I know I ended the last post by complaining about not wanting to get up at dawn. But an unlikely turn of events had us crawling out of bed very early this morning. (And to make it worse, those beds were super-comfortable because we were staying at the casa rural!)

Last night at dinner in the town bar, we got talking about the ruined castle on the prominent hill above town. What happened next is a bit hazy, but as I understand it Manu asked at the bar if they happened to have a key to the castle. This being Spain, they did, and Manu being Manu, he managed to borrow it from them for the night, promising to return it the next morning at breakfast.

So we got up while it was still dark and made our way up the very steep hill to the castle in complete darkness. With no map and no real road, it was pretty rough going, but we eventually found our way to the castle gates, by which time the sky had begun to lighten slightly. Lo and behold, the key worked, and in we went.

Below: Preparing to get underway.

Below: Climbing the steps to the castle.

Below: In we go!

Below: A medieval historian who couldn’t be happier.

Below: Watching the sunrise over the hills and Spanish countryside.

Below: Alfonso investigates the 360°-rotating bell.

Below: At sunrise, Alfonso gave the bell a mighty spin. It shattered the silence of the early morning. People in town later reported hearing the castle bell ringing. Did they think it was a ghost?

Speaking of bells: if you want to know what a Spanish church bell sounds like, try beating a metal pot with a wooden spoon as hard as you can.

Below: A view of Villamayor from the castle. We were a long way up.

Below: This was probably the most memorable event from our entire Camino.

Below: Somehow we managed to climb over this to get up to the castle. We had trouble getting back down, not having actually seen the route we took in complete darkness.

Below: After breakfast, we hit the road for a long day (30 kilometers). Here’s Alfonso with the castle behind.

Below: Along the way.

Below: Wind turbines line the distant hilltops. There were so many of these things in Spain.

Below: Two happy pilgrims.


Below: A stray dog that tried to follow us. It looked so sad…

Below: Approaching Sansol.

Below: These pictures were taken by Jesús Ezkerra, a Spanish (Basque?) photographer who had stationed himself outside Sansol today to take photos of pilgrims (and who has posted more than 300,000 photos to Flickr – wow!). He handed each passing pilgrim a piece of paper with a link to his Flickr page, and I’ve taken the liberty of posting two of them here. I hope he doesn’t mind…


Below: Interesting multi-crop countryside (that’s an olive grove in the middle).

Below: We eventually made it to Viana and enjoyed relaxing in the apartment we’d rented with Alfonso, Manu, and Dany. This is Manu’s pilgrim passport, which I’m showing to illustrate the difference in stamping technique between the French…

…and the Spanish!

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