We are definitely into deep Spain, into granite mountain passes and sun burned plains. It's no longer wheat and corn and vines. Now it is cattle and pigs and sheep roaming over a vast wild territory. The little villages and towns are quiet, the bigger towns medieval and fortified.
The ride from Salamanca to Plasencia was through such territory. At Bejar, I picked up an old railway line that took me almost to Plasencia, most of it on a slight downhill, and so it was easy riding. The wind was no longer in my face, more to the back and side, so riding was easier. Slight downhill, wind in your favour - bliss for a cyclist.
The route is definitely now following the Camino route of the Ruta de la Plata and I came across a number of walkers making their way north. In particular, I met a lovely, charming, Italian couple in their 60s, from Milan - Domenico and Daniella. They were walking the whole route to join up with the Camino Frances near Gijon and then on to Compostella. 36 days walking, give or take. They were suitably impressed to find an Englishman on a bicycle who wanted to converse in Italian with them Daniella was a student in Rome in the mid to late 70s, like me, and we reminisced about the Brigate Rosse, the murder of Aldo Moro, and the on / off again Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti ("Crisi, ma che crisi ?) "Brutti tempi", she said. I just remember it as a wonderful time in a lovely city, although I was just slightly aware of momentous things happening around me. The innocence of youth, I suppose.
The Parador at Plasencia is delightful, set in an old Dominican monastery / friary. Just wonderful. In the evening we ate in the cloister. I kept thinking of those old priests and brothers eating their gruel, and there I was having foie gras and lovely wine. I think I know which I prefer. Well, you have to live, don't you ?!
The ride on Sunday morning and up until mid afternoon was a relatively short one, from the Parador de Plasencia to the Parador de Caceres. Only some 55 miles or so, and mostly along the N-630 which is paralleled by the Autovia and the new high speed railway. I was in to Caceres by early afternoon. As I say, a short day by my standards, but nice to get somewhere and spend some time lounging around the Parador and traipsing around lovely historic Caceres. I had been here some 30 or more years ago, and remember pushing out the boat to eat in some fancy place. I think it might have been the Parador, where we are staying now, and where we ate this evening, in a lovely courtyard, and enjoyed a delightful meal. My only gripe about Spanish places to eat and stay is that they have gone all rigourist about smoking, so trying to finish the day with a nice glass of Tinto and a small cigar is a bit of a struggle, but not one to defeat me yet !
Tomorrow is on to Zafra and the Parador there, some 85 miles further south down the N-630, which is a nice, quiet road, with wide margins. Most traffic seems to take the parallel Autovia. The only imponderable is the wind direction, On this part of the route, the N-630 is the Ruta de la Plata / Camino route. No doubt I will come across Camino walkers on their way north. I usually stop for a chat and find out where they are from etc. They are usually taken with my lovely Moulton New Series Speed. It gets a lot of attention. And, I can bore for England if they get me started on it.
The Baggage Train seems to be happy driving down the Autovia in comfort to meet me each night. There should be some more pictures from Richard, who is recording the trip in his sketch book. Scroll down to see...
Oh, and yes, this being Sunday, we did manage to "get Mass' in Caceres this evening, just up the way from the Parador ! All bases touched, then !