17th Sept Exciting day back on the Camino

We left Los Majadas in the dark to reach a point where we were rejoining the Camino again after our small break. Passing through a picturesque mountain path we saw a flock of vultures circling overhead. I tried to take a photo from the car. It was near Villaconejos de trabaque where Karen dropped us by the side of the road and we could see the yellow arrow.

It was cool, about 8C but good for walking and we saw the sun rise over the mountains then washing over the fields turning the wheat stubble golden. This is such tidy country and with gentle undulations a delight to walk through. Always there seem to be mountains on the horizon

It was an uneventful walk until we heard the river. There was the sound of cascades and rushing water. A delight to hear. It was deep below to our left and as we turned down to it, the road was full of juicy blackberries. I am missing my fruit so I gorged on them. They are sweet and flavoursome but quite seedy. As we came to the river we saw a bridge and felt quite relieved because the river was beautifully clear but fast flowing. Very enticing actually but alas the bridge had collapsed at the other end and we were faced with an over the boot or in my case well above ankle depth crossing. Peter decided to walk across boots on and was soon awash. Andy and I opted for our sandals and I took out a walking stick for extra balance. It was refreshing but a bit slippery and a really strong flow. We reached the other side without mishap. My feet were happy! While we were sitting we noticed a yabby swimming across the cord.While we dried off we had a snack and revived, we set off for Valdeolives. As we approached the town we heard the bells chiming. Most villages ring the time with church bells but these were ringing and ringing. Curious, we walked up to the church and then saw people coming and we heard a band playing somber music. It was the village bringing in the Christ statue on a platform held by many men led by a brass band. Every one looked at us with curiosity or wished us Buen Camino. A young group of women asked us if we were on the Camino and from where had we started. One of them had completed a Camino in August. They offered us food and were so delighted to have Camino Pilgrims in their town. We had to decline because Karen was waiting for us at Salmerón. As we progressed through town we saw evidence of a running of the bulls earlier in the day. What a shame we missed that! The Christ figure was Christ of Buen Camino- the town’s symbol.

Eventually we arrived in Salmerón to be greeted by a happy crowd who directed us to the bar and the Albergue. Karen had been sitting by the fountain quietly communing with the cats until about 3.30 when the bar suddenly filled with people and became a very happy place with music and lively conversations. It is so typical of these towns. They seem dead until after siesta then everyone comes out to socialise before going to dinner. Another aspect us the snacks that come with the drinks. We have always received olives or nut mixes but this bar gave us ham and chorizo and I got smoked mussels.All washed down by two beers! It had been a warm day in the end and I was very thirsty.

We left and drive on to Trillo where we will stay for 3 nights. We are staying in a type of holiday park of two story bungalows attached to an expensive Spa hotel. As it was Saturday we decided to eat out and set off for the town centre. We couldn’t find any place till a group of old ladies directed us to Casa David. What a hip place and the food was great. We were amused by a group of guys on a bucks night. The groom was dressed in a flamenco dress and his friends were singing like it was a football game.. After our 24 km day we had eaten well and slept like babes!

16 th Sept Finding the source of the river Cuervo

Once again having the car gives us a chance to explore the local protected environment so we headed further into the mountains to find some waterfalls and the source of the River Cuervo. The area is a protected environment with wild bears, wolves, boars, deer, squirrels and pine martens. There are eagles and vultures too. We can say confidently we saw an eagle and a red and a black squirrel and deer but no bears and wolves. We kept making these jokes about occasional bears being squirrel when they weren’t bears. The road to the falls was winding through tall pine trees and deep ravines and really quite beautiful and remote. We arrived at the falls and they were a bit underwhelming this late in the season though moody and mossy. The stream was so clear we could see the fish easily. They looked like trout. As we followed the stream deeper into the valley we eventually halted at a spot where water was coming through a tree root and essentially a fissure in the cliff. It was a gentle but significant flow. I have never ever been at the source of a river. It seemed quite magical.

We meandered back through forest and retired to a cafe for lunch. It was very good and a little different to the usual ensalada mixte. We ventured to Trajacete for petrol. Petrol station closed for siesta so we had to kill time by exploring the town and sheltering from a rain shower in a bar where we played trivia quiz games till the petrol station opened. The shop ( that did have a sign ) did not open as advertised so we settled for petrol and returned to Los Majadas. Trajaceta was a well heeled town with a bank no less and must be the centre for tourism in the area because it had a huge centre for interpretation of the environment. It looked defunct but we assume Covid might have caused it’s closure and it will reopen. Lots of restaurants here and pretty squares.

Finally returned to Los Majadas and capped off the day with rain and a beautiful rainbow.

From my window

15 th Sept Cuenca to Los Majadas

We set off to visit the Enchanted City, not on our Camino but highly recommended, and as we have the car, we can venture off route. It is not far from Cuenca but up in the mountains. All was good until we stopped to take pictures of the Ajúcar river that was such a beautiful deep turquoise colour and Peter realised he had left his walking stick back at the Airbnb. The road was very winding so we had to find a spot to turn before we could return. Fortunately our host was at the place getting ready to clean and had noticed Pete’s special stick. He had brought it from the Via de la plata walk and customised it with Camino pins and crystals so it is very important to him.

The Júcar River

The walking stick

The drive was spectacular. All the length of the gorge till we crested the mountains into forest. I finally saw some deer grazing.

National Park- Serrania de Cuenca

When we arrived at the Enchanted City we were almost the only ones there so it was peaceful. The formations were so much fun and the geography of the rocks was very interesting but beyond my true understanding. Dolomite rock acted on by a chemical reaction between oxygen, carbon, magnesium and calcium plus water and time.

So many different shapes we were enchanted but a bit nonplussed when two bus loads of tourists came walking toward us going the opposite way! We were glad we were nearly finished the walk around. After reviving coffees we headed to Los Majadas. It is a mountain town in a bowl surrounded by forest. While we killed time before we could go to our Airbnb we set off on a hunt for a shop and provisions. Another shop that required local knowledge but ironically we were actually parked outside! This only became apparent after we had scoured all the streets and the understanding of what the bar owner had told us finally registered.

While we regrouped a small mob of horses wandered through town. See the shop behind – no tiendra signs again.

Some locals

We headed off to our place and after a little while the owner arrived and let us in. We had time for a walk out to Los Callejones a place similar to the enchanted city. It was a delightful walk through oak forest and we saw a deer and fawn. There were lots of these strange purple flowers that spring from the dirt. No leaves or stems and wild thyme and wild lavender made it a fragrant walk. We were distracted by a great view over the valley and then had to cut across the open plain to rejoin the road to the Rock formation park.

14th Sept Cuenca

Moved on to Fuentes and decided to take a rest day with Karen as my knee was a bit twingy and I felt tired. Fuentes is another small place but is part of a Dinosaure trail and has some significant Lagunes (deep lakes). It is surrounded by fields of sunflowers with their heads brown and ready for harvest. Karen and I found our Casa rural apartment and looked to do some shopping in readiness for Andy and Peter who were walking the 23 kms.

It was a mystery where the supermarket might be. We only found a bakery with some basic goods such as milk and tuna! After the men arrived about 1 pm we set off for a bar and check out the evening menu. In our meandering we stumbled on a small supermarket. It is potluck when you wander around because the towns don’t seem to have a Main Street like we are used to. They have always a plaza mayor but that doesn’t equate to central shops.

Laguna Negra

The next morning in the rain we set off to visit the Laguna. Karen was a bit dismayed as the car slid and slipped on the muddy road. After our quick look we got back in but the car was a bit bogged so out we hopped again and pushed until Karen got onto more solid ground. Thankfully the rain wasn’t too heavy and we didn’t get soaked. I had left my raincoat in the pack.

We found supermarkets on the outskirts of Cuenca where we stocked up and then found our way through the town. It is a bit daunting after the little places and we all were surprised our big it seemed. We wound round little streets and up hill such that it seemed the streets got ever narrower.

We finally arrived at our residences in the barrio de Castilla. It was raining again but we were able to park reasonably close. Our place is charming with lots of doors to lock. Inside it is three levels and Peter and I each have a bedroom but up a tiny spiral staircase. Wouldn’t want to be too big. Peter has to duck his head going up and down.

Our host greeted us with a few provisions as well as a small piece of honey cake and a liqueur. We all enjoyed its anise flavour.

As we were leaving to explore Cuenca Karen tripped on the front door step and fell heavily gashing her shin on the aluminium door frame. We were all shocked at the amount of blood that had pooled on the floor when she got up and raced for the first aid kit. She also ended up with a bruise on her arm and a cut to her finger. We stopped the bleeding and patched her up. She was feeling okay so we continued our exploration of the town plus looking for a pharmacy for extra supplies.

Cuenca is a really interesting ancient town established first by the Moors then reconquered by the Christian’s and also had a significant Jewish community. It must have had every Christian order at its height of influence. Eventually the fort city outgrew the limit of its geographical site and spread down the hill into the valley. The balance of economy moved from the hill to the plain. The old town houses two significant art galleries and a science museum and planetarium. We visited the Abstract art gallery in a hanging house which was fabulous and also very impressed with the science museum. Lots of interactive experiences.

After siesta we stopped by the Contemporary Art gallery. Amazing building . It was like a maze and the art was very contemporary- a bit weird but interesting.

Little things of life

Walking back on the opposite side of town we looked across the gorge to see two eyes looking back

A mist enjoyable town to visit and well worth the UNESCO heritage stamp. Back on the road walking and exploring tomorrow.

11th Sept Monteagudo de las Salinas

As we left the house this morning the paddocks were wreathed in mist and the moon was still up. It was quite chilly. We drove to our walk which was along the river from the village of Yemeda. It was pleasant walking through high rocky outcrops, pines and meadows. When I stopped to remove my jumper, Karen and Andy continued and came across some young deer. We had seen tracks previously but never the deer. After a couple of hours the sun was up and temperature was rising so we decided to turn around. Andy and I were curious to see a bit more of the river but as we walked on the sound of water stopped. We only walked on for another 15 mins so we were intrigued about the water. We also turned back and concluded that it came from a spring. When we finally reunited with Karen and Peter they were in the local bar(of course) having lemon Fanta and ice creams. Andy and I decided to have the local liquer herbos and Miele as well. The Herbos was a bright green and very aniseed flavoured while the Miele was honey with a touch of anise.we had seen the locals having it and chilled it was quite refreshing.

We returned to our Casa Rosa and scratched together a lunch followed by cards ( nomination whist) and a card scrabble game. It was fun but I lost all the games. Karen is a very good card player and Peter is very strategic. I don’t play enough to match them.

A nap and then a walk up to the remains of the castle then down to the restaurant for dinner. Our host is away tonight but his partner cooked up a lot of food for us. He doesn’t speak English and his understanding of our order was a bit strange. We got salad with tuna ( I got all Karen and Peter’s tuna) then he brought fried eggs and chips and for me a squid as well. All cooked well. This evening we were harangued by a Spanish guy who spoke passionately about the Queen, history, America Catalunya and who knew what else. We barely understand more than the odd word and even though we said we didn’t understand he persisted in talking to us. It was not aggressive but pointless because we didn’t have a clue.

We were all happily full and tired. Early rise again tomorrow after a relaxing day.

I had to take a photo of the shop that doesn’t look like a shop. Customers buzz the door when they need to buy anything and the owner opens up. It was well stocked too. Funny who would know except the locals.

The local shop we searched for yesterday. see the buzzer discreetly by the door.

10 th Sept. Another half day walking and fun at Monteagudo de las Salinas

Once more we made a very early start to beat the heat. Andy is working hard to find the best parts of the walks between towns so we continue to move forward and Karen is not too long on her own. She has become a supreme support person, checking out the facilities , attractions and importantly – the bars! She is having some fun engaging with the locals who inevitably are friendly and helpful. Most of the bars are the centre of social life for all ages so they are lively places. Once people knew Karen was English they offered condolences for the Queen. Very touching.

Andy trying to sidle out of the picture.

Our walk took us through forest and valleys where we saw evidence of deer tracks in the dirt and heard them too but never actually saw them. We enjoyed the walk but the paths are wide so not much shade. We had a creek crossing just before town. This is not a route walked by many or not at this time of the year so w e have not met any other walkers or pilgrims the whole time.

Once into town at Villora, we met up with Karen at the only bar in town for refreshments before heading on to Monteagudo and our Casa Rural, Rincon de Sandra. We arrived and were greeted by the owner who said we couldn’t stay there but she had another house and so we put all our gear back in the car and followed her to the other house. Apparently the original place was booked out. We were happy with the second place but concluded it was the young couple’s home because there was food in the fridge and clothes in the wardrobe! It seems they had visited Australia a few years ago and I suspect their Casa rural funds there travel, judging by the magnets on the fridge. The place is spotless and comfortable. We are here for two nights so we quickly got all our washing out of the way, lunched on our various provisions and had a nap. Then it was time to find the bar for dinner and a shop to buy breakfast provisions. Our host had told us where the bar and the shop were. She told us you needed to press a buzzer to alert the shopkeeper who lived above the shop and she would open up for us. The bar we could find but the shop defeated us. We walked all around the hilly town with no luck. A woman walking her dog said she would show me. I went off with her leaving Karen to locate Andy. I found the shop and buzzer quite literally 5 mins from our accommodation. Now I had to find Andy and Karen. So I set off once again around the town. It is like a maze with different levels and winding streets. At one stage I wasn’t sure I could find my way home! Anyway I couldn’t locate my friends so I gave up and headed back. By now half the old people in town who are all sitting outside nattering were engaged with helping us find the shop. By the time I got back to it Andy was waiting for me because an old fellow had taken them to the shop and they had bought provisions. There was absolutely nothing to indicate it was the shop, bar the buzzer at the door! No advertisements, no signs.

It wasn’t much later that we headed to the restaurant for dinner. The owner had spent years in England and had returned as a grown man to make a restaurant in the family home after his parents had died. He went out of his way to make a delicious dinner for the three vegetarians and me. We have been so lucky. As we walked home the moon rose over the countryside and we all felt very glad to be here.

9 th Sept. Camporrobeles to Mira

Karen dropped us at the centre of town and went on to Mira. We set off in search of the yellow arrows. We walked up and down and all around and finally after asking the police who happened to drive by (they had no idea) we eventually stumbled into the Calle Santiago and found our route. It wasn’t long before we lost the way again! This time we surmised a cross paddock trek would take us to the road we should have followed and it did. We were so happy to see the new markers! This walk took us through vineyards and Almond trees which had Almonds bursting from their skins. We tried a few and they were so moist compared to ones you buy.

I love the tiles they use for street names. Some are little paintings while many are just decorative.

It was cool this morning but heated up quickly once the sun came up. It was a lovely walk but the end was really tough down a rocky hill, slipping and rolling. We were all glad that we hadn’t been attempting this after 30 kms and fully packed.

We arrived in Mira about 12.00 pm and I was feeling quite tired so when Karen greeted us with lunch I was so grateful. A beer and an empanada went down a treat. We have discovered that many of the little towns are semi -closed for summer holidays or after a local fiesta. It is making it quite hard to get meals. This was something we hadn’t anticipated.

After I had a sleep I felt ready to check out this little place. It is very old and had a castle once but there is nothing left except the great view over the town and valley below.

The castle space, street art around the winding lanes, looking back to the bull ring (round white building) a 15 th century house of a famous Anton Martin, whose name is on many things and squares in town.

As we were wandering and looking for a bar a fellow saw us and directed us up the hill further along where we found a bar in which a few guys were talking. They really looked us over but not in an unfriendly way.

The hostal Carlos we are staying at has seen better days. We can’t work out if it is being renovated or just run- down. It is quite large but we don’t seem to have hot water though the bathroom is very nice. The room is large and beds comfy.


We decided to drive back to Camporrobeles for dinner because nothing is open here and the supermarket options are limited.

Karen and the Hyundai

Dinner was at a little restaurant/bar where the young couple had only just re-opened after their summer break. We discovered lots of towns are closed for either a fiesta or summer holidays. He was very happy for Karen to buy something from the supermarket and bring back to eat. Andy and I could order meat or fish dishes but Karen and Peter are vegetarians and he had no chef to make something for them. In the end we had a great dinner And bar was playing lots of music from the 60s so it was very convivial. The business was booming as tables kept expanding into the plaza.

A great vibe with 60s classics as background while we ate. The owners super helpful and hospitable

Tomorrow will also be a shorter walk than the original 31 km. due to expected temps of over 30 again. A satisfying day after all our angst.

8 th Sept Changed holiday plans

After Andy’s heat exhaustion we have come to the conclusion that with another 5 days of high temperatures predicted we cannot keep walking as planned. Karen went off early to Valencia to organise a hire car. She has struggled with the heat and walking so we just have to change our plans. We are all disappointed but health first. No one could have predicted this extended summer and such consistent and persistent high temperatures.

We drove to our next stop at Caudete de los Fuentes passing more vineyards and no shade. We shadowed the Camino path and saw yellow arrows and signs. Once at our very humble Airbnb we have started to replan our trip. We are going to try to continue walking as much as possible with Karen as luggage transfer. That will help with walking in the heat.

I have a strange sense of desolation that our plans have been so impacted by weather. Being in the car feels so alienating from the land we walk through and even though it was tough I felt alive and aware of my surroundings. Apart from the second day when we were just beginning and it was 38C I haven’t been as impacted as my companions. Tired and thirsty at the end of the day but otherwise in good shape and ready to go again the next day.

Being out in the open country observing the fruit and flowers or crops, the many rabbits scurrying under cover, the silence or the breeze in the trees is a wonderful experience. It is so meditative wandering along with an eye out for arrows. Every Camino has a lesson and being flexible is part of this one I guess.

We cooked our own dinner for a change and sat in the courtyard playing cards and doing the Age Newspaper Quiz.

We will walk out tomorrow from Camporrobeles to Mira. Only 13 kms instead of 30km and lighter packs. It is a plan.

7 th Sept. A day of drama and good samaritans.

We left early from Siete Aguas heading for Requena about 24kms. The morning was fresh and we felt strong. It was uphill out of town and into the forest but not extreme. We walked through lots of grape vines, dark blue and white which were sweet and juicy. No birds here or the scare guns. By the time we reached El Robellar ( half way) Karen was faltering in the heat so decided to take the train to the next town. As it turned out there were only a couple of trains and the next was 6,00 pm!

Ever resourceful Karen had noticed a Dept. of Transport near the station and thought they might know of a bus. The guys checked if there was a bus but then shrugged their shoulders and told her to hop in the car because they would take her. It might be a days walk but it was 15 mins by car! How kind they were.

In the mean time we had pushed on through more vineyards laden with grapes of many varieties and started walking down by the river. There were signs indicating it was a flood prone area and soon we saw evidence of rubbish washed up against trees. I was focused on the quiet-hardly a bird sound at all. So different from the Australian countryside which always has birds galore even if it is just a crow.

As we stopped to rest Andy said he wasn’t feeling well( he had come down with a cold- not Covid, he tested) and would take it slowly. Very unusual for him who is always way ahead checking the route. I asked if he had any hydralite drinks that I had been encouraging Karen and Peter to drink but he hadn’t. He set off with us a bit behind him. It wasn’t much further along before we found him slumped by the river in the shade in a state of exhaustion unable to go on. We decided our best thing was to go into town ( now only 3kms) leave our packs and get a taxi to come back.

As we powered into town a fellow who had passed us going the opposite way on a fitness walk and wished us Buen Camino came up and proceeded to help us find the Albergue and organise a taxi. It was all done very quickly and we soon found Andy slumped again but a little closer than where we had left him. With relief we got him into the taxi and decided no hospital required at this stage.

In the midst of all this we discovered the Albergue wasn’t open and wouldn’t be until 5 pm so we found a hotel nearby which had a room. While Peter minded the bags outside the Albergue, Karen and I organised the hotel where our Good Samaritan and his taxi friend had dropped us while Andy lay slumped on the bench in the square. Once we got a room( thank goodness it had a lift!) we got Andy settled with some hydralite drink and went to collect Peter. Karen and I decided if he hadn’t started to recover after the hydralite we would take him to the hospital.

When I went to take off my boots I discovered that the sole was falling off! The prolonged storage of these boots and the heat had destroyed the glue I suppose. Now I needed a shoe repairer. Peter and I set off in search of one supposedly nearby only to find he was gone. I passed a shoe shop and went in to ask for help in finding one. The lady was very helpful but the nearest was in the next town! I looked around her shop and decided to buy a new pair. I had to do this when I walked the Via de la Plata and my boots turned out to be too small in the hot weather. This pair I brought were a generous size but hadn’t been used much. The new shoes don’t have ankle support but otherwise seem sturdy. They were a reasonable price.

After we all had a good rest and Andy had consumed a couple of litres of hydralite drinks he started to recover and felt up to a stroll around to find a place for dinner. I was starving! We ended up in a Chinese/Vietnamese run tapas bar where we enjoyed vegetarian samosas, spring rolls, potato bravas and I had fried baby squids and a beer! The whole energy in these towns is great after 6.00 when everyone comes out to sit in the squares having snacks and drinks and convivial conversations with their friends or shop. The kids are buzzing on their scooters and tricycles or just playing. I love this and think it is a great lifestyle. Things usually quieten down by about 9 when they have dinner.

Covid seems to be a thing of the past here, almost. Masks must be worn on public transport and the driver will insist, sometimes you see people wearing them shopping or serving in restaurants but it is not everyone, everywhere.

6 th Sept Up, up and over!

Today started well with a funny back to front breakfast at The Posada. Pilgrims are the almost the only people who eat at 6.00 am in Spain! We had a table outside the kitchen and started with cafe con leche and croissants. Then the chef asked if we wanted any fruit and yogurt and presented us with juicy melons and a choice of apples and oranges, then offered juice. It was all delicious and generous. The best thing for Karen was succeeding in getting hot black tea and cold milk in another cup on the side. Tea is a mystery for many Spanish. We paid for our previous evening meal and off we went. They had been very accommodating the night before by going out of their way to make vegetarian meals for two and I had salad with tuna and dessert. When I said I would have wine for a change I ended up with a whole bottle to myself! Our meal cost €40 for 3 including wine and water.

Today’s walk was all uphill for over 10km. Then a 6 km descent. It was pretty steep and warm even though we were early. We did have a cool breeze to offset the sunshine and gradually as we gained the forest a bit of shade on the path. As we saw the sun rise over Bunol I liked the shapes of the buildings but realised I had taken a photo of the cement works! Still, in the pink morning light it looked attractive!

The gentle whoosh of the wind through the trees was soothing and we soon gained some expansive views. There were lots of ripe blackberries to savour along the path.

At one point I looked back and we could see the sun glinting on the Mediterranean and Valencia.

Looking back towards Valencia

Unfortunately the slope and growing warmth was beginning to take its toll on Karen again and she began to slow down. Peter also was finding the terrain hard. By the time we had crested the hill and started the descent they were both quite exhausted. Karen has concluded that she just can’t walk in the heat at all and despite the hydralites I have been giving them, they are struggling. Both are disappointed. Karen is fine in the cold and Peter is good on the flat. We are discussing car hire but it will have to come from the Airport I think. Even though we feel like we are miles from anywhere we are still only 35 kms from Valencia Airport!

Just one part of today’s climb
Taking a break
Siete Aguas

Siete Aguas is larger than expected and it was all uphill into town. Groan. We stopped at the first bar and had lemon fantas and salted peanuts in their shells. Our Casa Roses is a room only accommodation. We have a tiny ensuite for each room. Basic, but clean and comfortable with good beds and a welcome refuge for the end of today.. After a rest we went exploring. Not much is left that reflects the history as a border town when the Moors were expelled by the king or convert.

We joined the locals for a game of cards while we waited for dinner. It was very pleasant and we have come up with another alternative to our dilemma as the hire cars are so busy. Karen will walk while it is cool and then catch a bus, taking some of Peter’s c’things to lighten his load. We have 21 kms tomorrow.