Grimaldo to Galisteo, Via de la Plata.

Day 8. March 2018.

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I am walking from Mérida to Ourense along the so-called Silver Way, the Via de la Plata Camino.

I have not been able to meditate recently because the bunk above me is too low and the floor too hard and cold. However I did do my tai chi in the night which, though painful for my foot, was beneficial overall.

Once again there was a community sense of pilgrims all looking out for each other.

Halfway through yesterday evening the temperature had changed and the wind got up, heralding, we were told, the rain.

But, beautiful was the word of the day; the one I kept coming back to as I walked through the gorgeous scenery.

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It was a cold morning, frost on the ground. I had my trouser bottoms on!

Then an hour later they came off and it was bare calves for the rest of the day. Not bad for March.

The mountains were beauti…. No, they were amazing, in the early morning. Everything was on the rise, spring in the air. All was lush and abundant and I could not stop taking photos.

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After leaving the small town of Grimaldo I walked past private houses with swimming pools, then took a left off the road.

It was a beautiful camino: through fields and grass; winding between trees; very wet underfoot, but the sun was throwing slanted rays and the birds were tweeting away ‘fit to burst’.

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There were thin films of spiders’ webs on the ground. I attempted to answer messages as I walked.

I was inching my way to Santiago. There was a road at a distance to the right,  between me and the mountains, but I was in the countryside on the uneven ground. I felt full of love.

I only managed to snatch a quick pee if there seemed to be enough polite space between the others and me. There was that cuckoo again.

And.. what.. security cameras? Yes I think so. Standing tall in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps to catch poachers.

Up and down I walked and all the downs were very boggy. There was snow on the mountains again, in front of me. In fact, there were hills or mountains on every side.

I picked my way between cow pats and acorns; grand and tiny stones; negotiated a series of big gates.

Today’s flower: a very small, yellow,  slightly ridged cone (like a tiny daffodil trumpet), very often a singleton but sometimes in twos or more; with a fine, sparse ruff of lemon-yellow, and a long stamen.

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At the barrage were herons fishing, and there were deep pools alive with toads.

I arrived in the town of Galisteo quite early. What a sight! A former Almohad fortress, the walls envelope the inner streets and dwellings  with medieval features and a simple but entrancing church, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.

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Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, Galisteo.

The albergue was shut and so I gave someone with terrible pain some Shiatsu in the outer bar of Los Emigrantes, kneeling amongst the cigarette ash.

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The municipal albergue, Galisteo, Extremadura, Spain. It was full by 5pm.
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Steps up to the battlements of the Mozarabic walls of Galisteo. Detail.
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Ayuntamiento (Town Hall), Galisteo.

Afterwards, the hostel was full as were the rooms at the bar. Luckily the man was very happy with his treatment telling people excitedly in Spanish how it felt, so there was a general movement to find me a room. This resulted in a beautiful twin room alone, with crisply ironed sheets and bleached white towels in a quiet pension just up the road. It was the same price as the municipal – 15 euros – including breakfast. It was lovely to have peace and space after many nights in communal accommodation.

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Pension El Parador, Galisteo. Comes highly recommended.

Thanks so much to all my readers who send me corrections or answers to my queries, and who share their Spanish memories (especially of the Santa Semana processions which are currently happening across the country). I do look for the correct details before posting, but it is hard to identify flowers, trees or birds sometimes.

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View of the camino from the walls of Galisteo.

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Embalse de Alcántara to Grimaldo, Via de la Plata.

Day 7 – 19 kms. 8.30am start, 12 midday stop-off for nearly an hour, arriving at 3.45pm.

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Today I walked with Marie Noelle from the Vendée, France. I am beginning to dream in French!
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Luckily we left the bus road behind early in the morning.
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Mountains and the village of Cañaveral ahead where we stopped for morning coffee and to air our feet
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It was hot and sunny all day, and we walked between drystone walls.
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We passed this on the way out of the town, going steeply uphill. I love the ‘noble’ part.
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Sometimes we could see the Camino sign but could not get across the barrier.
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The path winding through the vegetation to our destination, Grimaldo. What views!
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Idyllic streams tumbling through the landscape.
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A white Chapel with idiosyncratic orange-tiled roof typical of the Extremadura region. We went slightly off course here, mistaking the gentleman’s shouts to redirect us for a cow giving birth! (true)
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The camino in this region passes through Holm Oak woods and the March sunshine delights, lighting up one of the many pools. There were tadpoles in one of them.
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Wild flower meadows and what might be the Sierra Nevada.
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Not in order: this is the wonderful Embalse de Alcántara which we left at 8am. The very early morning light turned the still water pink, which I have never seen before and did not get on camera. This was a little later as we climbed up behind the hostel and away.
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Ghostly grasses surrounding this natural pool.
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Much of the area is fenced off to stop hunting.
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The first time I had seen pine trees since leaving Mérida a week ago.
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Bleached but soft stone colours acting as a lovely backdrop for the flowers – new species appear every day. Today’s were bluebells. 
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A hump-backed Roman bridge.

The albergue at Grimaldo was easy to find by following the yellow arrows – 1km from the camino. It was full by the evening – one toilet between 15 of us – causing queues evening and morning. It is Donativo ie you pay what you want or think it is worth. Clean and with a small kitchen with fridge and microwave, there is no stamp on my credential. The two cafés were opposite and next door – both, as ever, run by friendly and helpful people and serving good food and wine. The one next door opened at 8am for breakfast for us because we guaranteed 10 plus people.