26 May: Caceres to Banos de Montemayor

“Remember, they might close for siesta,” I warned as we approached the Roman thermal baths just before 2pm.

“No, not in a tourist town,” someone countered.

But sure enough, closed from 1:30 to 4:30.

What to do but wander around the streets (that took fifteen minutes in a town only 400m long and three streets wide), look in the souvenir shops (that took five minutes when we are about to walk 25 and 30km days and so are in no danger of adding weight to our packs), play at the playground, and sit in the garden with juicy oranges, coffee and beer.

We’re getting quite good at this sitting business. We sat on a bus this morning that whisked us past the last village we had walked to, across the plains, through fields of trees and up into the hills with a distant vista of mountains still capped with snow. It didn’t take us  right to the top of the hills – there are still a few days of climbing for us! But that should not be a problem as yesterday Grandpa described our upcoming 20km day as “a short one”.
We were quite looking forward to sitting in the baths……

 Before we could be admitted, we had to sit in the foyer all decked out in our swimming gear waiting for 5 o’clock (even though opening time was 4:30!) Stunning!

Across the marble-floored foyer was a row of chairs and on those chairs sat a row of rotund elderly Spaniards wrapped up in toweling bathrobes waiting for their aqua class. We felt decidedly underdressed with tiny microfiber or muslin towels draped around us! When the oldies staggered downstairs at the appointed hour we followed them and copied as they hung up robes but left jandals on their feet as they paraded through a corridor of five hot showers. Oh, they felt so good. The oldies then descended the steps into the nearest pool and we were directed to go to the far pool. OOOOH, it was not hot. Don’t let the descriptor “thermal” fool you! The water was tepid; perfect while we kept moving
but too cool to stop and soak. We only lasted an hour before deciding it was time to get out and warm up in the showers. Only the showers were cold, very cold. So much for our dream of soaking in a warm Roman spa! However, everyone gave the experience a ten out of ten!

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