Oropesa to Jarandilla de la Vera

Today was a lazy day. We don’t always have breakfast included in the Paradores we stay at but this morning we did. It was a great way to start the day. 


After breakfast we visited the castle next to the Parador. It was fun to climb up each of the towers. 

Our drive from Orapesa to Jarandilla de la Vera was only about 60 miles. We checked in early and spent the afternoon in the lounge reading. 


We went for a walk. One of the things Jarandilla de la Vera its known for is Paprika. 


Our dinner was great. Especially my avocado salad and ice cream and chocolate sauce desert.

Gredos to Oropesa

Our Parador last night was originally a hunting lodge for the King. There are hiking trails in the area that are used a lot in the summer. We have seen many signs that say no mushroom collecting without a permit.

Today was a typical day for our style of travel. We only had to go about 50 miles to our next Parador so after a leisurely start we set off on some back roads to see what we would see.

We drove up the country roads to a trailhead for many of the hikes called La Plarforma. The temperature was around 40 degrees but The stone hiking trail was covered in ice. In many places there was water flowing under the ice creating strange patterns. Many of the rocks were covered in green lichen. We were able to avoid the ice and hike up quite a ways.



We followed a different road down from the trailhead and saw two different kinds of animals. One big group looked like mountain goats but I suspect were Spanish ibex. The other animals were more spaced out. They were bigger and we saw about ten of them. They may have been Wester Spanish Ibex.

Near the pass through these mountains there is a very well preserved and impressive Roman road.

Lower down we drove through flat area of oak trees and saw a pig enjoying himself near the road. I suspect he has a future as a ham!! We also saw lots of interesting birds including cranes and storks.

The Parador in Oropesa is former palace of a Spanish noble family. We have the romantic package so this was waiting in our room.

Our bottle of wine at dinner was included in the package as was a plate of jamon.


We shared a smoked tuna salad. I don’t know what happened to Duke’s eyes in this picture!


We shared a main course of octopus. It had beautiful presentation but I forgot to take a picture until I had cut it into four pieces. It was yummy. We also shared a desert.

Segovia to Gredos

This morning we explored Segovia. Segovia has town walls, a stunning cathedral, a palace called the Alcázar and most famously, a Roman Aqueduct that was built in the first century. The aqueduct is built with only the stones, no mortar! At its highest it is almost 100 feet tall. 

After checking out of our Parador we drove into town and looked for a parking place. We found a elevator underground parking garage. The sign said you pull in center your car according to the electronic signs and then leave the car.  We watched another car go in. After she got out and used the machine to pay the door closed and her car dissapeared. Duke tried to use it to park our car but the electronic sensors said our car was too wide. We ended up parking in a conventional garage. Every parking space had a sensor and you found an empty site by following the signs and looking for a green light over a parking space. 

We went to the tourist office and got a map and some suggestions for a walking tour of Segovia. Our first stop was a small Jewish museum. In the 1400’s Segovia had a thriving Jewish quarter. In 1492 all Jews were expelled from Spain. The museum told the history of the Jews and the Jewish quarter in Segovia. 

Our next stop was a one of the gates in the wall. We were able to go up on the wall and even see the slot where the portico gate would have been lowered. 


Although the temperature was around 40 degrees and the air was cold it was a stunning day to explore the narrow streets of Segovia. 


We stopped at the Castle (the Alcázar) where Queen Isabela and other royals lived and then walked by the cathedral. 


From Segovia we drove to Avila. On the way into town we stoped at a store that reminded me of Walmart. We picked up bottles of water and some snacks. When we went to check out we discovered that we should have had our fruit weighed and priced in the produce department.  The check out clerk asked a lady, who I think was a supervisor, to take the fruit back and take care of it. She was on roller skates and was back in nothing flat!!

The old center of Avila is surrounded by beautiful walls. The narrow streets were deserted when we walked around. All the shops and restaurants are customarily closed from 2:00 until 5:00. We did find one restaurant open where we could get a cup of coffee. 


From Avila we drove to our Parador at Gredos. It was the very first Parador and was opened in 1928. We are surrounded by snow capped peaks and the Reserva Nacional de Gredos. We enjoyed our free welcome drink. 

Dinner was great as usual. A three course dinner is included in our price to seat here. 

Madrid to Segovia

This morning we had coffee at the same place as yesterday. My croissant and café au lait were great!


We packed up and walked to the rental car place. The agent who was the only person working there was very nice. She asked Duke if we had been to Spain before. He told her that we were here last year but we only saw some of the country and that we had such a wonderful time we decided to come back and see more. As we were leaving the woman told us to have a wonderful time. She said we should be sure to leave at least one thing unseen so we would have to come back again. 

And we got an upgraded car that had only been driven 300 miles!! It still smells new!

Getting out of Madrid was really easy. We headed west.

From miles away you can see a giant cross on top of a hill.  It is a part of a Valle de los Caídos a Catholic basilica and memorial conceived by Franco to honor those who died on his side in the Spanish Civil War. More than half a million people died in the Spanish Civil War but this memorial was only for the Nationalists.  Franco is buried in the basilica. The park is a beautiful woodland of over 3300 acres. Apparently the monument and basilica are still very controversial because they represent Franco and political prisoners were part of the workforce to build them. The monument was almost deserted. I imagine partly because of the weather but probably also because of the controversy.

The basilica is massive. It is built into the mountain. Unfortunately we couldn’t take any pictures inside.


After leaving Valle de los Caídos we headed up over the mountains to Segovia. 


We are staying at a parador with a stunning view of the cathedral, palace and the Roman aqueduct.


We have been looking forward to a routine after we arrive at a Parador and the end of a day of travel. As a member of the Amigos program (frequent stay program). We collect points for free stays and we always get a coupon for a free drink. 

Our dinner was great. A tiny cup of hot soup.


Appetizers


Main course.  Duke’s steak was flavorful. My baby squid on black rice was very tender and delicious. 


And desert…. Oh my!!! The green apple sorbet and goat cheese ice cream was devine. Who would have thought!  And the raspberries were great too!

Madrid

It is a beautiful day in Madrid. The sun is shining the temperature is in the 50s and it’s a bit breezy. Madrid feels familiar since it is my second time here. We slept for twelve glorious hours last night. About 10 this morning we set out for some breakfast. We went to a family run cafe that we remembered from last year. I recognized the woman behind the counter who I imagined was the owner.  We had coffee and a pastry. The routine is that as you are leaving you tell them what you had and they tell you the price. Duke joked with the woman about his pronunciation of the word for my pastry, un caracol, which means snail. 


All the museums are closed on Mondays so we made our own walking tour exploring the streets. I love all the ham stores with hams hanging from the ceiling. 


El Corte Inglés is a giant department store that reminds me of Harrods or Macys. I had never been in one so we explored their main store near our hotel. The toy floor had all sorts of fun things. 


If you want a €700 pram they had a very nice one. 


I had never seen an Adidas warm up dress before. 

Later on our way to the Plaza Mayor we found a yarn store. That’s a knitted blanket behind Duke and samples of all the yarn you could buy. It was a very small  store but there was a line of people waiting to tell the clerk what they wanted and  to pay. 


After walking through the Plaza Mayor we stopped for churros and chocolate. Chocolatería San Ginés was at the top of my list of places we had to return to on this trip. They have served chocolate and churros since 1894. It was as good as I remembered.


I loved all the specialty stores we discovered as we continued our explorations, especially the doll store and the ballet store. 

We sat on a park bench and admired the Palacio Real. 


Before returning to the hotel we stopped at a book store to buy a road atlas to use when we get our rental car tomorrow. I had heard that since our election George Orwell’s book 1984 is  on the New York Times best seller list again. Interestingly enough it is a best seller here too! It is number 8.

For dinner we had tapas at a couple of places we went to last year, La Fragua de Volcano and Cerveceria Alemana. 

Our 2017 European Adventure Begins

Duke and have started another long travel adventure. This time we plan to spend two months in Europe. We flew into Madrid and will fly out of Zurich. We will have a rental car in Spain and then we will use public transportation in France, Italy, Slovaki, Hungary, Austria and Switzerland. If you would like to see our itinerary there is a link on the side of the blog to our current plan if you are using a phone to read this you can get to the itinerary using the menu button.

We made it to Madrid. It is a long way from Reno! We left Reno on Jet Blue at midnight Friday night and arrived in New York Saturday morning.  The best thing about Jet Blue is the extra few inches of leg room they provide. It is amazing what a big difference those few inches make to the comfort of the flight.
At JFK in New York we picked up our bags and found a seat to doze and wait for the Iberia Airlines  check-in counter to open. About two pm we finally got checked in, went through security and had a meal. It was incredible that in Terminal 5 where we were waiting you couldn’t even buy a water until you went through security.

Our Iberia flight left about 6pm Saturday night and we arrived in Madrid at 5:30 am Sunday morning.  Iberia gave us both dinner and breakfast and the food was really good. It is so nice to be on a full service airline!!

I’m sure that there will be a lot of sharing of food pictures on this trip so I’ll start now.


We took the metro from the airport to our hotel, The Tryp Gran Via. It is very near where we stayed last year when we were in Madrid. It was pouring rain and the wind was blowing hard when we walked from the Metro to the hotel.

We couldn’t check in until 1:00 so we walked to the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. The sun had come out by this point and the buildings were shining!


Notice the Welcome Refugees sign!

The Thyssen has a vast collection of mostly European art from the thirteenth century to the present.  What a wonderful museum!  We saw Van Goughs, Renoirs, and Picassos. In fact they have at least one work from almost every famous painter.


I’m planning to blog everyday. If you want to get an email every time I post you can click the follow button which is usually in the bottom right corner of the Blog. And I really would be interested to know what you like and don’t like to include. Would you like more pictures? Fewer pictures? More words? Fewer words? What else?

Snowshoeing along Prosser Creek north of Truckee

Duke and I had a very nice snowshoeing outing today along Prosser Creek North of Truckee. We parked just off of highway 89 and headed southeast along the creek. You can see our route at the link below.

Snowshoeing route off of Highway 89 north of Truckee.

This link will open an interactive CalTopo map of our route in a new browser tab.

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