I timed yesterday’s stop just about right – an hour after I’d booked in, the heavens opened and the wind picked up to a serious blow – and the rain didn’t stop untill after I’d fallen asleep around 11:00pm.
The Hostal Venta Liara had a bar/dining room downstairs; I went down just after 8:00 pm, and was told dinner would be late – not served till after 9:00 pm. this was communicated by a mixture of mime and Spanglish; Muy tardes, senor…. So I had a glass of red; the bloke behind the bar poured the remnants of a bottle into a glass, then reached for an entirely different bottle to top the glass up. I managed to stop him in time, and sat at a table with my half a glass. There were four blokes in working gear playing cards in one corner, several others around the bar, and two couples in their 50s chatting – I felt almost like a local, though I understood three fifths of bugger all, really.
Around 9:00pm the place started to fill up; a couple of young blokes, a group of family members – mum, dad, gran, several young children and two couples. As Allepuz has a population of about fifty, most of the town had to be here.
I’d had my glass refilled – both reds were quite drinkable – and at 9:30 I got my entree – I’d ordered by guesswork and mime from the woman running the place – vegetable soup – mainly barley, carrots and onion, followed by poached fish with a vegetable medley, and a cherry cheesecake for dessert. The soup was homemade, and wonderful – the fish was well cooked, and the vegies tasty, and the cheesecake was a shop-bought thing – OK, but not special. I went upstairs around 10:15, and most of the other people hadn’t started to eat yet. The Spanish do like to chat.
My room was up in the attic – fell asleep to the sound of rain on the pantiles, and the wind howling around the roof. Well fed, warm and snuggly, I slept well.
It was cloudy and just drizzling gently when I woke; showered, packed, and went downstairs for breakfast. Some of the working men had stayed over, and were drinking expresso – I got a cafe Americano, which is like twice the volume, but half the strength.
Breakfast was served to me; no juice, just three slices of hard bread, two pots of jam, and two slices of cake. Unimpressive, especially as dinner was such a pleasant affair. Paid the bill – 45 Euro. Dinner, bed and breakfast, plus a beer on arrival and two generous glasses of red. A bargain.
No chance of getting lost; the road towards Utrillas started about fifty metres South of the Hostal, and was clearly marked as the A-228. A cold start – I had my woolen gloves on, and the drizzle was chilly – it stopped after about an hour. The A-228 is bit narrow, and not in the best repair, but in 30 Km i saw less than a dozen vehicles, so no problems with traffic. The road was fairly level for 25 Km; ploughed fields, others planted with a grain crop, a couple of piggeries and chook farms. Lots of pilgrim paths crisscrossing the landscape – this hut is a resting spot for one of the walks.
Lots of abandoned farms and hamlets. I can’t blame them for leaving – I’d move if I lived here.
The last five Km before meeting the N-420 were a steady climb; not as steep as those I’ve tackled in the past two days. The peak was at 1409 metres.
Shortly after joining the N-420 I hit the edge of the High Sierra – the ridge was lined with wind turbines as far as the eye could see – there must have been at least a thousand, all turning away.
Two quick, steep descents and into Utrillas. This area was a big coal mining community – all now closed. The Spanish have more sense than the Aussie government, though I wonder why ours is so keen to keep digging the stuff up. Blind Freddie can see renewables are the way to go. Remember this, and vote the buggers out next year.
So the town is dying, visibly. Lots of homes for sale, lots of badly maintained places, lots of ruins. The hotel/restaurant is on one side of the main street, and there is a small supermarket opposite. Not much else of note. I took a walk; there is a museum, but it was shut on Mondays. As was the church, as was the mosque.
I’ve booked dinner, bed and breakfast – dinner at 9:00 again. That’s three nights in a row – maybe I’m acclimatising…. My room is clean, the shower is hot, and the wifi seems to be working OK now – it took me three trips to reception ( I’m on the second floor) to get it sorted out. It’s a two stage process; log on to the “principal” at reception, and then onto Villa “n” where n is your floor number once you are in your room. It’s about the weirdest setup I’ve come across yet, and no two hotels have had the same method. There’s got to be a business opening there, surely.
It’s lucky I decided to stop at the Hostal Venta Liara last night – this is the first hotel I’ve come across since there. I’ll report on dinner and breakfast in tomorrow’s post – I’m still 120 Km away from Zaragosa.
See you down the road/