Veni , Vidi, Vici

Day 18

Calzadilla de Los Hermanilos to Mansilla De Las Mullas
Miles to Santiago : 224

Sorry to harp on about this Roman thing but today I walked 24 km along one of the best stretches of Roman road in Europe.

But first Calzadilla. What is there to say about this village that lies smack on this road and an important part of the Camino ?

Well bugger all really.

There’s a hostel there and a cafe. And that’s it. There were a few bored kids hanging round the church (which was naturally locked). I have no idea what the hell kids can do in this one mule town but I reckon they are on the first bus to Madrid when they hit 18

The hostel was free. And virtually empty I had a cubicle of four beds to myself which is virtually unheard of

The bloke in charge (hospitalero) was a middle aged balding Spaniard with ponytail whose name is Robert ( oh how we laughed)

I decided to take a quick tour of the village. 60 seconds later I had to find something else to do

There was a very small municipal park with a display of Roman artefacts and an information board showing how a Roman road was built. They clearly didn’t use local labour in those days because the pictorial showed men working on the road as the sun was high in the sky

“no seƱor centurion, it is siesta time. We come back later. Maybe”

The reason no one else came this way was the 24 km hike facing me today. There is an alternative route alongside a busy road which mist people took but I wanted to experience the “real” Camino

But my guidebook does warn:” On the Calzada Romana we will encounter no asphalt roads no paths , no town, no village, no farmyard, no house, no water and no shade”

Blimey they weren’t kidding

Accompanied by a young Irish lass called Keira I left at 6am. She soon fell behind with blisters

It was long. It was hard. But it was beautiful.

Those bloody great stones I kept tripping over were laid by craftsmen 2000 years ago. Think of that

Caesar Augustus and his legions traveled this same road bringing back silver and gold from the mines of Galicia.

Charlemagne and his armies tramped this highway as did The Moors.

It’s a causeway as functional today as it was then.

Back home cold weather reduces our highways to the road to pothole hell

You could drive down this road In fact the local farmers still do

Six hours later and after seeing not a single fellow pilgrim I staggered into Mansilla De Los Mulas (hand on the saddle of the mule)

Tomorrow I stay in Leon. In a 4 star hotel. It will be less than 200 miles to go …