Monday, December 10, 2007

A trip to Gredos (6th to 8th December 07)

The view from our bedroom window

This is a post to try and summarise our lovely stay at the Parador de Gredos, the central mountain system of Spain in the province of Avila about 150 km from Madrid.

We had planned the trip some 2 months ago and the 4 of us, my Father, Anne, Eladio and I were really looking forward to this break in routine and the possibility to “get away from it all”, or at least, rest a bit till Christmas. I hadn’t seen Anne since the spring, so it was lovely to be with her again.

We were lucky with the weather as we had sunshine the whole time and even though Avila is supposed to be one of the coldest provinces in Spain, we hardly felt the cold.

The Parador, like most Paradors (state run hotels in emblematic buildings and places) was a home away from home with the usual Castilian décor. We were given rooms with a view and all of them had four poster beds. They were small but extremely comfortable. The food was also top quality with the breakfasts being in the top 10 in my mind for breakfasts at hotels in Spain. Re food, I am afraid we all ate too much and had to do a hell of a lot of exercise just to work up an appetite for the next meal, never mind to burn the calories.

The Parador is located in a very remote part of Gredos and is literally surrounded by forests and mountains. The walks around the hotel were breathtaking with loads of opportunities for great pictures, such as two trees growing together for us to poke our heads through or tree root formations looking live caves for us to pose from.

Posing outside the Parador

The surroundings of the Parador

Eladio, Anne and my Father on the walk near the hotel on the first day.

Eladio and I posing in a tree root formation on the walk near the Parador
We spent the time eating, reading, talking, resting, walking and touring the nearby places of interest by car; activities which all 4 of us are particularly keen on.

Anne resting in one of the hotel lounges
The highlights of our trip were finding out that one of the Parador lounges was where Spain’s constitution was first worked on and this was on Constitution day, 6th December, something of a coincidence.

The room in the Parador where the Spanish constitution was begun
They were also seeing the view of a roman road covered in cloud from the mountain top called Puerto del Pico which is 1.450 metres high.

The Roman road and the clouds - view from the Puerto del Pico
Then there was the visit to the caves called Cueva del Aguila near Arenas de San Pedro. They were discovered in the 60s but are 12 to 14 million years old and by far the most fantastic I have ever seen with their amazing rock formations, stalactites and stalagmites. Some of them resemble religious statues or other shapes such as tortoises and the dominating colours are orange, red, white and light brown; quite marvellous.

View of the caves inside: the rock is called the Virgin of PilarHi
Another highlight was lunch in Guisando at a place called Tropezón but not so much the walk up the mountain afterwards which quite exhausted my poor 88 year old Father. This is where we learned he actually has a limit.

Good local food at El Tropezón: "chuletón de Avila" - a bit too much on the plate!

Eladio resting on the way up the mountain near Guisando

All too soon the 2 nights were over, but not quite, because we decided to visit the historic and monumental 12th century walled city of Avila on the way back.

The wall of Avila
It was our first visit in many years; beautiful yes but a bit crowded and it took us ages to find a place to park. It also took us ages to get a table for lunch but the place, a restaurant called La Hostería de Bracamonte was well worth it and turned out to be the crowning glory of the whole trip, at least the “cordero asado” (roast suckling lamb). It had me sleep all the way back home to Madrid too.

Lunch at the Hostería de Bracamonte in Avila
And so within the blink of an eyelid, we were home again. Home sweet home is what we always say when we get back from a trip. It’s a cliché but oh so true.

And now as I write this, Anne has gone back to Finland, Oli is back from Barcelona and the family is back together again. And now we have Christmas to plan and look forward to. Thanks Anne darling for the Father Christmas sack and lovely Finnish goodies; that was so lovely to receive and so unexpected.

Cheers and greetings to you all,

1 comment:

Anne said...

Thank you guys!!! I really enjoyed my stay and you company!! Not to mention the food...!!!!! Big kiss to all of you darlings. XXXXXX Anne