Saturday, 2 September 2023

Thai cycling - Nakhon Sawan back to Sikhio.

At the resort in Takhli.
I ride south from Nakhon Sawan, through pretty mountainous country, but the route I've planned manages to be flat enough.  I do pick up a puncture, it is only a slow though so I opt for pumping up the tire whenever I stop to take on water, which is often of course.  Not a terribly long day, only 70km or so, I reach my destination, Takhli, early enough.  Time to fix that puncture, and a good thing it was only a slow as I struggle to remove the wheel, it is a quick release of course but I can't budge the lever, looking around the (charming) resort I find a piece of metal rebar which lets me apply some extra leverage, sorted.  More difficulties though, riding off to a bar I arrive to find it shut, and then rain starts to pour down, no choice but to wait around for half an hour.  Then the second bar I try is shut too, these are all several km apart on a busy road, good thing I am on the bike.  Well, the third bar is thankfully open, it also provides me with a fantastic fish curry.

Day six of the trip, another 70km or so, today I follow a railway line for a while, then a nice road along a substantial canal, built for irrigation purposes I guess.  Only problem is that as this isn't a natural watercourse, it doesn't really pass through any towns making it hard to find water, in the end I have to detour away.  I enter yet another province, Lopburi, and follow the canal to my destination, the provincial capital which is of course also named Lopburi.  Again it is a bit hard to find a bar, the route google suggests I take to one involves a road that doesn't exist in reality, so I have to backtrack along a road with many barking dogs.  Then it turns out the bar doesn't exist either, a victim of Covid I imagine, well, I eventually find a place where I am, of course, the only customer.

Pasak Chonlasit reservoir.
A long day from Lopburi, I am now heading east back towards home, but at least for most of the morning I'm going downhill and make good time, the low point being the impressive Pasak Chonlasit reservoir.  I did plan to ride along the dam, but the road is closed, well the minor road below the dam is very pleasant.  From here, the cycling remains flat for a while, then mid afternoon I am a bit disconcerted to see a sign saying it is still 69km to my destination, Pak Chong.  Fortunately it seems that was for a route staying on major roads, well, the route I've planned is only 25km and actually the roads are fine, if rather hilly now, I do have to push the bike a bit.  Seems this is popular cycling country, I see a few others about on my way into town.  Pak Chong is a very popular tourist destination, close to Khao Yai national park, so no problem finding a familiar bar with a proper band playing.

Lovely mountain scenery in Khao Yai.
Last day, good thing too, I feel a bit broken.  Not sure about the handlebar grip design on this bike, both of my hands have gone kind of numb, also I have a few patches of sunburn, well it will heal.  The day is a hard one of course, 90km or so and I am going through that national park - the only alternative being to ride on what is essentially a motorway back to Sikhio.  Well, it certainly makes for very pretty riding, and in fact for much of the morning I am going downhill, southeast rather than directly east towards home.  I can however see a line of steep hills to my left, at some point my route will turn and cross them, well, hopefully there really is a road there.  In the event, yes, there is a very, very steep road - at times I can barely push the bike uphill, let alone pedal.  There is at least a nice view on the way up, and when I finally reach the top, some fun freewheeling down the other side.  Not too far now, more pleasant countryside, including another reservoir, Sap Bradu, on my way back to Sikhio.  And that is that, well, all good fun of course, and I am sure feeling will return to my little fingers at some point.  I shall have to see about a route to the south or east of here at some point.

Monday, 28 August 2023

Thai Cycling - Sikhio to Nakhon Sawan

My new bicycle.
Another small adventure!  I am no longer working but still in Thailand, so free to do a bit of travelling, it is pretty hot at this time of year but nonetheless I should be able to do a little cycle tour, an eight day circle starting from my current home in Sikhio, Nakhon Ratchasima province.  I begin with a short ride north, just 40km or so to Dankhuntot, a nice little place with a very substantial lake - arriving there mid afternoon, I have time to walk around it.  What do do in the evening here - well, unsurprisingly a find a bar - not the first time I've been to one here, it is only a short drive from home after all.

Day two, still heading north, but a substantially longer route, some 90km to another little town, Nongbuarawe.  This makes for hard work, I fear I am out of condition, still the exercise will do me good I am sure.  I pass many lakes, one of them has an impressive temple complex with a truly huge elephant statue next to it.  I'm into my second province of the trip, Chaiyaphum - I have probably driven through it but this is my first time here as a tourist, it is pretty - less flat than much of Thailand.  Arriving, I check into a resort - basically a motel - and as will be the plan every day, wash my cycling clothes before heading to another bar - this time there is live music.

Temple with very large elephant.
An even longer day - 110km, and what is more there are mountains to ride through.  I am heading west, today I will cross the border between Chaiyaphum and Petchabun provinces, as is often the way the border follows a line of hills.  Well, it makes for scenic riding, there is even wildlife - monkeys of course.  Very hot work though, I consume massive amounts of water over the course of the day.  I manage to reach my destination, another small place called Bueng Sampan, the resort I have booked here is rather nice, even has a pool although I am to tired to think about swimming, or indeed moving much.  Fortunately the place is able to supply beer and food, although I do kind of wish the Belgian owner would put a shirt on.

A view over Chaiyaphum province.
Onwards, the days are just getting longer, this one is over 120km, somewhat flatter but still a long way, I don't have much time to pause, even to take photos - mostly when I stop I just guzzle water.  Yet another province today, Nakhon Sawan, and this time I am actually going to the provincial capital.  This of course is a place I have cycled to before, on my way from Kanchanaburi to Chiang Mai in fact, I guess I have ridden around a fair bit of Thailand by now.  Nice to see the place again, and in fact I've booked into the same hotel as last time I was here.  Half way through this little trip now!

Friday, 21 April 2023

El Camino de Santiago : Portomarin to Santiago

Kilometres this section : 94
Kilometres completed : 786

The rather impressive hill fort remains.
Can't say I love the usual before 8am departure from the albergue in Portomarin.  The sun hasn't risen yet, it is chilly, and there's nowhere to get a coffee - though I pass plenty of hotels with guests enjoying breakfast, I guess if you are only doing 100km all told, a nice hotel when you can isn't expensive.  Well, I walk out of town into a foggy morning, climbing gradually, and I do find a coffee after a couple of hours.  In fact there's a cafe every few miles now, clearly if you are in no hurry and have money to spend, you can keep stopping for breaks throughout the day.  Well, I get that coffee, then a beer and a bocadillo for lunch at least.  On the way, the high point of the day, literally and figuratively, is an iron age hill fort, where archaeological excavations have revealed substantial remains of the many stone buildings within the fort's perimeter, very cool.  Kind of sad to see the many, many other pilgrims walk past without taking a look though.  There's a large party of schoolchildren keeping pace with me now - maybe their teachers got them to visit the fort?  Well, downhill now, and the sun comes out, a lovely walk to Palas de Rei, and yet another hotel, such decadence.  Like Portomarin, this is a decent sized place, so for the second night in a row I get pizza - I am getting so fat on this trip.

One of many photos I took of hórreos.
A nice morning walking out of Portomarin, 29km today, the last long day of the trip.  So many people on the trail now, some even faster than me, though not the school kids.  Fields and forests today, a fair bit of green tunnel, and many small villages.  I am fascinated by the buildings, the older houses often have tiny windows on the ground floor - I think the space was used as a place to put your livestock in the winter.  In particular though, I notice that every farm and many houses have odd structures in their vicinity - something like three meters by half a meter, and the height of a two storey building, but usually the upper half is a brick or wooden enclosure, and just stone supports below. What could they be?  I suspect food stores... and indeed, some research indicates that they are 'Hórreos', granaries that have become emblematic of the region.  Anyway, I walk past many of these things, stop for lunch at Milede, then more easy walking to Arzúa, and a nice albergue.  Much pasta for dinner, ravioli and then lasagna, it is past 8pm as I eat, but there are still pilgrims walking into town - I consider lecturing them about how very late it is.

One last, excellent, pilgrim menu.
Last day but one, and only 20km to do - it's the same distance tomorrow, I considered doing the whole 40km in one day, but apparently arriving at Santiago before midday so you can attend mass is a thing, I will try to do that.  So, very easy indeed today, surrounded by a veritable horde of pilgrims I walk through gently sloping fields and forests, regularly stopping for a coffee, then lunch with most of the distance done.  With so many pilgrims on the trail now, it's not surprising that there are plenty of people who have set up little stalls, selling various things, offering to paint a personalised shell, and so on.  I guess this really is the spirit of the Camino, and has been for a thousand years.  Well, I save my money for one last albergue, very superior it is too.  Oh and beer of course, not to mention one last pilgrim menu, probably the best of the trip, the main course being a delicious parillada de pescado.

I got to the end!
So, the last day!  I start walking before dawn, only 20km, more woods and rolling hills, and even though I stop for coffee a couple of times, it doesn't take long.  I'm in Santiago before midday, time to present my credencial, and receive two impressive certificates, with my name in Latin even.  One is free and confirms that I got here, the other costs three Euros and includes the distance from Saint Jean.  It doesn't take long, I am only a minute or two late for midday mass at the huge cathedral... I am surprised it's in Spanish rather than Latin, still the singing nuns are most cool.  This is clearly another city in which I could spend all day sightseeing, well, I wander around the charming prazas, and a beautiful park, look inside a few churches, but time is limited - I have souvenirs to buy, too!  Also beer, of course, and not for the first time, the bar supplies so many 'pinxos' - snacks of various kinds - that I don't think about ordering proper food.  Well, that was all good fun, I will write a retrospective at some point.  For now, back to the UK - why yes, I do walk to Santiago airport.

Sunday, 16 April 2023

El Camino de Santiago : Ponferrada to Portomarin

Kilometres this section : 119
Kilometres completed : 692

Walking through the snow.
I head out of Ponferrada, past the large and impressive Castillo de los Templarios, it was also shut yesterday, and I really don't have time to wait until 10am for it to open today.  Some other time... Ponferrada is big, takes me a while to walk out, and then more easy, flat walking, mostly on road, though the hills are getting nearer.  I am now getting into Galicia, seems to have a different character to Castilla y León, houses have slate roofs, wooden balconies, and often place names seem more like Portuguese than Spanish.  There are also places offering the local delicacy, 'botillo', this being a kind of sausage made with, among other things, the tongue, jaw, and tail of a pig - think I will pass.  I am back in wine country too, and clearly spring has arrived here, the vines have leaves on them, as do the trees. Makes for delightful walking when I finally get away from the road, yes there is a bit of climbing now, but it is hardly strenuous.  Tonight my stop is Villafranca del Bierzo, another lovely place - I get the feeling that from now on, it would be easy enough to alternate one day of walking, then one of sightseeing.  No time for that, I need to do my daily clothes wash, then beer and once again, spaghetti then cod.

From Villafranca del Bierzo the Camino follows the river Carce upstream, it's mainly road walking and again easy.  But, for a surprise it's actually raining, not heavy but a persistent drizzle, I wear my raincoat on the trail for the first time.  It feels cold too, honestly I am happy with this, after the heat of the last few weeks it makes a nice change.  The river dwindles to little more than a stream, and then the trail leaves the road, and wow, actual climbing, the trail is somewhat steep.  Up to around 1,300 meters, to a mountain pass, and the end of the day, O Cebreiro.  Not sure why this place is here, right at the high point of the pass, it is odd too - circular, stone buildings with thatched roofs, and I think it's a bit of a tourist trap?  Gift shops, restaurants, and not much else, but there is a municipal albergue, only my second.  Wow, it is cold up here, I am glad to find one restaurant has the heating on, and I could order the usual menu but hey, pizza, works for me.

Cloister at the Mosteiro de San Xulián e San Xulián e Santa Basilisa.
I emerge from the albergue in O Cebreiro, and wow it has snowed overnight, well we are up a mountain I guess.  From here I have to climb, a little, it really is snowing, well, nice that carrying my cold weather gear all this way wasn't a waste of time.  I keep my hat and gloves on most of the day, before long the trail leads downhill, along another river, but it's still cold.  As I descend, the snow of course turns to rain, and not much to see as clouds hug the hills, well I can cope with this.  After lunch at Tricastela, there are two routes, obviously I have planned to take the longer of the two, which after 10km takes me to Samos, where there is a very large monastery.  There are of course also bars, and I find a menu with different things!  Very greasy things as it turns out - croquettes and calamari.

Mural inside the monastery.
I am due for one last zero day, well, there's not much to Samos but it will do, in fact I have booked a pensión for two nights, such luxury.  Good to have a rest, and wash all the clothes I am not wearing, and indeed not walk on a cold, wet morning.  In the afternoon the sun comes out, and I take a guided tour of the monastery - an actual Benedictine monk shows us around, there are two cloisters, and interesting murals and statues. Other than that I don't do much, barring the usual consumption of giant bocadillo, spaghetti, and so on.

Out of Samos, more easy walking along a river, at intervals you can see where a dam and mill race were constructed, flour mills I imagine.  Obviously the buildings are now ruins.  So, I need to pay for the rest with a long day, some 37km, no time for sightseeing at my lunch stop, Sarria.  This is just over 100km from Santiago, which is the minimum distance to walk in order to get a certificate at the end.  This means lots of new walkers, not all of whom are prepared - I see a group waiting for a taxi, and others walking in their 'evening shoes'.  I remember doing that on the Pennine Way, over 20 years ago now.  Well, nice walking country anyway, rolling hills, there are dry stone walls, sheep and cows - it could be the UK.  I eventually reach the day's end at Portomarin, it is past 6pm but no matter.  Nice place, and again looks kind of British - not least it is on the bank of what seems to be a loch.
Portomarin, seen from across what is actually Río Miño.

Tuesday, 11 April 2023

El Camino de Santiago : León to Ponferrada

Kilometres this section : 105
Kilometres completed : 573

With the Pilgrim Monument in Villar de Mazarife.
A small dilemma before leaving León... I had planned to buy a pair of walking shoes in Bristol just before leaving for France, unfortunately though Bristol's Decathlon turned out to be half an aisle in a large Asda, the stock limited to things involved in, I think, weight lifting.  So, I was stuck with Asda's own offerings.  Well, they've got me over 400km, and in fact are largely OK, but for the somewhat collapsed heels, and the degree of wear on the soles - too soft a material there.  So I could walk to León's Decathlon and buy a new pair...  But I decide against it, there is another Decathlon at Ponferrada in a few days...  Anyway, walking, a short day, good as I get a late start.  The route according to my GPS looks dull, more Leon suburbs, then many kilometres alongside a main road.  I'm pleased then to see that the guide I've downloaded suggests a different route, which on the ground is signposted as an alternative.  This takes me away from the traffic and into beautiful countryside, much more like it.  Glorious walking leads to my destination for the day, Villar de Mazarife, and I am quite struck by the charming albergue across from the church.  Sadly it turns out to be a bit disappointing - can't really blame them for my inability to eat fatty meat, but the bar service is terrible, and then they stop serving at 8:30 - obviously it is the only bar in town as well.  Ah, whatever, will do me good to not drink much I am sure.

Walls of Astorga with Gaudi's Palacio Episcopal rising above them.
Out of Mazarife, and after many days of more or less flat walking, some actual up and down.  Hills today, and I can see mountains ahead - well, it isn't hard, my pack is tiny after all.  Lovely up here in the high country, there are evergreens, birds variously flit around or glide above me, all is good.  Well, a small problem when I hit a decent sized town, Hospital de Órbigo, I had hoped to get a cheap lunch from a supermarket here, as it can be surprisingly expensive at cafes.  But of course, the shops are shut because it's good Friday, what am I thinking.  It is no problem as it turns out, a little later there's a village with a bar that provides me with a beer and an inexpensive, and very tasty, sandwich.  More hilly country, a long day today, good to do a proper day's walking.  I am tired on reaching Astorga however, I happily check into the first albergue I see, and it is fine, good home cooked food.  I make it far enough into the city for a beer or two after dinner, but proper sightseeing can wait until tomorrow, as it is time for another day off.

Roman remains in Astorga.
In fact I walk a fair bit, day off or no.  There's a lot to see, this is another city dating back to Roman times, more impressive walls, and even a substantial mosaic floor still in its original location.  Many other historic buildings too, I have one of those maps with a numbered list of sights, I have time to visit and indeed photograph all of them.  For ease of later identification of said photos, I go to each place in order... which involves much walking.  Rather than a sensible route, it often seems the numbers have been chosen so that I have to visit one site, then walk to the other side of the city, then back again, multiple times even.  Well, good exercise, and I need to get to my hotel for my second night here, of course it's a mile out of town.  Then back for more sightseeing - substantial Roman remains, and murals - and another evening in Astorga.  I must say, this is the most alive place I've seen on this trip, there are actual young people having fun here, I can almost believe Spain won't be an uninhabited wasteland in fifty year's time.  This is a big enough place that I can get a burger, and a big beer too - although, oddly, the afternoon duty barmaid at the bar I go to both nights insists that no big beers are available, odd,, given that after the shift change, big beer is back.

Highest point of the trail!
Time to walk some more then, out of Astorga, the terrain rises ahead and clearly I am going to climb, but honestly most of the time the grade is so gentle I barely notice.  Nice to be in high country though, there is heather, gorse, stone buildings - I could be in Britain.  There seem to be a lot more people on the trail today, come the morning I am one of a long line of pilgrims, all making our way west.  Well, it is April now, getting into high season, and I think a fair number of people started from Astorga.  Lunchtime finds me in El Ganso, not a big place but there are several bars - but of course, it's Sunday so they're all shut.  Fortunately one little albergue is open, I get an empanada de carne from their shop, most tasty though best not to investigate the meat too closely.  Then more climbing, and fewer people as it's now the afternoon.  I'm approaching the highest point of the trail, and I think tonight's stop, Foncebadón, is probably the highest town.  A tiny place, it seems to consist entirely of albergues.

So, just a few kilometres out of Foncebadón and I'm at that highest point, there's a pole here surmounted by an iron cross, the pole emerging from a massive cairn, formed from stones brought here by pilgrims over the years.  I add a small pebble of my own, and then walk a lovely high altitude trail - well, some 1500 meters above sea level anyway.  It is very flat, but after as while I start to descend, in fact there is a thousand meters of descent to come, it's even kind of steep at times.  Ponferrada is visible below, can't help but notice more hills the other side of town, well, that is for tomorrow.  Still, for the Camino this is a long day, nearly 4pm when I get to Decathlon, yeah I need those new shoes now.  Then to my albergue - I have reserved one, worried about the number of people I'm seeing now.  And, a bit of a struggle to find food, this is a big place, but most restaurants are closed - Monday after holy week I guess.  Well, I find a bar, and the usual thing of free food with every beer means lots of fried potatoes.  I am too full to eat a plate of proper food when their kitchen opens, a bocadillo works though.
The very splendid Castillo de los Templarios at Ponferrada.

Thursday, 6 April 2023

El Camino de Santiago : Carrión de los Condes to León

Kilometres this section : 96
Kilometres completed : 468

The trail continues to be flat and unimpeded.
Another good thing about staying in a hotel, no need to leave at the crack of dawn - now the clocks have gone back, sunrise isn't until 8am or so, being thrown out of an albergue that early inevitably means walking in the cold for a while.  Whereas today I roll out of town at around 10, under a lovely blue sky, it is going to be a warm day.  To the north I can see a range of mountains, plenty of snow up there, but to he trail isn't going that way, indeed it is completely flat, heading more or less straight west towards Santiago.  More fields, more small towns, each one has places to stay, you really could do 10km or less most days if you wanted.  One such town is my endpoint today, Terradillos de los Templarios, wow this is not a big place.  I wander a bit, what little there are in the way of buildings seem deserted, or indeed uninhabited, but there is an exception, the albergue, there's only one and it is busy.  Seems to be a younger, louder crowd of pilgrims tonight, compared to the usual quiet, elderly types, well why not.  Dinner tonight features pumpkin soup...

Decaying mud brick buildings in Bercianos del Real Camino.
Another early start, more blue skies and flat, easy trail.  I think I am about half way through the trip, no reason for there to be any sort of sign though.  In fact, Saint Jean Pied de Port is just one of the more popular places to start, there are quite a few different routes and of course you can start from your house, wherever it is.  This doesn't stop the next town I pass through, Sahagún, having a big 'halfway point of the Camino' sign.. pretty sure I am rather more than halfway though.  Interesting place anyway, much of it the massive ruins of yet another monastery.  A little further, to today's finish, Bercianos del Real Camino, not much of a place and once again, kind of deserted and decaying.  Here, rather than stone, the delapidated buildings are made of actual mud brick.  Well, there's a large, modern albergue that supplies all my needs, think they even give me free beer, can't complain.

Holy Week parade in Mansilla de las Mulas.
An early start from Bercianos - though not as early as my three roommates from the albergue, who were up at 6am, two hours before dawn!  The sun's up when I leave, but there's frost on the ground, it stays cold until midday or so.  Not a very exciting walk today, the trail running alongside a road all day.  There are mountains ahead now, as well as to the north, I expect I'll have to climb at some point, but I doubt it will be too bad.  An interesting destination today though, a well preserved walled town, Mansilla de las Mulas.  There are of course many historic buildings, after checking into an albergue I spend some time sightseeing, but then struggle to find a restaurant - there are bars, but they only have tapas, well it is good, various tasty things, one with each of my beers.  Then a commotion outside, it is holy week so we have a procession, wow, very interesting.  Near the front, a statue of the virgin Mary, usually behind the altar at one of the churches I guess.  At the back is a priest, but surrounding all this are a band and more people marching, and all of them wearing robes and a high, pointed, face obscuring hood.  A thing to see for sure.  I then get my bill, seems the tapas was free as long as I kept drinking.  Why have I been paying for food exactly?

León Cathedral.
Another day, more easy walking, and again a little dull, along a major road towards León, this is a big city of course, so much of the morning involves commercial zones and suburbs.  And by midday I am in the city, totally worth spending an afternoon sightseeing, this place has been here a while - the largely intact medieval walls following the plan of the original Roman 'playing card' fort built over two thousand years ago, and of course there is a cathedral, and various other historic sites to visit.  Santa Semana is clearly a big thing here, I see various floats ready to be pushed around, and some of the participants already wearing their robes, no hoods yet though.  Again I struggle to find proper food,  well, a few beers and various tapas will do.  Although, asking the barman to recommend something was a bad idea, I am happy to immerse myself in the culture, but I still don't want to eat tripe.
¡Ay, un león!

Sunday, 2 April 2023

El Camino de Santiago : Villafranca Montes de Oca to Carrión de los Condes

Kilometres this section : 126
Kilometres completed : 372

Villafranca Montes de Oca - the large yellow building is the albergue.
I seem to have been in Villafranca a while, it is good to get moving again.  And, a nice day to be walking, blue sky and the wind has dropped which is good.  A lovely route today too, climbing through forest, I'm over a thousand metres of altitude now, not that getting up here involved anything steep.  After a bocadillo for lunch, I detour to check out an archaeological park, but sadly it is shut, like many businesses here, victims of the covid madness I guess.  Today's destination is Cardeñuela Riopico, not much of a place, but there is a pleasant albergue where I get interesting food - Castilian soup, which seems to involve vegetables, bread, and eggs.  To follow, fish meatballs - the lady in charge is surprised I've never had them before.

Burgos cathedral.
Out of Cardeñuela, the way is very flat, gravel tracks and a delightful trail along a river.  This turns into a park, as I am walking into a substantial city, Burgos - I recall riding through this place seven years ago on my way to Rio.  A slightly slower pace this time, I visit the cathedral and take a few photos at least.  Then out of town, through the university district, I remember riding this way.  Not too far to the end of the day at Tardajos, another small place with an albergue, tonight the menu has red beans, more cod, and carrot cake - can't complain.

Time to leave Tardajos, I think I am still on my cycle route from 2016, it sure looks familiar.  I recall passing a lot of pilgrims, well, I was here in the high season, whereas March is supposed to be too early... in fact I am watching Spanish TV, they say, 'summer temperatures... in March'.  Well this may be bad for the planet but I am not complaining.  Another lovely walk today, spring is here, blossoming trees, butterflies flit around as I walk.  A whole 30km today?  Still very easy, I I reach Castrojeriz for half past three, time for a lie down, then sightseeing - above the village there is a very impressive castle, most of it around 1,000 years old, but built on an older roman structure.  Back to my hotel, beer and, for a change, pizza - Spain isn't very good at pizza, no matter, it is food, and honestly I'm not hungry - lunch today involved a truly enormous bacon and cheese bocadillo.

Pilgrim monument in Villalcázar de Sirga.
Another day, I walk out through Castrojeriz, and not for the first time I am struck by the amount of decay evident in this part of Spain.  For sale signs are everywhere, sometimes recently vacated businesses and homes, but often a shell of a building, just the exterior walls with no roof or rooms.  I get the feeling the population is in steep decline here, I see few people, and notably no schools.  Ah well, out into the country, cold today but still good walking.  I seem to have left the vineyards behind, they are growing actual food here.  After lunch I join the Castilla Canal for a few kilometres, again this is familiar from the cycle back in 2016, wow, seven years ago.  I leave the canal at Frómista, a decent sized place with many restaurants, all shut for some reason.  Well, one bar is open, I get a bocadillo, some tortilla and a few beers, it will do.

An easy day from Frómista, only 19km, so lazy.  Well, I manage to make some more work for myself by forgetting my watch, I have to walk back to the albergue to get it.  Cold today, but a pleasant riverside trail to Carrión de los Condes, a sizable place with much to see, time for a day off then.  I've settled into a regime with zero days, one night in an albergue, then a hotel for a bit of peace.  So, a lazy afternoon, I visit numerous churches and monasteries, stroll along the river Carrión for which the town is named, then back to a proper menu for dinner - this time there's quail!  More sightseeing on my day off, including actually getting into one of the monasteries - there is of course a cloister, and also 1,000 year old wall hangings in the style of the Sassanid empire, very cool.  Dinner tonight features fried eggs and black pudding, I could be back in England.

Cloister in El Monasterio de San Zoilo.