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Monday, 27 June 2016

A compromise that finished well

This morning we were all fit to resume our journey. Today would be different from any other walk we have done before since we would have to catch up on yesterday's stopover. After waving goodbye to our hostess we started the steep 10K downhill on a winding corkscrew road that would eventually take us to the delightfully beautiful old university town of Ornate. The University, Santi Spiritus, founded by the Bishop Rodrigo Mercado de Zuazola, has taught Theology, Law, and Medicine since 1542 and still plays an import role today. Clean, beautifully preserved, historic, a town you felt guilty leaving before you could explore it.  Our plan was to get to Victoria before lunch and then bus the rest of the way to Laguardia thus catching up on our schedule. The countryside to Vitoria was lush and fertile as it lay along the valley bed. Dusty paths crisscrossed through the crops and vines and the blue cloudless sky above was in stark contrast to the previous couple of days. On this side of the mountain range, in the Parque National De Aizkorri-Aratz, the summer had definitely arrived and we could feel the heat of the sun on our backs. What a contrast, four layers on when we left our mountain sanctuary, this morning, and now just a tee shirt. By lunchtime we had arrived at the outskirts of Vitoria-Gasteiz only to find that the village or small town we expected to see was indeed a vibrant and colourful city. I always marvel at my own ignorance. An ultra modern city tram ride brought us into a centre where old and modern had created a perfect marriage. The old, tan coloured sandstone buildings had become, with patience, kindness and love an environment where modern city life could live and flourish. Again it was with regret that we left and took our bus trip to the end of today's stage,Laguardia. Even without yesterdays problems this would have been a murderous stretch of the walk. Climbing vertically out of one valley, crossing a mountain, before descending on to the plains below. The bus struggled up the mountain road but fifty minutes later we were outside Laguardia. Now you must be getting fed up with me waxing lyrically about these towns but, honestly, Laguardia , is in a class of its own. A completely walled town with a maze of twisting stone streets and a wow factor at every stride. Because of the bad start to the walk we have splashed out on tonight's accommodation. When Laguardia describes this place as a castle they mean a real castle and all the luxury of five star including a Michelin star. We even have a sauna cabin, if that is the proper name, in our room. I could get used to this, pity about the walking.

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