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Day 18, Casar de Cáceres to Embalse de Alcántara, Nov 7

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Early morning light on the path.
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For us it was an early departure but we were still the last to leave the albergue at 8:00, dropping the keys in the locked mailbox. We found a churreria open, that luckily also had coffee and toast as churros for breakfast isn’t really my thing. After a not great sleep—those bunk beds and my body and sleep routines just don’t work well—my back was very sore. But it was a beautiful morning and the countryside was lovely, with lots of dairy cows.

Nedjo walking on the path.
Nedjo going at a good clip.

The wind picked up as we walked but we were in luck that the footbridge across the AVE high speed train line which was under construction had been completed. We had read that the detours could add kilometres of extra walking. A picnic table materialized just when we were thinking it was time for a break, so we stopped for lunch, again thinking we were having the luckiest of days.

But alas when we clambered down from the hilly outcrop where the picnic table was nestled, we found that the route was right on the highway and that it was busy. The guide that we had as an app was not all that useful for the routing and said very little. We relied on reading ahead on the excellent Spanish language site gronze.com, but often had a hard time remembering all the details. And without data on our phone, we were not able to access it on the trail. Also, we often ended up on the same highway, route N630, but it really varied as how busy it was and what kind of shoulder we would have when walking.

This stretch of highway was full of huge trucks loaded with gravel, probably for the train line construction, and they were moving fast. Feeling unsafe on the road we back-tracked to see if we could find the alternative path we’d seen reference to. We did find it and followed the rough and steep trail for a while. But not being sure exactly how far we had to go, we eventually dropped back to the highway. It wasn’t a fun part of the day.

We were relieved when we saw the spot to turn off for the albergue. We had our own room but it was kind of a funny set up and when we did choose to eat it was just food that had been barely warmed up in the microwave. The place had gotten rave reviews so I’m not sure if it was just an off day or whether in the low season it was hard to keep it going. We heard later that the hostalero lived in Cáceres, coming out each day and I guess it was a lonely existence. Breakfast was a bit better than dinner, but Nedjo just had juice and I muddled through by putting a lot of jam on my white Bimbo bread.