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  • Writer's pictureWill


Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Following on from the too much tenderness, day 14, Sunday, 21st April 2013

Jaca, a day of rest.

Photo: I filched this photo because I can't float ½ km above the ground.

I left the chemist with my medical supplies and walked into the first hotel. Didn’t ask the price just booked a room, for two nights. I was planning a whole day of rest.

The Camino is a linear journey, you start and end at different towns. This means carrying all you need, day to day. One of the problems this kicks up is clothes washing. Usually, you don’t stop for more than one night so washing and drying have to be quick procedures. Some hostels don’t have machines or it’s broke or there are twenty pilgrims in the line before you.

One solution is to sell a kidney on the internet, book into a hotel and get them to wash your clothes. Alternatively, it’s a hand wash in any available sink, warm water, shower gel, and hang your stuff anywhere you can find a space.

I closed the door to my pokey room, and the first thing I did was empty my pack. Hang up my sleeping bag to “air it out”. All my washing was dumped in the shower, and as I showered, I stomped on my clothes, like treading grapes but with a different result.

Photo: the entrance bridge and gate to the fortress.

First stop, the amazing 16th Century Ciudadela de Jaca, the only surviving pentagonal fortress left in Spain. There are not many places an army can cross the Pyrenees, so strategic fortress dominating the valley leading to the pass is a vital element in defense. I crossed the Somport pass and followed the valley down to Jaca, a day’s march. Jaca became a vital strategic town in the defence of northern Spain. The old-style tall castle walls had become useless in the age of gunpowder, instead low-lying walls with clear “killing zones” for the defenders were all the rage. Hence, a new style star shaped fortress designed by Italians was built.

Unfortunately, it was closed when I got there, so I had to be content admiring the edifice while walking the outside battlements. In front of the inner wall is a deep and wide moat. Once upon a time it would have made a formidable defence, now it is covered in grass and home to a herd of deer.

Photo: a shade of deer in the moat of the star shaped citadel.

Next up, and not far away, the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. It is one of the oldest Romanesque cathedrals on the Iberian Peninsula. There is something truly inspiring and timeless with these ancient cathedrals. A thousand years ago, those dreamers and builders, had basic tools, and a rudimentary understanding of mathematics and engineering. Yet, a millennium later, I am still in awe of their achievement.

Photo: I think this is the entrance, can't remember

I had the whole Sunday, the day of rest to wear flip flops and allow my two tiny toes to dry out. I had eaten healthily, indulged in a few too many but much enjoyed cold beers, and had hours of laying in the sun reading my book. I was sabbathed out.

By the evening, I had itchy feet. My clothes were dry, and my rucksack packed. I was ready for the next 7 hours to Arrés, enough waiting.


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