Touring green Spain part 2

Parador de Santo Estevo, Ourense, Galicia 6th/7th/8th June

As we got nearer to our next destination, the satnav showed we had a short journey which would take a long time, as we turned left off the main road as directed to the parador, we realised the road was steep, narrow and with many bends. Fortunately, there was little traffic as we climbed up through the trees, with views over the Sil valley being revealed. We parked our car in the underground carpark and ascended by lift to enter this large imposing building. Everything about this Parador is imposing, from the ancient cloisters, the artwork, the rooms, the dining room and especially the view.

We had our meal in the dining room that evening, which was quite an experience. The waitress was telling us the area is known as the Ribeiro de Sacra, the wine has a  Spanish Denominación de Origen We ordered the pulpo or octopus, a regional speciality and merluza or hake, pictures below. it was delicious.

When we arrived the receptionist gave us details of three walks from the hotel. As we had sat a lot on the ferry and in the car, we decided to take on the challenge of the longest walk of 5 miles. The walk basically was a meander down to the valley, with a hermitage to view, along the road, not as low as the river, then a climb back up to monastery. The day was fresh, it had rained over night, there were some shower clouds about. We walked for about 10 minutes when to our dismay we saw a sign, saying the path was closed and sorry. Undaunted we thought we would continue to see what the problem was. We did have to clamber over some pipework, but the rest of the path continued and so did we. We had views across the valley to the railway line and saw an occasional train, as we descended we could see the monastery amongst the trees above. We followed the signs as we walked along the road and as we started climbing again back up the hill, we had a heavy shower of rain and we got soaked. Fortunately we had bought new cagoules in England, it was a case of head down, keep following the path, it will get better. Slowly but surely we got higher, we were teased with glimpses of our target, until we came out in a clearing, we were actually higher than the monastery, so got some great views actually looking down on it.

After a rest and another lovely meal and another good night’s sleep, we set off to our next destination. As we went out into the car park it was filled with Ferrari and Porsche cars.

Touring green Spain Part 3

Portugal & Parador de Tordesillas, Valladolid 8th/9th June

As we set off from the parador de Santo Estevo , I was quite anxious about the journey back down the twisty narrow road, actually it was fine. We had decided to divert from our original route and go into Portugal, if only briefly. So we reset the satnav to Bragança, (Braganza) and set off along the motorway. At the Spanish/Portuguese border we turned off from a trunk road onto a country road following the contours of a very hilly area. We love these type of roads and eventually arrived at a village Parâmio, where we had a (very small) cup of coffee at a Taberna do Capelas. We then travelled on to Bragança, we found a supermarket (Intermarche) and bought fruit, cakes, drinks, wine and other things. We then reprogrammed the satnav and headed back into Spain and the parador. What did surprise us, was that on the country lanes and the motorways with wonderful viaducts over large valleys there was hardly another vehicle to be seen.

Mid afternoon, we had arrived at the parador de Tordesillas Valladolid. The location of this hotel was such a contrast to the last as it was situated in an industrial area on a busy road. The hotel was surrounded by pine trees, we found a place in the carpark near to the reception. The room was very attractive and overlooked an inner courtyard. This parador had an indoor heated pool, as well as a large open pool area, the toe test proved that the indoor pool was the correct option. We enjoyed a swim and luxuriating in jacuzzi. We had an evening meal in the restaurant of suckling pig and lamb overlooking the garden and pine trees. We spotted an azure winged magpie, flitting around.

The next morning Sunday, we walked along the road towards the town of Tordesillas, situated on the river Douro (Duero in Spanish). We had followed the river from Braganza in Portugal.

The birds here included, azure winged magpie, swifts, swallows, white stork, male and female linnets and a short toed eagle. We checked out of the hotel and set off along the Duero valley, with mile after mile of vines of the Ribera del Duero, one of our favourite wines. We stopped at a roadside restaurant and enjoyed a “menu del dia”, we bought three bottles of wine there too.

Parador de Lerma 9th/10th June

We arrived at Lerma later that Sunday afternoon, it was very busy with Spanish families enjoying the fiesta atmosphere, the Parador in the province of Burgos was a Ducal palace, an extraordinary building. We found a place to park and checked in, our room was on the side overlooking, what was the gardens, now a steep slope and trees with expansive vistas beyond. John threw open the window and the birdsong from below was amazing. We heard, but didn’t see nightingale call, perched close by was a melodious warbler, a black redstart landed nearby a real treat. As we had eaten earlier, we had a walk around the narrow streets, we stopped at a bar, filled inside with couples watching a bullfight on the TV, we sat outside enjoying a beer for John, ice cream for me. It was good to soak up the atmosphere of the sounds of Spanish life and culture. The Tapestry is on the wall of the parador, it’s a modern piece called “Emblems of love”.

We set off the next day, we only had a short drive to the next hotel, so we decided to leave the motorways and find a more interesting route. Find out in Part 4.

Touring green Spain part 4

Parador Santa Domingo de la calzada, La Rioja June 10th/11th.

The main road from Lerma to Santa Domingo de la Calzada heads north then east , we headed east to bypass Burgos and we again found quiet scenic country roads. We stopped at Covarrubias, a village on the river Arlanza, we parked the car and had a wander around this delightful, historic place. We found a small friendly supermarket, where we bought a “barra” some slices of ham and cheese, cherry tomatoes, cans and cartons of juice, water and some ripe peaches. We had a coffee in the bar before returning to the car..

We set off into the hills to find somewhere suitable for a picnic.

When we had enjoyed our lunch we set the satnav for Santa Domingo de la Calzada as we approached the town we could see walkers suitably dressed, hiking across fields and realised they were pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostela over 500 kms away. As we turned off the main road and crossed the river Oja we climbed up through the narrow streets. The Parador Santo Domingo de la calzada is a 12th century building situated next to the cathedral, this is mostly a pedestrian area, the square is often filled with pilgrims. We checked into the hotel, our room overlooked the square which also has a tall, over 200 feet high, bell tower, (torre exenta). The bell chimed all night, but it didn’t keep us awake, it was great to see the pilgrims setting off and to stay in such an historic place.