Snow on the way to San Juan de Ortega

Camino: Day 8 – Wednesday April 15, 2009
Granon – San Juan de Ortega (Walk – 41km)
Woke to the sound of church bells ringing just above where I was sleeping. The host had put on a fantastic breakfast with plenty of hot coffee.
All the accommodation and meals were free and it was up to you give a donation which is used to restore the church. Unbelievable, this has been the best place I have stayed as far as Camino spirit goes. The sun tried to come out as I started the walk this morning but did not quite make it. The walk today can be neatly divided into 6 hours of walking along a major interstate highway into a bitterly cold wind that was blasting the skin off my face. This was then followed by a climb onto Montes de Oca which is about 1200m above sea level in a light drizzle which got heavier as i got to the top. The rain turned to snow/hail which continued for the next 3 hours through the most desolate countryside I have walked through.
The walk was along a wide trail that looks like it was a road cleared through an oak forest – muddy and slippery. Now I was really wandering what on earth I was doing here. It was cold, wet, muddy and lonely. Eventually the rain stopped and the sun came out, just as I arrived at a Monastery which housed the Alburgue.
I was so relieved to get here – I don’t think I have ever worked so hard in my life. The Monastery was the only building along a 20km stretch of oak forest. Luckily they had opened a bar within the building, where I ended up having dinner with a Dutch guy cycling to Santiago from Holland, an English girl who is catching taxis when she has had enough of walking and a Swedish reflexology masseuse. Never thought that blood sausage – morcillo – accompanied by red wine could taste so good. A freezing night in the Monastery where I slept in all all the clothes I had, sleeping bag and two blankets and I was still cold. The Monastery is at 1200m above sea level which may explain some of the cold weather. Can not get away from here fast enough.