And what, you may ask, has that got to do with the price of fish? Well, people have been asking me again about walking the Camino with the dogs and it sprang to mind because I believe that anything is possible with the right attitude, mind and commitment. Our lives are the creation of our minds and as it has often been said, we are only limited by our imagination - or rather lack of it. So reading that it is "not possible" to or "ill advised" to walk the Camino with a dog, I set out to prove that you can - you just have to think a little outside the box sometimes and prepare in advance! The adventures you have are different from those when you go alone and dogs are great for meeting people and starting conversations. So, whatever your dream, believe it is possible and make it come true!
|The terrible trio - Sasha in the lead - exploring the|
vineyards outside of La Puebla de Almoradiel
|Our lovely cosy and warm, pet friendly room|
|Kitchen at Posada de Peregrinos|
|Ana in the dog parlour next to the Posada de Perigrinos|
|Private Entrance to the Posada|
|Bisagra Gate - right next to the Posada de Peregrinos.|
Turn left from where the picture is taken (through
the square entrance seen here) and you are there!
|One of the amazing marzipan|
creations - a kind of eel in
Day 1: 6km from La Puebla Amoradiel to 6km the other side of Villacañas:
|Lights of Toledo|
Soon the light came up and we were heading into the first small town, only 4km from our start point, La Villa de Don Fadrique. There were some workers bars open and M went in to get us a bocadillo that we could eat later for our breakfast as he was there after we had passed through. Apparently the door on one side of this church is decorated with scallop shells but even though I walked around it I failed to find them. Akina kindly shivered her way into posing for this picture, but was glad when we were on the move again. The town has directed the Pilgrim around all the old town historic buildings although it is not the route marked in the guidebook! It is easy to follow though and a nice little detour so we did not mind too much. The following is taken from Wikipedia and explains maybe why they are proud of their town and buildings as it has featured in Spain's history:
La Villa de Don Fadrique is a town and municipality located in the province of Toledo, Spain. The town is named after Fadrique Alfonso of Castile who conceded the "Carta-Puebla" (the document reporting the foundation of the town and granting the special privileges to it) on April 25th, 1343. Prior to that date the small group of houses was under Corral de Almagueradministration.
According to the official data, La Villa de Don Fadrique has a total population of 4,214 inhabitants and a surface of 83 km². The population density was 49/km², in 2001. The economy of the town is based on doors manufacturing and agriculture.
La Villa de don Fadrique is located in the southeast of the Toledo province between Cigüela and Riánsares rivers. Buildings of interest are Nuestra Señora de la Asunción church, built in classical style, and Laras House.
This municipality was a stronghold of the Spanish Communist Party, (PCE) before the Spanish Civil War and some revolutionary riots took place in 1932 which required the intervention of theGuardia Civil. Because of this background it was even known as "Little Russia" during the Cold War years. Currently, it continues to be a regional stronghold of Izquierda Unida, which follows the traditions of PCE.
|Way out of Villacañas|
|The "rickety, rackety, bridge" but not trolls!|
|A case of shutting the stable door after|
the horse has bolted - we saw this
crossing the scary bridge!
|In this part of the world there seem|
to be more of these new Camino
signs with the white tiles and gold
During the walks we have noticed a number of Caminos Naturales signs. These appear to be old disused railways that are now routes kept for non-motorised use and to encourage healthy activity and enjoyment of the outdoors and set up and maintained by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment. You can find out more on: http://www.magrama.gob.es/es/desarrollo-rural/temas/caminos-naturales/programa/
In a time when the importance of nature grows unstoppably in human consciousness and outdoor exercise is increasingly promoted in the new concept of health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment is to contribute to observation and conservation of our natural areas, by recovering currently disused infrastructures that allow the enjoyment of the natural environment. This is accomplished by "Natural Trails Program".
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, since 1993 has been developing the Natural Trails Program. Based on this program the Ministry has made 8544 km of nature trails, of which 1236 have been greenways - the name given to run on old railways.
Reusing old transport infrastructure, trails, railroad platforms, towpaths, disused traditional paths, or opening new paths, and allowing people to get close to nature and the countryside in general, satisfying a growing demand for Field Eco-recreation use among the population.
|Door detail - at the Cathedral|
|Mosque turned church, Toledo|
|Ice Rink in the square near the|
Cathedral - Toledo
We also decided to treat ourselves to one of the delicacies of the town - suckling pig. Something we had never tried but which requires long and slow cooking. We found a place that was recommended and were not disappointed. It was actually part of their menu del dia and very reasonably priced. They also offer accommodation and are very central.
If you want to give it a try - check out Palacios - www.hostalpalacios.net. They can be found on Calle Alfonso x El Sabio
It's worth just taking a stroll around, there are shops like Aladin's caves and which take one right back to the past. Their displays are works of art and they just invite you in and say "buy, buy, buy!!" Oh if only the lottery numbers would come up! I'd buy the whole shop!
|Making the turn toward|
Tembleque, the track moves
a better distance from the
As often happens with these shorter walks, they somehow seem more challenging and tiring! It's very strange but very true!
The 12km seems much further in many ways than 20 or 23km. It never fails to surprise me but of course it is all to do with the mind and expectations and also one is "checking" more and "expecting the end".
On longer walks, one goes with the flow more and step by step, just walking in the moment - shorter walks tempt the mind to think of "when it is going to end" and of course, this slows time! Time of course being more a concept of the mind than real! As you can see from this picture, the trail runs directly alongside the road for a long distance. Even though we chose start at a point that drifted more from the road, the path still took us from time to time alongside the highway.
|Camino shell on a road sign as|
you enter Tembleque
|The church in Tembleque which|
apparently a chapel that combines
a wayside cross and juridicial
marker. As we arrived a service
was finishing but within seconds the
door had slammed shut and we had
missed yet another church!
Two-storey houses with whitewashed walls and large courtyards are located around its picturesque town square, following the schemes of the architecture of comedy theaters and inns, applied to a functional purpose: to serve as a meeting place for the people in their shows holidays
|Perfect for your coffee and refreshment stop - the Camino shell is right|
there on the wall!
|The delicious churros with cafe con leche|
in Tembleque, opposite the church
As we headed out of the town, the signs are good but then suddenly they disappear. As I was glancing at the map and peering under the eaves of the houses, a lovely lady pushing her shopping trolly asked me if I was looking for El Camino de Santiago. I was delighted and she directed me down a road to my right and told me that I should then turn left and follow the yellow arrows. I would pick them up again there. The route I had taken through the town ended up on the main CM-410, but actually if you turn right when you get to it and look at the armco on your right, there is a yellow arrow on the inside of it by a building and on the other side of this building there is another yellow arrow indicating the way.
|View back to Tembleque - the hill is not steep but it is long|
and the day was hotting up. I was glad not to be doing this
You can therefore reach it along the main road, but the arrow will be out of sight if you don't quite know where to look for it. It was just after this point that we met with the friendly dog who asked Kaishi to play and then with a young man who warned me to keep Kaishi on her leash as his dog had run off and it attacked other dogs. He said the leash should be fine and asked me in a mix of English and Spanish. He drove off in a cloud of dust again whistling for his dog, and I got out my new "extendible walking stick" which I had bought on the way to Toledo for just such an occasion! My "energy" stick to surround myself with a bubble of energy to hopefully keep other dogs out of our "zone". I needn't have worried though for a few minutes later the young man was back again, this time with a large German Shepherd in the back of his car that was barking like crazy. He told me all was OK because the dog (he indicated the barking GSD) was now with him. He wished me well and shot off again in another cloud of dust. Some minutes later I passed a house with a wheeled wagon, a bit like one of the old style gypsy caravans, and there he was again, this time asking two more dogs to stay with him while we passed. I thanked him and smiled and waved, the smallest of the two barking like mad and showing a lot of bravado but not daring to come too near. Kaishi did not seem to notice any of this and walked calmly with me as we went on our way.
From here we passed a water plant where another young guy came out to greet us and asked us where we had started from and where we were going. He also offered Kaishi water, as he said it was a long way to the next river. I thanked him and she wagged, and explained that I had water with me. He wished us well and we started up the long hill out of Tembleque and up into the hillier territory ahead. Fortunately the track had moved away from the road a bit and Kaishi could have a run, but she did put up a rabbit and I was glad she headed away from direction of the road.
|Knobbly rock with hard to see marker arrow!|
We must have been high up as there was a triangulation point at the side of the path, displaying our directional markers and where Kaishi flopped down after her rabbit chase!
I messaged the support crew and they started their walk to meet us. I could see them in the distance and when they were released to join us. There is nothing like this greeting during the walk when they race to say hello to me or whichever friend is walking, stopping and pausing to sniff and greet before bouncing around in pure joy of reunion.
The finish point was a lovely open space with good parking - an excellent place to start the final day's walk and with good running for the dogs to warm up.
We headed back to Toledo going via the lovely cake shop near to our accommodation where we picked up a special "Three Kings Cake". The plan was to treat ourselves to some naughtiness while I put my leg on a hot pack and rested it before taking a gentle stroll around the El Greco Museum. If there is such a thing as a gentle stroll anywhere in Toledo - as being as it is built on a very steep hill!!
|I think these wonderful candied peels and sugared cherries|
etc are supposed to be "crown jewels" but I don't know
|Roscón de Reyes Cake - also known|
as "King Cake"
The Wikipedia info below gives the history and tradition behind the cake. As Michael and I did not know about the "figurine" that lies within, when I discovered it, I thought I had hit a hard piece of fruit and we both tried sawing through it! I'm not sure therefore that either of us will be blessed with the good luck we are supposed to receive from it!!!
Rosca de reyes or roscón de reyes (kings' ring) is a Spanish and Latin American king's cakepastry traditionally eaten to celebrate Epiphany.
Although the name indicates that it should be round, the “rosca de reyes” generally has an oval shape due to the need to make cakes larger than 30cm across for larger parties. Recipes vary from country to country. For decoration, fig fruit, quinces, cherries or dried and candied fruits are used.
It is traditionally eaten on January 6, during the celebration of the "Día de Reyes" (literally "Kings' Day"), which commemorates the arrival of the three Magi or Wise Men. In most of Spain, Spanish America, and sometimes, Hispanic communities in the United States, this is the day when children traditionally get presents, which are attributed to the Three Wise Men (and not Santa Claus or Father Christmas). In Mexico before children go to bed, they leave their shoes outside filled with hay or dried grass for the animals the Wise Men ride, along with a note.
The tradition of placing a trinket (figurine of the Christ Child) in the cake is very old. The baby Jesus, when hidden in the bread, represents the flight of Jesus, fleeing from King Herod's evil plan to kill all babies that could be the prophesied messiah. Whoever finds the baby Jesus figurine is blessed and must take the figurine to the nearest church on February 2, Candlemas Day (Día de la Candelaria). In the Mexican culture, this person also has to throw a party and provide tamales andatole to the guests.
In Spain, due to commercial interests, roscones bought in cake shops hide in their interior a figure - either of Jesus or others like little toys for kids and a dry faba bean. Whoever finds the figure is crowned and becomes the "king" or "queen" of the banquet, whereas whoever finds the bean has to pay next year's roscón.
|The vaults below the palace buildings from the 14th|
Century Jewish Quarter of Toledo
|The house which was thought to|
be that of El Greco (but was not) and
now houses a museum of his works.
It is styled as his home might have
El Greco did rent three dwellings in the compound somewhere in the surrounding area close by the house shown here from 1585 to 1589
El Greco (The Greek) real name was Domenico Theotocopuli and he had an original style which had started as part of his painting icons in his home town of what today is known as Heraklion on the island of Crete. From Crete he moved to Venice and in only three years he mastered the technique of painting with oils. In the museum is housed "The Apostolate", a set of thirteen paintings whose position was not predetermined, the exception being of Christ which occupies the central position. El Greco painted several apostolates of which three complete works have survived and the set in the museum in Toledo is the one of the greatest value and demonstrates the artist's ability to pain individuals - as the information explains, they are incredibly human and full of dignity and nobility. The one I have shown here is (of course!) Santiago!
The label says:
"According to Hispanic tradition, this apostle who came to Spain and whose body would subsequently be taken to Santiago de Compostela for burial, is not portrayed as an obvious pilgrim, but merely holding a small staff in his left hand"
The era and Greco's time in Toledo was very important because a few years before he arrived in Toledo the court had moved to Madrid and the previous capital of Spain lost its status. This brought about some interesting changes in the city and El Greco made his own contribution.
The ruling classes wanted to recover the city's position as capital and so started on a programme of modernisation - re-organising public spaces, laying on a public water supply, erecting new buildings and restoring old ones. At the same time the intellectuals created a new image for Toledo to make it more deserving than any other city to become the secular and religious capital of Spain. To do this they drew attention to its unique past, its links to Ancient Rome, its privileged position in the Visigoth kingdom and its traditional loyalty to the Catholic Church. Because it did become the religious capital and because of its importance, it managed to survive many wars and avoided destruction.
Toledo - a taste of history:Spain is awash with historic cities, so what makes Toledo special? Barcelona, Seville, Granada, Córdoba, for example, all have their historic quarters, but these are swallowed up by the modern city. Toledo, on the other hand, is all history with its narrow, winding, cobbled streets (that sometimes lead nowhere), steep gradients, and ancient buildings, all circumscribed by the old city walls. Anything else? Well, you might also hear that “Toledo captures the essence of Spain,” or that “Toledo is the soul of Spain.” The city has been compared to Jerusalem and its landscape called biblical. Like Jerusalem, it was a city of three religions, with Muslims (more commonly called Moors in Spanish history), Jews and Christians all adding to the mosaic that made up Toledo. However, it is the Christian churches, monasteries and convents that now dominate, although Moorish influences are everywhere, and there are two historic synagogues. Overshadowing the city, and almost in the centre, is the huge Gothic cathedral, built on the site of the former Grand Mosque. Not far away (nothing is far away in old Toledo) looms another massive building, the Alcázar (fortress, now military academy). Cross to the other side of the river Tagus, where the Parador (state-run hotel) of Toledo stands, and look back and you can see how the cathedral and the fortress dominate the skyline. They symbolize perfectly the decisive role the church and military had in shaping Spain’s history. And Toledo was at the centre of much of that!
Toledo stands virtually in the centre of Spain. It is strategically situated on a rocky bluff dominating a gorge, and surrounded on all sides but the north by the fast-flowing Tagus. The Romans captured it in 192 BC, but it was the Visigoths who launched it into prominence when they established it as their capital in middle of the 6th century. By doing so, they located political power in the centre of the peninsula for the first time in Spanish history. A series of church councils in Toledo from 589 also established the city as the country’s religious centre. This, together with Toledo’s political status, set in motion the symbiotic relationship between Church and State that has –with some exceptions in modern times—been a constant of Spanish history. It‘s here that we have the beginning of the myth that identifies Toledo with the “soul of Spain.” But not all Spaniards are happy with that generalization. Many Catalans, Basques, Galicians, even Andalusians and Extremadurans equate Toledo with Castile and Castile’s historic penchant for centralization to the detriment of their cultures.
|Bisagra Gate - detail from inside|
Toledo was taken by the Moors (who called it Tulaytula) in 712, but a significant number of Jews and Christians remained and enjoyed freedom to practice their religions. The Christians (Mozárabes) continued practicing their Visigothic church rites, a pre-Latin liturgy that is still celebrated today in the Capilla Mozárabe of the Cathedral.
With the collapse of Córdoba, capital of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain), in 1031, Toledo enjoyed a brief period of relative independence as a small Muslim kingdom (taifa) before being reconquered by Alfonso VI of Castile in 1085. As the southernmost Christian city, jutting into the heart of al-Andalus, Toledo’s strategic position made it the most important city in Christian Spain. Its conquest meant that the centre of the peninsula was back in Christian hands for the first time since the early 8th century, and it was the return of Visigothic Spain's capital and spiritual centre. Under Alfonso it now acquired the title of Imperial city (a designation that it has claimed ever since); he styled himself Emperor of Toledo, King of the Three Religions and as if that were not enough, Emperor of all Spain. The tradition of tolerance continued under Christian rule and a famous school of translators was soon formed in the city, taking advantage of the wealth of Arabic libraries and its established Jewish population, which was fluent in Arabic. Indeed, the role of the Jews was so significant at that time that Toledo was even called “the Jewish city.”
Although the Christians tolerated the Muslims and Jews who remained after the conquest, they quickly established their authority converting mosques into churches, and then adding monasteries and convents.
Taken from www.spainthenandnow.com - for more visit the website and get the full details.
Above - the nativity scene that won first prize in the church close to where we were staying
|Three Kings Parade - stunning setting under Toledo's|
lighted monuments and walls
Day 3: Outside Tembleque and into Mora:
|One of the dreaded nests!|
From here we headed downhill while the others went back to the car and we passed some of the cave houses that we could see from the road. Here the path crosses the main road and goes along it for a short distance before you have to hop over the barrier and continue along an old, disused road and over a bridge. The area starts to get very picturesque, especially in the frost and the trail climbs up through more pines. This was therefore a long leash section before we hit the olive groves.
|Lovely frosty path heading into the hills and toward|
the olive groves
|The road before you hop over the|
|The beautiful olive groves|
This area is the largest olive growing region and the trees stretch for kilometres. This was a really peaceful walk, holding such atmosphere, despite being a little tiring on the up and down that we were now doing over the rolling hills. Good practice for the legs as they will have a lot more of this to come and not so far from here, on the other side of Toledo, the hills will grow into some quite steep climbs! We met the support vehicle and Kaishi came with me for the second leg of the day's walk. However, it was not long before it became apparent that a lot of this stretch would be along the main road. Ahead (and up another very long hill) lay the castle of Peña Negras (Black Rock) and the Camino winds slowly up to it and then passes beneath its imposing walls. I called the vehicle to come and collect Kaishi and headed upwards. Michael kindly suggested driving ahead and waiting for me if there was a path that took us off the tar. If there was, I would collect Kaishi again and continue on with her again. I was delighted as I rounded the corner and there they were! The path, winding its way up hill (even steeper now) lay to our left and was what I call a "real trekking trail"!
The path makes its way under the castle and then splits - one way would have taken the pilgrim into the castle itself and the other is the way we headed, down the slope and into the town of Mora lying ahead of us. From here the walking was easy and as we entered the town we saw that the Ayuntamiento was open because it is where the police station is located.
|The winding path heading up and under the castle|
|Canine refreshment wagon!|
|The castle is very imposing, especially|
in silhouette as you pass below it