Today’s distance 12.5 km
Elevation gain 109 m
Elevation loss 170 m
Total distance from Almería 711.5 km
Apologies for the tardy posting of yesterday’s blog, but there was almost no phone signal at Camping Monfragüe and wifi didn’t extend to our bungalow.
Long time readers may have noted that I am not so reliant on visiting bars in order to post to my blog as on earlier caminos. I have an excellent deal for data on my cellular model ipad. My only excuse for visiting bars now is that I want a glass of wine!
Although Marilyn is a coffee addict, she is also a tea totaler. I love her dearly, but am missing my ‘partner in wine’, the lovely Nina who has now returned home to Denmark. We didn’t need to ask each other if it was time for a drink, a mere look would suffice.
This morning we stopped off at the Camping bar so that Marilyn could feed her coffee habit, but not before she told the management what she thought about the dormitory room. We Brits are way too reserved – I admire Marilyn’s forthright approach.
There is not much to say about today’s walk other than that it was extremely windy and entirely on the road again. I actually wore gloves and my rain jacket as a wind breaker today – it was that chilly. And I think we have the better part of Camino weather, further north it is really quite cold.
During road walking recently I have noticed that here in Extremadura, or maybe just on the EX-208, the roads are marked every 100 metres. This morning it occurred to me to count how many steps I make per 100 metres. It turns out I make 130 steps on average. When I stopped to wait for Marilyn to catch up at a junction I told her my interesting discovery, only to further discover that she had been doing exactly the same experiment, and her pace was 140 steps/100 m. Well, how interesting is that? Not in the slightest – but when walking on the road and battling a headwind you have to do something to pass the time.
We arrived at the outskirts of Plasencia after around 8 km and I was surprised at the size of the place. We continued for probably three more km first through an industrial area and then past endless outlet stores and closed supermarkets. Even on a Sunday there was a fair amount of traffic – I imagine it would be a great deal busier on a weekday.
Eventually we crossed a bridge over the Rio Jerte and found ourselves in the old part of the city, with tall buildings on narrow streets, a pretty plaza mayor, a very impressive cathedral (where we called in for s sello). We made our way to our accommodation for the night, Albergue Turistico Santa Ana and are enthusiastically welcomed by the charming Paloma who allows us to leave our bags even though we are hours earlier than check-in time. We set off to explore some of the beautiful places this city has to offer and find ourselves in the 15th century convent that has been transformed into a parador. Hot chocolate for Marilyn and an early glass of wine for me.
We return to the albergue and we are allocated bottom bunks in a room for six. Thus far we have it to ourselves. The bathroom is a perfect example of what should be offered in multi-use accommodation. Separate for men and women. In the women’s facility there are three showers, with frosted glass doors, three basins and three loos. So many places have one bathroom only for as many as 12 or more people. So whilst someone is having a shower, doing their hair, brushing their teeth, eleven others are giggling up and down waiting their turn. It’s crazy and very annoying. Top marks to Albergue Santa Ana and the very friendly Paloma. 18€, lots of communal lounging/eating areas, situated in the old quarter.
Paloma recommends a visit to the Parque de los Pinos which is a ten minute walk away. As we approach we walk alongside an aqueduct and can hear quite a commotion of what sounds like peacocks calling. Immediately on entering the park we totally understand where all this noise is coming from – the place is inundated with peacocks – dozens and dozens of them and we are treated to a tail display as soon as we enter. Wherever you look there are peacocks showing off – on the ground, on fences, in trees, sweeping the paths with their tails when they are not displaying. Vibrant turquoise abounds at every turn but also lace-white. So many white peacocks proudly displaying their mantilla like tails. Sensory overload. Enchanting. And very noisy as all the males compete for attention. I’ve only ever seen a couple of peacocks at a time – this is an amazing spectacle and in such a beautiful environment with various ducks and other birds that would normally attract attention being totally ignored in favour of their showy cousins. Such a huge treat and it was fabulous to have the time so spend several hours exploring the city.