Santa Croya de Tera Travel Blog› entry 21 of 43 › view all entries
(formerly called - Don´t give Grace the Key to the Bodega)
In Spain, if there were Hobits, they would live in Bodegas! I should know as I have seen them today. If you have not seen any of the ´Lord of the Rings´movie trilogies or read Tolkein, this may not make nuch sense.
So what is a Bodega you might now be asking? It is a type of ´hut´normally built underground and covered by a mound of earth. They are often carved into the hillsides and range from several hundreds of years old to quite new although the majority are very old, some made from adobe. They are 2 storeys deep and the lower level is cool and damp, ideal for making and fermenting wine. The upper level is like a little miniature home and will normally have one (or many) tables, somewhere to cook, maybe a fireplace and some storage area for games, cards, food staples.
Well, today has been a great day. It was an easy 21km walk through rolling hills on an easy camino de tierra and I was at my destination, Santa Croya, by noon. The Albergue is a private one run by the wonderful Anita and Domingo. They love pilgrims and it is clear that every pilgrim who passes through their doors also falls in love with their kind and generous personalities. From the minute I walked in the door, I have felt at home. I really do not want to leave tomorrow!
Anita has installed me in my OWN dormitory and kept all the new arrivals in another after I explained that I had not slept well for several nights.
It has been a lovely relaxing afternoon catching up on mail and getting blogs updated with free use of internet in the cosy Albergue. Later in the afternoon as it cooled down a little, I was chatting with Domingo and asked if his Bodega was far away: ¨1 kilometro¨(actually about 3) was the reply. Would I like to see it? Sure (no need to ask me twice). I have always wondered what is inside those strange looking mounds I have seen all over Spain. Because Domingo was busy he drew me a detailed map and lent me a bicycle (Bici pilgrim for an afternoon!).
Just as I climbed aboard the bike he handed me the map and an enormous (and I mean the size of my hand enormous!) key! It was so gorgeous, like something that would unlock a castle. I felt so honoured and could see how proud of his Bodega he was.
Like a force of nature I was drawn to the spot on the map out into the countryside. As I made my way up the rocky camino that Domingo had indicated, I could see ahead of me dozens of Bodegas. I was in a Bodega city - a perfect Middle Earth!! It was fantaaaaastic! I was like a kid in a candy store snapping photos left, right and centre. There were all shapes and sizes and each one had a little plaque over the door with the family name proudly displayed. I could imagine being up there during a fiesta time with all extended families in residence and food aplenty.
So I found the Bodega of Anita and Domingo proudly displaying a yellow pilgrim arrow on the door. It had a modern top level but as I was soon to discover, the cellar was very old and carved out underground into 2 big caverns.
I took the special giant key and after a few tries, the door clicked open. The two part barn door revealed a huge room that would seat about 30 people. The tables were brightly painted in orange, turquoise and blue and a huge matching sombrero was left behind on one. Others had the typical brown glazed pottery jugs and tumblers piled up in readiness for a meal. There was a kitchen area and a huge open fireplace. All the nooks and crannies in the walls were filled with animal skulls or old dusty wine bottles.
Was I on the set of a Western? My eyes must have been the size of saucers and my only disappointment was that I had no-one to share my excitement with.
The room smelt of the musty sweet nose of wine and I was soon drawn to the 2 heavy wooden cathedral doors leading down the damp stairs to the cellar below. After locating a light, I moved further into the wonderland and in the first room I found a huge wooden barrel lovingly caring for it´s rosy contents. It was super sized and would make the Hobits feel very small indeed. This space then opened out to a much larger room with dusty bottles piled up neatly on shelves, winemaking equipment, 3 very big stainless vats (2 with taps!) and another small area with old wooden table and chairs fashioned from slabs of tree trunks. More skulls adorned the small cubby holes in wall spaces.
There was a barrel with some clean wine glasses just begging to be filled so (on instruction from Domingo) I carefully opened the tap on one of the vats and watched the rosy liquid fill my glass.
Domingo has already told me his stories about many couples who meet on the Camino and fall in love. So far three couples have been married in the Bodega! With a big smile on his face, he offered his services as celebrant and host should I ever need them.
Besos and Salud, Grace (from Middle Earth)