FROM OUR SPANISH CORRESPONDENT
Monday, June 5
Words and pictures supplied by Bill Quinn (OR67)
"Since 2014 I have completed 4 Caminos walking a total of 2500kms. My wife, Trish, has done 2. For the past 3 years we have been caring for Trish’s 97 year old mother, who still lives at home in Macksville. So when 6 of our friends, all of whom have done parts of Caminos with us, announced they were going to do “the last Camino” we jumped at the opportunity to do part of their journey with them. 3 of these friends are going through to Santiago de Compostella, and three, like Trish and I were doing part of the walk.
After a marathon 30 hour flight from Sydney to Granada via Barcelona and Dhubai, we were ready to begin our journey. We started with a day-tour of the Alhambra of course - a must see. The walk was from Granada to Cordoba over 9 days. Most days the distance was from 20 to 26km. The path took us through many small villages. In Spain, towns are built on the top of a hill and many have a fort at the top ( you can see the enemy coming, and it’s easier to defend). You can imagine how we felt after walking 25 km or so and then having 2 or 3 km climb up a very steep hill to get to our destination.
The terrain consisted of a series of huge valleys, all cultivated with olive trees. Thousands and thousands of acres of Olive trees. Towards Cordoba the olives groves thinned out and the valleys were cultivated with wheat, or sunflowers, or nut trees (mainly almond).huge broadacre farming. When we arrived in Spain there were drought conditions, but we must have brought the rain with us as within days we were walking through sticky mud. Our accommodation was basic but totally adequate and the reception we received from the people was friendly and nice.
Food on the trail was basic but rewarding. Bread, olive oil, mushed up tomatoes spread on top and ham. Croquettes were popular. And potatoes. Potatoe bravis is potatoe chips with chilli sauce....yum. Salad and vegetable didn’t come with the meals so we had to order separately. And beef was off the menu in most places due a EU order that farmers reduce their herds by a third (naughty methane farting cows).
Our walking journey ended in Cordoba, which is rich in its Muslim history. We visited the Cathedral which is built wholly within the ancient Cordoba mosque.
We decided to drive through the region called the Extramadura because it is long and tedious, so we hired cars and drove firstly to Mérida. This city have some of the best preserved Roman ruins in Spain. We spent half a day there. We then drove to Salamanca, which is a university town then caught a train to Madrid (a beautiful city of monuments and open spaces) and are now on our way to Sicily before returning to Australia and our caring duties.