Updated: Oct 10
Sun 8th Oct., Baños de Montemayor to La Calzada de Béjar, 12klms
After 18 days we said adiós to Extremadura this morning. Extremadura is one of 17 autonomous communities in Spain; these autonomies, or regions, self-govern within the limits set out in the Spanish constitution. Extremadura is the 5th largest by area, although it is one of the smallest by both population (just over 1M people) and population density, and the smallest in terms of Gross Regional Product per capita.
We are now in Castilla y León, where again we will spend some 18 days before we get to Galicia.
Combining el Camino and Extremadura, one of the stand outs for me was the extent of the informative signage all along the way. Below is an example of just one, but there were dozens along the way. Always interesting. The impression I got was that the Junta de Extremadura is actively promoting the VDLP, perhaps in a way similar to the way that the Camino Frances was actively promoted by the Galician government all those years ago. Interesting yin-yang conundrum that.
Anyway, departed we have.
We had a standard fare desayuno at the Hotel Glorieta this morning (toast and tomato sauce) and so decided to return to Bar Carlos - the site of last night's dinner - for a pre-departure coffee.
The place was deserted outside except for one bloke - more of that in a moment.
Bar Carlos is built into the side of a hill - the back half of the restaurant area is essentially underground. Gives it great character.
Anyway, while I was off taking photos, Janet got talking to the lone bloke. Turns out that he's a Kiwi, and has an Aarn backpack (very rare). So we got chatting, and we then ended up walking the whole way to Calzada de Béjar together. His wife has developed what sounds like pretty nasty blister problems, and she's bussed on to Salamanca to give herself some recovery time. Dave's from Christchurch initially, was an English literature teacher, lived and taught in Hong Kong for years, and now lives on an island north-west of Auckland. His wife and he walked the whole Via Francigena (2,000 klms, Canterbury to Rome) pre-pandemic.
A few photos of the day:
Leaving Baños de Montemayor. Very pretty view. Slightly odd town. At least a dozen hotels and other establishments, all crowded along the main street (the N-630). All seemingly catering for visitors to the "Roman thermal" baths. The town was quite crowded with hotels and elderly visitors, but one step back from the main street it reverted to the normal style of an mediaeval Spanish town.
The Camino recreated, Mérida to Astorga, on a wall under the A-33
A pair of Aarns. A most unusual site. I'll put money down that it's a sight we won't see again.
A curious co-traveller
Along the path, Janet and Kiwi Dave
The A-33 in the distance
Puente de la Malena.
Tonight's digs. Kiwi Dave and Janet chatting.
Seen better days ...
Town square. This funny little town is in great disrepair in some places, but then there's brand new Audi A5s and Merc SUVs nearby
Excellent dinner tonight at Bar Manuela. (Manuela also runs the albegue and two Casas Rurales). From left, Dave, Aitor and us. Aitor is a Basque man, from the town of Eibar (about halfway between Bilbao and San Sebastian). He's an engineer who was recently retrenched, and that's given him an opportunity to ride from Sevilla to Salamanca, and then he'll turn NW to Burgos where his wife and son will join him. He speaks Basque, Spanish and English, the latter he polished by spending a year in Oxford. Excellent night.
A 20klm day tomorrow followed by a 30 on Tuesday. Hasta entonces ...