Wed 20th Sept., El Real de la Jara to Monesterio, 20klms
I could just as easily called today A Tale Of Two Roads, but that title has sort of been taken. But two roads it was all the same. I will let some pictures tell the story, but read on....
We left our lovely little room at Alojamiento Mª Carmen in El Real de la Jara at a respectable 9am and got some lovely fresh (still beautifully warm 😀) bread rolls from la tienda just around the corner and then wander up the street to cafe/bar El Chati for desayuno, before leaving town a little before 10. Just as we were leaving two other pilgrims arrived, a German chap from Dusseldorf and a South Korean man. We spoke briefly with them before wishing them buen camino and heading off. So now there are maybe six of us in the general vicinity!! (Those who have walked the Camino Francis will know that at the beginning of that walk you could multiply that by 10, and by the end of that walk by 100. But here on the VDLP, six is a big number!!)
A correction from yesterday. I referred to the derelict building which we saw from the top of the castle yesterday as an old monastery, as I had thought that that is how it was described in one of the schematics up at the castle. It is actually an old castle itself – Castillo de las Torres – a now ruined but very beautiful 15th or 16th century building at the very southern end of Extremadura. But I’m getting slightly ahead of myself.
Leaving El Real we had our last look at their castle, before heading up the road on the way to Monesterio; up the road in both a directional and altitudinal sense.
The first half of the way was along a country laneway – not as one might picture an English country laneway, but in a very rural Spanish way. We were accompanied by oak forests on both sides, with the second half morphing into very well attended broadacre farming properties (sheep and I assume grain of sorts).
Not long into the journey we crossed the border into Extremadura, the autonomous community to the immediate north of Andalucia. I’m not an expert on Spanish political systems, and this is a simplification, but in Australian terms we would liken them to our States. We will now be walking through Extremadura for the next 17 days, at which stage we’ll enter Castile y León. This was marked with a lovely welcome sign and stylised camino shell.
I particularly liked the "namaste" on this sign, as that obviously reminded my of my trips to the Himalaya/Nepal, and for a bit of trivia, this is now my 6th trip to Spain, equalling the number I've made to the Himalaya.
Today's selfie. It was bright in the sunshine ...
Along the Spanish country lane. Oak trees abound
The oaks thinned out and turn into farmland
Freshly ploughed fields
More farmland, dominated by 40m eucalypt
Along the way we saw our first Extremadura-style way marker, below:
The green oblong to the right shows that it was once a Roman road (the shadow to the far right shows some bloke too lazy to get out of shot 😉).
This ends the tale of one road, as after 10klms or so we now approached El Culebra, and after twisting and turning through a series of roundabouts connecting the N-630 and E-803/A-66 road intersections, we followed a series of roads into Monesterio.
Before the interchange we passed the gloriously named Ermita San Isidro Labrador.
Not much else to say/show until we arrived in Monesterio ...
However, azul?, I hear you ask. Well, those of you who have been to the Iberian peninsular will recall or recognise the blue of the Spanish sky. We have stark colours in Australia, and I have lived all over, but I don't think our blues quite match these Spanish blues. Today they were so beautiful as we left El Real de la Jara, hence today's title.
To finish, a few afternoon shots around Monesterio:
Iglesia de San Pedro Apóstal, 15th century
Close up of storks' nests; I love them
Council buildings, including the Centro de Interpretación de Los Caminos Jacobeos del Oeste Peninsular
Relaxation time in the town square.
We've walked a little over 100 klms now (probably plus 30% if all the side trips are added in), so were now just over 10% of the way there ....