Held Hostage

Zamora Travel Blog

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Salamanca, main shopping street

Oh Salamanca! What a beautiful place and it just kept on getting better.

I spent a morning window shopping (I thought I was in Shoe heaven - especially the Camper store) and decided that I could buy 1 thing if I threw out the equivalent weight in paper. SO I found a nice skirt to wear at the end of each day so I do not have to wear either of my 2 daggy pairs of shorts to the bar every night. I was able to throw out half of both my guide books so it was a done deal. Ladies, are you with me?

I took a bus to Zamora for the day as there was a 3-day Festival on and I wanted to sample some of the local culture.

Ceramic festival, Zamora
I went to a Corrida, saw the most amazing display of ceramics and also found the ´Garlic´festival. Although I went by bus, I was going to have to retrace my steps by walking there once leaving Salamanca.

The ceramics were both modern and traditional with dozens of stalls set up in one of the big Plazas. The traditional pottery is like the brown glazed pottery used to serve Paella and Tapas, and for water and drinking beakers. Some of it is very plain and other stalls had the most intricate designs. I could imagine it being set up on a long carved dining table seating 20 family members on huge leather chairs. Sunday is the day all families get together and eat lunch, lasting for several hours.It is often in the home but you can also see huge tables outside every restaurant/bar on a Sunday with everyone from Abuela (nana) to the babies.

Zamora - ready for the final of the European Cup (soccer)
The children are ´king´in Spain and everyone stops to kiss them as they pass. I love the way family tradition is still so strong in Spain. We have lost a lot of tradition in the West and our life seems bland in comparison. Whatever happened to the Sunday roast?

Zamora is another historic town (home of El Cid and the painter/sculptor Lobo) and houses many of the oldest examples of Byzantine architecture in the world (including the unusual cathedral which I later visited in awe). I really enjoyed my afternoon in Zamora and was looking forward to returning on foot for the final night of the festival (Sunday) and a chance to see Spain beat Germany in the football final!

After my half day in Zamora, I took the last bus back to Salamanca at 9.

In my Salamanca jazz bar
30 and arrived an hour later. It was my last night and I was torn between staying longer or leaving in the morning for 2 very gruelling days walk to Zamora (which had just taken me an hour on the bus!). Even though I was tired and had a 6.00am start, I decided to return to the small jazz bar for a glass of the fantastic Toro wine (not available in Australia) and a chance to study my maps.

I was sitting at the lovely old wooden bar and enjoying the warm breeze through the open window when I heard someone beckoning me . . . I looked at the gorgeous young girl but did not recognise her as a pilgrim. She kept calling me so I went to her to see what she wanted. She introduced herself as the kind student I had met the day before when looking for internet. She was pleased to see me still in Salamanca and invited me to a local bar where her friends often listen to Flamenco music.

Hours of wheat fields walkng from Salamanca to Zamora
Now. . . .what would you do?

Of course I went! It was like a tiny bar like those in Fitzroy in Melbourne, very small, smokey and full of overflowing candle holders and nik-naks. We ordered coffee and found a corner table to chat but unfortunately the Flamenco group was playing elsewhere this evening. Many of her friends passed by and they all seemed to know and love ´Rosa´. She was so delightful and we talked for over 2 hours. Topics included study (she is studying Psychology), travel, languages, relationships and community living. She is keen to spend more time with the Rainbow Cooperative. I must also find out more.

It was fascinating to hear the views of a young Spanish woman on marriage and children. Quite different to the life presented in all of the small pueblos where women stay in the home and spend most of their days cleaning and bringing up children.

Getting 'found' again. This pilgrim post in the middle of nowhere was 'kiss-worthy'
Things are definitely changing here in the cities.

I really did not want to leave the bar as we were having such a great time finding out about each other´s cultures. Her girlfriends were off to a Salsa bar and invited us but it was now after 2.00am and I knew that the days walk (36km) would be tough - so good sense won out and I returned to the Pension.

My alarm was set for 5.45 and at 6.00 I dragged myself to the bathroom to wake up, take anti-inflamatories and slap on the sunscreen. There is a lot of routine to being a pilgrim and if you miss out one step, your whole day can be altered.

I sadly left the city behind me at 7.00am and began a long and gruelling day to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino, 36 km away. The first 16 were uneventful and were on a camino de tierra (country path). After this I was faced with 20km of tarmac on the main north-south highway called the N-630. It was just awful, with Saturday morning traffic and trucks screaming past at 150km. I had only a small shoulder to walk on and was now in the afternoon sun for 4 hours.

There were only 2 small sections off the carreterra (highway) but the first took me into a bog. The story here is too funny to relate but basically I was stuck in mud (a hostage?) and the weight of both me and my pack was taking me deeper and deeper. I just stood there, laughed out loud and took time to pick the path of least resistance out of there. So this detour cost me time in the sun and more kms.

The next detour was supposed to be across farm fields but there were new roadworks along this section of the highway and all the yellow waymarking arrows had mysteriously disappeared. After half an hour of walking in circles, I walked agonisingly back to the carreterra and finished the day on burning tarmac at 3.30pm. All up I must have walked 38km for the day!

Arriving at El Cubo was bliss and I quickly felt like new again after a shower in the Albergue. There were 4 other pilgrims already in residence: a Danish couple (Bierde and Alan) and 2 uni students (Pepe and Chema) from Salamanca. They had all taken 2 days to walk the same stretch I just did in 1 day!

While I was in the local bar (Note: a bar in Spain is like a cafe in Australia) having a coffee and reading the paper, a man came up to talk to me. Although I said that I did not understand him, he kept talking at me. He asked if I was travelling alone (they all do as they cannot fathom a woman without a man) and if I was at the Albergue. He seemed a bit creepy so I immediately left and went back to the haven of the Albergue to write my diary. An hour later he showed up in his van, smelling of alcohol and bringing me wine and sausage! I declined all offers (including one to go to his home with him) and went back inside. He had left the wine behind so I put it in the kitchen. Later I went to a different bar with the Danish couple to eat. He followed me there too! The couple were great and I stayed with them until we went back to the Albergue.

I was a little worried as there was no lock on the door to the Albergue and I was sleeping alone in a dorm room. The Spanish boys were fantastic and moved a large piece of furniture against the door.  Everyone promised to come running if they heard anything (although from the snoring I heard, I doubt that they would have woken!).  I was a hostage inside the Albergue now.

Thankfully it was an uneventful night and I slipped away under the cover of darkeness at 6.00am along with the boys. We had another big day of 33km (which turned out to be 35 as I missed an arrow again). I arrived in Zamora at 1.00pm and the Albergue was closed until 4.00 so I left my Mochilla (pack) at the church next door. The kind lady said that I would not be able to get it until mass at 5.00 so off I toddled, still smelly and looking like a tired dusty pilgrim. I had 4 hours to kill in the hottest part of the day but because the festival was still on I had plenty to do. There was the ceramic display, museums (only until 2.00), the Ajo festival (garlic), food food food and a parade with gorgouus traditional costumes in the Plaza Major. The Garlic festival is where the local farmers bring in plaits of garlic and onions to sell. There was a srtetch of street half a km long completely full of garlic stalls. The town is famous for it´s garlic soup but I was unfortunate not to try any. Maybe you can google a recipe?

It was a very friendly town and I had no trouble filling in the first few hours until the Albergue opened at 4.00. It was now extremely hot (35C) and I could not freshen up because my pack was held hostage in the church!

Once I had it safely in my arms and I was showered, I found a great tapas bar for a snack before the BIG match. I had arranged to meet the 2 Spanish lads at a local bar they knew and spent 2 wonderful hours in the roudy company of locals. It was a thrilling game and I was so pleased that Spain won. It is now 10.00am the next day and they are still celebrating in Madrid! It is a little quieter here.

The night finished off with a concert and a fireworks display over the old roman bridge - it rivalled Sydney´s New Year display but was not the same without the coathanger (Sydney Harbour Bridge).

Today I think I will just take this town hostage and enjoy all it has to offer a simple Kiwi chica!

Besos, Grace


PS: From now on the access to internet may be a little sparse - keep sending me hotmails though. Thanks for the messages on this page but I only reply to hotmail due to time.

If you want to send me a phone text (and have Vodafone -because other companys sometimes do not get through) send to +34 666 720 678

Linguistica says:
Hey, does it really only take an hour by bus from Zamora to Salamanca? I hope so!!
Posted on: Jun 06, 2010
MermaidLilli says:
I am reading this and realized I met you in Zamora in the albergue. We were roomies. You were planning on another day there and I moved on. This is Lillian from Florida.
Posted on: Nov 17, 2008
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Salamanca, main shopping street
Salamanca, main shopping street
Ceramic festival, Zamora
Ceramic festival, Zamora
Zamora - ready for the final of th…
Zamora - ready for the final of t…
In my Salamanca jazz bar
In my Salamanca jazz bar
Hours of wheat fields walkng from …
Hours of wheat fields walkng from…
Getting found again. This pilgri…
Getting 'found' again. This pilgr…
photo by: mkrh