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.
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.
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!
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.