The Plains in Spain with no Rain

September 20, 2017 - Valladolid, Spain



Toledo is finished for us now, we must move on. Today we have to return the hire car and catch the train to Valladolid. I didn't know where that was but my tour director has it all in hand. Well the train tickets are in our folder but Margaret is right on top of the arrangements. So, first things first, a good feed is required to sustain us for the day. We went down to breakfast at 7.30am, not quite the earliest we could be. The room was already full of what appeared to be an American tour group. There were perhaps 18 of them which was probably a small bus load. It seems to us that compared to our last stay in Toledo in 2015 there are more people staying in the city so that walking out at night it is still busy.

With breakfast over and the Americans already off to places and parts unknown we checked out and collected the garage key for the last time. Thankfully after we extracted the car from the car park and wiggled around all the columns we will never have to contend with that again. EVER!

We asked Senorita Amiss to take us to the Station via a service station. Poor programming on my part meant we went to a service station nearest the hotel and then to the Railway Station where we were to drop the hire car. Never mind, we had plenty of time and we drove out to the west after we left the City Walls to fill up with fuel. 33 Litres of diesel for €40.50. Then we went around to the Railway Station to the east of city and parked the car in the car park as we were asked to do.

The Enterprise woman came out to check the car over. As I walked over with her I confessed to reversing into the wall. She laughed a bit and said she has always lived in Toledo and has never driven a car into the old town. She has been there with friends and thought the car would never fit down the roadway. When she checked the car her comment was 'It is PERFECT, Mr Perkins' and signed the papers, so all was fine. We took our bags and she and Huenco took the car.

It was now only 9.20am so the whole breakfast, refuel and drop off procedure had taken a lot less time than either of us imagined. I always tend to err on the very early side but this was more than an hour before our train so we had time to take photos of the lovely 1914-1917 Railway Building and the gardens around it. We also had time to read for a while and to chat to an English couple struggling with masses of luggage and walking sticks. How many clothes does one need for a week? And after that there are laundries, very cheap and efficient laundries as we found out.

Finally there was a general movement toward Platform 3 and our 10.25 train. Our luggage was x-rayed and our ticket scanned and we were soon sat in Coach 2 Seats 8A and 8B for the half hour trip to Madrid Puerta de Atocha station where we managed to then find our way to the Metro station and buy some tickets to Madrid Chamartin Station (the other RenFe railway station for Madrid). After some confusion we found the correct platform and then hoped that Chamartin was the RenFe place rather than Pinar de Chamartin which was 2 stops further.

When we arrived at Chamartin and walked along looking a little confused and searching for signs a helpful chap said 'Estacion de Tren' and pointed in the direction he was heading.

We went up 3 floors, or maybe four and found the RenFe station then found out where all the platforms are (not making that mistake again), before finding a café for something to keep us going until dinner. This is Spain, the home of jamon and quesa bocadillos, and excellent coffee but even for a railway café this was the worst we have ever tried.

Soon we were able to head off to Platform 18 (at the far end of course) where the X-ray and ticket scan was on the platform itself rather than at the restriction of the entrance to the platform. This had a security chap dashing after a woman who had not put her handbag through the X-ray. A bit more thought needed there.

And thus we were ensconced in Car 5 Seats 3A and B for the one hour trip to Valladolid. The trip was entirely uneventful as I slept most of the way but luckily was awake when an unintelligible announcement said we were approaching Valladolid. I was certain of the 'Proxima Estacion' part of the announcement but the pronunciation of the town name (Bay-ha-da-lid) bore no relationship to the word as we had been saying or thinking it. It is a good thing there are good visual digital signs so I knew where we were. Margaret was dozing beside me but woke when she heard me fussing about. We grabbed our luggage and rushed off the train but there was not any real reason to rush. Typically the dedicated smokers on board took their opportunity at many of the stops. They would step off as the motion ceased and light up in one fluid movement and then stand there to smoke a full cigarette while the passengers disembarked and later passengers embarked. It seems that the system keeps the two groups apart, a bit like arriving and departing air passengers.

Well this is Valladolid we said to ourselves as we emerged from the station buildings into a bit of a green park. (We didn't bother to correct our internal pronunciation). Margaret had printed out a map before we left home as she knew it was only a short walk to the hotel. She had chosen it for the proximity to the station not the glamour but in fact the Hotel Zentral Parque was a surprise. The Reception and lounge was spacious and the marble clad walls a bit more than we expected. Through the usual check-in routine which by now didn't require a great deal of communication. Just as well as the chap who checked us in had no English beyond 'Hello' and we could not understand any of his Spanish. The other person at the desk made a couple of useful gestures to assist while also dealing with another woman.

Our room on the fourth floor was large and had a lounge area as well as a King size (plus) bed. We pulled out enough things for an overnight stay, checked our internet coverage and emails and then took our cameras out for a walk to the major attraction Margaret had suggested. The Campo Grande park in the middle of town. There were peacocks as well as waterfowl of all kinds including a Black Swan. There was also an aviary that included budgies as well. Made the visiting Aussies feel at home.

After our walk we were feeling hungry but as has often been the case during our Spanish sojourn the kitchen didn't open until 8.30pm. Always too late for us but something we had to get used to. So beers with some nibbles until it was time to go to the restaurant 'La Encina'. We tried to choose from the menu but my attempts to ask the waitress 'Sin Ajo, por favor', whether with Catalonian accent or with Andalusian pronunciation were met with complete confusion. How do you convey the idea of garlic in gesture or mime? In the end we saw 'pollo' in one menu item so Margaret opted for the chicken and I could see 'entrecote y patata' would be steak and chips so that was my choice.

We chose the house 'vino tinto' and also received an appetiser in the form of a small pastry case 'vol au vent' each which was filled with a creamy fish and vegetable mix and bread or 'pan' which is de rigeur.

Margaret's meal was a skewer of chicken breast pices with potato mash and pimiento peppers while mine was a rough old piece of steak but cooked medium rare, with chips and pimientos.

Tarta al quesa (baked cheesecake) with blueberry ice cream rounded off the meal.



Toledo Railway Station
A Peacock in the grounds of the Campo Grande park
Some sort of Duck
Building in the Plaza Zorilla

1 Comment

Judy Crewe:
September 26, 2017
Love the food descriptions. You'll be experts at getting out and about in Spain.
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