Casar de Caceres to Alconetar (Alcantara)

An early start to the day. Dawn breaking as we head out of town:
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Today’s stage was 23.7 kms. Another clear, sunny day. It was fairly even terrain, slight up and down along a ridge for much of the morning, with the valleys falling away to either side given over to pasture, agriculture or bush. The Dutch couple can be seen on the way ahead of me.
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Later in the morning we walked down the spine of the ridge towards the day’s destination, the artificial lake of Alconetar (Alcantara), seen in the distance.
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Some of the scenery was reminiscent of Australia. These boulders could have been anywhere in rural Australia.
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The fencing seemed to need some updating, if this gate is indicative.
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I had been mindful of 1st May holiday, so brought food with me for today and tomorrow (unnecessarily, as it turns out, as the albergue provides meals). At 11.00am I had my first real “lunch” along the way, while having “feet time” (= boots off for half an hour). Here’s a selfie of a happy pilgrim. I meant to include the lunch in the photo, but didn’t get the angle right, and in my second attempt, I caught some of the food but the pilgrim wasn’t looking quite so happy with his photographic efforts, so I settled for the original happy photo. For your information, lunch was apple, banana, half a bread roll with cheese and ham.
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In the afternoon I saw a new flower that I hadn’t seen before. It grew on one stalk, but at the top branched out into several blossoms, which when they bloomed, formed a flat “plate” of white flowers, sometimes as big or bigger than an outstretched palm, around 6-8cms in diameter.
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The morning’s path had been a road, but in the afternoon it became a track, sometimes rocky, sometimes a bit up and down, so one had to pick one’s way carefully. I did not want to have a fall! But the extra demand was relieved by the proximity to the wild flowers. Here’s another guard of honour “salutation” from the flowers waving as I pass through.
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The last few kilometres were along the shoulder of the highway. Off to the right was the lake, looking enticingly cool; and just to the left, was the black macadam road, unrelentingly hot!! There were lots of motorbikes, which surprised me, till I remembered that it was 1 May Holiday, and these were bike enthusiasts out in groups for a spin.

The road seemed to go on and on and on. I crossed a couple of long bridges. I seemed to be bypassing the lake altogether, which was the intended destination, so I began to worry that I had missed the turn off to the albergue and walked past it. I was thinking about what to do – a pilgrim hates to turn back, but prefers to go ever onwards – when eventually, much to my relief, the sign appeared.

I thought I had arrived in albergue heaven! The facility is relatively new and purpose built. It is spacious. I has a lovely view over the lake.
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The manageress does the washing for the pilgrim (but the pilgrim then hangs it out to dry). The dormitories are spacious and have 4-6 beds only. More importantly, they are split level, the higher level being at about 5 feet, so the people sleeping on the “top” bunk walk up the steps and their bed is “on the ground” at that higher level. No more climbing up rungs or climbing on chairs to get into the “top” bunk. You just lie down on the mattress as if on the ground, but you are actually on the upper level.
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There is computer and wifi (very rare in albergues, but often available in restaurants and bars) – but the wifi was very slow, too slow for posting blogs with pictures, hence the delay. Breakfast is included. All this for fifteen Euros. And other meals are available at cost (but all pre-packaged, frozen or canned – no kitchen cooking as such.

I will have a good night’s rest in readiness for the morrow.

Ultreia!!!

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