A FANTASTIC DAY!!! Broken tooth and all.
Last evening at the pensión, it became obvious that the restaurant & bar across the street were run by the same people – fortunately nice and understanding people. Also Palau d’Anglesola is a real Camino town so they understand pilgrims. It took very little convincing to organize an 8:00pm dinner, no breakfast, payment for everything in the evening and then an early departure.
We managed to get out the door just before sunrise but after a visit from an angel watching over us. As always, we have a last toilet visit before leaving, in the attempt to avoid soiling the trail. Then, with our backpacks and hats on, walking sticks in hand, we did a last look around the room for anything left behind and then turned the door handle to leave the room. Just at that second, we heard a sound in the bathroom like something had fallen to the floor. Uh oh, whatever it was, we needed to fix it so the hospilera did not think bad of us. Melanie looked in and saw her phone on the floor! She had left it on the back of the toilet before forgetting it. We likely would have made it all the way to Verdu before noticing that it was missing. Tell me, who knocked that iPhone to the floor??? It sure wasn’t Satan although it might have been Steve Jobs. I think not though. Thank you up above!
As noted, we finally saw our first sunrise with a 6:40am departure. We were actually chilly for the first 4km and comfortable for the next6km. This start also meant that we finished the walking with only the last 8km in the really tough heat. We are used to starting Camino days an hour before sunrise but late dinners and breakfasts / checkouts make it difficult on this route. We’re trying again tomorrow. There is a place for breakfast 4 and 6km up the road.
The organizer of this trail purposely left Ignatius’ route along the Camino Real in order to bring us to Verdu, the birthplace of the Slave of the Slaves, St. Peter Claver S.J. As a result, we barely ever came close to the highway that is built over the ancient “Royal Way”. That left us with a fantastic walk though the countryside and farmlands without the sights and sounds of traffic. Again the trail was mostly on either a gravel path with some tarmac country lanes thrown in for good measure. There were even some small hills to vary the path.
At 8km, we arrived in a lovely little hamlet of Castellnou de Seana where we stopped for a croissant, juice and coffee. As we neared the town though, we noticed some kind soul had added very large orange arrows on the street to complement the normal arrows painted on rocks, trees, signs, buildings, etc. on the sides of the road. After breakfast, we followed the more numerous and obvious large arrows out of town as these were easier to spot. Outside the village, where the road turned to a dirt track again, the orange arrows started reappearing on the trees but in a new fluorescent shade. We also noticed orange and white plastic ribbons tied to trees and bushes to help guide us. Oops, we’ve seen ribbons like this before in Portugal. It was how they marked a trail for a bike race. The ribbons and large painted arrows on the streets. Uh oh. A quick check on the GPS confirmed my fears. We were off trail and now had to go back to Seana. That added a 1.2km mistake to today’s walk. It was a nice path though.
4.5km after getting to the correct path, we arrived in the larger Bellpuig. They didn’t have toastados at that restaurant either so we had another croissant and limónada before the final 12.7km stretch to Verdu. Melanie’s had so many croissants lately that she now has a French accent.
Verdu is another one of those towns that you can see several kilometers before you arrive. I love that feeling. It makes those last few kilometers so much easier. Just past a busy bar near the entrance to the town, we arrived at the birthplace of St. Peter Claver. (Google that fascinating man). There is an attached albergue but we’ve grown spoiled by private rooms and we looked for one of the three casa rurals that are supposed to be somewhere around town. A woman instructed us to inquire at the bar so we headed 100m back down the road.
It was at the bar that we met the lovely and dedicated Veronica, the keeper of the albergue. She practically insisted that we check out the Jesuit funded hostal as it is actually in the birthplace of Claver. I was keen but Melanie was insistent. She also didn’t want to walk those 100m again then walk to the CR. So as Melanie rested, I walked up with Vera to stamp our credentials and politely look at the place. The problem was – I fell in love with it. Imagine, sleeping in a saint’s house! A cool saint and a Jesuit to boot. I went back to the bar and pled my case to Melanie. It will only cost a massage and attending mass tonight instead of watching the Real Madrid game but it’s worth it.
After doing the usual albergue rituals, we headed back to the bar for a salad and beer lunch. I stupidly and absentmindedly bit into an olive and boy, those pits are hard. Harder than my tooth at least. I am not sure where the missing part went but it’s not where it should be. I guess I should be happy it was a top tooth. I can’t fill my mouth with a cold beer but I can take half a mouthful.
We’ve also had a nice walk around this ancient town and the whole place is fantastic. In addition to St. Peter Claver’s 16th century house, the village also has a 11th century castle with matching 13th century church and lots of other houses, mostly hundreds of years old.
For those following us, be careful with those arrows around Castellnou de Seana as well as with those olive pits.
Time for mass. May the peace of our Lord be with you.
Look who we spotted on the bulletin board in the albergue!! These folk have helped us tremendously with information on a blog from their February Camino Ignaciano as well as providing support and encouragement these past four weeks. Thanks John & Robin!