Well, that’s what Dorothy said as she clicked those ruby slippers together. I’m kind of with her in that home is where the heart is, and where family, friends, pets and all things familiar.. but I do sometimes wish that home was just a little further south west than it actually is.
We spent our last night in Caceres wandering around the narrow streets, looking in the shops and admiring boots and bags (well I did). I spotted a few bargains but Gerry felt that I had enough already and that one man’s bargain is another’s excess… so we window shopped.
Then we found a tapas bar and a rather cheeky Rioja. And then we wandered back into Plaza Major for dinner but we found that every time we ordered a vino tinto, it arrived with a small plate of food. On balance we agreed that the wine tasted better and so we kept ordering. The only small fly in the ointment was that our waiter was reluctant to serve us Rioja; he insisted that we drink the wine of Extremadura. We tried one and then two more and I was happy to agree with him.
I showed him my photos from the Via de la Plata and he told me that he had cycled the Frances and that walking was crazy. He spoke no English (except turn left and turn right) and my Spanish is strictly at pilgrim level but we had a wonderful evening in this beautiful city and I am resolved to walk here again one day… and to learn more Spanish!
We left Caceres and drove north. We’re homeward bound but we have one more stop; we’re heading for Getaria on the northern coast of Spain.
The motorway seemed to shadow the route of the Via and I caught distant glimpses of familiar horizons. Cañaveral, Grimaldo, Carcabosso, Aldeanueva del Camino, I looked back and could see the path and the view out of Banos and the Sierra de Bejar y Francia hills and I remembered the beauty of walking in the footsteps of the Romans.We passed the bull fields and Caparra and the elven lands and finally the spires of Salamanca Cathedral . If I wax lyrical about the Via it’s because it’s a stunning walk. Its history and beauty seeped into my soul and will forever be a part of me and on those odd days when life seems harsh, or tired, or sad I will take myself back to this path and imagine myself here.
Onwards we drove passed Burgos and the familiar landscape of the Camino Frances and finally we reached the coast and Getaria.
We discovered this little fishing town many years ago by accident. We were on holiday in Hendaye; the last town on this French/Spanish border and decided we wanted lunch in Spain. Getaria was the first place off of the motorway with a parking spot. We all had fish, cooked on a giant BBQ in a restaurant over looking the harbour. We fell in love with the area and decided that we would return. We came back in 2013 and it was that holiday that introduced me to the pilgrims on the Camino Frances… and the rest as they say is history!
Anyway, this time I had made plans to meet a couple of pilgrims whom I’d meet on my first day day out of Sevilla. We’d shared a few beers and dinner on the Via and I was so happy to be meeting them again.
They drove us up into the Pyrenees mountains, away from the coast, and to a traditional Basque cider barn. We shared a feast of fish and omelettes and bread and salty green peppers and huge basque steaks cooked over coals… and we drank a fair amount of cider that was stored in huge vats in the barn beside us. We would never have found this on our own and it was a brilliant end to our holiday. At the end of the evening we bade farewell to our pilgrim friends and made plans to meet again for a tour of the Rioja vineyards around Logrono… isn’t it amazing what true friendships develop on the camino!
And so… we woke up to our sea view and loaded the car one last time. Once again it was time to go home. And so I’m here now looking out at our beautiful valley and I know that the Camino Vezeley is just a hop and a skip away. It would seem that wherever we travel we’re never far from one of these paths… and I quite like that.
p.s. My son had a party in our absence and I found this amongst the empties… coincidence?