Tobi - "Es ist nicht gut, außer man tut es" Erich Kästner. There is no good, unless you do it.
|Central - Tobi's 4 beads|
We had booked at the Posada de Peregrinos again and our former room was taken by someone who wanted to stay longer - or that is at least what I think had happened! Ana was wonderful and let us have a whole apartment for ourselves and the dogs, which included a sitting room, twin room, self-catering kitchen with washing machine and a little porch area where we could keep the dog food, bags, boots and which was also a private entrance to the accommodation. We had all this for the same rate as the previous room. We were warm, cosy, private and very quiet - so a good night's sleep was had by all!
Day 1: Mora to Nambroca
|Kitchen facilities at the|
Posada de Peregrinos
|Ancient meets modern - the distant caste of Almonacid|
with modern solar panels in the foreground
|Akina on the old road into Masceraque|
|Mascaraque church and Moorish|
|Take the right fork|
|The castle looks quite imposing|
ahead of us on the trail
|The way out of Almonacid de Toledo|
|The view we leave behind us|
|Keep an eye out for markers - there are red and white GR route markers|
on rocks and walls that are sometimes a little hidden, but they are there
The following couple of hours we walked, now with Kaishi, was just delightful. The sun was out and the trail was lovely, winding through pretty countryside and along old tracks. There were a couple of times we had to really look for the markers as they were a little hidden by vegetation, but the way was quite obvious, it was more for peace of mind that one wanted to see the route marked. The picture here with the white building was the one time where we needed to make sure we were 100% on the right path, because just before this the track forks. It seems as though the left fork goes to a private dwelling, but one can not be sure as it is not easy to see from the path, however, just ahead there is a marker and the track again forks, this time the Pilgrim takes the one to the left in this picture and heading just out of sight.
|The Roman Arched Bridge|
|First cattle grid|
|The route marker a little ahead and|
to the right of the cattle grid
|The uncultivated way toward the Romaila Estate house|
The estate is a wine estate (called Romaila) and the house, when you get to it, is very imposing with large amphora or Roman style wine jars, scattered through the grounds a decorative garden art. The vines are well kept and the driveway is lined with cypress trees which we cross in order to continue on the Camino, through the vines and on to the second cattle grid.
|Cross the tree lined path and make|
your way along a track through
well kept vines
|Arriving in Nambroca|
Day 2: Nambroca to Toledo - via Burguillos de Toledo and Cobisa
|Early morning light over Burguillos|
de Toledo church
|According to the guidebook|
this is a Renaissance
juridicial marker with
Corinthian capital and
lamp and cross
|The duck pond just before the ducks|
leapt into action!
|Akina outside the Ayuntamiento where we got our sello|
As we passed through a housing estate, complete with barking, fenced in dogs throwing themselves at us (Akina looking at them as though to ask "what's your problem") there was one house a little out of the ordinary. A kind of log cabin, a little like some of the houses that line the old town streets of Albaquerque and in the same fashion as those cabins, hanging out garlic and peppers to dry. Sadly from the picture you can't see the whole house, but from the side it was very reminiscent of those I had seen on a trip to New Mexico... ooohhh maaany years back!
|Easy to go straight on - the marker rock is that one just|
in front and to the left...
|The visible side of the rock...|
On reaching the end of the estate, the road continues up and alongside some open fields where it then meets with some dirt tracks. Peregrino beware!! The rock sporting the red and white marker has it painted on the side away from you and it is very easy to miss! As the guidebook suggests the road goes straight to Cobisa but does not indicate that it is tar, it is easy to feel that one should go "straight on" and is not aware that in fact this part of the path follows the little tar road all the way to the next town.
|The "other" side of the rock!!|
|Log cabin with garlic and peppers drying outside|
From here the route heads through the town and out onto a quiet village road that goes past a garden centre on the left. As you turn off the tarred road onto a stretch of dirt track the ground starts to fall away from you, at first gradually and then more steeply revealing the beautiful city of Toledo below. Initially it looks like any city, with old spires and towers breaking the skyline ahead, but as one gets closer there is no mistaking the prominent and dominant edifice of the Alcázar on the horizon.
|The posh end - Los Cigarriles|
|We were circled and "escorted"|
down the hill toward to Toledo
for some distance
|We begin the descent|
Kaishi on the long descent and one of the fabulous "Hollywood Hills" style houses of Los Cigarrales
|The Alcázar peeks from behind|
many of the houses and buildings
on the way down through Los
|Toledo as the Peregrino sees it on arrival - the first|
views of the river and city a little closer
Gradually the city comes into view more and more and reveals itself with each step that the Peregrino takes towards it. The walk into Toledo was one of the longest, not due to distance but because although we did not have a huge distance to cover over the day, it was impossible not to stop and just admire each new view as the angle of approach changed.
As I drew closer to the town I swapped Kaishi with Ndzilo. Although the girls have covered the most kilometres on the walk, Ndzilo is a special girl and now in her twelfth year. I felt it appropriate that as a well traveled dog, one who has been to so many places with us through South Africa, has lived with us since just after we arrived there and who suffered the most on the long and terrible journey the dogs made to Spain, she was the one who deserved to walk the last part of the journey with me down into the city.
|Shaking paws with Ndzilo as we make it to our destination|
|Ndzilo: From Chrissiesmeer where she was born to Toledo Spain!|
|We make our way along the river to|
the bridge where we cross into
|At last we find a yellow arrow again and some Camino|
|Of course, the momentous occasion could not be celebrated alone or with only one of the Ridgebacks - so we|
all walked together across the bridge and stopped to record the moment half way across
|The view of Toledo that most people will recognise - but there is nothing like standing here in person and|
looking out of the city spread before you
|With the Robertson Mala outside|
Toledo Cathedral's entrance for worship
In a time when the church is losing many members, it was surprising to be turned away at the door (as a peregrino of the Camino de Santiago) and told that I should go and get my stamp at the tourist ticket office opposite. There is no entry for pilgrims unless you too pay the entrance fee which at 8 Euros is quite steep! In fact on the day that we arrived, the entrance fee appeared to be in the region of 11 Euros?! I crossed to the ticket office and approached the desk where to one side a lady was being quite abrupt with a couple of elderly Japanese tourists who could have been better helped and more politely dealt with. I was therefore standing in front of the other lady on the tourist reception desk who was more interested in playing with her phone and various text messages, than helping visitors! When I asked if it was possible to obtain a sello I had a "yeah, where d'ya want it" kind of response! I have to say that it was most out of character from my experiences of Spain so far and not something I had not come across until this point. I was then sent on my way with barely a glance and the passport pushed back at me.
I decided to try the entrance for worship in the hope of accessing the candles - which fortunately I did - but no photography is allowed inside (which is common in many countries but so far in my experience in Spain has been allowed in almost all areas and all buildings) and we could not get any further than the candles. We were lucky enough to see the magnificently carved pillars ahead of us, but that was it.
I have to say that it was a somewhat disappointing and rather sad end to what had been a beautiful entry into the town, a very special day and the end of the first third of my journey along the Camino Levante.
Day 3: Beyond Toledo! Toward Rielves...
Wow, well here we are and by the end of the morning's walk had completed 488km of our Camino. Sadly the first part of the route was a bit of an anti-climax after the spectacular arrival into Toledo, but then you can't have fabulous views and perfect walks every day! What we did have in the early morning sunrise however was one of the most spectacular early morning views of the Camino so far and I did my best to capture it on my phone and the picture is below.
On a small matter of amusement, we came across this pedestrian crossing on the route. It was part of our regular walk from the accommodation and I filmed it in better light the previous day. Having searched on YouTube I notice that there are a few other cities that have these delightful crossings and they are so amusing! However, I was always brought up to "not run" across crossings - the opposite of what this one suggests. The interesting thing you will note if you watch it however is that a car has jumped a red light and tears across the running green man! If anyone had been on the road at that time I think it might have been curtains! Running or not!
|At the roundabout at the edge of Toledo you start to pick|
up the yellow arrows again
There is a lovely seasonal restaurant right here on the river - or it certainly looks as though it will be a place to sit on summer evenings. Maybe if I get the chance to return in warmer weather! The restaurant will be on the left and the pathway along the river bank wends its way until it meets a tarred road. The vapours from the river were rising into the air as we left Toledo behind us.
|Merendero seasonal restaurant|
|Early morning river mists|
|The river ahead of us looking toward what appears to be an|
old weir station or the like
|New road systems not marked|
on the map
|Various quarries along the way,|
the arrows above are on the
|The BIG arrow on the roundabout!|
|The road as it was much of the way|
|Everyone wanted their route marked on this wall near|
Casas de Monterrey!
|Yes, you DO go this way! Keep the trees|
and paddocks to your right and you will
find your way around the buildings as
the road bears left and again meets
the Camino and its markers
|Coming into Estivel with it's lovely aquaduct to bring|
water to the farm
|The way toward Santiago - in particular the mountains that|
will take us on up to Cebreros before delivering us
down into Ávila
As we made our way together toward the car, pairs of what I can only think were storks, clacked their beaks on their nests. Such strange creatures! It seems they are pairing up already, although to me January seems like a strange time, especially as ahead I could now make out the mountains that take us up to Cebreros and they already had snow on top. Seeing it, I had my doubts that I will be able to make it across them before the end of January and later on, in a news bulletin we saw in a services while on our way home it showed metres of snow in the NE of Spain, far more than on the mountains I here, but a reminder that the time of year is a bit against us. It might already be too late for the mountain section. Having said that, my original plan had been to walk the next part of the Camino around March if possible, but we will have to see! Watch this space and I will let you know. In the mean time I have to make sure I don't lose the walking fitness that I have built up!
|Robertson Mala makes it to Toledo - 475km from Valencia by Camino|