Day 16. La Magdalena to Pandorado (20 km)
(For anyone who notices that the last stage I posted was numbered 14bis, this stage gets the number 16 because the mountain alternative through Vegacervera took three days from Boñar to La Magdalena, while the “bis” route took only two).
For those who want longer stages, the most obvious stop would be Vegarienza, which is about 28 km from La Magdalena, and which has a wonderful albergue above the medical office, and a very nice road-side restaurant. But I’ll stick with Pandorado as the end point.
This is another one of those idyllic off-road stages, not much in the way of dramatic scenery but very pleasant. Pine forests and oak forests. Some of the camino goes along the Transhumancia, the official “livestock path” for farmers to take their flocks down to Extremadura during winter months. Though the animals are now transported by motorized vehicles, I remember being in Madrid in the 70s when the streets were closed off for one day. Some animals paraded on through the center of the city, to the delight of many and the displeasure of some. (Sort of the same reaction you get when cities are closed for marathons or cycling races).
I don’t remember any open bars or other services aside from those at the beginning in La Magdalena, and a café in Riello, about 17.5 km further along.
Ender actually lists Riello as the “end of stage” but I don’t see any accommodation there. The casa rural I have contacted has advised me it’s a whole house rental with a minimum of two days. But there is a nice bar there, with an outdoor café. This was another one of those places where the local residents were eager to talk to me about the camino, their pueblo, and their hopes for a better future. Carrying on from Riello to Pandorado is another 2.5 km and involves an ascent, but it isn’t dramatic.
Resthy’s place in Pandorado is a small complex. It has a bar/mesón, restaurant, and tourist apartments (with washing machines!). They are very familiar with peregrinos. Ender’s guide doesn’t list it, and that may be because they have been a bit uncooperative with accommodating pilgrims. When I stayed there in 2014, there were no others spending the night in their nice tourist apartments, and the price for me was a whopping 60€. The owner told me the price was the same for 1, 2, 3, or 4, and I was free to invite in some others. He and his wife were very nice, they just were not there to help pilgrims out. At that time, they also had a kind of taxi service. If the next day you walked to Fasgar or to any place before that, they would come pick you up and bring you back to Resthy’s. Cost was in the 20s€ I believe. But of course you would have to pay another fee to get taken the next day back to your starting point. That would make for 160€ for two nights plus taxi, not to mention food. That is no longer necessary, as there are places to stay now, but back in the day they had a kind of monopoly going on.
There is also a Gran Hotel Pandorado across the street from Resthy’s, so maybe that has made him offer more competitive prices. The hotel was not open when I walked through in 2019, and it doesn’t seem to have a website. Booking says it is not taking reservations.
All in all, I think this is a very manageable and enjoyable 20 km day.