Camino de Madrid, Days 3 – 4

It’s another chilly morning and I start walking just as the sun is beginning to come up. The air is fresh and cold and crisp and I’m still following the Roman road through a beautiful pine forest. The smell of pine is strong and reminds me of home, I’m feeling both happy and homesick at the same time.

Morning sun on the pines

These shrooms look like toasted marshmallows!

It’s a 12 mile downhill walk into the town of Segovia. It stays chilly most of the morning even after the sun comes up. There’s a strong, cold wind that just won’t let up. As I leave the mountains and get closer to town the trail levels out and I’m walking through mostly farm land. There’s a nice gravel path and lots of locals out walking, jogging, and biking. It’s a fairly uneventful morning, aside from being in the middle of another trail running race and helping to catch a runaway puppy for a frantic woman.

When I reach town I do my usual, find a cafe with WiFi and warm up with a coffee. I’m drained from the last two days and still not feeling 100%, so I decide to look for an affordable room in town. Fortunately I find one and decide to take it easy for the rest of the day. I relax in my room, watch American sitcoms dubbed in Spanish, take a nice hot shower, and in the evening venture out to check out Segovia. I didn’t realize this was such a tourist town! There’s an ancient Roman aqueduct winding its way through the city, built around the 1st century A.D. There’s also a Disney-like castle and some incredible cathedrals. The main square near the aqueduct is a swarm of tourists with selfie-sticks and I can’t get out of there fast enough. I wander a bit through town and come across a small market that’s open (it’s Sunday so most stores are closed). I buy a box of cornflakes, milk, and ice cream and head back to my room. I know I’m not feeling well when all I want to eat for dinner is cereal and ice cream.

Roman aqueduct

Cathedral in Segovia

Alcázar of Segovia

I sleep in and take my time packing up in the morning. I don’t end up leaving Segovia until almost 11:00. After dodging the tourists I finally reach the outskirts of town and suddenly I’m all alone. There’s nothing out here, just endless fields and a dirt road ahead of me. I’m so happy, this is exactly what I needed. It’s a sunny day, not too hot, the sky is a brilliant blue, and there’s that perfect hint of fall in the air. I pass through a few small villages. They consist mostly of an old church and a few houses and it doesn’t take more than a minute to walk from end to end. In the afternoon I enter a pine forest and all the trees are tapped to collect pine resin. The smell is heavenly!

Looking back into Segovia

Collecting pine resin

After winding through more farm land I reach the small town of Santa Maria la Real de Nieva in the early evening. I’m planning to stay at the donation-based albergue. Luckily I run into a fellow pilgrim (the first one I’ve seen so far!) on the street just outside the hostel. She’s a French-Canadian girl and she has just called the man who runs the hostel and he’s on his way to let us in. It’s a cute place, 6 beds, a small kitchen, a bathroom with shower. It’s just the two of us staying here, so there’s plenty of room. We grab some food from the market for dinner and chat for a few hours. It’s really nice to talk to someone (who speaks English!) after being by myself for so long. I’m enjoying the solitude of this trail, but I hope I get more chances to meet nice people like this. So few people are walking this route so it feels like we have a special sort of bond. I’m really happy I decided on this path and I’m looking forward to the days ahead.

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