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The new municipal albergue in Ourense opened its doors on 9 December. more details to follow...
The 2019 edition of the Walking Guide to the Vía de la Plata is now available from Amazon. The Kindle update will be available soon!
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The new Vía de la Plata app is also available for Android, you can see it here. The iPhone version should be available early in 2019, check back here for details.
The AVE is the Spanish high speed train. Spain is investing heavily in its high speed train network and currently lines linking Lisbon and Galicia are in construction. The Vía de la Plata passes both these lines and at times the construction works have cause disruption for pilgrims and long diversions.
Our latest information is that while construction is continuing (at a very slow pace) it is only causing minor inconveniences for pilgrims.
Between Casar de Cáceres and Cañaveral there is a diversion of about 1.5km but the new footbridge over the train track is reported to be basically ready but not yet officially open.
North of Zamora everything is fine.
After Requejo you are being diverted along a road, my advice is to follow these diversions, I tried in spring 2016 to follow the original route and it was tough going and I don't recommend it.
After A Gudiña the long diversion is now a thing of the past and you can follow the normal route of the Vía.
Casa Camino in Riego del Camino has announced that they will reopen on 1 June 2018. :-)
The municipal hostel in Carcaboso has reopened after several years of closure. It has been completely renovated and early reports are very positive. It costs 15€ with breakfast. Phone 640 281 337
There are reports that Asociación Gastrónomica / Me Gusta Comer in Rionegro del Puente has closed. Luckily nearby Bar Palacio has been recommended.
The stream before Guillena on the first stage of the Via de la Plata has been flooded this month. If you have problems crossing please follow these instructions:
About 500m before the stream an unpaved road branches left, follow this past a farm house on the right, under the motorway, then veer left then right and join a main road where you turn right and walk beside the road to Guillena. This adds about 3km to the day's walk.
In Almaden the pilgrim hostel Albergue del Peregrino is closed and will probably not reopen. Meanwhile the Municipal Hostel has been damaged in a fire and is also closed. There are still two other pilgrim hostels in the village and several guest houses, so no need to panic.
In Zafra the Albergue Van Gogh is now 12€ with breakfast.
The Municipal Albergue in Torremejía is closed.
The following albergues are listed in the guide as reopening after the winter in March, Casa Anita in Santa Croya de Tera, the Municipal Hostel in Santa Marta de Tera and Casa Luz in Puebla de Sanabria. Instead of March that should read Easter.
Also Casa Teresa in Puebla de Sanabria is reported closed.
Erratum to the 2018 edition. The two maps for Santiago actually show the route of the Camino Francés rather than the Vía de la Plata. If you get an edition with this mistake please accept my apologies. Here are the correct maps. The book on Amazon has been updated to correct this.
Delete recommendation for food in Bar Los Inmigrantes in Galisteo.
Hostal Asturias are happy to pick up from Cáparra but don't drop back there in the morning. Also note, this guest house is only about 2km off the route of the Vía (signposted) so the pick up service isn't even necessary.
I'm getting more and more emails from people asking about luggage transfer on the Vía. I'm always happy to help but as regards luggage transfer the only option (besides taxis) is that provided by the Post Office, and that only operates between Ourense and Santiago. See: el Camino con Correos.
The albergue at Embalse de Alcántara is now reported to be open (despite what its website says). As always, phone ahead if in doubt.
More good news! I heard today that the Xunta Albergue in A Laxe is open again!
The municipal albergue in Guillena is reported to be operating normally again.
There seems to be some confusion about how the EU (also known as Schengen) visitors visa system works. Basically, if you're not an EU citizen you can only spend 90 days out of any 180-day period in the Schengen area (which includes most EU countries but not Ireland and the UK). The rules are explained in more detail here. This is an official document so the information in it should be reliable.
Also on this subject, it didn't get a lot of media coverage but from 2017 all movements into and out of the Schengen area are recorded in a central database. So don't assume you'll get away with flaunting the rules.
Sorry to report the death of another pilgrim on the stretch between Castilblanco and Almadén. A German man in his 50s, he was taken ill shortly before Almadén and was dead by the time the emergency services could get to him. From the Diario de Sevilla. This is the second death in this same area in recent times. Last September a Birtish man also died here. On both occasions temperatures were close to 40C.
Outeiro Xunta hostel, the (beautiful) kitchen now has absolutely no utensils of any sort. There is a growing trend on the Vía in Galicia of kitchen utensils disappearing. The same thing happened on the Camino Francés years ago. This is rumoured to be because local restaurant owners don't want pilgrims cooking for themslves. While it's impossible to confirm this it does seem like a plausible explanation (certainly more plausible than the explanation I heard from one hospitalero, that the pilgrims were stealing the saucepans!)
I've received information about a new pilgrim hostel in Almadén de la Plata, it's called Casa Clara and it's on Plaza de la Constitución, just beside the church. It has two rooms with four beds each, kitchen and laundry facilities. 12€ per bed which includes laundry. Downstairs is a café which does meals, including breakfast.
Casa Pregrina. Another report of a closed albergue, this time it's the municipal in Guillena, apparently because of vandalism. The original report is here (in German). UPDATE September 2017 - this albergue is now open again.
Mundi Camino and the Camino Forum. We've received reports that the Xunta Albergue in A Laxe is currently closed because the permanent hospitalera has retired and there is disagreement about who should pay to run the albergue. Report (in Spanish) on Mundi Camino also, keep on eye on this thread on the Camino Forum.
From the Amigos del Camino website, some statistics of albergue occupancy on the Via. This shows the busiest months.
I have received an important update from a pilgrim about confusing signposting just before Alcuéscar. I have changed the route description in the book between Aljucén and Alcuéscar to the following: 16km / 4hrs to the turnoff for Albergue Turistico Los Olivos. April 2017, reports of misleading signposting at this junction! When you see a sign pointing left towards Puerto de la Herrerias, at this point the Vía, directly to Alcuéscar, goes right. From this sign it's 3km / 45 mins to Alcuéscar.
Dorothea Knophius has written to me about her new pilgrim hostel in Alcuéscar. It sleeps 3 people in single rooms for 13€ each. Open all year but please call to confirm, 686 902 879. It's at Fuente la Orden 32. You can look it up on Facebook.
Copyright © Gerald Kelly 2018. All text and photos.