Camino Day 3 – Colmenar Viejo to Manzanares el Real

May 8, 2017


Prepared for sun and heat

Another 15 km day. Still getting used to the daily exertions. I wanted to get an early start this morning but my sleep schedule is still wonky. Slept for a few hours then was awake most of the night. Oh well.

The hotel had a lovely free breakfast and I filled up for the day. When I finally hit the road it was almost 10am. I’m glad I scoped the route out of town last night as it saved me tons of wandering about – Colmenar is very easy to get turned around in. Thanks to some foresight and my handy dandy compass, I was away!

The first few kilometers that morning were tough. The pack felt heavy and unwieldy and my feet didn’t feel right in my boots. The heat took me by surprise, it ws 27 degrees centigrade and sunny, with only a wisp of a breeze. The trail today followed ancient cattle droving paths between stone walls of old farms. Evidently the walls can date back centuries. What gorgeous countryside!

It is so very quiet on this Camino. It was the main reason I chose to walk the Madrid Camino over the much busier Camino Frances. Just birdsong and cow bells. Beautiful. Fields of wildflowers, and deep blue skies.

The trail rose up into the foothills. Some of the day was spent scrabbling over rocky terrain. Up and down, up and down, but mostly up! I took particular care of my feet today knowing blisters are a danger and could spoil everything. I stopped in whatever shade I could find and dried my feet, rotating through my three pairs of Smartwool hiking socks. So far my footwear choices have worked out beautifully. My Salomon X-Ultra boots are especially awesome!

I met a fellow pilgrim today – the first one I have seen. He was an Italian by the name of Fabrizio. About my age. He had a terrible cold and was struggling with the heat. He spoke no English and my Italian being only what I learned from The Godfather, we communicated in pidgin Spanish and used broad gestures. I gave him a long head start while I took a snack break. He left a trail of used tissues along the trail from blowing his nose all day. I waved to him briefly in Manzanares el Real. He was in bad shape, poor guy. I never saw him again.

I’m in a nice little rural hostel just off the Camino in a tiny suburb. Nobody around. Extremely quiet. There are castles here in town and I toured around, then grabbed makings for dinner at the supermarket. Salad and quinoa bread, carrots and potato chips, yogourt and chocolate. 10 Euros bought me enough for my next three meals. I am beginning to fancy myself as a bit of a corner store gourmet!

Storks aplenty

I saw my first nesting storks today and now I’m seeing them everywhere. They make the most amazing sounds, croaking and clacking and snapping their beaks.

My legs are tired, as I expected, but a hot bath with my laundry and regular stretches are keeping the worst aches at bay.

Tomorrow will be longer and tougher as I head up into the Sierras. I’m told it will be at least 6 hours uphill. Yikes! The payoff is that the only place taking bookings in the next town, Navarcereda, is also a spa. Maybe they’ll have a hot tub…