April 26 Consuegra -> Toledo -> Cáceres

We headed west, through the dryland agriculture of the La Manchan plain, the dry flat expanse broken by a forested spur of the Toledo mountains, and the lush green of irrigated land before arriving at the Tagus (Tajo) River and Toledo. We had not planned to explore Toledo but did want to find a view of this magnificent city from across the river. Having failed to find the expected view, we happened upon a free parking spot downstream from the ancient fortified bridge Puente de Alcántara. Toledo is, after all, the “Imperial City” home to the court of Charles I, the “City of Three Cultures (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim), and final home of El Greco. And so we crossed the river, walked through the city gate above the fortified bridge, and entered the fabled city. It was cold, the sky overcast, and the light flat. It was a bit of a zoo with tourists, tour groups, student field trips clustered around the Museo Santa Cruz on Calle de Miguel de Cervantes. Through the Arco de la Sangre, the crowds seemed more sombre and a political protest was forming I find crowds a mixed blessing. Sometimes they energize an area, creating a festive atmosphere, sometimes they give a sense of the life of the residents, sometimes they feel claustrophobic and oppressive, and sometimes, if a political protest they can turn dangerous and ugly. The brewing protest brought back memories of being caught in a political riot in Madrid years earlier and today they felt threatening. The mood of exploration just wasn’t with us. We had debated spending the day or heading on to Cáceres in the midst of the Extremadura, deciding discretion to be the better part of valor, we decided to head on. In retrospect, I regret our decision, but cést la vie. Leaving Toledo, we happened upon the viewpoints I had been looking for, and despite the poor light, Toledo from across the river was really quite stunning, perhaps one of the most beautiful city views I can recall. From Toledo we continued across the plain of Castile-La Mancha and entered the dry mountains, forests, and hills of the more rugged Extremadura. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at Cáceres. We spent some time looking, unsuccessfully, for a free camp area listed in our camping guide. We eventually gave up and decided to spend the night at a commercial site. Our route took us past the bull ring and embedded us in a traffic jam. As we crawled past the bull ring elaborately costumed picadors on their heavily padded horses pranced outside the stadium awaiting their call to torment, madden, and weaken the bull for the spectacle. We briefly considered seeing if we could get tickets but I am afraid that despite the pomp and ceremony, the dance of the bull and the matador, and the cultural experience, we could not get past the deliberate cruelty of the blood sport. We finally arrived at a well treed, well maintained, campground. We were in awe as we noted that each pitch had its own washroom with sink, toilet, shower, and on demand hot water. Just outside was a wash-up area for dishes. Disappointingly, the hot water was a trickle and barely warm, the cubicle unheated and the wash-up area small and awkward. A mechanical bird-banger (to scare birds away from the orchards) just outside the campground disturbed the peace until dusk, c’est la vie.
Slideshow
© David E. Moon, 2014 All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
by David E. Moon
A Sense of Place: Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
Norther end of the Sierra de Manzaneque Puente de San Martin Outside the bullring, Cáceres

April 26 Consuegra -> Toledo -> Cáceres

We headed west, through the dryland agriculture of the La Manchan plain, the dry flat expanse broken by a forested spur of the Toledo mountains, and the lush green of irrigated land before arriving at the Tagus (Tajo) River and Toledo. We had not planned to explore Toledo but did want to find a view of this magnificent city from across the river. Having failed to find the expected view, we happened upon a free parking spot downstream from the ancient fortified bridge Puente de Alcántara. Toledo is, after all, the “Imperial City” home to the court of Charles I, the “City of Three Cultures (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim), and final home of El Greco. And so we crossed the river, walked through the city gate above the fortified bridge, and entered the fabled city. It was cold, the sky overcast, and the light flat. It was a bit of a zoo with tourists, tour groups, student field trips clustered around the Museo Santa Cruz on Calle de Miguel de Cervantes. Through the Arco de la Sangre, the crowds seemed more sombre and a political protest was forming I find crowds a mixed blessing. Sometimes they energize an area, creating a festive atmosphere, sometimes they give a sense of the life of the residents, sometimes they feel claustrophobic and oppressive, and sometimes, if a political protest they can turn dangerous and ugly. The brewing protest brought back memories of being caught in a political riot in Madrid years earlier and today they felt threatening. The mood of exploration just wasn’t with us. We had debated spending the day or heading on to Cáceres in the midst of the Extremadura, deciding discretion to be the better part of valor, we decided to head on. In retrospect, I regret our decision, but cést la vie. Leaving Toledo, we happened upon the viewpoints I had been looking for, and despite the poor light, Toledo from across the river was really quite stunning, perhaps one of the most beautiful city views I can recall. From Toledo we continued across the plain of Castile-La Mancha and entered the dry mountains, forests, and hills of the more rugged Extremadura. It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at Cáceres. We spent some time looking, unsuccessfully, for a free camp area listed in our camping guide. We eventually gave up and decided to spend the night at a commercial site. Our route took us past the bull ring and embedded us in a traffic jam. As we crawled past the bull ring elaborately costumed picadors on their heavily padded horses pranced outside the stadium awaiting their call to torment, madden, and weaken the bull for the spectacle. We briefly considered seeing if we could get tickets but I am afraid that despite the pomp and ceremony, the dance of the bull and the matador, and the cultural experience, we could not get past the deliberate cruelty of the blood sport. We finally arrived at a well treed, well maintained, campground. We were in awe as we noted that each pitch had its own washroom with sink, toilet, shower, and on demand hot water. Just outside was a wash-up area for dishes. Disappointingly, the hot water was a trickle and barely warm, the cubicle unheated and the wash-up area small and awkward. A mechanical bird-banger (to scare birds away from the orchards) just outside the campground disturbed the peace until dusk, c’est la vie.
Slideshow
A Sense of Place: Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014 All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
Norther end of the Sierra de Manzaneque Puente de San Martin Outside the bullring, Cáceres