Merida to Plasencia and a tribute to Alex

Leaving Merida, Tuesday 15 May

Absolute sheer pleasure! Oh yes. My boots both fit me again and there is (almost) NO pain. The swelling has gone, along with the toenail. Ahhh. I managed well over 10,000 steps on tuesday. In walking shoes. Phew..

Thinking of little difficulties: the local accent in Merida was a interesting. Imagine how you understand ‘do(s)’, meaning 2, when the end s is dropped! And imagine trying to converse with little changes like that in every word. 🤣🤣🤣

Bus

Travelling by bus past towns I’ve walked through, including Grimaldo, Caceres and Canaveral, was a mix of pleasure and disappointment: I’d have preferred another 4 or 5 days of walking after arriving at Merida. But, c’est la vie and I’ve got a chance to see a city I’d heard about a while ago, Plasencia, another old walled city. And it helps remind me how uncertain the future will always be, however we try to control it.

Plasencia

Easy to find where I’d booked and I discovered my new landlord, Miguel, knows as much about me as you do. I’d answered his query about my arrival time on email. Yes, it contains my blog address. He gave me possibly the best introduction to an apartment and a town I’ve ever had. Very personable and, luckily for me, doesn’t speak english so, we had to use Spanish. 😎

The apartment is probably the narrowest and darkest I’ve ever had. Less than a metre wide at its narrowest, I still duck when I walk under one passage light and through the arch. Don’t need to but both feel dangerously low. This apartment provides a good way to envisage life a few centuries ago in these houses: cold and dark.

At 09:00 or 10:00, with all blinds and shutters open, you can see how dark it is when you look to the distant bit of light in the front room of the house. If from there you look back to the bedroom it’s a little like the black hole of Calcutta, even when the hall lights are on. Sigh.

Central location and it has the facilities I’d expected but, yes, very dark and very cold. I left the front and back windows open all day to at least warm it up to the outside temperature. Didn’t work but, the heaters do and I’ve got a washing machine and stove. 😏. Ahh for feng shui applied. 😁

Plasencia as a tourist

I’ve spent the past few days wandering, seeing tourist haunts and trying the local food. Obvious here is tourist central with the number of shops specialising in local cheeses, jamón and olive oil. A local torta de casar is a bit stronger and even nicer than the one in Merida,

and I found a very nice gazpacho with the makings. Could eat that every day and be happy doing it.

The city walls are impressive in Plasencia. A large section is extant, enough to retain 6 gates, and best of all, you can walk along a section and look over some outer areas of the town.

There is still something magical seeing houses and streets alongside city walls and looking out, over a town.

More to come on Plasencia in the next blog. First, something more important.

Tribute to Dr Alex Ward

The world lost a great guy when Alex recently shucked his mortal coil. I lost a guy I really liked, a friend, my research partner for many years and together we coauthored many research papers and a book. Life was tough for him over the past few years and his death reminds me how important it is to live while you are alive. Farewell Alex.

I’ve found it hard to accept he really has gone, someone I’ve known for nearly 40 years, but I’ve now got a copy of his funeral notice. That makes it real, and final. He’ll be buried next Wednesday, as I’m flying into Dubai, on my way home. Thanks Sarah.

Merida: bread, circus and a museum

Bread

Over to the south east of Plaza España, the side away from the larger tourist focus and not far from the bull ring, is small town Spain, yes, in the middle of this city. The bakery opens daily and has great bread. I especially like their ‘Viena’, a type of wide roll, not as crusty as some. Goes very well with the special cheese from this area, torta de Casa, the one where you cut off the top and dip bread into the soft contents.

Nearby are a couple of cafeterias and a churrería, all around the Plaza, a concreted area surrounded by a few banks of benches and with a couple of stalwart deciduous trees. If I came back late morning the benches would be occupied by old men. I like this part of Merida. Not necessarily as attractive but, interesting.

Circus

A km or so north west of this area is the site of the old Roman circus. Not a lot to see. More interesting is that no one seems to have done much restoration.

It’s sometimes surprising how little of most monuments is real, original, with the stones or bricks actually having been laid by the romans or the group to which it’s attributed. However, two thousand years is a long time and it was unlikely that huge unused monuments would be maintained, unchanged, forever by anyone. Especially when the area was subsequently conquered by lots of other groups, like the different Visigoth tribes here and, later, the Moores. And later again, the christians and still later Franco’s mob. On and on it’s gone. Laying, relaying, decay, relaying, decay….

Among the old photos in the museum are some showing the state of the Roman theatre in Merida prior to reconstruction. Not a lot was left intact and I’m guessing it and the surrounding land, like the Parthenon in Rome, was used for farming. Same with the circus.

I’m wondering if the aqueduct is different, perhaps largely unchanged over time as it would be difficult to pull out a few stones or bricks for your new place.

It remains one of my favourite parts of Merida. And left me wondering how the romans measured height above sea level as they had to calculate the fall for this aqueduct over the 6km from their local cistern to the nearby reservoir.

Oh, and the storks who now have babies!

The Roman bridge is neat and a little of that is original. Five dinghies in the water today each seemed to be picking up rubbish from around the shoreline. Odd. At first I thought they were fishing but the fluro vests and their interest in the shoreline made me wonder.

Spoke to a local and she told me they were picking up bits of a troublesome weed. Made more sense. She kept extolling the virtues of Roman Merida so I asked her what she thought of Medellin, another well preserved Roman site, about 30km away. In her entire 70 years she has never been there. Never! She hastened to tell me where she’d been. No, not out of Spain but to Madrid.

Not much really remains of the Alcazar and it’s a bit less than 1,000 years old.

I still like Trajan’s arch.

And find it amazing how far below the current road level it is. You can see from a remaining door by its side. How impressive it must have been before the marble facing disappeared.

Museum

Actually visited a couple. Yes, more Roman road and marble statues, one of Ceres the god of agriculture and a guy with a 6-pack+. And a little wall painting from a Roman mansion.

And I was so impressed by the juxtaposition of an original Roman column against the inside of the modern museum.

Notwithstanding all the history of Merida, the locals remain as diverse as in any other place. The beggar looks like her many family members across spain, usually outside a church or supermarket. Baptisms of babies continue. And I had a particular sympathy with a guy represented in a statue commemorating all those that have made possible the celebrations of Santa Semana in Merida. His hat is by his side as he massages his poor foot! So yes, personal.

Toenail

Ah yes, you were asking about R toe 5. The most recently offending toenail is off! Pulled it out yesterday. Ahhhhh, relief. The skin should close over soon. I could almost wear boots again, walk seriously but it’s now not going to happen this trip.

I’m tied into a travel week. And I need to get feet sandal-ready for a trip to Cambodia, coming up soon.

Castuera to Don Benito to Mérida

Leaving Castuera

I liked the Hotel Los Naranjos in Castuera. Got what I’d paid for and it had a nice Canadian, John, as well as the parrot.

John and I have ended up at a couple of places on the same day. He is the guy with the opposite schedule to me: me, early, him, well, let’s say he was finishing breakfast at 09:00 to 10:00, when I’d usually be long gone.

You’ll notice that the parrot cage door was open so I’m guessing it wandered out in that area, in front of the window, to do its loud screeching.

The fierce little dog was townie, and not a hotel resident. But so so brave up on the balcony above me I just admired it. Yup, I kept going.

And then, a few streets after, I had to figure why such a small town needed a policeman at an apparently insignificant intersection. But, there he was. I turned the corner and he called out to me. Quick mental search: caught at last??

Peregrina? He asked. I said yes and that nice kind policeman was about to tell me the route was in the opposite direction. In many towns here the locals just watch as you and your heavy pet backpack blithely head off up the wrong way. For amusement, as the tv programs are mostly pretty awful unless you have a soapie addiction. Or is it like watching a rat in a Skinner box, to see how quickly it might learn? I’m sure it’s better entertainment watching peregrinos than both these options in some small towns. 😏

The last time I was here was on a Saturday and the bar was full, at about 07:00, of hunters in cammo. Some looked a little new with their very clean, very well pressed clothes. Very impressive. And somewhat funny. 🤣. And this time, a horseman in the main street. So, an interesting town with a frontier image perhaps?

Anyhow I was really impressed with the policeman. I was wandering, filling in time until I could catch the train to Don Benito. Hoped to walk the next 3 days from there into Merida.

Knew cheese was important in Castuera. Saw a sign on the way to the station and made the silliest purchase I’ve made for a while. I’m a sucker for sheep cheese but, this much?

I’m blaming the fact that I was confused as someone had put bamboo skewers under the nail of my right toe 5. Too painful to walk more than the couple of km to the station in Castuera. Even in skinners (like a sock with a sole) walking was still not easy and so I’d had to change my plans already. Train to Don Benito. Figure out what to do along the way. Still hoping to walk to the very impressive town of Medellin with its Roman ruins.

Don Benito

just a half hour by train to Don Benito, a prosperous looking city. Many new buildings and shops.

It’s the one where the well arranged bullfighter in pink was working recently. Really, nothing to recommend this town in my eyes, not even the many coffee shops up the main street .

interesting that it had the very trendy walk signs that flash male/female.

Has many modern chain stores, some upmarket, lots of trendy coffee shops but, if it wasn’t for my foot, I wouldn’t stop here. Not just because I can’t buy a newspaper. But it does have one of the best supermarkets I’ve seen in rural Spain, with the best fruit and veg, Mercadona.

I stayed at the Hostal Galicia in Don Benito. Not my favourite and not the cheapest. The worst pillow I’ve had in Spain, not an easy competition to win. The wifi was almost dead, momentarily spluttered to life for a few slow minutes in the morning. And the noises from the next door shower, near midnight of course, were a bit like a thundering waterfall. No, it’s not on my list of places to stay again. In fact, I’m planning to avoid that town in future, except maybe for its Mercadona supermarket. Oh wow. Best fruit and veg I’ve seen for ages.

And the round of sheep cheese? I left it in the hotel and just hope someone appreciated it plus the can of Red Bull and heap of Werthers toffees as my walking is over for now. Toe #5 this morning felt as though just the one skewer was still under the nail. So, better. Sooner the nail is off and out, the better yet. I want to explore the places I’m visiting for my last week in spain this May.

With 3 hours to walk about 1km to the train station I stopped off for another coffee. Not really, it was for the waiter with such an impressive haircut. I had to see it up close. Nice guy.

Still more coffee at the cafeteria next to the station. Better still, tapas served with the cokes. Greasy but very tasty.

Finally caught the train. A mere hour or so from Castuera to Merida by train but, days on foot. And I’d have preferred that option.

Merida, Friday 11 May 2018

I like this city. Once again I’m staying in the hotel overlooking Plaza España. Even better, I have a balcony directly over the entrance. Not very busy at 16:30 but getting busy at 21:30. Busier still later.

Headed off looking for a decent dinner, one with veg. Oh yes. Look at what I found, below, in my own hotel. 😁

Forget dinner, my feet are now in sandals that don’t rub my various blisters or push the bamboo stake further in under the nail on toe 5. Aggghhh. Yes, you probably heard the sigh of relief. I just need to figure why it happened, how come I walked with no issues for a week. And then the left toe 5 packed it in and later the right! Odd! And no, my laces were done up properly.

Moving on

Four nights in Merida then a bus to Plasencia, another walled city I’m looking forward to seeing.

In the meantime I love hearing the clacking of the many storks busy nesting above us lot. All around this area.

Merida to Aljucen

Last night in Merida

Silly but, I feel more tired tonight than when we first arrived in Merida. It’s as though when you walk day after day your adrenaline levels rise and stay high. They take a day to drop and then go right down. Feels that way to me tonight. I’m finding it hard to get any energy to even pack. Also, unusually for the last two weeks, I’m not hungry.

The chocolate and churros this morning were nice but heavy. And left me disinterested in food for the day. Thankfully we’d bought some fruit at the local market today, the wonderful peaches plus bananas, kiwi fruit and oranges. I’ve stuffed in what I can as not eating before a day of walking isn’t smart. We should get breakfast at a cafe on the way out tomorrow plus, we’re not leaving early so that makes it even more likely. 

I was surprised at how little english I’ve heard in Merida this trip. I heard two guides speaking in english to their groups but almost all the tourists I’ve seen and heard are Spanish. Anyhow, a very different experience from my last trip to Merida when many tourists were english speakers. Quite possibly just the time of year as it was April last time.

Aqueduct in Merida 

Today I visited the main aqueduct. Last time I only learnt about it when leaving town and walking north. Early in the morning then it was a ghostly shadow. Seeing it later afternoon, today, was better. And of course, we saw it again this morning. 

A poor solitary, and perhaps confused, stork was standing in one of the nests above the support structures. Most odd as it was alone and the others have all disappeared to wherever storks go for the winter. Has it lost its partner? Who knows but it looked to be searching for something. 

Breakfast in Merida

Should read: breakfast with the bulls. The cafe was a veritable shrine to toreadors and bulls. From the two bulls’ heads hanging on the wall to the multitudinous photos and newspaper cuttings it was a shrine. Nothing less. More later but, our lunchtime restaurant had a similar theme, bulls and handsome bullfighters. This time with the family as well. 


We’d had to spend time in our chosen breakfast bar as V had forgotten to collect Benedo’s torch from the albergue. He’d very kindly lent it to her as hers is weak, one you wind up as you go. His is very focussed and ideal for finding yellow arrows in the dark. So we left later as the albergue opened at 09:00 plus, we didn’t need to hurry today. 

Rain

My first day in the rain this camino. It’s cooler and I was able to try out my new, lightweight, montbell rain jacket. One unused item less in my pack. The other two are bits of cold weather gear and I’m happy not to need them yet. 

Didn’t rain heavily and as it lasted only an hour or two, not a good test for the jacket. The forecast suggests daily opportunities for more serious testing lie ahead. 

The section leaving Merida seemed to take forever, mainly because it’s the usual uninteresting suburban stuff. Finally reached the Prosperina Embalse, a dam constructed by the Romans about 2,000 years ago. Yes, it’s been fixed over the centuries and used more or less at different times. 

To me it looks very sad and uninteresting, as it did last time I walked here. The difference is, walking with a Spaniard I learnt a bit more about it. Victoria pointed out it’s very popular in the summer when local temperatures can be in the 40s and, we are currently a long way from the ocean. It has river sand and alongside are many bars and cafes, all shut at present. Anyhow, there is also a Red Cross building that I now know is really a first aid station which supports the idea of many people coming here in the summer. 

And I noticed the new signs showing you where you can fish but, the fish are not to be killed. 😏

Later the track changed to a gravel one, undulating, and finally a village. One of the very few with not even one bar! Very unusual. Kept going to our destination, Aljucen. A small town it at least has bars and restaurants, possibly surviving only because of us peregrinos passing through most days.

And, it’s the first time this walk I’ve seen so many grape vines, another change as I move across and now ‘up’ Spain.  

Lunch

Ok. To say the restaurant Sergio’s, in Aljucen, is unusual is an understatement. Go back to the 50s or 60s, imagine how a Spanish bar may have looked then. Not quite the 3 flying ducks on the wall but, the equivalent. Along with a strong focus on bulls and toreadors, again. 

And lunch? No choices, or virtually none. Soup, a nice thick chicken based soup with chick peas and small noodles followed by salad (tomato and lettuce) and a fish based tortilla. 

She also cooked 4 slices of eggplant for us plus we had a large bottle of homemade lemonade (sugar, water, lemon). Desert was fruit. Given everything, I’d expected lunch to cost about €8 or 9 each but no, €11 so quite expensive. But, the food was fine. 

Albergue

This is a family run albergue, €10 per person per night for a bunk. One of those places where it’s €1 extra for this, €3 for that…. But, it will do us. The bonus: wifi and power points near our beds. 

We have company tonight, a French woman about my age. She speaks French, Spanish and english and, she is probably watching costs as she picnics only and isn’t sharing accommodation with her friend who is staying in a nearby hotel. I did notice it was more expensive as we walked past it but, considerably cheaper than in many places. 

There were 15 in the albergue two days ago. Not the one big group but a series of small ones. I’m very pleased we are behind them, apparently an unusually large number for the Via de la Plata in October, usually a slower time than March and April. (I previously walked through here from Sevilla in April 2013. I didn’t stay here and don’t even remember the town even). 

Now, a few hours after lunch, it’s time for a quick sleep. 

Didn’t happen! Blogging and trying to get some photos of the owner’s hobby took time. Honestly, the most amazing little panorama made of acorns, 7 pigs and the Spanish shepherd with his crook! They are so cute. Truly. 

Surprisingly, no bulls!  

Dinner last night
We both determined dinner was vegetables, whether grilled or made into soup it had to be vegetables. Possibly 7, or 8, menus later we returned to our hotel as I’d seen vegetables on their (expensive) menu. 

Not only did they have grilled vegetables but they also had a regional specialty, sheeps cheese. Not just any sheeps cheese but a round with the top removed and the contents warmed leaving a thick melted cheese within. (Torta de la Serena). Served with thin slices of toasted bread. Oh wow. Oh wow. We shared the cheese and a large plate of veggies. Expensive in the end but a peak experience, both the cheese and veggies.


I’ve never fully adapted to Spanish food. Too few vegetables for me and salads almost inevitably based on iceberg lettuce, my least favourite. I’m sure I miss some good things through ignorance at times though. And, had V’s sister not suggested she try Torta de la Serena neither of us would have known about it. 

Roman theatre and anteteatro

It’s my second or third trip to both. Both are well presented and fascinating. Imagine standing on the site where gladiators fought each other or poor, tormented, wild animals. 

You can also sit in the adjacent (amazing) theatre where the romans and their descendants watched whatever. Wow.

Today’s theatre was different: a choice between a high scissor lift with a photographer (boring and noisy) or, a couple getting photos done after their very recent wedding. Her dress had a very extensive train and she wore the most amazing bright red shoes underneath it. So, different from my last time here when I watched a school play in the theatre. 

Breakfast

I should have started with this: an unusually successful FaceTime chat with JP, thanks to the very good wifi in this hotel, and then a breakfast to kill your liver. 

The breakfast was in a churrería so, chocolate and churros. The chocolate was, of course, the wonderful thick Spanish type. 

So, many calories from the deep fried churros and the sugary thick chocolate that I won’t eat for hours more. (I’m ignoring the very nice green olives I ate with the coke light.) Anyhow we bought fruit and some nuts for later at a local market and both headed back for a nanna-nap. Such is the life of a peregrina. Tough. 

Tomorrow

Yes, I’m continuing up the Via de la Plata.  So we start by heading north to Alcuescar, ~20km from Merida. Rain is forecast (70% chance) but I have my fingers crossed it won’t despite my new jacket needing an outing. 😎

San Pedro de Merida to Merida

After a very pleasant night in San Pedro (a brufen each and 12 hours off our feet) we headed off just before 08:00, still in the dark. Almost day by day we can see it’s getting darker every morning plus, we’ve been heading west still. Until today. 

From here on, north, and in a few weeks the end of daylight savings. Phew! Will be a bonus for us walkers. And yes, I’ve enjoyed the walking so much to date I’m continuing north, up the Via de la Plata rather than going to school for a few weeks in Salamanca. 

I get so much conversational Spanish along the way plus I am very much enjoying the walking. So much so that I have trouble figuring how far I’ve walked and for how many days. It must be well over 300km and going on for 2 weeks. But, who’s counting 👍.
Merida

A short 15 or 16km walk from last night. Along the way the countryside seemed to flatten out a bit, lots of cereals and, for the first time, hunters.

Two hunters out in the open paddocks not far from the city each had a shotgun and dogs. Suddenly a shot would ring out as birds flew up into the sky near them. I saw one bird, a pigeon, drop to earth near me, dead. Neither that hunter nor his dogs picked it up.

Another different walk today. One small town had more storks’ nests than I think I’ve ever seen on the one building. Six or seven of them. 


And then the outskirts of Merida. Behind Victoria were the 2 peregrinos from our last night, them with the disappearing albergue key. 


Over the next few km we saw an old Roman aqueduct and the hippodrome or circus. 

The highlights for me today though were arriving, checking into the hotel, and visiting the Roman museum in Merida. 

We are staying alongside the main plaza, Plaza de España so the museum was a relatively short walk and we had to go as it is shut tomorrow. So we raced up there after a shower. I like this museum and it’s about my third visit. Not only did we arrive in time but, it was free today. And I enjoyed it as much as ever. 

On our way to the museum we had to stop for a drink. Frankly, we are both knackered. Benedo and Manolo were catching a bus from here to Sevilla at about that time so we happily toasted and messaged them as we did so. For both of us they really added to the fun until now. 

Tomorrow some tourist stuff including a visit to the very impressive Roman theatre and a churrería for chocolate and churros. 

Medellin to San Pedro de Mérida 

San Pedro de Mérida strikes me as so forgettable that if I don’t write this now likely I won’t remember i was here tomorrow. In fact the other two towns between here and Medellin are singularly equally uninteresting to a walker except for one thing: both had an open bar at the time we needed it. Breakfast at the first bar was good and coke light at the second very welcome. Lunch here was essential!

Today is memorable for me for a real reason though: the boys, Benedo and Manolo, are 15km ahead, having needed to get to Merida today. Neither Victoria nor I fancied 40+km so we walked just the 26 or so to San Pedro. 

Sad to part from the boys but they both have work at home, in the Canary Islands, next week. And we missed them this morning! Their uncanny ability to find yellow arrows in the dark is amazing. My electronic map is essential for me as be blowed if I can find the ‘flechas’ like they can. V shows some promise. 

She had a hard day today and, like me, needs a break.


The countryside was very different with a crop I’ve never seen here before: flood irrigated rice. The usual maize and almonds were near the rice. And I loved the stork’s nest on a pole. First time I’ve seen that since the last walked the Via de la Plata, in 2013, and fell in love with walking in spain. 

Finding accomodation 

So, Merida tomorrow. A 15km walk, hotel already booked for two nights. No albergue: had I not already had an ambivalence to them in some places I’d have developed it today. There is one here, in San Pedro, but find the keys on a Saturday! Ha ha. Good luck. Everything is shut. It’s a strange system in places.

The Spanish couple with backpacks who suddenly appeared on a street in front of me, and who can’t have come from Medellin or I’d have seen them earlier, finally found a key somewhere. Then they decided not to stay in the albergue and were going to give us the key after they picked up their packs. 

They disappeared from the restaurant they’d been in, didn’t bring us the key so I suggested to V we stay in the hostal over the road from the restaurant. We are now happily ensconced here, a two-bed room for possibly not a lot more at €12.50 each. 

We have a bathroom, balcony (sort of) and a tv (‘spose it works). And we are none the wiser as to where the couple came from, why they didn’t want to stay in the albergue and why they didn’t bring us the key. In fact they moved into the hostal but I’ve neither seen nor heard them again.

Next stage

Now, back to Merida. I’ve booked the sort of hotel I want to stay in for two nights. Costs me the same for 2 as for me alone so it’ll be with V too.  We will continue north towards Salamanca on the Via de la Plata. Don’t know how long I’ll keep walking. 

Maybe I’ll get sick of the attendant hassles of a camino or maybe I’ll continue to just love the walking in the early part of the day especially, from sunrise on. 

Maybe V and I will stay walking together for a while, maybe not. Who knows. She is nice and it’s great traveling with a native speaker. At present we usually use Spanish (conversations are neither long nor involved) but she can speak english. When I’m tired that it is such a blessing. I’m looking forward to meeting native english speakers again. It’s been a couple of weeks since I have. 

I’m also so looking forward to the short day tomorrow (15km), the same bed for 2 consecutive nights, and a rest. Roman ruins and museum on Sunday as they’ll be shut Monday. So a whole day of nothing on Monday. I need it. Had a nana nap late this afternoon and will still sleep tonight. I’m tired.

Feet

My feet are begging for a rest. They and me have managed without poles quite happily but now need some time out. 😁 Time without a pack making them pound their little selves so hard on the ground, especially when on sealed roads rather than tracks. Hard!

Back to Medellin

And the lovely town of Medellin last night: I had some techo problems and couldn’t find some of the photos I wanted. 


Athens, Aegean Sea and Spain

And I’m heading off again. A few days in Athens, a week sailing around a tiny bit of the Aegean Sea and then, Spain and a continuation of the Camino Mozarabe.

Hard to imagine a return to Athens. I was last there over 40 years ago after an, at times, rugged trip through Asia on buses, trains and hitchhiking, then buses and cars across snow covered Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey and more hitchhiking south from Thessaloniki to Athens.

Surely the firetrap I stayed in at the base of the Plaka during my months in Athens, Funny Trumpets, must be gone. But, it’s Athens! Even way back then then Athens (Greece) was obviously living on ‘its glorious past’. Little seemed to have been done since Pericles and the golden era of Athens. Thousands of years previously. Hmmm.

But the cakes! I remember them very well.  I’d been so sick and lost enough weight that I had to eat. Cakes, only surpassed in Church Street Melbourne. 

Won’t miss drachmas or those dreadful travellers cheques from way back then. Euros and credit cards are improvements.
So, going to Athens is exciting. Seeing if it’s different, how it feels now, as a time-worn traveller. I’m so looking forward to walking around all the places I visited last time. No time to revisit other parts of Greece such as beautiful Vallarta, the wonderful archeological museum north in Thessaloniki, nor Delphi. Just Athens and various of the many islands I didn’t go to last time. Now, on a yacht. See why I’m excited? (No, not just because the new iphone announcement is imminent. Dammit, I’ll be in a lounge with very slow wifi in Dubai at about that time.)

After that, over to Madrid and then Granada. From there I’m planning to walk most bits across to Merida, where the Camino Mozarabe joins my first Camino, the Via de la Plata. After that? Don’t know. Obvious options are to continue north along the VdlP towards Santiago again or, to go to the UK to check out some of its coastal walks. Or to go to some of the many bits of Spain I’ve not been before. Or France.  Really not sure at this stage but I know the future options will become clearer while trudging through a few hundred more km of dusty olive groves!

This next section of the Camino Mozarabe has more castles, as well as the olives, as befits such an important old route between bits of spain. I visited one last year, more to go. 

Depending on the usability in Greece of my Spanish SIM card, wifi on the boat etc, there may be a few blog gaps over the next couple of weeks. Or not. For now, focussed on the new iPhone announcement and getting going.

Oh, and the nuts and coffee in the qantas lounge. I’ll head off to the lounge for my real airline soon. Just that qantas is a nice start. Food is better in the other one. 

Hopefully I won’t be limping my way between lounges. I changed my footwear choice 30km before heading off! Stupid, stupid, stupid. I was planning on wearing Keens boots but didn’t want to take runners too. Changing to Keens shoes was an obvious option I should have thought of before. Both models of Keens shoes I have are new.  Which to take? Bryson or Targhee 11? Fingers crossed as this last minute change was the action of an ill informed novice.  Even worse, I kept changing my mind in the last 10′ before I scurried off to get a lift to the station. Now, I’m at the airport wearing the Keens Targhees, harder but better wearing. Comfort? Ok so far. Not helped of course by foot surgery a bit less than 2 months ago. Almost all footwear will eat at least one of my toes. Thank heavens for my large roll of elastoplast. 😎

For now, enough! Other lounge, here I come..,,