Vía de la Plata – Day 9: Aldea del Cano to Cáceres

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24 kilometers, 5 hours. Route was mostly through open grasslands, with more cattle and sheep, and through small village of Valdesalor before reaching the large city of Cáceres.

For the second day in a row, I made tea alone in the albergue (hostel) kitchen before I repacked my backpack and headed out onto the Camino for another day of walking. It was so different from the previous week with the sagrada familia (our little “holy family”), when we were all getting ready and sharing the bathroom and kitchen space, as we prepared for a new day.

I hesitate to tell about Aldea del Cano, but I was not impressed. Sure, it was a small town off the large autovia (freeway) with little to offer. And sometimes that was cool. I was the only one who stayed in the municipal albergue that night. That should have been a sign.

On my arrival, as directed by the info in my guidebook, I went to the bar Las Vegas (another bad sign) and asked for the key to the albergue. After help with interpretation from a nice guardia civil (local cop) who spoke some English, I managed to get my credential stamped, pay the bartender for the night, and get the key. The only key, it seemed.

As was the normal pattern, I selected a bunk, unpacked, and took a shower. After I cleaned up and started some laundry, I took the key back and wondered how I could lock up at night. Without better language skills, I didn’t bother to discuss options with the rather taciturn barkeep, and I ordered a glass of wine so I could use the Wi-Fi. No internet at the albergue.

For slideshow, click on imagine.

I shouldn’t complain; the albergue was only €6 for the night. But the food—and wine—at the bar (only place in town) was the worst I’d had in nearly six weeks in Europe. There were giant spiders, which I found out about in the morning, and the water from Aldea tasted horrid.

The water, which I needed until the next source, left an aftertaste like that of the Licor de Bellota that Anna had served the night before. Now, I don’t mind that earthy aftertaste in liquor, but in water, yuck.

Stayed the next night at a hotel in Cáceres. A chance at a comfy bed and to get some laundry done—for me. Stayed at Gran Hotel Don Manuel Atiram, which was on the Camino route just before the municipal albergue (though I didn’t know that at the time). This was a nice, modern four-star place I had selected using Booking.com the night before. My plan was to stay in a hotel once per week on my trek. That approach is frowned on somewhat by Camino purists. I understand that, but I figure there is no right or wrong way to do a Camino. Just do a Camino however it might work best for you.

Costs: €88 for room and laundry at the hotel, €5 for lunch, and about €20 for dinner on the Plaza Mayor (Main Plaza).