Camino de Levante Photo Journal
Valencia to Albacete

On 19 March 2012 I flew from our home in Santa Fe to Madrid to walk from Valencia to Santiago along the Camino de Levante. I was about to begin a 745-mile (1200-km) walk across Spain alone. This set of pages will take you along with me in words and pictures. Enjoy!

The walk began inauspiciously. I was pick-pocketed less than two hours after I landed in Madrid. I ended up staying in a city home for the penniless. They were gracious and helpful. Thanks. But after getting some money wired to me, I quickly headed for Valencia, my starting point. I have no pictures of this stage of the walk. In Valencia I established myself in a hotel and spent a week getting my plastic and some cash in order before heading west on the Camino de Levante.

This photo journal is divided into four sections on the pilgrimage itself and an epilog section on my walk with my brother on the Camino Français.


Don Quixote and Sancho Panza met me in the form of this large silhouette bronze as I left Casas de los Piños in mid-morning 11 April. They are not dead characters in a 500-year-old novel. They were everywhere as I walked La Mancha. They were on route markers, in market places, in stores, in hotels, and in every souvenir shop from Toledo and Avila to the smallest villages. They became the mascots of this walk. (11 Apr 12)


Valencia's central market, a commercial cathedral. (23 Mar 12)


Valencia's other cathedral. (23 Mar 12)


A Valencia park. (25 Mar 12)


Sand castle on Valencia's beach. (25 Mar 12)


Valencia at the Med. (25 Mar 12)


Valencia street near my hotel. (27 Mar 12)

Finally, on 28 March I have my monies straightened out. I have a working credit card and enough cash to get me to Toledo (20 days or so down the road). But I still have no working ATM card. So I set out for Santiago.


This is how they recycle in Valencia as well as most metropolitan areas in Spain. (28 Mar 12)


The road immediately gets unadorned as I walk through fallow fields first headed south (28 Mar 12)


My first sign identifying both the Camino de Levante and the GR-239, the European walkway that pumps a lot of upgrade money into the path. The way would not be the same without that money. (28 Mar 12)


A morning outbreak of Prickly Pears and Palm trees. (29 Mar 12)


We are sharing the way with another defined path, the Camino del Cid, the famous El Cid of Spanish medieval fame, who passed through this area often. This is just a painted sign. (29 MAR 12)


We are also on another path, the Via Augusta, a Roman road. It stays with us for several days. This marker is a bit more enduring; like the large Roman stone pillars marking their roads, this is a large cement pillar. (29 Mar 12)


The world changes as I start climbing up to the plains of La Mancha. Here are some of the last fruit trees. Valencia, the home of the orange with the same name, had thousands of oranges but now they have disappeared in the new climate. (1 Apr 12)


Someome created very comfortable benches with boards between the three trunks of this tree. I had a relaxing 15-minute nap here. (1 Apr 12)


Directions for walkers and cyclers in the hills west of La Font de la Figura. (3 Apr 12)


Morning clouds are still on the massive southwest of Almansa as I walk toward it in the damp early air. (4 Apr 12)


A telephoto view back that morning towards Almansa's Moorish castle—unimpressive to me—a cube on hill. (4 Apr 12)


A distant block of a building on the planes of La Mancha west of Higueruela. (6 Apr 12)


A route marker put up by Hoya Gonzalo. Each community had its own identity marked on similar posts along the way. (4 Apr 12)


This marker from six days later now identifies the route as Ruta de Don Quijote. It is along the Camino Viejo ed Minaya north west of La Roda. It also says the path is handicap accessible and 719 meters (2,358 feet) above sea level in addition to being 47km (28.5 miles) from Muenara, a bit far for this walker. (10 Apr 12)


A Celtic shepherd shelter along the path to Chinchilla. (6 Apr 12)


The Camino on the way to Chinchilla. (6 Apr 12)


The way continues forever still reaching for Chincilla. (6 Apr 12)

Three separate Camino routes competed with each other to get from Chinchella to Albacete. I followed the signs I saw. The book showed a different route. And yet a third path intersected with the one I was following. It was time for dead reckoning. I could see the town so I followed the most logical of the routes and in the end was lost in the town anyway. But I found a hotel just off the Camino.


Don and Sancho in Albacete. (7 Apr 12)


I was in Albacete on Easter Saturday and the town was bringing this statue of Mary back to the church. Click here for a video of them moving the float into the church. The file is large so it may take a little extra time to load it. (7 Apr 12)

My time here this afternoon was an experience reminiscent of my walk through Astorga, Spain on the Camino Français two years as I entered town on Palm Sunday to a float parade there. The music and ceremony were similar. And I had tears here too.


The float porters during a rest stop. (7 Apr 12)

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Copyright © 2012 Mike Metras, www.PilgrimageCreations.com /td>