22nd June 2019
Correction: After writing this and Camino Postcard 10 I realised (thank you Ellena!) that we didn’t stay in Castildelgado but Redecilla del Camino.
21.4.19. Today was Easter Sunday. Rusurrexit Sixut Dixit! It should have been a good day, a great day. For Ellena, Carolin and myself, however, it was a dog day; one to get through and then forget (Tony walked on ahead of us today).
The albergue in Castildelgado didn’t provide food so when we left it, we reckoned on eating breakfast in the next village or town that we came to. When we arrived there, however, we found no cafés, let alone one that was open. Maybe we would have better luck in the village or town after that? No, no luck at all. Both places were locked up and had their backs to the world.
Looking at my copy of Brierley, I see that there were two towns on our route – both marked in capitals and bold – Viloria de la Rioja and Vilamayor del Río. If we visited either of them, they left absolutely no impression on me: in my journal, I mention the caféless villages and then go straight on to the path that took us to our destination for the day, Belorado. As I think back to Easter Sunday, I can see in my mind’s eye the two villages and the road but no other towns.
The path that we walked down ran for a boring age beside the road – nigh on ten kilometres, according to Brierley’s map. The clouds were heavy and the countryside boring. Ellena’s knee was sore and swollen after her fall yesterday and all of us were in a funk.
We decided to stop at Belorado. Would we get accommodation there? To make sure we did, I downloaded the Booking.com app to my phone and used it for the first time. I would use Booking.com to reserve rooms several more times during and after the Camino but would never quite be comfortable doing so. Not because of the app but because of what nearly happened at Belorado.
We arrived on the outskirts of the town and were delighted to find our albergue-hotel right in front of us. One of the restaurant/café staff was handling the check-ins but when we told him that we had booked online he seemed to have no record of it. There were still rooms available, thank goodness, but it was not encouraging that we might have been turned away despite everything seeming to work on the app.
Fortunately, this was our only bad experience with Booking.com. More unsatisfactory ones were to come at Belorado. Firstly, we were made to wear the kind of wrist bands that you are given at concerts. Why?? We were not in a compound or secure area. Secondly, after taking our rooms and gathering our clothes together to wash them as one, we had to navigate a laundry room where only a few of the washing machines and driers actually worked.
They did not do so satisfactorily. Our washing machine finished before the timer indicated that it was done and the drying cycle had to be repeated two or three times before drying our clothes properly.
We ate dinner in the restaurant area – eventually. The service was a little slower than I was comfortable with.
After dinner, we defied the dogness of the day and dipped our feet into the outdoor swimming pool. Of course it was c-c-cold but it still felt good doing it rather than lounge in my bed being anti-social.
In the evening, we considered what to do tomorrow: Ellena’s knee was still swollen. She didn’t want to take the bus but walking on her knee could not be the right thing to do. We made no decision, leaving it until the morning.