This was by far the worst day so far for me. We arrived at Carrion de los Condes at 7:30 after an 8:30 start. I’m lying here watching ‘The Weakest Link’ in Spanish on a tiny TV with my feet up on a couple of pillows.
We cycled out from Burgos after a really poor nights sleep. Our first attempt at breakfast was abandoned – the place was horrid, fly ridden and only sold package donuts. We had a coffee outside and watched stray dogs play fight as the place filled up with disappointed pilgrims. Place number two smelled good and the chap said he did breakfast, but when we asked for tortillas he said “No” and gave us a plate of Twinkie type cakes. I scoffed them anyway and off we set again.
By breakfast place number three we’d cycled nearly 20km. We managed to get juice and tortilla Espanol. A Spanish family came in, ordered some drinks, and then took out a big bag full of sandwiches, laid them out on the table and tucked in. Odd.
We rode on and the temperature increased. We went along the N120 which is now bypassed by a motorway which signed itself “Camino de Santiago”. On a climb up to a new bridge I got another flat – double drat. We fixed it amazingly well, particularly with the new CO2 canister, which inflated fast, and felt deliciously cold. I set to work on the wheel while Lou fixed the punctured tube. She likes doing that bit – “it’s like doing nails”! A cheery chap in a van offered us help, but we were totally in control. Also, we were very lucky that there was a petrol station ahead to bounce up the pressure.
On and on through admittedly rather dull countryside with straight vaguely undulating roads just off the N120. On the way into Castrojeriz we met a German guy walking who was glad of the company. He’d walked from Burgos. He’d set off at 5am to meet his friends who had started a day earlier but he had less holiday.
Into town and the alburgue was shut so we went to the bar opposite for cold drinks. Castrojerez is an old Jewish town and the menorah in the bar was left over from when it used to be a synagogue! It was a good place and we got talking to Jose who said he had enough English to “get by”. When he noted that the Euro and Sterling were approaching parity I got a smidge suspicious. It turned out he had a flat in London’s Olympia that he had shared with his wife and since her death he spent nine months of the year back home in Spain.
Off we set again and it slowly got really unpleasant. It was painfully hot without an ounce of shade to be found. We took a few moments to hide out under the occasional tree but largely it was pointless though to Boadilla del Camino where we happened upon a lovely refuge with Coca~Cola, a beautiful green garden and internet access. We stopped for a while but all too soon ploughed on.
It wasn’t getting cooler and there was still little shade. I put on a bigger shirt with elbow length sleeves to give myself more cover. We stopped at a dodgy looking bar and had ice lollies to lower our core temperatures. It kind of worked. Lou got stung today – twice. One on her neck swelled up horribly. I tried to look mildly concerned but apparently my face betrayed abject horror. With a little of Elise’s magic cream (hydrocortisone) it soon recovered.
The road into Palencia district was recently resurfaced and was still very black with loose, tarmacy chippings everywhere. It seemed to add to the heat. We got into a little town with an alburgue but we were too tired to climb the hill into it! We drank water and ate crisps…mmm…salt. After a couple of minutes we were ready to walk up the hill for juice. We stopped for 45 minutes to get the strength to go on to Carrion. Vultures circled above, I’m sure they were pointing at us!
Just 6km and we were in Carrion de los Condes – The Nicest Town in the World. We stopped and asked a man watering his garden for directions to hotels – big, fancy hotels! He laughed himself silly and gave us directions to a sub one star hostel – The Best Hotel in the World. It had a garden just for the bikes, and our room had a nice bathroom, a stone floor and a tiny TV that reassured us that people were dying from the heat all over the area. At 7pm the outdoor temperature gauge behind the newsreaders shoulder read 49°C.
We set off to a store where we picked op 6 litres of water, peanuts, pretzels and crisps – I guess our bodies naturally led us both to the salt aisle. Then to a bar for dinner – wine, salad, trout, tomatoes, shrimp, chips, rice, and a plate of cheese. The Best Meal in the World, washed down with the best wine in the world. After that we mooched back to the hotel, where fellow cyclists we’d met on the road spotted us and checked in too. I was awoken again by 4am singing, then, more helpfully, by a car beeping out a tune up and down the street shouting “vamos”. The Italian cyclists from the night before also shouted up to Lou on the balcony, telling us to get going.
There was some panic as we tried to check out as there was no one around. We hadn’t paid, they had my passport and the bikes were locked in the garden. We managed to wake up a grouchy person via the intercom who let us pay, and then we heard him shouting at the girl who was clearly supposed to be there to deal with us!