Our original plan for today was to go to a historic old town called Daroca, about 40km from Calatayud, and then meander back to Calatayud (yes, we’re working in km now, even our satnav has been converted!). There’s a place called Belchite, near Zaragoza, which I’ve had on my list of ‘must see’ places to visit. I’d planned to fit this in with a trip to Zaragoza, but since we decided that we’d be giving Zaragoza a miss, and going to Barcelona instead, we decided to go there from Daroca. It would mean a bit of a drive, but we had all day and so that wouldn’t be a problem.
We left a misty Calatayud at about 10:30, but the sun soon burned through the mist and it turned into a glorious day, with temperatures reaching the high teens. Having spent quite a lot over the past few days, we set ourselves with a challenge of not spending any money today, so after a quick brew in the van, rather than buying coffees out, we set off into town.
Daroca was a walled town with two gates. We’d parked up by one of the gates so walked from there, along the Calle Mayor, through to the other gate and back, spending an enjoyable hour or so mooching about.
Back in the van, we warmed up a soup each for lunch, the last of the British food we brought away with us (not counting the Percy Pigs, which are still untouched!). With the washing up done we set off on our way to Belchite.
I feel like I could be opening a can of worms here, as I know very little about the Spanish Civil War, but Belchite is similar in some ways to Oradour-sur-Glane, in that it’s a town that has been preserved in a ruinous state. The whole town was ruined during the Battle of Belchite in 1937, and after the war Franco ordered that the ruins be left untouched as a “living” monument of war.
I personally found Belchite to be very different to Oradour. Whereas Oradour has a visitor centre explaining all about the war, what happened and why, there is nothing at all similar at Belchite – not even a noticeboard at the gate. There was a guided tour on offer, where I guess this would have been covered, but this would have been in Spanish and therefore not much use to us, so we therefore made do with a walk around the perimeter of the village to take some photos.
The Spanish Civil War is still a bit of a taboo subject in Spain, as it’s something that divided families, friends, neighbours and villages. When Franco died in 1975, tensions were so high that Spain adopted a ‘pacto del olvido’ or pact of forgetting, to ensure a smooth transition from dictatorship to democracy. Giles Tremlett’s Ghosts Of Spain book is a really good read if you’re interested in the subject.
Once back in Calatayud, we went for a walk into town, up to the bullring and back, and had a mooch round the shops. We did manage not to spend a single cent today, though this meant I had to forego the most delicious looking meringue creams in the patissería. I’ll definitely make up for it in BCN 🙂
Tomorrow we will be making our way to BCN, and we have booked ourselves into a camp site near to Huesca for the evening so that we can charge up all our gadgets (hence me using the last of the laptop battery power tonight!) and do our laundry. We hope to arrive in BCN on Friday lunchtime, and will be staying there until Monday.