Trujillo, a small town 40 km from Caceres, is the birthplace of Pizarro. It seemed like an interesting option for a day trip.
With only four buses running daily, at rather odd hours, and the travel blurb cautioning that the buses can be full, decided to get to the bus station in good time to ensure a seat on the first bus. But no, there were to be no ticket sales until 15 minutes before the bus departed. Was the ticket seller just being difficult to a foreigner?
Before long there was quite a gathering of people around the ticket window – and – as the bus goes all the way to Madrid, the thought emerged that perhaps the bus company sells the long trips first and the short trippers (or foreigners) get the leftovers. I felt so much better when I heard a local denied a sale as well.
10.00am on the dot, tickets went on sale. But you couldn’t purchase a return ticket. You had to get that ticket in Trujillo! There is no apparent reason why ticket sales couldn’t start earlier. It was the only bus departing for the next two hours.
The bus station in Trujillo was truly a dreary place – vile green tiles, flaking paint, cracked concrete pavement and rusting metal columns. Where to from there wasn’t at all clear…so took the uphill option – the old parts of these towns are always on top of the hill – and found Plaza Major, washed in sunshine and surrounded by a proliferation of baroque and Renaissance stone buildings, and towers, many of which were topped with stork nests.
The Officina del Turismo was in the square (together with a bronze statue of Pizarro) so, armed with suggestions for spending a few hours in town, headed off for Alcazaba – a 10th century castle of Islamic origin. On the very, very top of the hill. It is a rather stark structure, and you can ascend to the battlements (via a stone staircase) and walk the circumference of the inner castle, as well as clamber even further up narrow, uneven stairs to the top of several watch towers. There are no safety rails, no ‘mind your head’ signs (on the narrow passageway down into the cistern hewn out of the rock), a precipitous drop from everywhere, an icy wind and magnificent views across the landscape. Caceres was just visible in the distance. One of the towers afforded another ‘sketching moment’, so I sat down in the sun, shielded from the wind by a battlement, and lost myself for a while.
Trujillo is a pretty little town, full of interesting little ‘calles’, but there is a mixture of restoration and serious decay in the old quarter. A 15th century convent had seen mixed fortunes, including being stripped of stone for other building works over the centuries. It has been beautifully restored and is now an arts and cultural centre. Small two-storey cottages, smartly rendered, painted in brilliant white, and with beautifully varnished timber doors and shuttered windows stand next to cottages with collapsed roofs, crumbling masonry and rampant weeds. A once-magnificent palace, with an amazing stone facade now blackened by lichen, is for sale, its grounds overrun by prickly pear and bamboo.
Back to the bus station – to discover a notice advising that the ticket office didn’t open until 15 minutes before the bus was due to arrive. Sigh. The partaking of cerveca and tapas was therefore necessary.