Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 5: Madrid to Elciego

Day 5: Madrid to Elciego
Pop Quiz: Que es eso?
POTD:  Good afternoon: Boa tarde

Weather: As low as 50, at times the wipers couldn’t keep up with the rain, clear and around 60 by the time we reach Elciego

After getting to bed earlier than planned, THB is up in the middle of the night for a while, goes back to sleep until DB wakes him up at 7:30….SEVEN THIRTY? That’s way late for THB, the curtains have done their job blocking out sun light. It turns out that we got a lot more sleep than SA and DA: they got in after 11:30 (or was it midnight?) and did not sleep well. See below: was that napping I heard going on in the car?)

Skip the FC, shower and off to breakfast we go: THB tries an omelet with bacon on the side and just about every type of flour available. Finish packing and meet DA in the lobby, we catch a cab to the train station where we’ve arranged to pick up our rental car, 7E.  OOOPS, Sixt Rent-a-car isn’t exactly in the airport. We walk 10 minutes around the side (and right behind the Reina Sofia Museo) to the office.

DA, SA, DB, THB getting ready for a big adventure

We’ve booked an E class Mercedes, the very car THB drives at home (when he’s not in the Ford C-Max). We’re third in line, there’s only one clerk on duty at 9:30. After 15 minutes or so, it’s our turn. Not quite: someone with keys in his hand comes in and there’s a brief discussion and the clerk and customer disappear out the front door. Fortunately, another clerk appears and we begin the process (meanwhile there are now 4 other groups/individuals waiting).

First order of business: copying all the passport and driver’s license info into the computer. Second order: we don’t have the Mercedes. How about a BMW? One of the guy’s waiting says it is a great car. After DA joins in, we all agree that the trunk is too small for the number of bags. So, gosh, guess we need an upgrade (at our expense) to a gigantic BMW X-5 SUV (we'll figure out later why this is still left).  It wasn't easy getting out of the car rental parking garage.

DA is doing the navigating and THB is doing the driving, an arrangement that is making everybody happy! Back to the hotel and the luggage just fits in the back, good thing we upgraded. DA’s navigation is perfect and THB manages to avoid scraping the sides of the car. Success!

And, while the boys are out trying to play with their toys, the gals are stocking up on supplies: croissants for highly touted bakery, some chocolate covered oranges, cookies, all the essentials for a long driving trip through hostile territory.

We’re off, it’s around 10:15 and it’s decided that we’ll take scenic detours on our way to Elciego, only 3.5 hours away if we drive straight through. First up: Segovia and an old aqueduct and the church that Disney used as a model for Cinderella.

Construction zone

It takes a bit of doing, THB only once tried parking in a construction zone, only once had to 3 point turn to make a sharp right, THB only once had to reverse directions to avoid the one-way streets in the old (really old) part of town.

From Segovia we decide to go to Pedraza, where there’s an old castle:

As THB attempts to negotiate the narrow streets of Pedraza to get an up close and personal view of the castle, he remembers that we turned down coverage on the car. The streets are getting narrower and narrower; THB totally loses his nerve, another tight reverse of direction (DA has to get out and help the plane into the gate) and possibly going the wrong direction on a one-way street, and we’ve escaped Pedraza.

Around 2:15, we’ve found Aranda de Duero, and city center is loaded with restaurants. We make it to one that has a high Yelp rating (yes, Yelp works in Aranda de Duero) and find one other couple in the large dining room, and share a mixed salad (eggs, peppers, hearts of palm, tuna, tomatoes, some lettuce) and a suckling pig (or was it two suckling pigs), the regional speciality. With two brewskis and a coke and water, 50E per couple. Several other parties come in around 3pm. What time do people eat lunch here?

Ordering off the menu: suckling pig

More sights from around Aranda de Duero:

The shadow of a former building?

From here, we do a very small detour into Burgos by mistake and then circle several times before finding the Marques de Riscal Executive Suites, arriving right at 6pm, a bit less of 8 hours from when we left Madrid.. I hope and pray that most of you can figure out who the architect is…

The bridge from main building to annex with more rooms and spa

 It’s been 10 years since the hotel/spa/winery was built, and our room are immense (we were told that we were upgraded one level to the best rooms they have…they sure are big!):

We opt for dinner of light (lite?) bites in the bar with some of the top of the line Riscal riojas, patatas, quesos, hamburgesas, jamon, croquets, olives and patata chips. 62E per couple

The local wine is cheaper than lemonade!
A few more shots of the hotel and surroundings:

At twilight

Note snow on surrounding mountains

15E non functional sim card

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