Day 41 (7/Nov/2017): Jarilla to Baños de Montemayor (23km)

Looking forward to a night at the museum! I’m staying at the albergue in Baños de Montemayor, which has a Via de la Plata heritage centre on the ground floor. I hope the exhibits are well behaved this evening.
The taxi that I booked to pick me up from my Airbnb at 6:45am arrived with impressive punctuality, giving me a little time to kill at Caceres bus station before my 7:30am departure. The bus driver spotted me looking at the destination (Salamanca) and intervened: “Are you Jonathan, who’s going to Jarilla? This is your bus.” When I got off at the Jarilla intersection, she wished me “Buen Camino!”
Today’s walk was never going to match the “revelation,” of the Roman city at Cáparra that I experienced yesterday. But the two towns that I passed through turned out to be very pretty and worth seeing.
After alighting from the bus, I had some toast and coffee at the Asturias hotel, before retracing my steps to pick up the Camino from a point shortly after Cáparra. I immediately felt the extra weight of the cold weather clothes, as if someone had thrown a house brick into my backpack.
The first part of today’s walk was mostly on a good track. But gone were yesterday’s fields of holm and cork oak. The fields either side of the park were more open, grassy pastures. Signage was a little confusing at times but essentially, the Camino was on a parallel track to the A-66 motorway as far as Aldeanueva del Camino.
Aldeanueva turned out to be a very pretty little town, with strong connections to the Camino. Throughout town, there were Roman milestones and ceramic plaques, celebrating the Via de la Plata. Many houses in the town have a style of architecture that I hadn’t come across on this journey until today – Half timbered houses with adobe walls, and several wrought iron balconies that overhang the streets below. Apparently, it’s a traditional style in this area, that dates back to the Moors. Some houses also have tiles (shaped like roof tiles) on the external walls. It’s unusual and quite pretty.
If only the same could be said for the walk after Aldeanueva, which was mostly on the hard shoulder of the N-630 highway. A few kilometres before Baños de Montemayor, I was able to get off the road and onto a comfortable track again. Just before the entrance to the town, there is a well preserved, single arch, Roman bridge – one of many in this area. A few people from town (perhaps tourists) were visiting it during their late afternoon stroll.
Signs directed me up a hill into the core of the town. In the old town centre, which has several buildings in the same style as those that I had seen in Aldeanueva, I asked a lady for directions. She decided to walk me to the albergue rather than trying to instruct me on how to get through the maze of streets. As a result, I didn’t see that Baños de Montemayor has a very different character by the main road, where the town boasts two, rather grand, turn-of-the-century spas and some up-market hotels.
As the name suggests, Baños de Montemayor is a spa town, with a history stretching back to Roman times. The Roman baths have been restored. Had I known that the spas were open until 8:00pm, I would have brought my trunks and enjoyed the waters instead of showering at the albergue. And I probably won’t be around at 9:00am tomorrow when the spas open again. What a shame. Perhaps I’ll come back.
The hospitalero of the albergue, Thomas, was looking a little crestfallen that I was the only pilgrim today. He only had one pilgrim yesterday too – It seems that there are not many of us on this path now.
When I set off from Jarilla this morning, I thought that I might make it to Puerto de Bejar, 3km down the road and the first town in Salamanca. But I’m glad that I only made it this far. This is a great place to enjoy my last night in Extremadura. I’ve just had a lovely pilgrim menu dinner with some vegetable soup (yay!) at the Peña restaurant, where well dressed oldies play cards before dinner. Several of them have been teaching the owner’s son some sort of card game. The whole community taking an interest in the child – a very typically Spanish scene, I think.
I’m going to see if I can throw out some things from my backpack tonight. If I can, I’d like to attempt to plough through 34km tomorrow and position myself to reach the city of Salamanca this weekend. If it doesn’t work out that way that’s fine too. There are several towns with albergues ahead – I could stop after 3km, 13km, 22km, or 34km.
(I’ve now returned to the excellent albergue and noticed a special offer for pilgrims from the Baños on the notice board here… perhaps a 9:00am spa visit, followed by a less ambitious walk, would not be such a bad idea after all).

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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