Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Off to Valladolid - 17th May

I know that I’m on catch up but we have been doing so much that I haven’t had the time or energy to write my blog.  I can’t believe that less than two weeks ago we were in La Manga, it seems like a lifetime ago.
Anyway we were on the move again.  Our plan had always been to leave Toledo and go up to Zaragoza, then Pamplona and then move into France to the Biarritz area.  But I’m sure that you have noticed by now that these plans are not cast in stone and can change quite quickly.

Toledo to  Zaragoza Valladolid

We had been keeping an eye on the weather and also there was no ACSI site in Zaragoza and as we had had 5 nights at 30 Euros a night we thought we’d change direction and stay on an aire for a few nights.  Valladolid seemed a decent distance from Toledo, the old capital of Spain so we thought it might be interesting and also saves us some miles. Our plan then changed  to Toledo, to Valladolid, San Sebastian and then onto Biarritz.

So off to Valladolid – some 180 miles – but first – apart from the necessary full and empty we had to find LPG.  Was this going to be third time lucky?

I had programmed the SatNag to go to Valladolid, via the LPG station in Toledo.  I had looked at the map and it seemed quite straight forward to get there, using main roads – fantastic.  But then just as we were pulling away, I must have touched the screen while putting it on the stand and I saw the fateful message “Reprogramming” come up – OMG – not again. However when the reprogramming had finished it showed the correct number of miles (ish) so I thought it had just reprogrammed the route again.  

With Mr. Technophobe in the navigators seat I didn’t think it was worth asking him to check it so I just hoped for the best.  We continued on our way.  However the SatNag had reprogrammed the route to Valladolid, but had now forgotten the waypoint of the LPG station. It was only when we realised that we were about to get onto the main road to Madrid that I decided to turn right at the roundabout instead of left and pulled into a sports centre to check.  We were now about 5 miles out of our way from the LPG station.  

As I’ve said before LPG is only found in the major cities and towns so you can’t just go to the next one on route as this can be over 100 miles away.

Of course the sports centre took us up a hill and with horrible adverse cambers I had to turn the van around and get back on track. 

Reprogrammed, it was back into the city and out on another direction. Actually of the past three LPG stations we had to find this turned out to be the easiest.  Was this to be a good omen?

Back on the road again towards Madrid.

As usual we decided to take the paeage as the quickest route towards Madrid.  Now in Spain you can’t even guarantee that the paeage will have the best road surface.  It would appear over here that if there is a bad surface that instead of fixing the bad bumps or holes all they do is put some signs up, pain the road lines yellow instead of white and put a speed restriction on.  When you are pulling the load that we have this can still be very bumpy, even at slower speeds and of course it sounds as though everything is falling out of the cupboards.  That’s one good thing about a motorhome rather than a caravan, you have no idea what’s going on in a caravan until you get to your destination.  At least we can adjust driving to suit.  We found at least 4 stretches of  “bumpy road”.   

Further on the road surface deteriorated again.  The dual carriageway into Madrid was a concrete surface just like the M42 and it was a real shake rattle and roll all the way to Madrid.  I have never been so envious of the people on the other side of the road before as when I looked over to the other side of the road they had a lovely smooth tarmac.  Obviously Spain want people to leave Madrid rather than arrive.

Luckily the SatNag took us around the best road to avoid Madrid.  We had no intention of trying to drive through Madrid and my attitude was that we had survived the Peripherique around France so this should not be a problem.  No worries we were around Madrid and on our way to Vallidolid without any issues.

By now it was lunchtime and  I had noticed that the next service area was 23km away, so we stopped on the first picnic site off the ringroad.  It wasn’t a very pleasant site but at least it was proper parking.  Had we known,  just about 5 miles further on there was a lovely picnic area with lovely views.  Never mind that’s just sod’s law and it happens all the time.

Being a short drive for us today of only 180 miles we arrived at the aire in Valladolid at around 3.30pm.  We had decided on an aire because we’d had some expensive camping nights and though we’d bring down our average campsite costs.  At only 3.10 Euros a night this was a real bargain, and even better it was free on Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday – which just happened to be exactly when we were going to be there.  As long as we got off by 9am on Monday it was gratuit. The aire itself was in a car park, next to the telephone exchange  about half a mile from the city and I also managed to hook up with some open wifi.  There were about  10 other vans here so we felt quite safe.

So not knackered from the journey we decided to have a quick look in the city.  


As I’ve already mentioned, this used to be the capital city of Spain until it was moved to Madrid and Christopher Columbus died there so we thought it might be worth a look.

A pleasant walk into town with the dog and then we returned to the van for the evening.  The only problem with aires is that you cannot put out your tables and chairs as this denotes camping rather than parking, so when it’s a bit hot you are rather restricted with outside space.

The following day we went back into Valladolid to have a better look around and were pleasantly surprised with how pleasant the city was.  I would recommend this as a good stopover place for travellers.

Again, like Toledo the buildings were incredibly clean even though some of them were very old.  It would appear that Valladolid, once the capital had moved to Madrid in 1606 the city was abandoned for some 300 years until the railway made it accessible again.  It’s almost as if it missed all the industrial times which would possibly have meant that a lot of pollution would have darkened all the stone.

Here’s some pictures of the buildings I found interesting.

I wondered if I could get the same man three times in this shot

A rose garden in Spain

Pleasant riverside walks

Still along the river front

Christopher Columbus - back view - the sun was too bright to take it from the front

Just an interesting building

The Cathedral - notice only one tower - they must have run out of money

And here’s a couple just to show that I’ve been learning how to use digital zoom on my camera.  It shows just how close I can get with the detail on my pictures.

Look at the shield at the centre of the pic

I can't believe just how close I can get the detail.

Just one to finish our time in Valladolid, Connie has decided that after all these years she actually like yoghurt.  I love seeing her lick the pot and she can even get to the bottom with her tongue – I love my dog and she makes me smile, even if she drives me mad sometimes.

She's loving her time travelling

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