I didn't pack warm enough clothes. And I didn't pack enough warm clothes. My one pair of heavy wool socks have been washed out and reused three times already in only four days. Wish I had more. Why is it so cold here now? I've been told this isn't normal, and certainly not what I was expecting. Oh well, you order what you want, and eat what they bring you.
I left Logrono in clear sunshine at about 10am after a tapas bar breakfast or a coffee with milk and a little egg sandwhich. My hearing isn't so good, after too many years of loud toys, so when the bartender asked if I wanted the coffee 'solo' or 'con leche' I just made a motion for big, which I hoped was like a double coffee is in France. Nope, here it means with milk. Well, that's what i get for not hearing 'con leche' and knowing what it meant. I figured it all out after it happened.
Overall I really like Logrono and would happily go back. The Rioja Valley surprised me in being kind of.. plain looking. I'm used to something more like Piesport, Germany, where the line of where vines grow and where other things grow is laser clear. In Rioja it seems more hop and skip, with vines here and there mixed with other things. Maybe a more natural way to grow grapes, not such a monoculture. Anyway, it was cold and windy and I didn't stop for many pictures.
Eventually I got kind of up on a plain, and was amazed at how green things were. Lots of rain this year, I guess. That's the thing about Spain, it constantly surprises me at what I find, not at all like my preconceived notions. One reason for actually going.
I stopped in Burgos to find something wam to drink and dig some warmer clothes out of my luggage.
What I found was a churro cart, with hot chocolate sauce for dipping. As Garrison Keillor says: "the brown bag with the dark stains that indicate freshness."
I sat on a bench with a friendly homeless guy who spoke a few words of English, knew I didn't understand his Spanish, but wanted to talk with me anyway, and didn't want any of my churros. He indicated they would make a person fat. He told me I should go see the cathedral, and indicated by pointing at his eye and the bike that he would watch over it while I was gone. I locked up my helmet anyway, which was a good idea as he was gone by the time I came back.
Then I continued on to La Olmeda, the remains of a Roman villa found by accident in 1968 outside of Soldana, near Leon. They've built an aircraft hanger sized building to cover it and are still discovering more stuff.
The presentation is well done, in multiple languages. I like that they have one section of dirt at ground level to show how close this was all this time. They claim to have one of the largest areas of Roman mosaics anywhere in the world, and I guess that's true by the meter stick. But I've seen quite a few that were more impressive. Or maybe I've just seen so many now. Or maybe I was too cold to enjoy them like I should have.
They only look like this in pictures, or if you spray water on them, which you aren't supposed to do.
Yeah, pretty incredible that this is made from chips of rock.
Under floor heating, Roman style. Fire pit on one side of the room below ground level, chimney on the other side of the room, smoke travels under the floor and warms the room. Called a hypocaust system, found throughout the Roman world.
Anyway, if you're in the area of Leon, stop on over and see. Funny to think this sat unknown under 12" of dirt for 1500 years. Kind of makes you want to go dig up your whole back yard to see what's under there, doesn't it?
Another thing you see a lot here are storks nesting in towers. Most are in churches like this one.
But some are more humble. THis one was by the side of a busy road on an old electrical substation. Not sure if these are the poor country cousins or just a starter house like young human couples get.
While I was stopped today I took a picture of the 'cockpit', such as it is.
Tank bag is magnetic, and holds the iPod, phone, chargers for both connected via the two pin connector with red and white wire. I thought of doing this two nights before I left and with stores closed for the Easter holiday, I used what I had laying around. This works well enough that I'll get a better system, maybe one of those BMW-style waterproof connectors permanently mounted.
On the left side of the handlebars is a RAM mount I sometimes use for a camera, with the heated grips controller mounted on that. Works OK, but the adhesive pad has failed already and the 'optional' screw is holding it on. And I need to rewire these to turn off with the key. Again, didn't have time before I left. GPS is on another RAM mount, plugged into a standard power outlet.
I had been keeping my eye on some rapidly approaching mountains with obvious snow and rain, fearing that was my route. But at the last minute the GPS turned me south, on a GREAT road, Spain ZA-925 / Portugal N103-7. So much fun after hours on the freeway I almost thought about turning around and doing it again, despite shivering in the cold. I would call it a 90% road, because you use about 90% of the tread area of your tire riding it.
I stopped at the border for a picture.
Last time I was in Portugal I stopped for a similar picture and in the process of getting back on the road, dropped the bike in front of oncoming traffic in both directions. So now that demon is rightly and completely exorcised.
From the border the road descends into a very nice river valley. For the one Ohio guy reading this, it reminded me of Route 247 where it runs along Buck Run about 10 miles south of Hillsboro.
And I kid you not, I went by a guy trout fishing in shirtsleeves.
Twenty miles of roads like this and I saw four or five other vehicles the whole time. And it was 'rush hour'!
I was very happy to get to Braganca and a hot bath. Dinner was take-out of half a rack of ribs grilled over real charcoal, a huge order of fries, a bottle of Duoro red wine that was pretty decent, and four cookies and two pastries from the bakery down the street. Total cost under 10 Euros. Yeah, try THAT in Switzerland!
So now I'm sitting in the lobby of the Ibis in Braganca as the internet doesn't reach my room, in spite of what the people here say. Oh well, it's cheap. And inexpensive. Tomorrow it's on to Lisbon for the Ultimate Souvenir!