Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Into Castille y Leon and up a mountain or two - April 26

My close reader will observe from the title that something is not quite as planned. The itinerary had us heading south into Portugal but we are going east into central northern Spain. The reason is pretty simple - cost. One way and another this trip is working out a bit meaty so some sensible re-consideration was needed. Easy saving was to scrap the Santander to Portsmouth ferry - the return was set to cost £750. By turning across Spain early we can still do much of what we wanted and reach France at end May for a leisurely trip up the west coast. We shall save a cool £500 in the process which will fund another trip somewhere in the UK in September.
So here we are at Lago de Sanabria. Slightly surprised to find ourselves at 1100 metres too. I thought most of Spain was a 5-700 metre plain with sierras up to 3 and even 4,000. Not in this part it seems. We left Vigo and climbed steadily to 1200 metres and give or take 2 or 300 metres there we have stayed. Our temperatuires have followed in the opposite direction so we are now into single figures again. But the countryside is superb and the villages and towns have at last stopped looking like Prince Charles's worst nightmare.
The brilliant new campsite in is an oak wood alognside a glacial lake formed 100,000 years ago. The site is on the morain to the south west of the lake - actually on the morain; the scree of boulders and grit scraped out by the glaciers and forming a not very natural but inevitable dam behind which the lake formed when the melt started 90,000 years ago. Geography lesson over. It is the first site where we have been able to easily manouvre the van into position and have absolute confidence of an easy exit. Hurrah! We shall stay four nights and move on Sunday. Today we did a bit of shopping in a really nice little town and then followed the mountain road up, steeply, to another little lake at 1,800 metres! It was snowing and there was very old and thick snow in the gulleys. Unlike Andalucia there was no almond blossom to provide counterpoint. It was 1C and pretty damn cold. We looked around a bit but were quickly chilled and returned to 1100 metres and 5.5C.
We shall visit a couple of famous towns - Zamora, fortified and very fine, and possibly Salamanca although it is 150k each way. If not then maybe Braganza which is in Portugal.
Janet today managed to discuss with a young lady from Bulgiaria, in mixed Spanish and English, the brilliant little tarts we were served with our morning Cortados. The young migrant of just 8 months tried three locals before finding one with enough English to convey that more tarts would arrive at 5 p.m. if we wished to return. It was a 1 gallon round trip - they were not that good!
Olly still does not like waves - our lake is sufficently ruffled to have some - but finds them more to his liking since he can drink these...

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