Today is our mini-break. A day off planned so that we could explore this beautiful city. And we have explored, both after arriving yesterday and today – and every step in the lashing rain.
“Cuenca is a city set in the mountains of east-central Spain. Founded by Moors, it retains its Historic Walled Town with steep cobbled streets and medieval castle ruins. Perched on a limestone spur high above the Júcar and Huécar rivers, it’s most famous for its well-preserved “casas colgadas,” or hanging houses. Cantilevered over the Huécar gorge, they seemingly cling to the cliffs’ edges.”
I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would look with the backdrop of a blue sky. It is definitely on the list of places to revisit.
Despite the rain, the city is abuzz with soggy, umbrella wielding tourists. This morning we walked up to view the cliffs from the other side of the river, and found ourselves in the vicinity of the parador. It is a bit of a tradition to call into any parador en route to check that the hot chocolate is up to standard (which of course it always has been). Sadly I should no longer indulge, but luckily the Cuenca parador has a supply of soy milk so I could at least order a very poor substitute of a cola cao. Nina ate her cup of chocolate from a spoon as it is so thick it’s impossible to drink. We whiled away an hour or so in the luxurious surroundings and took a couple of silly selfies. When we came to leave Nina found that her tiny, expensive (Sea to Summit) umbrella had been taken from the entrance. We searched through the mound of dripping brollies hoping to uncover it, but alas we had to admit that it was not there. Luckily a replacement was easily found in one of the tourist shops, but not as small and not as lightweight.
We called into a convent and listened to some nuns singing and chanting and then made our way back to our hostal. We had long ago pre-booked the hostal, believing that we would only be allowed to stay in the albergue for one night. But in the event Luis gave us permission to stay for two nights, although it was too late to cancel the hostal and so we arrived at 09:00. I cheekily suggested that as we would be leaving too early tomorrow for the included breakfast, perhaps we could partake of what was on offer today instead. No problem.
The Green River Hostal is situated very conveniently at the edge of the old town, overlooking the river and up to the cliffs. It is spotlessly clean – it’s the only public place where I’ve felt comfortable walking in bare feet. Really well planned and laid out. We have a room with three bunks to ourselves. Crisp cotton sheets and cosy duvet. I think there have been many cancellations due to the weather. We have stuffed all of our clothes into the washing machine and they are now drying in the tumbler, all for the cost of 2 euros. And we can hire a nice soft fluffy towel for 2 euros to make a perfect ending to a lovely hot shower. It’s a really great place – highly recommended. Booked via hostelworld.com €23 each.
On the subject of travel umbrellas, I’m very happy with my new acquisition. Last year I took one on camino for the first time and it was quite useful as a sun shade in very still weather, telescopic with quite a shallow dome, and the merest hint of a breeze would turn it inside out. This year I have opted for the more robust medium fixed shaft version which (according to the blurb) only weighs 207 grams but in reality was 30 grams heavier. I have placed bungee cords at appropriate intervals on my pack straps and yesterday when I tried it out for the first time it stayed very nicely in place, allowing me to use my walking poles whilst keeping relatively dry (although sadly not mud-free) There is another longer “hands-free” version that comes with fixings for pack straps and waist belt, but I felt this was too long to easily transport. They come with the option of a reflective silver coating which gives uv protection of 50 sfp. Maybe too much information for some of you but I know others will appreciate the review. My version can be seen here
Our fellow pilgrims in the albergue last night – two spanish young-ish men and the older french guy are all starting out from Cuenca. The spanish guys told me they would be walking and running, but they had full-sized packs which I would think will be very difficult to run with. Unless of course they had one of these clever inventions (I would like to know what they weigh, and they are very expensive). They all left very late, this morning, well after 09:00. We would have covered 10 km by that time!
After 48 hours of hard rain the tracks are likely to be horrendous tomorrow. The first 9 km are on asphalt which in these circumstances is a godsend, and I think it will be easy to continue on the road rather than divert onto track for the remaining 19 km if we think it prudent when the time comes to make a choice. Vamos a ver!