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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

El Camino Levante - Day 2 Rielves to Maqueda

Today's walk was 22.1km and for the most part we were on a roll.  We just had a bit of a stressy end to the day... but more on that shortly!

Akina showing off her true colours!
As it was a fiesta day (Hispanic Day) we were expecting everything to be shut.  We had ordered bocadillos the night before at the restaurant and were armed with snacks "just in case".  We drove back to Rielves to get started and I headed toward the rather amusingly names "Barcience".  Appropriately, all the bars were open (!) and as Michael said, it's as it should be in such a named village!  The crisp morning air was perfect for walking and the sky clear and bright as we approached this wonderfully named place with a castle perched up on the hill above it.  The colours were perfect for enhancing Akina's copper red coat and she positively glowed in the morning light.  When I look at her magnificence I am always in awe - her power and beauty are stunning and I simply can not take my eyes off her.

Castle above Barcience built in the 15th century
by the counts of Cifuentes,
whose emblem was the lion.
and used for artillery in the 16th century.
As we entered the town next to a church with .....  there were trails drawn across the clear skies from all the aeroplanes leaving Madrid first thing.  It was quite a sight to see and shows just how busy the airways are!

flight paths
We left Barcience we followed the arrows through and out of the town, where there was a rather nice marker right in the middle of a round a bout until we came to a whole new housing estate complex, all laid out but no houses of course due to the market collapse.  Here there was an arrow on the curb or another round a bout, but it seemed to indicate going straight across it and taking one of the tracks that looked likely, right ahead and through the ghost estate.  As we walked down it, I could see another track heading out into the country with various walkers on it.  I peered over to one of the street lamps and could faintly see what looked like an arrow.  I took a cross street in the "invisible" estate and met with the right track, now clearly marked with arrows.  At the round a bout, it will mean going (as if you were driving) right around it and taking the last exit before you headed back the way you came.  There are no arrows at this point, but it will save you potentially going out of your way.

The church as you enter Barcience
The church in Torrijos
At this very same round a bout we suddenly came upon a man with a retriever and another big dog on long leashes.  They were lunging and barking and he was hauling them in to keep control.  Again I was left admiring how far Akina has come since her fearful puppy and teenage days and how much trust she has developed - she did not raise a hair and totally ignored them, just tuning into me, accepting her treat and moving on.  This is obviously an area for dog walkers and also for the interesting art of dogs working alongside or pulling a scooter - the kind that you push with your foot - as here we met a man with a galgo doing just that!  It got me thinking of bike joring, ski joring, cani cross and my own private venture of getting the sulky going - all sports where dogs pull humans.  Pulling a scooter is another - but I can't remember what that is called.

Cressa joins us at the cafe with THE most delicious
coffee and fresh doughnuts!  Head along the camino from
the church and call in - it's the first cafe on your right!
We headed on out for Torrijos and our dog swap point.  I was in hope of coffee and a nice morning break in the sunshine.  As we entered the town more bars were opening, everyone was dressed up and headed for church and the priest himself was making his way to the doors under the tower as the bells started to chime.  Akina and I waited on a bench as the bells rang out (above clip) until Michael arrived and then she got in the car for a drink and to put her feet up while we took Cressa to a little bar along from the church and what a find that was!  Delicious!!  We had wonderful coffee and chocolate coated fresh doughnuts - along with some "freebe" kind of doughnut holes filled with a creme anglais.  Mmmmm - just what we had wanted and at a little sunny table outside the cafe.  The tapas inside looked so inviting, we were almost tempted to just while away the morning and wait for lunch to arrive - but that wasn't going to get the Camino walked!

Ayuntamiento - Palace of King Pedro I

Torrijos was possibly originally a celtic settlement.  It's main foundation is Roman with the name Torrijos coming from the Latin word "turris".  Of the Roman remains are the aqueduct, various bits of roadway, burials and coins.  It also experienced the Visigoths (who called it "the Fates") and the Arabs (then having the place names of) "Cerro de la Atalaya or Mora Encantada", "Valdeolí" or "Valley of Ali" and "Almendraba" or "Medrano.

The Ayuntamiento building is the old palace of King Pedro I and it was the residence of the kings of Castile after the erection of the fortress-palace by Alfonso XI in commemoration of the victory against the benimerines Salado (1340) - info from the Ayuntamiento but I can't vouch for the translation page!  The town had two synagogues, a mosque and a Gothic-Mudejar temple under the patronage of the town's patron saint, San Gil Abad, sadly now none of which exist.  Juan II resided frequently in the so-called Palace of Pedro I and enlisted the help of Torrijos in their struggles against rebellious nobles and the city of Toledo.

The Barcience round a bout
The town was walled until the late nineteenth (originally constructed in the 15th Century and no longer in existence) and accessed through the main gates of: "Arc of Toledo", "Maqueda Gate", "Puerta del Pozo", "Puerta de Madrid" and "Gerindote Gate".  It's economy was developed in the 14th Century and based on the production of oils, soaps and other rich regional trades.

The mountains ahead that we were due to cross in
a few days
Heading out of Torrijos I took Cressa for a way and she trotted alongside me as we followed the tar road out of town.  She was great with the traffic and walked so nicely on the leash - I videoed her for Facebook to show potential adopters how nicely she does it.  I really hope she finds a lovely new home - she deserves it as she has changed so much already and the Camino will really make her into a new, braver, well travelled and more confident dog.  I collected Kaishi at the dog swap point and headed out along a rough gravel track next to the main road.  Pretty but always a shame to be near such a main highway.  I also had to keep her on leash as there were plenty of rabbits and all too near to the road.  She was superbly good though and did not pull on the leash once or even glance much askance as they darted hither and thither in temptation!  The arrow takes some looking for as there is a new fenced area where originally you would join the Camino, but just off the round a bout outside Torrijos the fence ends and you can see the track on the other side of it - the arrows are there, you just have to look for them.  Originally the path took pilgrims a little more toward the highway and then onto the track.  

Kaishi in her favourite rest
position taking an afternoon nap
over lunch!
Me enjoying my bocadillo in the
sunshine on a perfect sunny day
with great views (by the way that
cheese is blow your socks off stuff!)
We soon entered Val de Santo Domingo, a sleepy little town with little going on and were through it in the blink of an eye.  What stood out the most was the fact that in the distance, beyond the town, we could see the mountains rising before us, the ranges that we were due to cross in a few days and the ones we had been getting every closer to in nervous anticipation!  Psychologically this was what I had been doing the most preparation for and they were now only a few days away.  From here we climbed a gently sloping road up onto downland and looked at the last of the flat lands before we would start our slow upward decent into the foothills.  It was so beautiful and so sunny and it was just about lunchtime so we decided to take a little break to rest up and admire the view while we had lunch.  We were making good time and could spare ourselves time to chill.

Route change info - Pilgrims take note of the following:

Kaishi next to the last marker we saw before having to call
the support vehicle - GR marker.  After this all arrows
and red and white GR markers disappeared
When we set off again we were heading into Maqueda and here is where we hit our frustration for the day.  Just before the N-403 the map shows the route clearly going to the right.  The instructions in the guide book says that ahead is the carretera and that there are tracks barred to traffic right and left, but take the one to the right and cross the barrier.  It then says that at the next intersection go left until you have an olive grove on your right.  There is more but I never found that as we were completely lost trying to follow the map first and then the guidebook.  Going right according to the map takes you beyond where there should be another track left and toward Maqueda - it no longer exists.  We back tracked and the only option at the barrier is to now actually follow the carretera all the way into town.  In fact the arrows direct you so - as we noticed once we were driving.  As we were so close to where we would meet the car and where we should have been able to give Kaishi a drink at a stream I had not worried about the fact that she had not wanted a drink at our last stopping point.  However, as the heat was building up and we were wandering about lost and with little shade, I started to worry about her as she was lying down at every opportunity.  I found some shade in damp grass and laid her down while I rang for the support vehicle.  My own water was now out and so I could not even help her with that - we were "so" close to where we should be but just could not get through.  The support vehicle was not going to be able to meet us at our planned location because the track that should be in front of us was just not there.  Michael was on the other side trying to reach us with water and we were trying to reach him.  We were almost in shouting distance but as the saying goes - close but not cigar.  The only choice was to back track.

The dogs also like to have an afternoon nap after a day's
Fortunately the support vehicle could get to the track we had been on before this confusion and there was a break in the barrier where the car could turn off the main carretera.  We cooled Kaishi off, gave her a little to drink in small sips so she did not bolt it and make herself sick and headed off into Maqueda.  We wanted to find a restaurant for that night - there is nowhere to stay particularly in the town so we were booked into a lovely little place in Quismondo.  Clean, tidy, warm and with great showers and for that night well worth the 25 Euros.  If you want to plan it to walk on from Maqueda and stay here I would thoroughly recommend it and it is really a stone's throw off the Camino.

Hotel Euroquismondo
Carretera de Extremadura, Km 67.200
Quismondo, Toledo
925 79 06 63  

The "new" route - continues straight and
then heads along the carretera into
After showering and having a nap we met to head back to Maqueda to a little roadside cafe where we actually had the most delicious lentils!  It was hearty and warming and just what was needed as the chill of the night set in and tiredness from the day.  It's interesting how no matter how hot it is, after walking for the whole day - usually between 6 and 8 hours - you get very cold.  I'm always ready to curl up in bed to keep warm and sleep for a few hours until supper time.

As supper time is so late in Spain and we are usually finished around 14.00 hrs, after a shower and getting sorted out I'm usually tucked up around 15.00 and sleep until 20.00.  I try to write some notes for the day and read a little if I can, but sometimes the day just demands sleep and the chance to warm up.  Michael found the perfect little olive grove that night where the dogs could play a little and took the most wonderful photograph of them all at supper time.

The dogs dinner time at the olive grove camping ground
outside of Maqueda

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