A walk in the park

Today we arranged to be dropped off at the entrance to the Parque Natural. This cut today’s walk in half, and considering the weather (very wet) it was a good call. So at around 10:30 we waved goodbye to our host and headed into the park following the well marked Camino trail. At this point we were maneuvering under continuous light to moderate rain. The path was a typical senda, compacted sand and gravel, that was well drained. Nonetheless there were still low points where the path was flooded that luckily had stones or other ways of avoiding the flooding. So onward we went each tucked into the quiet security of our umbrellas. The park was quite beautiful and a world apart from the highway shoulder walking (17kms worth from Castilblanco) that leads pilgrims to the park entrance. We saw two pilgrims on the way to the park. One was the Spaniard we met last night and the other was a Scottish fellow who had fancied a warm weather holiday (good luck with that). The entire day, to Almadén, was virtually spent in the park. It was quite pleasant despite the rain. Only at the very end when we climbed the last quite steep, but short hill did my cranky knee object. A couple of Advil and I was able to hobble to the summit. Going down was also a wincing experience, but it was full speed ahead on the flats. We rolled into Almadén around 2:00 pm and managed to get through the gate of our hotel before the sky truly opened up. While we were checking in with our host, Jose, I could hear a tremendous racket above us. It was the rain pelting down on our roof. We just got in ahead of the deluge. Thank God. Oh, BTW, for future pilgrims, just before the town of Almadén you will find yourself approaching a descending rocky watercourse. It seems as though this is meant to be the Camino path, but take heart there is a nicely paved (tiled) path just to the left that will take you safely down to the village. Please take it. Alas we, and the Scot come to find out, didn’t. We picked our way safely down but it was not fun in the pouring rain. Avoid it even if it is dry. At check in Jose told us his restaurant and bar would not open until 7pm. We noticed some activity at a bar across the street, the Casa Concha, and decided to head that way after dropping off our backpacks. We were not disappointed. The food was particularly well prepared and seasoned. Robin and I each had a bowl of seafood noodle soup, Robin had a pan prepared bacalao, and I had the lamb chops. It was all first class. We also shared a plate of local embutidos and cheese to start. A great meal. Heading back across the street to our hotel we just dodged another downpour but are now snug in our room with the heater blasting and our stomachs full. All is well. Alas, the wet weather will continue tomorrow.

The park entrance

Starting out in the park

This is not the Camino path, thank God

However, this is the Camino path, we hopped the rocks at the side

Almadén appears in the mist

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