After a blissfully quiet night’s sleep, we set off, riding on an almost traffic free P980, and still running parallel to the walking path. Still on the Meseta the roads were again flattish with precious little between the small villages that dotted this area. Many of them seemed to be almost deserted and certainly no new building had been taking place. Most of the villages had an air of hopelessness to them. If there were people living there, they were certainly keeping out of sight.
We did, of course, come across the occasional pilgrim, usually on their own. Precious few other cyclists seemed to be doing the route at the same time as we were that’s for sure. Then we reached Villalcazar de Sirga and things were looking up. We stopped to explore and have a well-needed rest. Even sat down with an ancient pilgrim, who was strangely quiet. Taking off once more, we carried on until we reached the outskirts of Carrion de los Condes where we rejoined the N120.
Again, a pleasant, if not rather treeless, ride straight through to Sahagon, but not before stopping off occasionally to investigate the ruins of the monestary at Antiguo Hospital de Sta Maria de las Tiendas.
The night before had been spent in semi-luxury, so this time we were determined to crash out in dormitory accommodation. As we reached the outskirts of Sahagon we noticed a gaudy building, decorated with a colourful mural and headed for that. It was opposite the local Bull Ring, which was fortunately shut. The cool of the open foyer made a refreshing change from the heat we had been riding through and, when the receptionist asked if we wanted to book a private room or beds in the albergue section. I told her we wanted the dormitory but on reflection this was definitely a grave mistake.
The dormitory section of this hotel consists of an old open-plan barn attached to the main building. There are some 40 or so beds in the room, but only six, of which we took two, were used that night. We quickly picked beds and left our panniers on to claim them. I inspected the showers which turned out to be nothing more than separate alcoves with loose shower heads and nowhere for the water to flow away. As for a place to hang clothes – that just was not going to happen. If I had known how very basic this was going to be, I would definitely have opted for a private room. After voicing my thoughts, John put things into perspective once again “at least it’s a room over our heads”. I marvelled over the accuracy of his statement and told myself off for being such a prima donna.
For all the fact that we seemed to have been riding for ages, we had arrived in Sahagun relatively early and decided to have a drink before getting changed. We had noticed a small garden as we had wheeled the bikes through the large red-marbled outer wall and, still in our riding gear, quickly found a table where we could sit quietly with a few drinks. John had his cycling cap with him and this soon peaked the interest of one of the hotel visitor’s. He walked over and asked John if he could have the cap. It is a particular favourite of John’s as it has a logo “Café de Columbia”, so he laughed and told the man that he almost certainly wouldn’t want it a sweaty and more than a little grimy piece of headgear.
Later, after a quick wash – the showers were too basic to take seriously – and a change of clothes, it seemed like a good idea to forego any investigation into Sahagun itself as both of us were by then exhausted. Instead we decided to have some supper in the hotel’s restaurant. The staff were very pleasant and suggested various dishes while we mused over what to have, and when another pilgrim entered the restaurant, we invited him to join us. He had had the foresight to book a private room, and I wondered if he had been this way before! Fortuitously, we both slept well as with so few other pilgrims sharing the dormitory everything was very quiet and the following morning were soon up and ready to continue with the ride as dawn broke to yet another beautiful, sunny day.