This has to be the noisiest village I have ever experienced. I arrive into the Plaza de Espańa at 4.00pm to find this sleepy mountain village blasting out The Rolling Stones from the local bar and two guys sat outside drinking and shouting at each other in an amiable “I can shout louder than you” challenge. After a wash and brush up I try to find a quiet bar whilst the sound of some heavy metal band now ricochets around the ancient streets as if some frankenstein monster were roaming abroad searching for urchins upon which to feed. The shouty guys had moved on to something far more inane but twice as loud.
My host had recommended a restaurant for dinner, which unfortunately won’t be until 9.00pm – this is one of the main challenges of cycling Spain for me – food after a long ride, dinner early, so to bed and rise etc – anyway, back to the story – and I find said restaurant in the early evening and take my beer to the terraza where there are 8 older men. Yes, older than me this time. Two card schools of Four, one for money and one for honour, passing the time …..and shouting at each other. There is one chap in particular who dominates the exchanges as would a Spanish Harry Secombe (ask your Mum).
Downstairs the restaurant has been hired for a private party for the afternoon and the disco is still going.
There is football on the bar tv.
Clearly the stranger in town is tryng his best to fit in, tapping on his iPad, and the landlady thoughtfully brings me the wi-fi password on a piece of paper. Clearly she sees that I might need to connect to the outside world to reassure my kin that despite all I am still alive.
Meanwhile, Spanish Harry Secombe (he even looks like him) is in full flow and I am left to wonder how he courted his lady love. Did he whisper sweet nothings or does she now suffer from hearing loss and enjoys the silencio?
The ride today was awesome for the first 3 hours or so. 45 miles in record time. Sun, blue sky, beautiful countryside, smooth road, and speed fun. It was “peloton at full gas” , as they say. (I reached my top top speed today, but don’t tell Mrs.Monkey, I applied the brakes at 42mph….aaarrrghhhh). If you are planning cycling this area you must ride this road but in this direction, of course, otherwise you’ll be going uphill when all the fun is down.
I pass by the Embalse de Entrepeńas which strikes me as being worryingly low at this stage of the year. People are picnicking by the edge of the water, the high water mark somewhere behind them. Surely it should be fuller than it is.
As the ride wore on the sun got hotter and hotter and I kept thinking that I was closer to Budia than I actually was. The result being that the last third of the ride turned into a bit of a slog since the long slow hills kicked in ( I’d had my fun, I guess) and began to seriously plan pacing my hydration as a result of a dirth of Repsols. Hills, I was getting used to. There was even a hill to climb into Budia though the old legs were turning slowly by this time.
And so,after 70 miles, I sloped in to the sound of The Rolling Stones.
Amazingly, there is a tourist office, right next door to the Rolling Stones bar, which opens for an hour in the evening. I tell the friendly official that I am English and that if he speaks too quickly I won’t be able to follow but this doesn’t deter him and after inviting me into the Peasant House mock-up, and delighting in showing me the guzz-under, I leave having been given several pounds of information leaflets. I demonstrate the stress of my load by buckling at the knees but he just laughs. That’s another unsuspecting tourist sent on his way with the answers to everything.
Dinner is a pork chop, two fried eggs and some chips served in an inch of grease to the sound of the bull fight on tv. I shouldn’t complain – at least they fed me. Just the sort of thing after a long ride. And would you know it, silence descends like a mist around midnight and Wee Willy Winky has ushered everyone to bed.