Dee Rogers

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11 October 2008 – La Alberca to Trujillo

The morning is cloudy and cool but we dress for walking, Pete in his shorts and me in light leggings. We decide to drive to the highest point – Pena de Francia at 1728m – and see if there are any walks from there. The drive is breathtaking and unsettling, with mountain goats peering down at us from rocky outcrops and vultures riding the thermals above the highest point. The craggy rock piles appear insecure, as though the whole mountain might decide that gravity is the victor at any moment. There is the obligatory church ( The Sanctuary of the Virgin of Pena de Francia) and associated buildings at the top of this completely isolated and inhospitable place. It’s impossible to imagine how it ever got built ( commenced 1450 ) in the first place but now it is a hotel and restaurant. The wind blows bitterly cold and the rain sets in. We settle for coffee and photos instead of walking.

The vistas are amazing as we head downhill to San Martin del Castanar, another little town in the National Park that is roughly in the direction we want to go. It is a beautiful little village where we lunch after walking around the tiny cobbled streets. We’re first in the restaurant at 1:30pm and order the menu of the day and a veal dish. We also try to order a plate of vegetables but it is not possible … however, the food is fantastic with plentiful salad, tender meat and vegetables with the main dish. Coffee is served with some “Spanish rocket fuel” and we wonder how we’ll fare in our car and very narrow streets.

We fare okay even though we are lost and drive through some amazing country and towns. Pete manages to drive up and then back through the centre of an alpine town called Cantelario (with of course my expert navigation) and the civil guard hails us down to tell us we’re driving the wrong way. Oh well – they don’t seem to really care and there are no street signs that we can see. More to the point there are no road rules at all.

The autumn leaves are turning and our drive is sometimes a wash of golden yellow. Driving into these old towns, from altitude, was amazing as they would present themselves as a spread of red tiled roofs appearing all of a sudden around a corner – continuous colour – no quarter acre blocks here. In fact whole towns fill such a small space and everyone is part of the sometimes quite large community that fills such a little area.

We continue on through Bejar and Plasencia heading for Trujillo. Our route takes us through another National Park – Montfrague – and once again breathtaking. The vultures that we saw at Pena de Francia are here en masse. Hundreds glide the thermals and stare down from the highest of the amazing rock formations. The weather is changing from rain to sun to cloud as the countryside responds to the light variations with predominant grey, green and yellow tones.

We arrive in Trujillo passing stone fenced paddocks, pigs and cattle. Men on horseback. Caballeros. The town is an imposing mass of grey and red on a stark rocky outcrop. The hour is late the image foreboding. We drive into town taking the obligatory turn to “ centro cuidad” (town centre). The cobble streets narrow to less than 2 car widths (with rear view mirrors folded in) as we approach the Plaza Mayor. Very bad choice. It is impossible to make a 90 degree turn without multiple attempts. We eventually get out and try our luck in the outskirts of town. The Hostal Leon will do for tonight.

A really beautiful day. A bed for the night.

Categories:   Spain 2008, Travel

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