|Refurbished medieval bridge over Rio Saldo near Lorca.|
Our compañeros had thrown down the gauntlet -- if we wanted to keep up we'd need to pull a 30 km day and make it to the hill town of Villamayor, that lovely village that sits on a castle-topped peak overlooking the green vineyards of the lush valley below.
Fortunately that morning we'd left early from Puente La Reina. After walking back down the hill towards town as though we would recross the six-arched Romanesque bridge, we turned right just before the bridge and found a yellow arrow to guide us back onto the Camino. Puente La Reina was an example of what many of us had come to Spain to see -- a Spanish town that still bears the marks of the Camino, in which a person can squint their eyes shut and easily imagine themselves 800 years in the past.
We said our goodbyes to the medieval town and walked the sidewalk to the outskirts of the village, then headed on a gravel path past the ruins of Monasterio Bogota to the village of Mañeru. There we entered what clearly is Spanish wine country, or more correctly, wine-olive country. The rolling hills of this region hold vineyard after vineyard, punctuated by ancient olive groves. The vista ahead, of the well-preserved medieval hill town of Cirauqui, offered a romantic moment as we realized we'd left West Coast USA far behind.
|Dana and Greta exercising temperance|
at Bodegas Irache near Estella
I regret to say that we rushed our way through the treasures of Estella. The Palacio de los Reyes de Navarra (now an impressive museum) and the Church of San Pedro de la Rua were hours-long visits that we crunched into only a few minutes each. We lunched at an outdoor cafe at the Plaza de los Fueros, tanked up our water bottles, and picked up the Camino across the bridge from the Plaza. By now we'd walked 22 kms and realized an additional eight kms on tired feet would be required if we were to meet Team John at Villamayor.
|"...and it feels so good."|