Day 14 - Great Day on the Meseta
Fromista to Condes
19.5 kilometers - 12 miles
We saw glory today. It was our. best day on the Meseta---by far. The walk was relatively easy and the breeze was up. We moved quickly most of the morning and saw some great stuff.
Two important stars of the day was a pair of churches in two neighboring villages.
The first was located slightly off the trail and we nearly passed without visiting. The second, is attached to our hotel--that's right, nearly right across the hall.
Our walk today took us through two small villages early this morning which were quite nondescript.
Actually, our short break taken at a bar/albergue at Villarmentero de Campos was remarkable. The grounds were the homes to chickens, ducks, turkeys and dogs. If there had been a barn, it could have been a petting farm.
Jackie tried to feed the chickens some Pringles--no luck. Then attempted pieces from a chocolate muffin--no luck. Instead the chickens and turkeys were swarming the tables where Pilgrims on break were buying bread and croissants just to feed the fowl.
We didn't stay long, and stepped carefully as we left the grounds to avoid the little prizes left on the grounds by the birds.
The Camino, which follows a dirt path neighboring a busy road all the way on this stage, then moves to Villalcázar de Sirga.
Iglesia de la Virgen Blanca
And Villalcázar de Sirga is the home of Iglesia de la Virgen Blanca, a large church build between the 12th and 13th centuries by the Knights Templar.
Remember, among the Knights duties were the protection of Pilgrims. We like the Knights and their history.
This church was remarkable in its relative simplicity. It houses few dramatic art pieces than many churches, but its architecture is dramatic, interesting and above all else, beautiful. The great dramatic arches. The wonderful and unusual busts built into the walls. And a moving sight for Jackie was the beautiful window, which dominated the front facade and interior of the church.
Truly, she was touched by the sublime beauty of that great window. She was sobbing away when we finally left the 700 or 800 year old church. It was very very cool.
The window that triggered Jackie's emotions - Iglesia de la Virgen Blanca
We took our second break of the day on the terrace of a very nice bar outside the Villacazar de Sirga church. Wow, great little bar with above average food. it was extremely busy too, thanks to the popularity of its neighboring church.
After two weeks of traveling by foot, we find it a bit like a relay race. We see some travelers one day, then see them again at a break area or in a two four or five days later. Others we see almost every day. Some Pilgrims move like the wind on the Camino and we don't expect to see them again. Others we are hoping to see again.
That is the story of the Camino.Even the shortest meeting or nod of the head in a bar becomes significant when you see that Pilgrim four or five days later. That is kind of the story of Zack and Emi from northern California. We met them three days ago on a morning break--their first day on the Camino after starting near Burgos. Jackie really enjoyed talking to them during that break, learning they were twins, doing the walk together.
Today, prior to reaching the first town, Zack caught up to us as Jim was taking a photo along the route. Zack said that he and Emi had split up after we met them because their paces didn't jell. We walked into Población de Campos (that first town of the day) and their was Emi. She was so relieved and happy to have met up with Zack again.
They were split up several hours later. We saw Zack again outside the Templars' church. No Emi.
Hotel Real Monasterio de San Zoila
We are spending the night at this unbelievable hotel. It is off the charts....cool.
Well, it's actually only cool if you like staying in what was once a working monastery. Benedictine monks once lived in the room in which we are staying.
This hotel began as a the 10th century Benedictine Monasterio de San Zoilo. It had originally been built as a convent but was used by the royal family of Castilla y Leon as their court.
After our amazing lunch, the desk man, showed us the way to the church and cloister attached to the hotel. They were amazing. Truthfully, if we simply cross the hall, we are looking into the courtyard of the 16th century cloister.
Photos, of course, don't do it justice, but we include a few.
It is a great building with more history than is allowed. It is also very stately and the facilities are excellent. We'd move in tomorrow, but we have a Camino to walk.
So that was our day. Jackie was leading our team's parade again today. It feels like we are taking turns leading this two-member marching band. Today, Jackie took command, despite experiencing the first blisters of our journey.
Monasterio de San Zoilo