17. O.M.G.

Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery

O.M.G. this city is amazing!

Cáceres was founded by the ancient Romans, but it retains widespread evidence of subsequent occupations.  Its old town has a mix of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, with cobbled medieval streets, fortified houses and palaces. Encircled by 12th-century Moorish walls, it also has around 30 towers, some occupied by nesting storks.

Cáceres has been a trade route city and a political centre for many centuries. Since prehistoric times, people from different cultures have gathered and have shaped its strong historical roots. Pre-Roman settlements occupied the original plot followed by the Roman, Arab, Jewish and Christian people.

The lonely planet guide says this…The Ciudad Monumental (Monumental City) of provincial capital Cáceres is truly extraordinary. Narrow cobbled streets twist and climb among ancient stone walls lined with palaces, mansions, arches and churches, while the skyline is decorated with turrets, spires, gargoyles and enormous storks’ nests. Protected by defensive walls, it has survived almost intact from its 16th-century period of splendour. At dusk or after dark, when the crowds have gone, you’ll feel like you’ve step back into the middle ages… you can read more here http://www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/extremadura/caceres/things-to-do

It is a Unesco world heritage site… trip advisor has 65 things listed to do and we have a day to fit it all in!  WOW!

Our room in the albergue is okay but if you’re in town I would recommend a pension for 2… this albergue is not cheap and nothing special.  Our Belgium friends paid the same price for a private room with private bathroom overlooking Plaza Mayor.

Last night we wandered into town for dinner,  watching the city walls change colour as the sun set.  When we retuned to our room we found a very chatty girl from Leeds was sharing our dorm with us.  As lovely as she was, she never stopped talking. Maggie pretended to go to sleep but I had to yawn my way through at least another 40 minutes…  the girl was a tourist and not a pilgrim so she had no concept of ‘pilgrim tiredness’… finally she stopped to draw breath and I bade her a quick goodnight and turned off the light.

Both me and Maggie pretended to sleep on this morning when our roommate left… too afraid to start her off again. We heard her quietly pack her things and leave… and we breathed a collective sigh.

We showered and washed our clothes before heading into the old town to explore.  We bumped into Carol from Texas on the way… the poor woman has both knees heavily strapped and she is using her walking poles as walking sticks.  Her camino is over which is so very sad.

What is it about this path that is so hard? Is it the baked earth which feels like concrete under foot?  From our little group we’ve seen Lars, Sun, Brendon and now Carol suffering badly.  I’m worried about Maggie as her hip is giving her discomfort and I noticed today she is limping.  All these folks are experienced walkers but the Via is tough… certainly its no walk in the park.

We bumped into the Bordeaux guys… they did the 38km yesterday but Patrick has a problem now with his foot but they are walking on today.  Francesco is taking the bus to Cañaveral and we met our Belgium friends at breakfast and said our goodbyes.  We hugged and exchanged emails.  They are stopping here as they have a flight from Seville in 2 days… it has been a pleasure walking with these lovely people and it was sad to say goodbye.  More changing of the guard.

And so we explored.  What can I tell you? I don’t know how to put into words how beautiful this town is.  Every turn you look up, look around, look behind and there is something to see.  How many times can you say wow?  The word seems too small to describe this amazing little treasure.  We wandered the narrow alleyways and a guy played beautiful spanish guitar music that filled the streets.  The churches are packed with history and treasures and ancient manuscripts … you walk up to the towers and down into the underground water cisterns… it’s all so perfectly preserved… like time stopped here.  How come I’ve never heard of Caceres?

Come and visit… stop here… this xanadu will not disappoint.

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6 thoughts on “17. O.M.G.

  1. Colleen, I love this series! and I’m so glad you took the time to write this highly engaging commentary, with your wonderful photos! I’ll be doing the Via De La Plata this spring, I have my ticket already (from Arizona ). Your photos are by far the best I’ve seen in all my hunting around. Again, thank you so much for the inspiration!

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    • Thank you Jim… you’re going to love the Via. I was so surprised by the scenery as I hadn’t seen photos prior to walking… I’d seen lots of flat stuff and read of the history but nothing really prepared me for this amazing walk.

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