The Camino Madrid will be the first stage of my 2020 camino adventure. I am combining three main camino paths with a sprinkling of Camino Frances, Verde and del Norte for good measure, and then making it up a bit towards the end by going cross-country.
These plans always sound fabulous in theory, but it takes a fair dose of sweat and determination to find out how they work in practice. I will take each day as it comes and will be doing my best Doris Day impression as I ‘que sera sera’ through the Spanish countryside. A scary thought if you have heard me sing!
But, first things first, the Camino Madrid…
As the name indicates the Camino Madrid starts from the city of Madrid in central Spain.
From the reading I have done, the Camino Madrid is considered to be a relatively new one. Of course, the pilgrimage path is age old and it was so little travelled that it almost fell out of consciousness until about 50 years ago when interest was revived. Maybe enthusiasts in the region could see the economic benefits of developing and promoting a camino as well as celebrating the religious journey.
My plan is to fly into Madrid early in the morning which will give me plenty of daylight hours to find my accommodation and get oriented. It may sound a little weird, but I also have quite a few boring housekeeping jobs that need doing before I set out on my 31-day stroll. These include:
- Find a Post Office to mail some post-camino clothes to Santiago de Compostela: After spending the best part of 33 days in the same set of clothes, it is quite a deliriously happy moment when you get to pull on fresh, clean and different clothes once all the walking is done. In the past I have rewarded myself and simply bought new clothes, but I already have enough in my wardrobe and I am trying to consider the environment a little.
- Technology: I need to buy a SIM so I can access the internet and call ahead as required. I have been advised that Orange is a good Spanish company to get data/call credit. I am open to other suggestions if you also have a recommendation.
Pilgrim’s Passport: To be eligible to stay at the low cost albergues, I must carry a pilgrim’s passport. This is shown when I arrive at each albergue, it is stamped and when I reach Santiago de Compostela I am eligible to receive my Compostela certificate proving that I have walked all the way from Madrid. Although I think my look of dishevelment and exhaustion should be proof enough in itself! In Madrid I need to collect my passport and first stamp from the Church of San Juan y Batista.
- Research the Path: I like to do a bit of a reccie to confirm the start of the path before setting out proper. No use trying to find an elusive yellow arrow in the dim early morning when there is no one about to ask, and
- Enjoying Madrid: I have never been to Madrid before (other than to catch a train) and I need to see it all in about 36 hours!
The official start point for the Camino Madrid is the Church of San Juan y Batista, but I understand the all-important yellow arrows don’t actually start until Plaza de Castilla. I am not sure why that is the case. My itinerary covers 12 days including:
- Sun 10 May – Madrid to Tres Cantos, 27 km
- Mon 11 May – Tres Cantos to Manzanares el Real, 27 km
- Tues 12 May – Manzanares el Real to Cercedilla, 23 km
- Wed 13 May – Cercedilla to Segovia, 30.4 km
Thu 14 May – Segovia – Rest Day, 0 km
- Fri 15 May – Segovia to Santa Maria la Real de Nieva, 33.3 km
- Sat 16 May – Santa Maria la Real de Nieva to Coca, 23.4 km
- Sun 17 May – Coca to Alcazarén, 26 km
- Mon 18 May – Alcazarén to Puente Duero, 25 km
- Tues 19 May – Puente Duero to Peñaflor de Hornija, 29 km
- Wed 20 May – Peñaflor de Hornija to Medina de Rioseco, 26 km
- Thu 21May – Medina de Rioseco to Villalón de Campos , 29.4 km
- Fri 22 May – Villalón de Campos to Granjal de Campos, 30.9 km
As you can see, I have a precious rest day scheduled for Segovia. From what I have seen on the internet and heard on the camino grapevine, it is an amazing city and no doubt, one rest day (two nights) will definitely not be enough. In reality it is a bit of a shame that a rest day turns up at only day four. Normally I like to walk for a week before a rest day, but Segovia looks too good to miss.
Waymarking and Maps: I hear that this path is very clearly waymarked with the traditional yellow arrows. I have downloaded a number of maps and resources and I will try to find a good map app too. There is a wonderful sense of security to see that little red dot (me) scurrying along a GPS path in an app.
Terrain: Again, from what I have found online, I am expecting a good mix of terrain. There will be a fair bit of road (hard surface) waking, especially as I leave Madrid on day one, and the rest of the time I am expecting dirt country roads and paths. There are a couple of stiff climbing days as I make my way closer to Segovia and then it is blissfully flat or gently undulating as I near the Camino Frances in the Nort
Accommodation: The albergue network is strong on this path and out of the 12 nights, I aim to spend nine of those in pilgrim accommodation. This makes for a cost-effective ‘holiday’ with an average cost of €10 per night. Yes, they are often very simple and spartan establishments, but as long as I am safe, dry and the place is relatively clean, I am happy. Most times you cannot book these beds in advance and you simply turn up and hope that there is an empty one for you.
I will upgrade to a small hotel on my rest days as I like a little privacy, quiet (read: lack of snoring) and the luxury of a private bathroom.
So, that’s about it for the first stage of my 2020 Spanish stroll. I am so looking forward to the Spring flowers and lushness that, more often than not, have long faded away when you walk an Autumn camino.
Have you walked the Camino Madrid? What are your recommendations?
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