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           This time I planned ahead and called Fernando Morales' relatives in Valladolid ahead of time so they knew when we were arriving.  Marcia drove the 116 miles south from León to Valladolid in 2 1/4 hours.  We drove across the bridge over the Rio Pisuergo past the grand El Cortes Ingles (one in every city) and down the grand boulevard (Paseo de Zorrillo) that is as wide as the Champs El Esee in Paris, tree-lined and everything.  We checked into the Juan de Austria Hotel at 9:30 and since their lot was full Marcia had to park the car in the public garage under the Cortes Ingles two blocks away. 

Thanks to the mobile phone we were able to meet Diego and Maite and their 3 lovely children, Diego, Carmen and Alejandro.    As we had some drinks, I called Fernando on the phone and he had a chance to talk to them while we were there.  They had already eaten so they asked if we could join them for lunch tomorrow which we did.  The rain had stopped and the girl at the hotel told us the restaurant we found in the guide book was very good but they had changed their name to Las Corte.  Even though it was on the same street I wanted to take a cab but the girl said it was only a 5 min walk.  Since it wasn't raining we went ahead, but she lied.  It was over 10 very long blocks before we finally reached the place and we were 20 minutes late.  They did seat us but there was only one other group still seated.  With rioja, I had a local dish of clams/spinach/eggs as well as this special sopa castellana which is a soup of eggs, ham and bread.  It was not that great, but I tried it.  They eat too many eggs for dinner here for my taste.  We then had veal entrecote and then arrozo con leche and espresso.  It was a good restaurant.  When we finished we asked them to call a cab which we took back to the hotel in the rain and got to bed at 2:30 AM.

 

I woke from another vivid dream at 8:45 that terrorists were bombing BMWs all over Europe.  I rarely dream at home so maybe it’s those damn cortados.  At 11:30 I went down to the hotel cafe and had a real cappuccino (it was so good I gave her a 100% tip) and worked the computer until 1 PM.  We then packed up, checked out of the hotel and even though I wanted to run down that grand boulevard I knew it was going to rain so I had checked out a gym called Fitness Park in an area called Parquesol.   We drove over there and just as I got out of the car it started pouring.  They wanted 9000 pesetas to use the "una cinta rodante" (I found the word for treadmill in Spanish).  After I was done I changed and Marcia was napping in the car.  Diego called and said he would meet us at the hotel.  We went with Diego and his older boy to a restaurant across the river called La Goya on Puente Colgante, where we met Maite and Carmen.  The parents know little English but the kids are very good and acted as our translators.  We had a wonderful time with them.  Diego, Jr really liked my Palm.  Here I am eating lunch again, this could get to be a habit.  I had pimiento rellenos (stuffed peppers) which were very tasty and my favorite, San Jacobo (Wiener schnitzel with cheese inside) with fries.  Marcia had sopa pescadore and veal steak again.  I refrained from the wine and had two cortados.  I can't drink wine this early in the day.  After we took some pictures we walked over the bridge back to the garage where our car was parked and said good-bye.  We're getting used to using these modern automatic car park paying devices now.  We had wanted to tour Valladolid but with the weather like it was and wanting to see the Cathedral in Burgos before going to Logroño, we decided to save it for a future time so we drove out and headed northeast to Burgos.  Thus we missed all of the old city of Valladolid, which is the capitol of  the Castilla y Leon province, which is a shame.  Marcia drove the 80 miles and we arrived without rain.  The clouds were just parting, letting a little sun shine through.  It was 6:30 as we drove across the Rio Arlanzon to get to the old city (every towns got one).  We found the Catedral with the help of the GPS and the tall spires of the church.  As Marcia was getting out of the car a beggar woman came up to her and asked her for some clothes (she had looked in the back seat and saw our clothes).  I watched later as she joined a man and I was getting a little paranoid about leaving the car after what happened in Valencia.  But as I watched them, they were going ahead of us.  I was hoping they weren't casing us out for a hit after we got in the church. 

Everyone told us we had to see this Catedral.  Unfortunately for us the entire interior is under renovation and the whole center is covered with black plastic sheets and they had no lights on inside so it was the dreariest place we have been in.  A tour guide lady told us to watch for the figure high up on the wall that is an automaton that bangs a gong when the hour strikes - it was neat.  They still charged admission for the museum area which was very nicely done (and well lit).  What I really wanted to see was the burial tomb of the famous warrior El Cid (photo from post card) which is located in the center of the Catedral.  They said the Catedral might be open again in 2005.  He is the warrior that had a falling out with the King, first sided with the Moors and then switched sides and conquered the city of Valencia form the Moors and became its ruler for years. We toured the cloister but after you've seen a thousand they begin to look alike.  As we were leaving and walking through the cobble-stoned plaza in front of the church we saw this small 5 year-old boy dragging one of those popular scooter things across the stones instead of riding on it.  I guess it wouldn't work on the stones but he was making one hell of a racket dragging it.  We had to laugh watching him do it.  I breathed a sigh of relief when we got back to the car and everything was OK.  Marcia drove the remaining 96 miles southeast to the city of Logroño, the capitol of the Rioja wine-growing region.  This place is Spain's Napa Valley.  Dr. Jaime Aramberri from San Sebastián had told us to eat at Echaurren, where the chef is married to his wife's sister.  I thought he said it was in Logroño but after reaching Logroño I called Echaurren and they told me they were located in Haro which is 35 miles back the way we had come.  Haro is the real center of the wine region and has all the bodegas.  Oh well, next time.  We decided to skip driving any more and just eat here.  The GPS worked good on this one.  We checked into the NH Herencia Rioja on Marques de Murrieta at 9 PM.  Their garage was also full so we had to take the car 3 blocks away to a public underground parking lot. 

We rolled our bags back to the hotel to unpack and then headed out to find the eatery area.  We had come here for the bodegas but they told us there weren't any in town so we just winged it.  The first two blocks revealed 4 Irish Pubs so something is going on here.  We finally got into the old part of town and after scrounging around dark empty streets (we've learned not to be too scared) we hear some noises and come into an area with one eating place after another.  It looked like we were going to have another Santander night of riojas and tapas for dinner.  And that's what we did.  The first place we went was Bar Sebas which was a little foreboding with a crowd that didn't seem to me to be too friendly.  I even left my camera in the bag (and that’s something for me).  I don’t know why I felt intimidated, but I did.  I wasn't that hungry after that big lunch but Marcia had two tapas and we both had a rioja that was excellent.  We then went two doors down to Bar Villa Rica where their specialty is matrimonias (two tapas on one plate).  I took a bite of Marcia's and then gave in and had one too, along with a rioja.  Then across the street we hit the jackpot when we went into La Tasca del Pato (“The Crazy Duck”) - wow, the stuff they were serving was freshly cooked and looked great.  Now I was getting hungry especially after 3 riojas.  The place was jam-packed with a really fun crowd of good looking people of all ages out for Friday evening.  We finally edged our way to a seat at the bar near the cook who was grilling the little veal tenderloins for tapas.  You couldn't watch for too long before ordering one for yourself, they were great.  After that we ordered a chicken dish, some calamari and another pork dish, they were all fabulous.  The rioja was very good and then I had a glass of Cruzcampo cerveza.  We had a very enjoyable time talking to Anna sitting at the bar keeping an eye on her boyfriend, Raphael who is tending bar.  She was a very attractive young lady and spoke some English.  They have these special Cruzcampo beer glasses and Marcia asked if she could buy one for me and Raphael gave it to her.  We finally left there at midnight and walked back to the hotel.  I wanted to stop at a couple more of the 50 or so other jumping places we saw on the way back but Marcia wouldn't let me and kept pulling my arm to go back.  We got back at 12:30 and I spent some time with the computer photos and got to bed at 2:30 AM.

I woke up at 9 AM and then took a siesta from 10 to 11, did some photo work and then got packed.  At 12:30 I went for my run and went through the old town past the Catedral and farther out.  On the way back I took some pictures and bought a few pins and almost left my camera on the counter in the store, if the store man hadn't called out to me.  I’m getting sloppy.  I got back to the hotel at 1:15, changed, packed and we checked out of the hotel.  We walked to a supposed internet cafe that wasn’t there and then went to a park called Plaza de la Paz which had a large equestrian statue.  Marcia needed lunch so we went across the street to Cafe Ibiza and she had lunch of chicken breast solomillos with omelet and fries (me a cortado and computer).  What she couldn't finish looked so good I ate what was left - it was great.  As we walked to the car, we passed the Catedral and I noticed that it looked like straw up in the bell towers.  On closer inspection with the camcorder zoom I could see there were several nests of real storks up there which we have never seen before (though we read about it).  By the way this is the one Catedral I didn't bother going inside, I don't know why, but I wasn't in the mood.  We continued on to the garage, got the car and went back to get our bags at the hotel.  At 3:45 we took off for our last new major city in Spain, Zaragoza.

 

KJH                                                               Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #51 

Logroño, España

Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD

KHofferMD@AOL.com         RETURN TO INDEX              

Sent 11-3-01

PHOTOS: 50VallodolidBurgos  50Logrono     

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