From Ghost Town to Hilltop Town

A very peaceful night just outside Belchite. A campervan did turn up but they parked a long way back, which in turn made us wonder whether they knew that the church bells right next to us might be a problem. As it turns out there were no bells between midnight and 8am. Result. 

We decided to head out promptly and so continued our journey, mainly West for the moment. Some more rattly roads, but better than yesterday’s, and great and varied scenery along the way. We then found ourselves on some sensible roads, which in turn led to the major Zaragoza to Madrid Autovia. 

We then had a planned break in a service station, where we checked emails, bought our bread, and topped up our Autogas/GLP. In hot weather we get even more mileage from our refillable gas as we’re not using the heating, and in the meantime the fridge can stay on 24/7, which is particularly important when ice-cream is an essential. 

When we arrived at the service station we notice a few army chaps around, and before long they had completely commandeered the petrol pump area. There must have been a dozen or so trucks, each towing a couple of tanks. They then thundered out and right past us. Quite an unusual experience, and Sophie took a few surreptitious photos and a video for the record. 

Tonight’s stop will be at Medinaceli. This is one of the featured stops in our Aires book, which we haven’t used that much yet, although it has highlighted a few decent aires in the area we’re heading too, so I think it’s going to prove useful. 

En route to Medinaceli, Sophie spotted a couple of distant castles and so we took the mandatory detours. In the first town we came across this way, walking through it felt like what being in some parts of South America might feel like, with the heat, run down houses, and with heads looking around doors at us strangers. I’m not sure if Crocs and safari hats had anything to do with it, but we smiled and offered our “holas”, to those few braving the heat of the middle of the day. 

Finally at Medinaceli, we dutifully parked in the motorhome area of the general grassy carpark that is set on top of a very high hill overlooking rolling hills, with the motorway a long way below, but producing only distant white noise. 

Back on that subject of noise, the van in front was playing some music, but unusually for me the “hard stare” approach actually seemed to have an immediate result, which was handy. Their neighbour had just moved out to the services area behind us and for the 20 minutes or so they took to go through the whole tipping out and topping up routine, they considered it acceptable to also pump out loud music for us all to share. 

I then spent an hour wandering around the area whilst engaged in a business call, leaving Sophie to do the washing, wash her hair, and most importantly, make some nutty chocolates, which like ice-cream are essentials, and by this point had run out. 

Towards the end of my call I noticed some annoying music coming from the service area. This time it was a youngster practicing his very impressive dance moves. Nonetheless, I really don’t like to be subjected to someone else’s taste in music. By this time, a new space had emerged further forward, so we moved into it then went for a walk round the town to relax. 

Compared to the village we’d walked around earlier, we might as well be in a different country. Very smart and affluent, but interesting that every house had bars on the windows. 

We sat in the Plaja Major, or main square as we’d call it, and it was very pleasant. Something we’d seen before over here was children kicking a ball about in a Medieval square and pounding any building they fancied, quite unlike what you’d generally see in France, and this was happening this evening. Not exactly adding to the ambience and enjoyment of this otherwise lovely town. The last time we witnessed this, the football had ended up flying through the church door. As the footballers left, our dancing friend from earlier, clearly out to haunt us, turned up with a lady friend, and it was her turn to try out some of those special moves. 

Thoughts then turned to food so we checked out a few possibles, but nothing was open, then sat on a bench and checked out TripAdvisor. We found a couple of possibles. One was “a la carte”, and not really that good value, and we tend to stick to set menus anyway, and another had a potentially impressive menu, subject to a bit of translation, but they didn’t open until 9pm. Given it was 7pm, this was not really an option. Maybe tomorrow’s lunch?

So our last resort was to raid our final food fallbacks. Last night was the “baked beans plus” meal, which usually signifies we’ve completely run out of food. Somehow, Sophie managed to creatively craft a decent meal out of rice, peas, and a tin of meat balls. Fortunately we also have ice-cream to help fill us up. 

As you can probably tell, we haven’t seen a Lidl for about a week, and I even have all European Lidl stores programmed into my Satnav. This last week we seem to have been in mountains or Spanish wilderness, but there comes a time when we can bear it no longer, and we have a Lidl in sight for tomorrow in Soria, with a very long shopping list. 

Progress so far (travelling East):

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