Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Memories of Spain, part 9

Rather than continuing to follow the Via de la Plata, we veered Northwest from Salamanca. Our intention was to cross into Portugual for a few days before returning to Spain. Part of the reason for doing so is that Margo and I are descended from a Portuguese woman who married an Irish soldier, by the name of John Meagher, who fought under Wellington during the Peninsular War. Another reason was for the sheer fun of adding another country to the list of those we have been to.
The day was mixed sun and cloud with a chilly breeze which made the fields dance and wave to us. While this was pretty, it was a bit unpleasant to stand around in. Consequently, our lunch was taken lying down in the lee of a stone wall.
The disadvantage of leaving the Via de la Plata was that we no longer had the benefit of the Via de la Plata guidebook's suggestions of where to stay in small towns not covered by Frommer's or the Lonely Planet. The former was almost useless anyway as it was aimed a richer species of tourist than us.

We arrived in a village whose name I have forgotten. We went into a bar for an afternoon drink and to inquire of the locals where lodgings for the night might be had. They suggested a place in a nearby village that we could get to using a road that wasn't on our map. We found the place, however, it wasn't really open as it was a weekday during the off-season. However, the maid phoned the owner/operator who was in Salamanca. After a certain amount of negotiations, he decided to let us stay. This was by far the most luxurious place we stayed in on the trip. At a certain level, some of luxury was wasted on us. At another, we lucked (and "lux'ed" out). The place often catered to upscale mountain bikers and I suspect that when the owner/operator heard we were cyclists, he may have chosen our menu accordingly. The main dish was a rich beef based-stew that stuck to the ribs. As a cyclist himself, he offered his opinion that Portugal was a bad idea as the drivers in Portugal were "loco".

Thankfully, we ignored his advice.

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