Our day four on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta was short in distance but not so short on the mental energy required. The distances between towns, again. were long. While it is lovely walking out of the fantastic town of Zamora, the monotony of the gravel farmer's lanes was making my soul weary.
I was a bit numb on this day, because I was weary of the topography of the meseta of the high central plain of Spain. My friend, walking into our group, who grew up in Kansas said that her friends back home, after viewing some of her photos on social media, were all asking her why she would pay so much money to walk through Kansas - ha! We all chuckled at that one!
Well now, this is a difficult teaching to digest isn't it? I chose this quote for this day, because I believe it was my task for this day, even though I did not succeed much. To empty oneself completely of all desires and all expectations is a great spiritual lesson, one very, very difficult to achieve. Releasing the ego entirely - way too great an exercise for me, for sure!
Here is our GPS tracks, uploaded to Google maps. I placed the services available on the map. Along the route, not quite halfway in Roales de Pan, there is one café, one restaurant, one sandwich shop and a sweet shop.
The Café Bar Tranca y Barranca (open 9-MN) where we stopped was even open early on the Sunday that we walked. This café, the restaurant and the sandwich or "picnic" shop are a few meters off-Camino, so you will have to make a point of finding them.
The pastry shop is only a few steps off route, and was not open on Sunday. Neither was the small tienda across from the Café Bar Tranca y Barranca. At last check, the picnic shop, the Merendero la Prensa is open daily from 9-noon, and the restaurant, the Casa Concha is open everyday but Sunday. The restaurant closes for siesta from 2-5 in the afternoon.
When viewing the elevation profile of the day, while it looks like a climb in the beginning, it is only a change of about 100 meters (330 feet), so it truly is nothing. One has to descend a short hill out of Zamora, then climb up from the river valley, back to the high plain. You will know you are walking uphill but it is not strenuous at all.
We were awoken by the albergue staff at 6:15 am, bright and early! We were told we would hear music at 6:30 to wake us up, but everyone was already moving about when the hospitalero stuck his head into our room to say "Buenos dias!" There seemed to be a big rush to leave going on!
The breakfast was more substantial than usual, with milk, juice, cereal, toast and brewed coffee. It was fabulous and we could not complain at not having to find an early opening café.
We were the absolute last to leave the albergue at 7:20, the earliest we had left yet! I did not mind walking out before sunrise, because I knew there would be plenty of light from the streets of Zamora to guide us.
We left the albergue, walking around the San Cipriano church and onto the Plaza de Claudio Moyano. At the plaza, there is a left turn, following the lovely shell waymark on the street, shown below. This photo I took the day before in the light of the afternoon. I am always so happy to see a shell on the pavement.
In only a few meters after this plaza, come to the next, the Plaza Viriato, with the statue of Viriato as described in my article on Zamora. Turn right to pass the Parador, then an immediate left onto the Calle Barandales, following the waymarks.
In just another 100 meters or so, you come to the next plaza that contains the Iglesia de Santa María la Nueva, shown below. It was lovely in the lights of the streets. The Semana Santa museum is right beside this church, shown on the right side of the photo.
It was here at the church that the Camino signage was lacking. After admiring the church, you can choose either side to pass by it. Then take an immediate right behind the church onto the street called the Calle del Motín de la Trucha. I found no waymark, but the street name placard is visible behind the church. You will also see the town wall to your right, farther along at the end of the street.
Walk the 50 meters to the wall and turn right, following the wall along the Ronda Santa María Nueva. As you descend from the heights, the wall becomes taller and it was gorgeous walking through here under the glow of the ample street lamps. You will follow the medieval wall through town for about 150 meters.
At the bottom of the hill, the street takes these s-turns, shown below, to exit by a gate on your right, shown farther below. In this photo, I took the shot back up the hill, from where we had walked. It is so well-preserved, lovely and quaint at night.
Here is the medieval Gate of Doña Urraca, the eventual victor of the siege of 1072. (See my article on Zamora). I brightened up all my nighttime photos so you can see around better. I wished I had added this part of town to my daytime excursion the prior day. This is a fantastically preserved section of wall and I would have loved to have seen it in the daylight. If you feel the same, perhaps wait until daylight to leave the albergue.
Onward we went, turning left by the gate, following the signage for the pedestrian route, to walk farther downhill, until coming to a large roundabout at the next intersection at the bottom of the hill. You are at about 600 meters thus far.
Here again, I was a bit confused, as you can see the signage, below, that we encountered across the circle to the left. Now, I believe that the lower arrow was to attract your attention from the other side of the circle, to cross it towards the left, then the above arrow means walk straight-on from the sign. Not very clear!
The street where the sign is located on the other side of the circle, and shown below, is the one to take, the Calle Puebla de Sanabria, or the N-122, in the direction of Tordesillas/Valladolid/Madrid.
You will follow the N-122 for about 1/3 kilometer as it takes a strong bend to the north, climbing up an incline as you continue to follow it.
At about 1.0 kilometers, into the day on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta, you come next to a big Y-intersection (no photo). The arrow to me looked like it wanted you to go straight, when in actuality it was meant to be a left hand turn. Leave the N-122 and join the ZA-P-1405 here.
The signage is good on this street, as you continue to climb up and out of Zamora. You will follow the ZA-P-1405 for a full 2.5 kilometers. As you walk, you will pass by several open cafes and bakeries if you have not had breakfast. Oh, the advantage of leaving from a large city!
As we reached some open space, we were lucky enough to see some sunrise color.
As with every city, as you leave it, the pilgrimage traveler must walk through industrial parks. Zamora is no exception. Here is our group, passing the busy industries.
At about 2.4 kilometers into the journey, come to the city limits sign, just before this large roundabout. Good-bye Zamora!
The Camino goes straight on through the roundabout and up the final crest of the long hill out of town. There is a nice information board ahead, as you can see in the photo above, the first of several soon to come.
Immediately after the information board there is a nice, dirt frontage road to walk upon, so the pilgrimage traveler does not have to walk on the pavement. You can see the AZ-P-1405 on the left side. Bravo!
The day was clear, fresh and beautiful in the early dawn light!
It is at 3.5 kilometers on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta when you leave the ZA-P-1405 for a right turn onto the Camino de los Cascajos, the "Gravel Road," leaving the pavement for good.
As we looked back towards Zamora, we could definitely tell that we had climbed, as the city looked like it was in a hollow. Here are the final vestiges of the colors of the sunrise over the industrial park.
After walking on the gravel road for about one kilometer, you come to this large auto recycling center. Here is where we caught up to Ledi from Brazil, with the orange jacket below. We had met her at the Albergue in Zamora. Ledi was a mere 75 years old and this was her 9th pilgrimage! And, she was walking alone! Amazing. We slowed down to chat with her for a while, then carried onward.
Just after the auto center is another gravel road heading to the right, but the Camino stays straight on.
At 5.0 kilometers, on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta you come to and cross the A-11 on this bridge.
The Camino turns right immediately after the bridge. I was happy for the turn, because we could see a long hill ahead that we could avoid!
This photo shows the highway to the right as you walk high on the bank beside it.
Fortunately, after only about 1/4 mile, the Way bends to the north and away from the highway. That is Roales de Pan in the distance, the next town.
At 5.7 kilometers into the day, you take a turn right here at the bottom of the hill. There is a tienda, on your left, and seen in the photo above to the left, called the "Embutidos Ele, Artisanos Tienda," or artisan sausage store. I wish I had looked up the word "embutidos" because had I known, we may have stopped to pick up some artisan sausages for dinner!
Not quite 1/3 kilometer after the turn, and at 6.0 kilometers into the day, come to the roundabout with the N-630, shown below. On your left at this intersection, there is a building that looks to be a granary, but it is the Campal animal feed warehouse.
At the roundabout, find the road to the immediate left, not the N-630, but the one before it and take it. It is a quieter road called the Calle Gral. Franco. Here is Rich walking into Roales de Pan on this street.
The first landmark you see is this town cross below, in about 200 meters.
There is an information board and just beyond is an interesting park filled with Camino symbols and animals. We smiled as we walked by.
300 meters farther along the street, we passed a sign at a park that said, "Área de Descanso de Peregrinos." It is a lovely pilgrim's rest stop just before we entered the center of Roales on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta. The murals painted on the wall attracted our eye immediately.
We did not stop at the park as we wanted to get a café con leche and walked onward to find the Café Bar Tranca y Barranca. If you take the first right after the park, in a block you come to the highway, the N-630. To the right is the Casa Concha and the Merendero la Prensa, a few meters away. To the left, 300 meters away is the Café Bar Tranca y Barranca.
If you look at the photo, the large black sign at the bar says "Open 9h a 24h. We arrived just before they opened, and were willing to wait for the precious expresso!
When we finished at the bar we joined the Vía de la Plata along the same road where we had left it, near the town center, shown below. Here is the church, the town hall and the tiny Plaza Mayor.
On the north end of Roales, at 7.25 kilometers into the day, there is another nice picnic area and par course. This is where the pavement ends, and you pick up yet another gravel road.
The coffee with milk certainly did revive me, and I even slipped in a little sugar for the road ahead. I was going to need it for the next 11 kilometers, as you can see. The road was hot, dry and long. Feeling numb, but trying to keep the familiar nagging questions at bay, was a challenge through here. Why was I walking anyway? What was I accomplishing? etc, etc.
At about 7.7 kilometers, on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta, it looks like there is a hill ahead, and just before it, the Camino goes to the right, at this intersection. I was grateful for a small miracle.
At about 7.9 kilometers, you take a left hand turn, 180 meters later, to head towards the row of trees in the distance. Trees are a landmark out here, indeed!
At approximately 8.5 km into the day on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta, you crest the hill by the trees. We ran into Ledi here, who had taken a lunch break and a nap in the trees. It was a good spot for that. She had chosen the halfway point for her stop. We passed her for the second time, after greeting her with a smile and a wave. She was in no hurry.
Through this next lonely stretch, a few windmills are in sight in the distance, and you can see the highway, the N-630 to your right. Otherwise, there is a whole lot of nothingness out here.
In this next photo the only landmark in sight is this Camino waymark, telling you to stay straight on at this intersection. You can see my friends on the road ahead.
Walking along on this stretch to Montamarta, I hung back from the others. I was not feeling the walk. Many things were running through my head.
The rush to get up in the morning on this day had been crazy. I was hoping that everyone was rushing to the new donativo, past Montamarta in Fontanillas de Castro.
It felt to me like the other pilgrims were very aloof. Ledi, from Brazil, was the only one that was friendly. There were two Asians from New Zealand that pretended they didn't speak English. We were to find out later that they spoke perfect English. There were two Frenchies that were distant as well.
I'm not feeling the Camino. I had a hot spot on the tip of my 3rd toe on the right foot. My left knee was also hurting a bit again today, but nothing like before during the Camino Teresiano, a several days earlier.
While I walked the Camino with groups before, the strength of all the personalities I was meeting was different this time. Everyone was on a mission! My reaction was to hang back and remain in my own little world, while the others marched on ahead of me. It felt like it was everyone else's Camino and not my own.
In my irritation, I even got into a tiff with Rich, my husband. I do not remember what it was about, that's how significant it was. However, I had my voice journal and I spilled my emotions into my phone. Journaling was a good way to get it all out.
The gravel lane onward passed under a power line, and beyond we could see an overpass.
It was not until approximately 12.5 kilometers, that the overpass loomed ahead of us. About 100 meters later you must take a right hand turn. What? The GPS tracks I was following said to go straight and across the railroad tracks, but the high chain link fence prevented this. So to the right we went.
It seemed like a long detour as we walked about another 200 meters before reaching this road that runs up and over the railroad tracks on this bridge.
As we walked on the overpass, we could see the way ahead, and the pilgrims below the bridge as the Camino loops back around. I calculated the difference between the two distances on the map, and it is about 1/2 kilometer out of the way, vs. being able to go straight onward over the tracks.
We discovered that it is physically impossible to go straight across the tracks with the fences there to thwart any such plans. Alas, as is often the case, the GPS tracks I was following were wrong. The Camino is such a fluid thing, necessitating flexibility and openness.
It was at approximately 13.4 kilometers into day four on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta when the detour finally ended and you turn left and back northward.
Rich was bored with this day too, but he showed it in a different way. I laughed and photographed him as he said he was working his lower body too much and wanted to work on his upper body. Here he is doing push-ups on a waymark. He had way too much energy!
At about 15.8 kilometers into the day, the very straight road makes a bend westward towards these trees below. But before you get to enjoy the trees, at 16.1 km make a right hand turn. I always chuckle to myself when I use trees as landmarks! I had to do it several times on this leg!
At approximately 17.6 kilometers cross the unnamed paved road shown here, where you can finally see some buildings up ahead. From this intersection, the Camino heads in a northwesterly direction, a bit away from town.
One could easily go to the right on the pavement from here and in a few meters come to the N-630 and take it northward all the way to the albergue, only one kilometer down the road. This would cut off some distance for your day. The Casa Rural Vivienda Turística El Asturiano is also on this route, only 400 meters away if you prefer staying in a rural home.
Instead, we took the longer route to the left hand onto the gravel road and continued on the official Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta.
The diversion on this lane is brief and in about 1/2 kilometer, cross under another power line, or was this the same one? Who knows? There is certainly an abundance of them! Check out the stork's nest on each pole!
Next cross an arroyo, and immediately turn right at the next intersection at 18.2 kilometers into the day. There is a large, washed out Camino billboard, a waymark and a sign for the albergue painted on a wall to guide you. This lane takes you back toward town.
In just another 300 meters, at 18.5 kilometers total, this small yellow sign tells you to take a right turn on another lane, off Camino and towards the Albergue de Peregrinos de Montamarta. (As of the end of 2021, the albergue was closed, with no opening date at this time, so have a back-up plan.)
A block later, a left and again a bit later a right, to see this tunnel ahead, where the lane travels under the N-630. The waymarking to the albergue is good.
After the tunnel, the albergue is ahead to the right.
The albergue is a converted schoolhouse. It is clean with 20 beds all in one dormitory. It has a washer and the kitchen here is well-equipped. There is no hospitalero here on Sundays, but there are instructions to just leave your donation in the box if you arrive on a Sunday.
The aloof Asian couple had arrived before us and the woman had commandeered the washer for the remainder of the afternoon, washing everything she and her husband had, including the backpacks themselves! She was mumbling something about bed bugs. Sure. We had seen none thus far in the albergues. Such is communal living.
If you are walking through Montamarta, and not staying the night, the Camino continues on straight, past the small yellow albergue sign, for not quite another kilometer, through town and to its center, here at the town church. There is a lovely Camino pillar waymark, with the staff and gourd to let you know you are on the right route. The church was not open when we arrived here on a Sunday afternoon.
Right along the Camino and immediately across from the church is the quaint-looking Café Bar Marce's. I took all these photos in the bright daylight on this day, to show you, the pilgrimage traveler what it looks like if you are walking through. I give a full description as well on the next day from Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela.
Next, you walk on by the church and Marce's. One block later, you are directed to go to the right, and head for the reservoir that you can now see ahead. Except the reservoir may be dry, like when I was here. Look for the waymark to your left, shown below. It will direct you across the reservoir to the Ermita de la Virgen del Castillo, in the distance.
You can easily see the way across the dry reservoir, in this photo, and when you are actually standing at the first waymark before it.
If indeed the water in the reservoir prevents your crossing, simply turn right on the road at the north edge of town, and walk 1/3 kilometer to the bridge you can see on your right. I did not picture it here, but it is not a far away detour at all.
Here is a lovely photo of an oleander bush on the south bank of the reservoir, a wonderful frame for the Ermita. I took this photo as we explored town, and the Way onward.
There are a surprising amount of services in this small town. After cleaning up at the albergue, our first goal was to get some refreshments, and we just walked directly from the albergue along the N-630 to the nearest bar, the Restaurante Rosamari.
It was no surprise that all the bars were lively on a Sunday afternoon. We arrived during siesta time to find the Rosamari open! Their hours are from 7:00 am until 10:00 pm A pilgrim's dream! The snacks and beer revived me even more than the shower I think. A nice reprieve from the long, hot and dusty road.
However, any plan to cook dinner on a Sunday was thwarted, as the small grocery store in town was closed. The Rosamari served dinner at 8:00, with a pilgrim's menu, so our decision was made.
If you arrive in town on a day when the grocery store is open, do stock up if you need, because the next day to Granja de Moreruela has no services for the first 16 kilometers.
Also in town, right beside the Rosamari, is the Café El Pescador. If it is windy, the outdoors area is sheltered.
Right across from the Rosamari is the casa rural, El Molino de Castillo. It is in an old historic mill, and comes highly recommended by the pilgrims who have stayed here.
There are several more choices for accommodation in town. The Casa Rural El Tío Bartolo (+34 650 405 236), that you have seen advertised along your way, the Alojamiento Rural "El Bruñedo" (+34 636 48 46 66) and the Casa del Sastre (+35 650 83 40 55 ). You can check the interactive map above for their exact locations.
And finally, here is a group of pilgrims, with Rosamari, the proprietress on the far right, gathering for a photo before dinner. Rosamari is very friendly, the food is very good and several new, more friendly faces showed up. We were fast developing into a "Camino family." The aloof ones from the night before were not present. I do not know what happened to them, but there was no love lost.
All-in-all, I could not complain about this day. Montamarta is a delightful town in which to spend the evening, and especially so on a Sunday. However, I had continued to yearn for cooler weather and different terrain.
I am an ego-driven person, with lots of needs and demands. When these needs are not met, I am not happy. When these needs are met, I am a happy pilgrim. Go figure. This is the human condition. It will not stop me from continually striving to empty myself. "Seeing" the condition is after all the first step isn't it?
Fluidity and flexibility. Keywords here. In the metaphysical world, this was what my knee represented. It only hurt just a bit today, not enough to stop me, nor slow me down. But the lesson was slow. However, I was listening.
May your own day four on the Vía de la Plata from Zamora to Montamarta be filled with self-understanding, openness, fluidity and flexibility. May your own Camino de Santiago assist you in your journey through life! Ultreia!
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