Mérida to Aljucén – Via de la Plata, Spain

21/22 March 2018

Roman theatre, Mérida, Spain.

I went to Mérida by bus from Seville because I completed that 10 days last year. The Leda bus took 3 hours and cost 9 euros.

The beautiful gardens at the Roman Theatre, Mérida, Spain.

I enjoyed a beer and pinxos in the Plaza España (tortilla with bread and goats cheese on toast, neither of which were good but cheap) and visited the crypt (3 euros) and amphitheatre (12 euros) in the afternoon. The people at the tourist information were most helpful.

Roman Amphitheatre, Mérida, Spain.

The out-of-town shopping centre where I bought my new baton was across the Roman Bridge (which is totally pedestrian and a great sight). I was foot-sore but it was a successful trip and after bread, cheese and lettuce I went to bed at 7.30pm.

An evening shot of the Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) over the Guidiana River, Mérida, Spain.

I woke at 6am after a passable night. A cacophony of snorers accompanied me in the 18-bed dormitory which was almost full. I did my meditation and as I went outside to do tai chi I disturbed a heron on the river.

View from the hostel window.
View of Mérida, looking back on departure.

I had a breakfast of milky coffee and packet cakes (2 euros), and was ready to go at 7.30am, only having to return once for my water bottle and map!

The buildings are industrial and utilitarian on the outskirts of Mérida, Spain.

The road took me uphill and although there was ice on the parked-car windows, the sun shone all day; the birds sang to me and, in general, the yellow arrows were clear. I asked a woman for directions at one of the many roundabouts, and the first hour was along the side of busy cars going to work, as well as a green cycle track bedside the motorway.


The statues on the gateposts are impressive.

The flowers were stunning: purple mallow; yellow rape; pink campion and ragged robin; white wild rocket and chamomile with their sunshine middles. Wood pigeons cooed at me when I shed a few tears, sure I had missed the way, although it transpired I had not.

Later, rabbits played with their white tails bobbing, and cow bells sounding like an orchestra of kalimbas were so beautiful.

I climbed up again to the top and there was the first view of the Prosperpina Reservoir. All morning my feet and other joints were taking it in turns to hurt, my back pack felt very heavy, but these things were familiar and if I have learnt anything from sitting it is that everything will pass eventually.

The Prosperpina Reservoir is glorious.

I sat and enjoyed it. I watched the heron on a rock, mirrored, stretching out its long black neck, and the swallows darting around for flies over the water. Individually the birds sang regular songs but together they created a mélange of sound.

I spent almost an hour near the reservoir reading the tourist information and changing out of my cold-weather layers into shorts and T-shirt.


After skirting the lake, I walked by the babbling brook and this second part of the days walk was much closer to what I was hoping for: peace, with the call of the cuckoo and the water swirling amongst the bright green weed and sparkling in the sunshine

This path was across country although initially along a little road with lots of arrows, plastic bags and signs, all yellow to help us find our way. My feet were very grateful for the soft sand, although there were quite a few wet and boggy places.wp-1521724756453..jpg

I saw dog walkers by the reservoir, 2 local cyclists and 2 camino ones. No-one else.

Note for those walking this way: Remember to look on the pavement for arrows and indications, as well as on trees, the backs of street signs and the obvious marble blocks.


A gentleman opened the gate for me as I trekked up into the village of El Carrascalejo where the church was shut.

Parish Church, El Carrascalejo.
Renaissance entrance of the Parish Church, El Carrascalejo.

I snacked at 11am with no sign of any café despite the information in my book (remember, it is March). On the way out of this tiny place there is a playpark and attractive picnic area.

There are lots of lovely benches but the El Carrascalejo albergue is shut at this time of year.
White winding road with fields of vines on either side.

After all my winter reading about the history of the pilgrimage and monasteries, I really felt like a happy pilgrim with my staff and shell, sign of Saint Jacques interred at Santiago de Compostellla, the end of this 1000 km route

Saint Jacques.

As I approached the motorway I took a left turn along a small road and then a right at a Mondrian-like cube with its yellow square and walked through the underpass.


There are many Holm oaks in this area of Extremadura.

Up another little hill I went, along a farm path and past a group of men taking a break who called buen camimo and then I had a view of Aljucén.

I crossed the main road for the last time,  straight on between green fields lush after the rain (the farmers must be happy anyway!) and although there are no signs I kept on going right into the village where they were planting lots of new trees and arrived at the Albergue Turístico Río Aljucén at midday.


Costing 10 euros, this hostel was recommended by the previous hospitalero, has excellent, free Wi-Fi, is spotlessly clean and although it has a washer (3 euros) there is no dryer. I was the first to arrive so I got to have the hot shower and choose my bed in the small dormitory. All my things dried quickly in the sun as other pilgrims arrived. We sat together, mostly German people, one Argentinian, a couple of French and myself from Scotland  We spoke French, German, and a little English and Spanish.


Via de la Plata Camino – Torremejia to Merida

24th May 2017 Torremejía to Mérida.

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‘Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering. Winnie the Pooh,  A A Milne.

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Today’s short walk took me past industrial areas.
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For a great deal of time this mountain and I were beside each other.
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Also fields of wheat, gleaming in the sun.
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And plane trees.

I was trekking through Badajoz in the Extremadura region of Spain. The mountains were in the distance, but on the ground it was tarmac and vehicular junctions. There was a blue sky and although I left in the dark to stay cool, it was getting very hot by 10am.

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Causing a heat haze.
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The paths were stony underfoot, with fertile greenery,  despite the lack of rain.

Soft grasses, Scottish purple thistles and long ochre paths stretched ahead of me, with an occasional fellow Camino traveller making his quiet way. Otherwise it was a peaceful walk as I approached Mérida and the end of my journey for this time.

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Lusitania Bridge, Mérida. It was 42 degrees by the time I walked across here to meet my driver!

I have a duty to many people and somehow I will discharge it. I have a duty also to some continuing part of myself. … I see now what I am….. it’s a question of being faithful to an essence. p. 239 From ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ by Sebastian Faulks.

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Puente Romano (Roman bridge, 792 metres long) across the Rio Guadiana, Mérida.

 Mérida is the capital of Extremadura and was founded in the 1st century by the Romans. There are plenty of attractions but I was taking a Bla Bla Car to Madrid for my return to Scotland and so had to reserve those pleasures til my next visit in March 2018.

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Lusitania Bridge, Mérida.

I found a cool cafe which allowed me to sit for a while. I walked around the town and found everything I needed – it is well stocked with shops and so on.

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Mérida: I enjoyed the ancient walls in the medieval Plaza de España.
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I located the pilgrim’s albergue / hostel because I knew I would be back to continue the Via de la Plata from Mérida. It is by the River Guadiana.
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Classic pilgrim statue!
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Molino de Pancaliente, Av. José Fernández López, 32-40, 06800 Mérida, Badajoz, Spain.

Phone for the peregrino albergue called Molino de Pancaliente, Mérida +34 682 51 43 66. Cost: 8 euros. open all year round.

This was the last but one day of my Spring 2017 trip. I began teaching in Paris and walking in Normandy and Brittany. Here is the main page for my French blogs. Then I went to Zaragoza, Seville (via Madrid), and started to walk the Via de la Plata. Here is the Spanish page with links to each of those blogs.

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After all that walking and fresh air, I felt strong, healthy and very, very grateful.