Our 15-mile trek from Belorado to St. Juan de Ortega on Friday had two halves. Although the weather was poor, we were in beautiful countryside and found welcoming bars for coffee in the morning and lunch just before noon.
It was all downhill (actually uphill) from there. Nearly two thousand feet of elevation gain to about 4,000 feet with occasional showers, biting cold wind and a seemingly endless trail brought us to St. Juan de Ortega. The guidebook said the albergue was basic and drafty, so we opted for the 10-room hotel across the street in the village of 30 inhabitants. It felt isolated to say the least.
Over drinks and dinner in a small bar filled with character and characters, we heard stories about the albergue's cold showers and frigid conditions.
We had made the right choice.