Saturday 29th May and today we start the trek back home with a car full of all-sorts. After a “not-so-comfortable” night on a hard bed with thin mattress and a room with its own particular odour we were ready to leave soon after 0800hrs and headed “hell-for-leather” to the boarder as there was nothing to keep us in France. We also had the added issue about our PCR test. Though we were within the 72-hr period, it was Spanish and we weren’t sure if we should have had a French one; who knows and the rules are so vague when crossing boarders by car.
As we approached Soria, there was a sigh of relief as it was immediately apparent it wasn’t going to be a “one-donk-town”, in fact the first major building we came across was the Cathedral!!
Tom-Tom took us straight to the hotel, just off the main area where all the action takes place. Checking in was a doddle then we went to their under-build car park. As we approached the entrance the door opened and we gasped at what we saw, an entrance we could barely get through, a very steep ramp into a parking area that had pillars everywhere, and when we checked in, we were allocated two spaces, now we know why, only a “smart-car” would fit into one!! The good news was the lift came down to the car park.
Once settled into the room, we headed out to have a look round and dinner, and “armed” with the directions and map given to us by the hotel receptionist, we set off.
Soria, a city in north-central Spain is known for its medieval streets and Romanesque architecture, in fact everywhere you walk you find a stand with a plaque giving the history of this building or that building. It is also known for a local dish “Torrezo de Soria”; basically a thick chunk of streaky bacon fried to produce crackling then cooked. In a bar it comes cut up and enjoyed cold, like crisps with a drink, or hot with a meal, in fact quite versatile one could say.
The main action area is a pedestrianised street with the Plaza Mayor one end, and a park the other. Running off this main thoroughfare are a number of small squares and narrow streets and alleyways. We meandered along exploring and eventually arrived at the Plaza Mayor, a stunning area with interesting buildings, including the historic town hall. OK it was time for a drink and sample the “Torrezo”; our first bite into this “fat-sodden” piece of pork was surprising, it was very tasty and the crackling was really very good, the fact it was 90% fat seemed to be hidden by the taste. Our drink now turned to eating and after some discussion with the waiter, because the kitchen was officially closed, he offered us steaks, ok, that’ll do thanks.
When the steaks arrived it was immediately obvious that we weren’t at Gallego’s, they didn’t have that “come-and-eat-me” look that the the big, fat, steaks have in Pilar, still they filled a gap. This region produces its own wine, so naturally we had to go with it.
Towards the end of the meal enjoying the last of the wine etc., it rained and though we were outside, we were protected by a big umbrella, so sat there and watched the rest scattering to avoid getting wet. 10-minutes later it stopped and the sun came out.
Back to the hotel for a quick game of crib and bed, we were both tired.
Sunday morning breakfast, predetermined again due to COVID, but being a 4* it was far better than the previous ones, our hot dish comprised of Serrano ham, fried or scrambled eggs, a large slice of slightly “plancha” toast and of course, a slice of “Torrezo”, I said it was versatile!!! With the rest of the breakfast, we were stuffed.
The first thing on the agenda was to catch the 11.00am tourist train for a ride around the town, sorry, city🤭🤭 unfortunately we arrived just in time to see it leaving, never mind there’s one at midday so we will head up this street. After passing several historical buildings we came across one of the numerous Churches, so went in; oops there was a full blown Sunday catholic service in full swing, so after a few minutes we quietly withdrew.
Heading back, we stopped for a coffee and arrived at the train with 5-minutes to spare.
This train is operated by the Soria tourist board and the route takes 40-minutes and makes its way down to the river passing by all the historic buildings, plazas and places of interest, once down by the river and at his turning point, we had a 5 minute break to walk about and take in the atmosphere of this beautiful spot. We had planned to walk here but realised during the train journey, we wouldn’t have made it. Apart from the distance, the town is a couple of hundred meters above the river😖😖. Back on the train and back to the start point by which time we had agreed that after leaving the hotel we’d drive back down there prior to heading back.
Due to being “stuffed” by the big breakfast, lunch wasn’t on the agenda but a drink was, so sat at bar in the sun and ordered drinks and gave Torrezo another go, unfortunately this Torrezo wasn’t too good. The cracking wasn’t right through and the bacon was over cooked for me, never mind we’d bought a pack of the bacon they use and I’m going to “have-a-go” myself, having seen how they make it on YouTube!!
The park at the opposite end of the main pedestrianised street is the the sprawling “Alameda de Cervantes” park, beautifully kept with manicured grass and colourful flower borders. This park professes to have nearly every species of tree on the planet including a “red wood”. There is a very unusual bandstand with a big tree growing up through the middle. Being Sunday the world and his wife were out promenading or drinking at the bar in the park where there were signs at each entrance telling people to “respect the distance” ha ha, they were packed in this bar area like sardines!!!! It was a beautiful day so we sat and “meditated,” enjoying the “ambiance” of this lovely space. Apparently back in the middle ages the church gave this land to the peasants to graze their sheep etc., but towards the end of the19th century, the grazing wasn’t really needed so the decision was taken to turn it into an open space for the townsfolk and over time this land has turned into this wonderful park for everyone to enjoy.
Time to eat so tried to get a table in the restaurant in this park, but alas we hadn’t booked so that was that. Walking back through the park along a different route heading to the main main gate, we came across another small chapel hidden amongst the trees: nothing particularly special here other than up in the exposed bell tower were a couple of nests with what looked like storks on top.
Back outside the park and started looking for somewhere to eat but by now it was about 1500hrs and most places that were open were bars and the only food served was Tapas. We then stumbled on a place called the “Red Lion”, an “Italian” restaurant!, but we were too late, the kitchen had closed until 2100hrs tonight🥵🥵🥵. OK, plan “B”, back to the hotel and have a rest then back out again around 2000hrs.
During the time in our room resting the heavens opened, but by the time we ventured out again, the sky was clear but as we wandered up and down the pedestrian precinct, we were no better off, just bars with Tapas so we ended back at the Red Lion, it was nearly 2100hrs. In we went, ordered, and enjoyed a super meal though in reality it was too much too late, again accompanied by the locally produced wine, “Camino Soria”, a little more expensive than most but excellent.
Back to the hotel but having just eaten a rather a lot!!, we had another game of crib. ChristIne had a good night, I paid the price of too much, too late, I was very uncomfortable and couldn’t sleep👹👹👹👹
Monday, the drive home but before setting off there was that small problem to face, extracting the car from the Hotel’s under-build. Whichever way one looked at the situation, there was going to be a lot of manoeuvring to avoid the pillars, other cars and acute corners. We watched someone leave just before us and the trouble he had getting out with a small car was embarrassing, well for him!!!, our turn next🤞🤞. Here goes, back and forwards several times and at last we had avoided the Pilar right behind us, now for the next obstacle, to get round a very tight corner missing other pillars and parked cars. After more back and forth we could get to the ramp but to get onto it we had another 90-degree turn with minimal clearance either side, the cars bleepers were in overtime, all four corners and front and rear, one didn’t know which to believe first, fortunately this time ChristIne was out of the car as my extra pair of eyes. We eventually escaped and boy, was I hot!!!!! This hotel was excellent in every respect except for the car park, and to make matters worse, they charged €14 per night for the privilege, huh😡
We now headed back down to the river Douro, though being Monday morning, the place was deserted and the water museum was closed, wether we were too early or being Monday, everything closes, so after a short stroll we headed back to Campoverde.