Day 13 – Merida to Aljucen. Just 17 kms today. It was either that or 36 kms.
It was another fantastic day on the Via de la Plata Camino. It started off with a before dawn start, and in fact I managed to time it so that during twilight, as I was leaving the city, I was able to see the Roman Aqueduct silhouetted against the sky. I was able to get some breakfast at a café just at that point leaving the city. It really was a great walk today, some of it was on the road, but most of it on good tracks.
A big highlight of the day was coming out of Merida and walking around the embalse, the reservoir, which was created in Roman times and there were some great information boards there to show information about how the Romans had built the reservoir.
And there was some amazing fishing going on. At first, I thought it was some kind of police surveillance going on with all this equipment around, but it was some guys fishing who were using a little boat with sonar on it to work out where all the fish were. I met some lovely local people there. One guy who was telling me all about the albergues that I’d been coming to, and which were the good ones.
But the highlight of the day was on arriving in Aljucen and we actually managed to go and have a Roman bath. It was quite funny and somewhat embarrassing when I first booked it a couple of weeks ago because you have the whole Roman bath to yourself and you have to say how many are in your party. And well, of course I’m walking on my own. I said “it’s a party of one, but I’m sure I’ll meet some people along the way”.
And in fact a couple of pilgrims who have become good friends join me in the Roman baths and that was sensational. We had the whole thing to ourselves for an hour and we were able to alternate between cold, tepid and hot baths and it was just so relaxing. It was fantastic way to end the day. I can recommend the Roman baths in Aljucen and it wasn’t expensive either. I can’t remember exactly how much it was, but it wasn’t a lot. It worked out maybe €10 a head or something; so something well worth doing.
Aljucen is a lovely little village. There’s a cafe which is very central with lots of chairs outside that really is the sort of social hub of the village. It was a really nice place to hang out.