Camino Day 12, Sat 8/6/02:
Carrión de los Condes

21 km today
374.5 total
Senda de Peregrinos

Awoke tired after a poor night's sleep. The day was bright but very cold and windy. Figuring that the Voltaren Emulgel had something to do with my swollen legs, I decided not to bother today. Even with my swollen knee and shins, I ended up doing the 21km at a cracking pace, leaving at 7:30 after the Frómista refugio's fairly poor 2 euro breakfast and arriving at 10:40. This was because the new route of the camino is now a specially-prepared senda de peregrino which runs parallel to the main road like a footpath.

El Camino outside Frómista

en route to Carrión de los Condes

Stork's nest

Población de Campos (33K)

Carrión de los Condes
Note yellow "Camino" arrows (47K)

The Danish girl from yesterday passed by in a convoy of cyclists, I got a wave and a nice view as she pedalled into the wind. Hope she makes it OK and finds a job back in Copenhagen. A young girl on the senda just outside Carrión de los Condes (840m, pop 3000) was handing out flyers advertising the special pilgrim rates in the Hostal Santiago in town. Since I arrived in the town well before the official refugio opened at 12:30, I took advantage of their offer, and got a very nice room with shower and TV for 14 euro. How bad!
After a shower, I went exploring the town,and quickly found what appeared to be the social hub of the town, the Café España. Sat there writing postcards, eating a bocadillo, drinking a ludicrously-strong café solo and a glass of water, and watching the world go by. Along with half the population, it seems. The buses stopped just outside the door, so there was always people hurriedly drinking their coffee and hopping aboard, or people disembarking and going straight in for a beer. Even at 1pm, there were streams of pilgrims still arriving.

Went to see some of the town's main attractions: the church of Santiago, and the church of Santa Maria del Camino. Again, I was blown away by the interiors of these churches, which look very modest indeed from the outside. This time, there was light enough for me to get some photos, but they're not very good and don't really do the churches justice. All that South American gold was obviously put to use here!
I also explored the convent of Santa Clara (only so-so, don't bother), and the monastery of San Zoilo (outstanding, definitely do bother.)

Main altar

Santa Maria del Camino (53K)

Side altar

Santa Maria del Camino (48K)

Ornate Ceiling

Santa Maria del Camino (41K)

Main altar

Church of Santiago (44K)

Later that evening, I found a half-decent restaurant that wasn't too crowded and had the menu del dia - garlic soup (yum!), lamb cutlets, half-bottle of the local vino, followed by some ice cream. I am still a little bemused by the fact that many Spanish restaurants will serve superb meals over which great care has obviously been taken, but will then present you with a shop-bought carton of yoghurt/flan/rice/ice-cream/whatever. A bit incongruous. Maybe the Spanish don't have Sweet Teeth and so don't spend much time preparing desserts. Sorry, I don't mean to carp here. In general, the quality and value of Spanish restaurants is leagues ahead of Irish equivalents. In fact, it's embarrassing how much better value they are.
Carrión de los Condes is a grand little town with some highly ornate churches, a good social scene, and of course, the lovely monastery of San Zoilo. Sorry, no photos: I'd left my camera back at the hostal and couldn't be bothered to limp back to get it. I'm very sorry I didn't, now that I'm writing this up... suffice to say, if you're passing through, do not miss this monastery. I did get one photo of one of the entrances as I was passing it the next day...