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    • Day 70

      Verzaubert in Ciudad Encantada!

      April 11 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

      Ein wunderbarer Tag voller Naturwunder geht langsam zu Ende! Der Besuch in der „verzauberten Stadt“, so heißt Ciudad Encantada auf spanisch war superschön!
      Was besonders schön war, man konnte die Eintrittskarten einfach am Eingang bei einem netten Herrn kaufen ohne dass man sich wochenlang Gedanken machen musste! 6 Euro und eine kleine Map zur Orientierung und schon ist man in die Steinzeit versetzt. Die Phantasie beim Anblick der steinernen Gebilde kannte keine Grenzen! Wir haben uns immer schon vorher ausgedacht, was das wohl sein könnte was da vor uns aufragte! Auf Schildern steht dann was für Parkleitung in dem „verzauberten“ Stein sieht! Wunderbar, interessant und spannend! Die 3 Kilometer ( wenn man dich an die Wegmarkierungen hält) vergehen wie im Flug. Natürlich kann man sich stundenlang in diesem weitläufigen Steinpark aufhalten! Wir sind auch immer noch verzaubert! 🤩
      Später laufen wir noch zum „Mirador de Una“. 1,5 Kilometer vom Parkplatz aus, hat man einen tollen Blick ins nächste Tal!
      Schon allein die gut ausgebaute Strecke heute Morgen von Cuenca aus, war spitzenmäßig. 25 Kilometer langsam hoch in die Serriana Cuenca auf 1500 m war eine tolle Einstimmung auf die verzauberte Stadt!
      Auch hätte man später auf dem Parkplatz übernachten können, allerdings dauert es etwas länger bis man ein ebenes Plätzchen findet! 😅
      Wir wollten noch ein paar Kilometer machen und fahren weiter Richtung Norden.
      Unterwegs halten wir auf einem Parkplatz von wo aus man die „Geburt“ des Flusses Cuervo erleben kann! Einmalig schön, wie der Fluss aus einer Quelle hoch oben im Felsen über viele Wasserkaskaden sozusagen den Hang hinunter spritzt.
      Soviel tolle Naturerlebnisse machen hungrig. Wir kehren auf die Terrasse des Restaurants am Parkplatz direkt am Fluss ein und erleben ein leckeres „ Menu del Dia“ ( 3 schmackhafte Gänge inclusive einer Flasche Wein, Wasser und Brot). Am Ende zahlen wir 15 Euro pro Person und erleben noch eine kleine Überraschung. Am Nebentisch sitzen zwei junge Spanier! Sie hatten schon auf dem Parkplatz unser Wohnmobil fotografiert. Sie haben Spaß, dass uns Deutsche der spanische Wein gut schmeckt, während sie nur an ihrem Glas nippen! Als unsere Flasche leer ist, tauschen sie ihre gegen unsere aus! Was haben wir zusammen gelacht! Zusammen sprechen geht ja eher schlecht. 🤣
      Die geschenkte Flasche trinken wir jetzt an unserem Übernachtungsplatz mitten im Nirgendwo in den spanischen Bergen. Das kleine Dorf Cueva del Hierro lässt uns in der Nähe einer stillgelegten Mine neben dem kleinen Museum übernachten. Mit uns zwei spanische VW Busse!

      Unsere Tipps:
      1. Ciudad Encantada; ( die verzauberte Stadt) ist eine Kalklandschaft in einem großen Kiefernwald, nahe Cuenca.
      12 Kilometer weiter im Dorf Una ein schöner Stellplatz auf Wiese mit grandiosem Bergpanorama! 10 Euro

      2. Besuch des „Monumento Natural del Nacimiento del Rio Cuervo“.
      3. Lecker essen im Restaurant „ La Tejera“. Achtung: bis 16.00 Uhr Küche!
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    • Day 17

      Cuenca to Villar de Domingo Garcia

      May 25 in Spain ⋅ 🌩️ 20 °C

      Today was a 33 Km day with a bit of elevation (470 m). I left at 5:30 out of an abundance of caution because we had reservations for the 11 am tour of the Roman ruins in Noheda.

      The first 16 or 17 were on asphalt but on very untraveled roads. I think 4 or 5 cars passed me. From the little town of Tondo, it was all off-road and very nice. But still lots of dead fields.

      The tour of the ruins was so interesting. A farmer found some tiles while plowing in 1985, and in 2005, they started excavating. What they found was not the residence but the party place. The villa itself has yet to be found. This was just a huge venue for raucous large day-long events that began with a bath (they have found the baths, which for a private compound are huge, and bigger in fact than the baths for the whole town of Segobriga). Then came the over-abundant meal, then the entertainment (either music or drama). The mosaics are pretty amazing —one series of panels tells the story of a princess whose father beheaded her suitors because the oracles had told him he would be killed by his son-in-law. Another series of mosaics was more familiar, involving Paris, satyrs, Artemis and somewhere hidden there was a scallop shell. This lead our guide to joke about the Camino passing through here in Roman times. There are many acres more to explore, and some funding has been given to forge ahead. They are hoping to find the villa, the slaves’ quarters (they estimate there were about 70), and other parts of the estate.

      From the ruins we had a few kms along a national highway but it wasn’t bad. And then the last kms were quite beautiful. All off road, and even with the dead or dying crops, it was majestic.

      We got to Villar and into our Casa Rural. The guy in Bar Goyo is really nice but was totally frazzled because his two helpers didn’t show up. We got sandwiches and came back to our place. All in all, a great day.
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    • Day 18

      Villar de Domingo Garcia to Villaconejos

      May 26 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 17 °C

      It was raining when we got up. Since said it would stop by 8, and since Clare wanted a real coffee in the bar, we set out at a leisurely 8 am. That may be my latest Camino departure ever! But we did have a short day, 24km, with virtually no elevation.

      Right after leaving town, the camino goes off onto a dirt track. It soon became clear that the 10 or so hours of rain the day before had turned the surface into thick red mud that grabbed onto your shoes. After about 2 kms of heavy mud, we decided to hop over to the highway for about 6 Km. There was a decent shoulder, but even so it was not fun walking. Trucks were relatively frequent.

      In the first town of Torralba, I had a Fanta de Limón. At that point, we decided to switch back to the Camino, and it was an excellent decision. A very nice, not muddy, off-road walk. From here all the way into our destinations, it was a dirt trail, sometimes along the river, sometimes beneath caves, and sometimes just through small agricultural plots. All in all, it was a really nice walk.

      We were checking into the Albergue before two, and the very gregarious and convivial hospitalero insisted that he would be back to take us out for a vino at 9 pm when he finished work. 9 pm? That’s our bedtime!

      We got a sandwich in town at the local bar, and we have showered. No way our clothes will dry, so I have washed socks and underwear and we’ll just hope for warmer weather tomorrow.

      It turns out that the nuclear power plant in the region is in need of some major work. Every small Pension and Casa Rural within 100 kilometers are booked out for the entire week and beyond. Though I had hoped to stay in a few of these places, we are lucky that there are Albergues. Today’s albergue has real beds and hot showers, but I think that some of the ones in our future will not be so luxurious. It’s just all part of the adventure!
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    • Day 29

      Alcalá de Henares

      March 8, 2020 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 10 °C

      Heute musste ich mal raus aus der Stadt! Nicht wirklich, weil ich es satt habe, sondern einfach weil ich mal was anderes sehen wollte und gleichzeitig das Gefühl hatte, zumindest einen der zahlreichen Tipps außerhalb der Stadt meiner Spanischlehrerin wahrnehmen zu müssen. Morgen steht schließlich wieder Unterricht an 😉

      Zusätzlich hab ich Tigbert seit 4 Wochen nicht gesehen und vermisse ihn (und musste die Garage sowieso zahlen). Genug Gründe, gesagt, getan...

      Also sind wir nach Alcalá de Henares gefahren, circa 35 Minuten außerhalb der Stadt. Ein kleines, verträumtes Dorf mit vielen Störchen auf Kirchtürmen, einer gemütlichen Eibkaufsstraße und schönen alten Häusern. Definitiv ein Besuch Wert, wenn man mal einen ruhigen Sonntag außerhalb der grandiosen 6-Millionen-Stadt verbringen möchte.
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    • Day 19

      Villaconejos to Salmeron

      May 27 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

      On a normal camino day, I’m in bed by 9. Last night Pepe, our hospitalero, insisted he would come by at 9 to take us to tomar un vino. Anyone who’s stayed here has probably been to his family’s bodega, one of more than 100 caves in this village where wine has been made and stored for centuries. The caves may have been inhabited by visigodos (6 th C?). Both Pepe and co- host Paulino used to stamp grapes in the caves. Paulino remembers being held by the feet and lowered into the clay vat to clean the vat while he was upside down. When one exploded about 20 years ago, leading to the loss of more than 1,000 liters, they bought an aluminum vat and stopped stomping the grapes.

      Pepe’s daughter Virginia was also there and we had a good homemade garlic soup, along with homemade Serrano ham and sausages. Then at the end, a little ceremony, in which both Clare and I were given a peregrino necklace and cross of Santiago. Their words about the meaning of the camino were heartfelt and brought us back to the simple essence of people being generous to people.

      We got up early because a challenging 30 km day awaited. We knew there was a river crossing ahead, but Pepe assured us that the level of the river is controlled by a dam and would not be affected by the recent rains. Since Clare’s engineering expertise is dam safety, I think she was a little sad the dam itself is several kms upriver.

      We were off by 7:15 with no rain in the forecast. 14 glorious kms through wide open fields on rolling hills. If the crops had been alive this would have been majestic emerald green against the occasional reddish rocky outcrops.

      At 13 kms came the river crossing. For all the hype, it was not a problem. The water was moving fast over a sunken part of a concrete bridge, but it went no higher than mid shin.

      Then came about 10 kms on the side of a provincial road. Generally good shoulders and little traffic.

      We could see the Romanesque tower of the Valdeolivas church from many kms away. I knew the odds were slim that we would be able to go inside. As we got closer, we heard a lot of conversation. Rounding the corner, I saw the crowd coming out of church — a baptism. I hightailed it to the door just as the señora in charge was closing it. As we were clearly peregrinas, she happily offered to take us around while her grouchy husband complained. Original 13th century paintings on the bóveda above the alter were discovered (they had been covered in plaster) in 1960 when emergency repairs were done.

      The last 7 kms were on a very nice dirt track through hilly fields and olive groves. We are the only two in the albergue, which is located in the town’s Inquisition prison, at least that’s the story.
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    • Day 20

      Salmeron to Viana de Mondejar

      May 28 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

      I’m writing this in an albergue where we hadn’t planned to stay, having finished a dinner of two cans of tuna and two apricots. Population here is under 20 so there are no shops or restaurants. But a very nice albergue. With a heater in the bedroom!

      Today’s total was about 29 Km with 700 m elevation. All off road. Brilliant. As soon as we left Salmeron, we had about a 300 m ascent on dark red glommy clay mud. I have decided that it makes no sense to stop and take the mud off with my poles because it comes right back and just slows me down. My unscientific observation this morning was that my shoes have a maximum mud-carrying weight and when it gets to that point, big chunks will just fall off.

      From the top we had a long (10 Km?) walk along the top, including a detour to avoid going on the property of the man who bought up the whole abandoned town of Villaescusa de Los Palositos. This issue has been tied up in court for years. Pilgrims and the public should be able to cross his land. He has even barred access to the Romanesque church and the cemetery where the loved ones of many former villagers are buried. There is a protest march to the church every year, and the legal experts say there’s no doubt that his acts are illegal, but he has kept it going in court for years.

      Then the downhill started, with the last few kms into Viana on narrow rocky goat paths. We were not sure whether to carry on for 8 more kms to Trillo or to just stay here. When a local told me that the hike up to the Tetas de Viana would take about an hour each way, I thought the best thing to do would be to drop our packs and then hike up and back. That seemed better than starting out tomorrow with the ascent and then continuing on.

      The walk up to the top of Teta Redonda was about 2.5 kms. At the end there were chains to hold onto and even one steep metal staircase but nothing scary. The association in Cuenca had told us the path was shut because of a rockslide. There was one section where the handrails had been knocked down and a lot of rocky debris made it a bit tricky, but not dangerous. The views from the top were fabulosas, maybe with the exception of the nuclear power plant.

      So here we are in Viana. I have no “cobertura” (cell phone/data) and we’ve had a pretty skimpy dinner, but we’re clean and warm and have had a great day. I took two packs of Ghirardelli hot cocoa from the lounge in Chicago, and had been saving them for something like this!
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    • Day 21

      Viana de Mondejar to Cifuentes

      May 29 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      What a beautiful walk today. Since we had gone up to the Tetas yesterday, we got straight on the Camino and headed for Trillo. It was very nice, all off road. And Trillo, what a beautiful place to stop. There’s a bar right on the river, which is cascading down over rocks in a picture perfect scene. We also visited the church, where mass was ending. We had a nice chat with the priest, who is from Ruanda, and has been in Spain for about 14 years. He has been in Trillo for four years and is in charge of seven or eight other small towns, where he goes to say mass. Misas relámpagos m, they are called.

      The path from Trillo went through a few towns, through a lot of ag lands, off and on near a river.
      Aman stopped and gave Clare a big bag of unshelled walnuts. I would’ve said no thanks, but Clare dutifully took them and carry them for 3 km into town. She is now sitting outside the albergue on the steps, cracking them with a rock.

      When I got to town, I went straight to the Bar Salmeron, the place where I had been told to go for the keys. Guess what, the bar was closed. As I was trying to figure things out, a Guardia Civil car came by and I flagged it. After a few calls, they got in touch with the Mayor, who told me to go to the Townhall. Once there, after about a 15 minute wait, the woman in charge came with a map to explain how to go pick up the keys—at the Bar Salmeron! It took a few more phone calls to learn that there was supposedly a set of keys on the windowsill of the little building where we are supposed to sleep out at the football field. I am glad I asked for a phone number because when we got here there was no key to be found. The mayor himself came out and showed us where the key was. If anyone had explained it clearly, we could’ve easily found it, but oh well. I was really glad that this mayor had won reelection yesterday, because if he had lost, the new mayor today would not have had a clue!

      4 th night in a row in albergues. This town has a couple of reasonable pensiones but they are all full because of the huge work crews coming to work on the nuclear power plant. According to one hotel owner, every room is booked for 100 Km around. That may be a slight exaggeration, but in any event, there was no room for us in Cifuentes. Thank goodness for the albergue. It’s very basic but has hot water and blankets which are the top two things on my list!

      We have taken a walk through the historic center, which has some very pretty Churches and plazas. We even walked up to the castle and then onto the supermarket. Another really good day, I feel so fortunate.
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    • Day 22

      Cifuentes to Mandayona

      May 30 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      We knew there was a shortcut today that would save 4 kms for tomorrow and would not go through Mandayona. But it would have meant missing a supposedly beautiful stretch tomorrow. So off to Mandayona we went.

      It was another non-spectacular but very pleasant walk. Especially the part before the meseta. Rolling hills with lots of rocky outcroppings and some green crops, some dead crops. Once we got to the top of the climb, we were on the meseta. Kms and kms of flat flat flat. Just like Illinois. The only things to break the monotony were fields of lavender, a high speed rail line, and a superhighway to cross.

      We’re in a little hostal owned by a young couple who gave up life in the city of Madrid to come out to a place where there are about 50 year round inhabitants. Their eight year old son goes to school with three other kids from the town. The school is kept alive by virtue of the fact that seven or eight kids from surrounding villages are bussed here. He tells me that they are very happy here and would not ever consider moving back to Madrid.

      We had a good menú del día in the local bar and will soon head off to the town supermarket. We just learned that tomorrow is a holiday celebrating the Castilla y la mancha region. Stores and other commerce will be closed, so we will need to stock up on some food. There was a pretty loud thunderstorm that passed through while we were eating, and another storm just came through. We have been really lucky and have not had to walk in the rain, not yet, anyway!
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    • Day 23

      Mandayona to Siguenza

      May 31 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

      Hard to imagine a more perfect camino day, 25 Km and 400 m elevation. We started at 7 and soon entered the Barranco del Rio Dulce, a canyon with the “Sweet River” running through it. Beautiful, shaded, and cool with cliffs towering above. My one (very minor) disappointment was that I only saw one big raptor bird. I was expecting to see them flying all over.

      Leaving the canyon, we stayed close to the river, but now through ag fields. These were the best looking fields we’ve seen, some really verdant green and lots of wild flowers.

      The camino goes through the little town of Pelegrina, with the optional short detour up to the castle (which is totally in ruins). But the views, oh my goodness the views. I took a long boots off rest, enjoying the views in every direction.

      From there to Siguenza was about 8 Km. First a short steep up to the top on rocky narrow paths, then several kms across the plateau on very rocky terrain. The last three kms down to town were all with the castle/parador in view. And the camino went about two minutes from the entrance. So so tempting. In I went and got a decent rate.

      We had an excellent meal in El Atrio. Right across from the cathedral. Then a cathedral visit and that was the end of the day!
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    • Day 24

      Siguenza to Atienza

      June 1 in Spain ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

      I had been debating whether to add 6 kms to the 31 Km day, so that I could visit Carabias, with one of the first porticoed Romanesque churches in Spain (at least I think that’s what I remember). The original idea was that Clare would take a cab a few kms out and then we’d go to the church. But there was no cab availability, so she was going to walk the shorter route. So, hmmm, did I want to add those extra kms????

      When I got to the turnoff at Palazuelos I looked at the weather and saw that rain was forecast for 11-2. Since there was no way I’d get to my destination by 11, I decided that since I was going to get wet anyway, I might as well go see the church. I’m very glad I did, it’s beautiful. Locked up tight but beautiful.

      A few kms outside Carabias, my wikiloc stopped working. Oops. And at that point, I wasn’t on the Camino, so there would be no arrows to follow. I pulled up Google maps and in about 4 km it got me back onto the Camino, right at a junction with a humongous salt factory.

      At promptly 11am it began to rain. And it rained for the next few hours —nothing too heavy. I even took a quick rest sitting under a tree and was reasonably well protected.

      At about 5 kms out of town, Atienza appears. The castle on top, dominating the town. After checking in, and doing the normal post-camino things like showering and washing clothes, I headed out to see the sights. Beautiful plaza, very Castilian. And I climbed up to the castle, which had its typically amazing views. Below and in the distance, I saw two bright purple fields that are surely lavender.

      It is raining again, and the hotel restaurant opens in a while, so that's probably what we'll do. Tomorrow a nice short 24 Km!
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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Provincia de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Guadalachara, Guadalaxara, グアダラハラ

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