Today’s distance 26.5 km
Elevation gain 398 m
Elevation loss 478m
Total distance from Almería 393 km
I have decided to include in the ‘total distance’ stated above the 25 km that I didn’t walk yesterday, so that anyone wanting to use this information with a view to walking has accurate info.
After an unaccustomed lazy day yesterday I jumped on the bus to cover the stage that I missed and jumped off again at Santa Cruz – what should have been yesterday’s stage end. The rest of my gang stayed on the bus to Córdoba whilst I started walking.
After a very short walk through the village I was soon out onto a quiet country road. I was a couple of hours later than my usual start time so didn’t expect to see anyone en route. There are the usual olive trees to left and right but in the distance there are vast swathes of bright green cereal crops waving furiously in the fresh chilly wind. The sky is blue with lots of fluffy clouds – a good temperature for walking but quite hard going with such a strong head wind.
I make good speed on the road, averaging 5.4 km per hour and after 5.75 km I reach the first track that winds through the crop fields following the contours of the hills, constantly rising and falling. It’s too windy to stop for a break so I just put my head down against the wind, plug into a podcast and some music and pound the track, which is driveable all the way, hard gravel and stone, with a little dirt thrown in for good measure.
I do see some pilgrims, a solo male of unknown nationality and the pair of German guys we have seen over the last few stages.
Cordoba comes clearly onto sight at around 17.5 km and I still haven’t found anywhere to stop, but luckily a large old barn structure soon looms ahead and I think it will make a good wind-break whilst I quickly have something to eat.
The wind gets stronger as the kms are ticked off and after battling for just under 23 km the track reaches an approach road into Córdoba. Walking through the suburbs isn’t particularly pleasant – the streets are full of litter (which may well be due to the wind upending a few bins) and the houses are entirely uninspiring, but I can make out the walls of the mesquita in the distance and I know very well the sights and sounds that are in store for me. Córdoba is a beautiful compact city and well worth a few days of anyone’s time. And although I have been here, and done that, I can’t help but be delighted to reach the city again which is in full party mode – it being the Mayday long weekend in addition to the famous tourist attraction of the Patio Festival. The place is buzzing with music and dance and people milling around in huge numbers.
I find my accommodation for the night Hostal ‘Backpacker Al-Katre’ reserved via booking.com, we have three beds in a four bed women’s dorm, luckily my gang have already checked in and I arrive before the fourth occupant of the room. So although my girls have laid claim to the two downstairs beds, I am in time to grab the central of a three storey bunk. I would most definitely not be up for a climb to such dizzying heights – totally out of my comfort zone. Fortunately our fourth occupant is a young woman, able bodied and fit looking. She has just returned to the room as I am writing this and I am praying that Marilyn and I will stabilise the bed frame sufficiently that it will stay in position as said young woman makes her way to the top. Beds cost 20.5 euros and the place is absolutely full, as apparently are all other accommodations in the city on the party weekend.
Very close to the hostel I am delighted to find a Moroccan restaurant and sit down to hummus, falafels and tomato salad. The only downside was that they didn’t serve alcohol so I had to find another situation for a nice refreshing glass or two of white wine.