Mainly rain in Spain, Castile-Leon.

01 March to 3rd March 2018

One of the great attributes of using the Camper Contact App is reading the reviews as often you can learn much more than just information about the parking area, and this was how we found a motorhome parking listing for Sancti-Spiritus in Spain on the A62 between Ciudad-Rodrigo and Salamanca.

From the Camper Contact information we gathered that this was a motorway side style motel and restaurant of the type that are lined up on either side of the main roads at regular intervals all over Spain and the common theme in all of the reviews was how good the food was.  So, deciding to treat ourselves to commiserate leaving Portugal but to also celebrate being back in Spain we set the La Ponderosa Hostel as our destination.  Arriving in the pouring rain, it seems that it has been raining for several days now, we were a little unsure as the exterior of the covered terrace was in poor condition with screens blowing to and fro in the strong winds and there also seemed to be a lack of lighting giving the building a slightly derelict feel.  Not to be deterred, trusting the reviews, I peered my head inside the main bar where I was instantly hit by a waft of heat and was greeted in perfect English by a very friendly couple which we learned later were Kelly from Belgium, the owner and her partner Fred from the UK.  Things were looking up!

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If you are travelling on the A62 between Salamanca and Ciudad-Rodrigo and are feeling hungry, look out for this sign.  You won’t be disappointed.

We had arrived in the early afternoon and therefore I decided to use the time wisely and updated this blog from the warmth of the main bar, sampling of course some bottles of San Miguel.  During this time I also fell into conversation with a couple who were on route to Portugal who were property searching, she a North American and he Irish.  Who would of thought that a roadside truckers motel would be so international.

In the evening Sharon joined me in the bar where we decided to dine, conversing more with Fred and Kelly swapping ideas about all our plans and ideas for the future.  At this point I think it is best to comment on the food and we agreed with all the prior visitors that the meal was fantastic.  One thing that seemed to be overlooked in the reviews though were the portion sizes, I myself have a large appetite and I love food but I was quite defeated when I was unable to even finish my starter compromising my appetite for the main course.  I really did try and eat all of the starter of paprika mashed potato with bacon and sausages but it was just impossible even though I was really enjoying it, only then to have to try and battle through a massive breaded chicken breast and fries, which is one of my favourite dishes.  Sharon too really struggled, failing to finish her ham and green beans starter and leaving most of her de-boned chicken legs and fries main even though it was really tasty.  The portion sizes were incredible, therefore if you do happen to pass by here, avoid tucking into the bread before your starter has arrived at all costs!!!  Luckily for us, Kelly was able to throw together the left over food into to some take away containers and therefore nothing was wasted.  In summary their menu del dia is absolutely recommended, we really enjoyed the food and friendly atmosphere that Kelly and Fred promote.

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Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, if you are looking for a warm welcome and safe place to stop over for the night La Ponderosa could be for you.  “Cheers Kelly and Fred for a great evening and a great meal, hopefully see you in the future and we will keep in touch”.

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Sharon’s main, seriously the side salad would have been enough.

The next day we remained on the A62 passing Salamanca, Valladolid and Palencia stopping at Fromista, another town that we had previously walked through whilst on the Camino de Santiago.  The rain had kept up all day, and barring a quick walk into the town centre with Rita we did very little.

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Parked up at Fromista for the night, we were the only ones again.  

One thing we did spot though through the rain splattered plastic window were lorries stopping at a nearby weighbridge and I went off to investigate to find that it was automated and anybody could use it.  This was perfect as we had never weighed the bus before and not only this we were in full tour mode:  all of Rita’s stuff, two bikes, solar panel, a full tank of fuel and about half a tank of fresh water.  Not only this, I was informed by a Spanish lorry driver that it would be really cheap too, as he had just weighed his empty tipper truck at just under 9 tonnes for less than 1 euro.  Sure enough, the next morning we were to be found using the weighbridge and at 30 cents a go we did it several times!!!

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Loaded up and on the weighbridge.  30 cents later and we were relieved with the result…..

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…..weighing in at 3240 kgs, leaving some margin from our top limit.  This meant that maybe we could fill up with a few boxes of Spanish wine!!

Our final stop in the Castile-Leon region was Aguilar de Campoo which was a really interesting town with several things to do and see.  The main point of interest is, from my point of view, the nearby reservoir which had a massive dam that you can walk across.  Unfortunately though we were unable to complete the circular walk starting from the town as the return journey from the dam makes way through a pine forest, and now being procession caterpillar aware we decided not to take the risk with Rita.  Nevertheless, we still enjoyed a long walk taking in the Santa Maria Monastery, the dam and the town’s castle.  The town itself was interesting and sported some different architecture around the main square and in early evening was beginning to show some signs of town life.

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We all enjoyed our walk to the dam at Aguilar.  Standing next to the open release valve meant you could fully take in the power of the water.  It made us both think again why the UK does not use more tidal energy installations.

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All of the buildings that surrounded the main square in Aguilar followed the same architectural style: lots of glazing and on stilts. 

On the morning of the 4th March the sun was finally making an appearance, which was good news as our next chapter of the Spanish return trip would be to visit and drive along the north coast to San Sebastian.  Hopefully the weather would hold and be kind to us as we move further north, we both imagined the hot sunny weather that would now be improving day by day further south and again more thoughts were shared around the shortness and time of year of this particular tour, something we want to avoid and plan differently in the future.

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We have started to collect photos of ‘no dogs’ signs.  We particularly liked this one found in the grounds of Aguilar’s main church.

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