Tordesillas - a town of two halves

Trip Start Apr 18, 2009
Trip End May 19, 2009

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Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Castile-León,
Saturday, May 9, 2009

Eating in the hotel last night proved to be the least worst option available. The food was not too bad but the service average to poor. At the outeset I was a lone in diner in a restaurant laid out for 56 diners! I was later joined by three others but even then it did little to create any sort of atmosphere.

Maybe because I was forced to eat so late, together with noise from other guests, I slept poorly; by the time I did get off to sleep I managed to sleep through my alarm! Even then there was noise from other guests, this time from those who had checked into the room next door at 5.00 am. Judging by the nature and volume of the sounds, someone at least was giving the impression of having a good time!

So I took myself off to breakfast and left my neighbours to continue. Got away at 8.15 am and was soon out of the town and on a long climb stretching to six kilometres. Crossed the old Canal de Castille on my way and took a photo (good excuse for a rest) and pushed on to the top of the climb by which stage I was feeling a bit weary. Similar to yesterday I remained up on the high plateau given over to endless arable farming. One interesting difference, however, was the lack of large rocky outcrops that had characterised much of the previous day┤s ride (and as clearly featured in the photo of Castrojirez).

One of the spectacular features of this trip has been the wealth of wildlife, particularly birds, that I have seen and heard. Today I saw woodpeckers, jays, skylarks, plovers and huge birds of prey.

In a previous entry I listed some countries that I described as having a ┤big sky┤. I really should have included Spain in that list, not just because it is a large country but also because once up on its high plateaux the sky seems limitless and quite awesome.

My pre-trip research had cautioned that Spanish drivers did not show the degree of courtesy to cyclists that one would find in France. Well that has simply not been my experience; drivers in Spain have, almost without exception, shown me the greatest consideration and more importantly, room! They also stop at pedestrian crossings (unlike their cousins in the South of Spain).

Eventually I descended to Cabezon de Pisuerge and crossed the old river bridge and the main railway line, before heading towards Valladolid, a big city of 320,000 people. I had intended to take a break checking out the city centre before moving on, but unfortunately my plan was thwarted. My GPS system simply could not get me into the historic centre and when I did find what appeared to be the right street it was blocked by road works and the diversion puched me back onto the main road. But what I did see of the city I liked: very modern suburbs with wide avenues and incredibly wide pavements. The buildings all looked new and presented an image of a modern, thriving city.

So, getting hot and frustrated at every turn I decided to give it up and head for the hills - literally! I turned off near the city┤s airport and set off up this long (4 km), steep climb, only to be overtaken by a young woman out on a training ride on a racing bike, with ┤Vallolid Cycle Club┤printed across the back of her cycle shorts. Now if ever a man needed encouragement to accelerate this was the time, but unfortunately the mind was willing but the body was having none of it!

As I went along I saw lots more cyclists, all male, who shouted various expressions of encouragement (I think!) As the day wore on and the wind grew stronger I was starting to feel very tired. Eventually I picked up a brand new road with a beautiful surface that made the going a little easier and then the funniest thing: this big, wide, gleaming road came to an abrupt end at the entrance to the tiny village of Matilla de los Ca˝os, where the old road between the buildings was barely wide enough for a single vehicle. On the other side of the village the new road reappeared and carried on its merry way! What on earth the planners were thinking when designing the new road goodness only knows. And the inhabitants of the old village must be delighted by the presence of all the traffic the new road will bring to their narrow streets.

I could now see Tordesillas in the distance and was pleased to enter the town┤s limits. It took no time to locate the hotel and a very hard day had produced just 86 km in 5 hours.

The hotel was a stinker - literally! The drains in the bathroom smelled pretty awful, the shower didn┤t work and nor did the TV remote. A bit of DIY got water out of the shower but with the hotel receptionist/bar person having no English and me having no Spanish meant I decided to put up with it for one night.

There was no laundrette in the town so I washed my things in the basin and rigged a washing line on the small balcony. Later I took a stroll through the town, which boasted a large number of bars and restaurants, some of the latter surprisingly expensive. Who are the people in this small, rural town that justify such places and prices? I decided this town would be easily forgotten.

The weather in Spain up to now had been lovely but with the big wind came rain. So I waited for it to abate before taking myself off for my second stroll to find something to eat. With the prospect of another 9 pm dining experience I sat myself down in a small burger bar and tucked into one of the best burgers I have ever had - complete with egg, bacon, cheese, salad and fries, all washed down with a couple of glasses of San Miguel beer. Delicious! Only downside, as usual, was the presence of smokers. In the middle of my meal a band randomly struck up in the street outside, apparently signalling the opening of yet another restaurant.

I took myself off for a dessert of ice cream cone and strolled further afield. This is when I discovered that Tordesillas is indeed a town of two halves: on the one hand a modern, tacky place and on the other a town rich in history and nice, sympathetically restored architecture in narrow streets. At least they have kept the two separate. The streets of the old part were full of big, flash cars and well-dressed people and I noticed the town could even boast a 4-star Parador. 2009 is an important anniversary for Tordesillas, signalling 500 years since Queen Juana arrived in 1509 - no idea what she did, only that she arrived!

As I made my way back to the hotel (having had to resort to my iPhone camera as I had not expected to need my other one!) at around 9.30 pm I noticed the restaurants were now open but without customers. I also noticed that the wind had dropped, the rain had dried up, but the skies were still grey. Just as I was about to turn in the band struck up once again, this time marching beneath my bedroom window; perfect timing to send me to sleep. Ear plugs at the ready!

TOTAL SO FAR: 1565 km by bike
Slideshow Report as Spam


wislon on

It's all Women ???
Hi Pete, trying to catch up with your fantastic journey and updates. I noticed Lynn is concerned you might do it again but my concern is that so far you only seem to see women, hotel owners, bar maids, girls riding bikes (in front of you) and waitresses. Finally today you mention a group of male cyclists so normal service returns I guess. I still have plenty to read through to catch you up but wanted to say well done so far and stay away from those hills, you should be going downhill now to the end of the country :-). Cheers,Ian

jamie_pete on

Re: It's all Women ???
Hi Ian

Great to hear from you again, even if it is to besmirch my reputation with suggestive remarks. I dunno, I´ve got one mate questionning my liking for Lycra and its effect on male waiters and elderly French tourists and now I´ve got another mate claiming I only show interest in women. Let´s just say that I like EVERYBODY in equal measure (but perhaps women a little bit more!) :-)

Now safe and sound in Portugal, since 9.30 am 19th, but been unable to update blog because my memory stick picked up a virus in an internet cafe somewhere along the way and the script I wrote and all my photos have been lost. Fortunately I saved them all first so will try again and hope the saved version is not infected too.

Home soon so will get the blog updated there if I can´t finish it here before I leave.

Love to Jo and thanks again for your support!



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