crops so I was glad to miss that too. Besides the rain it was a nice track for most of the way and I was treated to a Spanish airforce display on my way in, loops, corkscrews and whAt looked like bombing runs. Glad I was not a target! Albacete looks like a fairly standard medium sized city but I'll get to explore later once I have checked into my Airbnb room at 1500.
Markings were not so good today. I realised early on that one very large rock just out of Petrola had been moved so the direction was wrong and later on many appeared to be missing. Also, the final 5 kms ish into the city should be a fairly straight track but the route has been used to dump tons of soil on. Had to go around, not difficult but a nuisance. Glad I had the gpx track and apple maps today!
Wednesday, 26 April 2017
I was joined in the AdP in MdC by a Spanish peregrino called Pepe. He is doing the Camino on on electric bike! The person who let us into the AdP warned us not to let the door close unless we had a key. Evidently, someone recently stepped outside to check something and the door closed and locked on them. No keys and no trousers! Had to go across to the restaurant to get them to phone for help!
MdC to Petrola only 23kms
An easy day today but the next stop is another 36 kms away. Left at 0710 and arrived at 1200. Lovely stroll today on a good track with lots of little twists and turns. Pleasant scenery and still dry. Although the last 6km was dead straight again! This is a very small place so found my way to the bed,after asking for help,them asked for the best place to eat. Hopefully they are open tonight as well. The albergue is very simple, just 4 bunk beds on a room that is part of the church. A hand basin with cold water and a toilet. So it was an RA's dhoby for me! (Ask a navy person what that means!) To get to the AdP you need to phone Damian Lopez the day before. Then when you arrive you need to call again and go to 19 Calle San Bernard to get the key. I had to ask the baker! Damian is 100 m right of bar Jesus the AdP is to the left of the bar by the church.
Tuesday, 25 April 2017
No one else arrived last night so I was by myself again. Left at 0700 and got to MdC at 1410. I knew I had to go to the Ayuntamiento (town hall) to register and get the keys. Also I knew they would not be open all afternoon. Luckily for me they did not close until 1430! That would make it tough for some to get there in time as I walk quite quickly! Track to here was good and well marked with yellow arrows and little red elephants. Mainly flat again and passed lots of almond and walnut trees and wild flowers. Also lots a rabbits around. Last section is a dull slog along a road. Only relief was seeing 3 people going along the Camino riding skateboards and a Spanish driver that stopped in the middle of the road to call me over and tell me how to get into the AdP! MdC is quite a small town with about 700 inhabitants. Their AdP is excellent - 8 beds,2 loos and a shower all very clean and very nicely done. No charge either and they would not take a donativo either. Just had my 3 course lunch (with a coke!) but unfortunately this placed is closed tonight so I need to find somewhere else for tonight. Saw in the register that there is a Scottish man a day ahead of me so I guess we will catch up at some point! Be nice to have a conversation with more than ten words in it! Hasta manana.
Monday, 24 April 2017
Sax to Caudete via Villena 29kms
Out at 0730 and arrived at 1230. Hot today and had used all my water in the water sac by the time I arrived. However, I still had a litre in reserve. Unusually, I had a coffee before I left sax and a coffee and tostada in Villena - I must me getting soft! Track was simple today, well marked and flat - too flat really as I hate seeing my destination when it's more than 15kms away! More general agricultural on the way and plenty of wild flowers still out. Unfortunately, it is a fiesta here today so little if anything is open. On the bright side there is a fridge full of beer in the AdP!Staying in my first AdP for this Camino and it's fairly typical. In an old church building with bunk beds and a single shower. However, at the moment I'm the only one there but I'm told another person is expected later. So far this Camino is definitely not crowded. There have only 2 others here this week and it would seem only 3 English people in 5 years! Tomorrow I should see the little red elephants of the Camino Anibal!
Sunday, 23 April 2017
Had a few hours to spare after I had checked into my room - Casa Saxrural airb&b again and it was excellent- so thought I would go for a walk! Sat above Sax is a very old Saxon castle so I of course decided to would walk up to it! Being a Sunday it was closed but at least I wasn't surprised. Bar El Quijote, which is just across the bridge as you enter the town, was very good. Lovely lady called Anna helped me and you have to like a place that when you ask for another glass of wine say "help yourself "! So a beer, 3 glasses of help yourself wine, fried anchovies then chicken and chips all for 13 euros!
Left at 0730 on what was a cool but sunny day. In fact didn't take my fleece off until 1000! Easy to follow track that was well marked until I got to Petrer. It is often difficult to follow the Camino signs through cities and this was true here. Got most of the way through then lost the signs. Not helped by the fiesta in progress! No problem as I have a gps track and my mate google. Ultimately found my way through but added about 5 kind to the route, so did 30 kms instead of 25. Track after Petrer was well marked and the last few kms into Sax were a pleasant stroll along a river. Got to Sax at 1300 and stopped for food ( and a large beer). Room not available until 1500 ( which I knew) so just relaxing and sorting things out for my walk to Caudete tomorrow.
Saturday, 22 April 2017
Alicante to Monforte del Cid. About 28 km. Started at 0720 and arrived at 1220. A bit early for my air B&B room but the owner was fine with be arriving early. Quite east to find my way out of the city and after the cemetery there were plenty of yellow arrows to show the way. In fact the amigos de Alicante's guide seems to be very good and well worth the 5 euros. Probably about 60% tarmac and pavement but the rest was nice rugged tracks. After only an hour I had left most of the city behind, and saw pigs wandering around and an hour later I was out in the country. As I neared Orito there was a sign showing an alternate route to MdC which saved about 2 km so I took that route as it was my planned destination. Air B&B seems a useful tool for Camino's like this that have less albergues di peregrinos (AdP) to choose from. In fact I'm using it for tomorrow's stop in Sax but hope to stay in the AdP in Caudete the following day. Saw no one else on the track today.
Friday, 21 April 2017
I leave Alicante in the morning to start my walk. It's been an interesting city and I'm sure there is a beach somewhere! Despite being a tourist town I can still eat out well (and drink) for less than 25 euros a day which I don't think I could do in uk! Given the reduced value of the £ it seems strange to me that it is still inexpensive here. Also, it's much safer crossing the roads here than in Rottingdean village as at least cars here stop at the pedestrian crossings. In fact cars stop to give way on most roads. Also the wide streets paved with tiles and stone look a lot smarter than Brighton's chewing gum strewn concrete. There is very little litter and everyone seems to be washing the pavement in the morning. In addition, most nights there is someone dancing in the street, last night was tango. The Spanish lessons have been hard work and after 4 to 5 hours a day my brain is numb. I just hope some of it sinks in. However, I will be pleased to leave as I tend to find any city a bit soul destroying. Now let's see what tomorrow brings.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Went to find the Amigos de Santiago en Alicante so I knew where they were when they opened on Thursday to find them open! Typical! However, at least I could get the guide (5euro) which looks very comprehensive with good maps. Just need to massively improve my Spanish to read it all! After 4.5 hrs of lessons today I think my head will explode!
Monday, 17 April 2017
Got to Alicante and the room I'm using until Saturday without any dramas. Found the start of the Camino. As usual it's a church! Disconcerting to think that the equivalent of today's drive to the airport will take more than 2 days to walk and that the whole trip will take more than 5 weeks to get back home!