After 30km yesterday, the prospect of 20km today was not terribly daunting. We walked out of Najera beside red cliffs of a stone that looks like dried mud.
After a stop for coffee about 5km out, the countryside changed suddenly and dramatically. The vineyards disappeared to be replaced by sweeping vistas of harvested wheat fields. The Camino stretches ahead for kilometers as a fading ribbon with ant-like walkers on it.
Today was the first day we’ve had with clouds and it made the walking easier. That said, the walking has been pretty easy on good paths and without terrible hills. Yesterday and today we’ve averaged over 5kph (under 12 minutes per kilometer) while walking. We are faster than most walkers, but we do stop more regularly too.
We stopped for a tortilla at a very un-prepossessing small town where the golf club was the only thing open. We had intended a long stop but changed our minds when we were moved on for sitting in the members area. Another stop in a shady stop beside a field was far more pleasant.
We reached Santo Domingo by 12:30 – too early for our hotel but not for a beer in the Plaza Mayor. I read my book while Jennifer read her board papers. It was very relaxing way to spend an hour until we could check-in.
We are staying in a Parador and it is fabulous when your hotel is an attraction.
The Parador chain is owned by the government and the hotels are usually in old churches, monasteries and the like. They are a bit stuffy and old-fashioned, but the cool buildings are great. Ours is in the San Francisco monastery and comes with its own cloisters.
In the afternoon we wandered back to the center of town and had a very tasty pastry before climbing to the top of the ancient clock tower to take in the excellent views. 130-odd steps may have been an error of judgement because half way down my knee stared to hurt. I am now officially a bit scared about tomorrow’s walk.
The huge and lovely Santo Domingo Cathedral has one singular claim to fame. Thanks to a rather silly legend involving, love, rejection, hanging and the resurrection of a person and a chicken, the Cathedral houses a flock of chickens. In fact the current chickens are descended from the originals from some 1000 years ago – or so they say.