Gloriously sunny day – splendid sunrise at 8 am behind el Santuario Virgen de la Montana, the patron of the city. This is the destination for the day – a 3 km steady uphill walk guaranteed to provide spectacular views.
Caceres is located on a river which flows between two sizeable mountains, an excellent strategic site from which to survey the surrounding flat landscape across to distant mountains, including Portugal in the west. The dawn light presents pale layers of soft grey farmland stretching into a misty distance.
Skirted the walls of the old medieval city and descended to the old bridge (single lane each way) that crosses the river in the heart of the city. The river has long been reduced to a concrete-lined drain; but there was evidence of a baths to one side of it. Then the climb began – up narrow winding streets, past small cottages the fronts of which were entirely clad with glazed ceramic tiles. Front doors open directly onto the footpath, and occasionally one could get glimpses of the interiors – again walls and floors completely clad with glazed tiles. Then suddenly, you’re in the countryside.
It was a hard walk and a series of granite crucifixes lined the way. It finished with a serious stair climb (doesn’t take long to lose fitness level). The view was spectacular, offering glimpses of villages and small towns dotting the distant landscape, as well as a complete view of Carceres – 100,000 people clustered together in 4 to 7 storey high apartment blocks. No urban sprawl here. The return walk was also demanding owing to the decline, because your toes were constantly pushing down into the front of your boots. The round trip took two hours…finishing with an uphill walk, followed by a stair climb, to the apartment.