We were pleasantly surprised to wake after having an almost perfect night’s sleep. I say “almost”, because our only disturbance was from a fellow motorhome, of Spanish origin, arriving in the ridiculously early hours. It first manoeuvred behind us, then after a walk around followed by a slammed door, they decided to park right in front of us, followed by another walk around to check and another slammed door. If I’m going to be charitable, there were no loud voices or music or shouting children, which can happen. So, other than that very brief interruption to our sleep, there were none of the boy racers or loving couples arriving at antisocial times, with the obligatory loud music.
The old town was literally only a five minute walk away and I know that because Sophie made me prove it to her. One essential feature of Maps.me, one of our very favourite apps, that works offline, is that you can simply select a point on the map and it’ll tell you the time it’ll take to get there, by foot or driving. It’ll then guide you there, and back.
The town has a couple of lovely sites to see, including the castle, and if you’re passing, or need an overnight spot, or both, then you might want to consider it.
Today’s mission was more straightforward than yesterday’s. We were going to head for Segovia, then Avila, and take it from there. A couple of days previous I’d originally suggested a decent parking spot to visit Segovia, but Sophie was very clear that she didn’t want to visit a big town. Fine with me. However, seeing the attractive town from the distance, she changed her mind, so the town parking was back on the agenda.
After the obligatory drive past the Disney-inspiring Germanic looking castle & a few hurried photos through the windscreen, we then sought out the carpark. Being a sunny Saturday, it came as no surprise that the parking was packed, and after having seen the steepness of the climb up to the town from here, we were both actually relieved.
We were then directed past the famous Roman aquaduct and my next mission was to topup with LPG as I knee that this was available at a garage in town. En route I saw another fuel station that sold it too, but logistically it didn’t look too practical, so we drove through, in the knowledge that there was another source of this essential fuel for us coming up. As it happened, recent and ongoing major road developments appeared to have swallowed up my original LPG garage, so we’d now be topping up somewhere else. No problem as we never leave it to the last minute before getting gassed-up.
If it weren’t for a relative’s great advice (thank you Uncle George 😉), I’d have been all for staying on my chosen mission of just ticking Segovia off my list and then heading immediately South-West so as to take control of this journey which seems to have developed a mind of its own. As it happened, because I was advised that this would only be a 5km diversion, I took the risk of straying to visit the Real Sitio de San Ildefonso at La Granja.
It turned out to be a wise move. San Ildefonso (I’ll admit to being confused as to what this town is called), is the site of a most remarkable royal palace (Palacio de la Granja), with its very ornate and extensive gardens. You can pay to visit the inside of the palace, but the very impressive gardens are free. You have probably worked out what we did. This is arguably one of the most impressive palaces we have ever seen (from the outside), and would definitely recommend a detour to go there. The old town with its multiple bars and alfresco eating, which you’ll walk through to get to the palace, is also very pleasant.
There’s also good motorhome parking, courtesy of Park4night, but on this occasion we took the “monkey see, monkey do” approach and found some even closer, but still legitimate, parking that plenty of other visitors were using, albeit there was not one other motorhome in town that day.
Our next push towards Avila required us to go back through Segovia. Not being one to avoid a challenge, I’d mentally worked out how I could overcome the logistics of getting my GPL from the first Segovia garage I’d visited earlier. As it happened, on arrival I realised that the gas pump had nozzles on both sides, and it was a piece of cake. €5.50 later and the LPG was fully replenished. This very cheap fuel runs the fridge, heating, water heating, hob and cooker. We never skimp on any of this, and it will likely last a couple of weeks, but we’ll no doubt bung another fiver’s worth in to topup in around 10 days time.
We then had a very pleasant drive to Avila, where the circus had come to town. Unusually, it has not taken over the motorhome parking, but is alongside, so this would not be a peaceful stop at all. Also, one errant van in the corner is not playing ball and will likely be rowdy. Anyway, the remarkable and extensive fortified walls of Avila, the likes of which we have never seen, and I have been forced to see an awful lot, can now be ticked off. A visit on foot will not be required. Maybe that’s a big mistake, but we’re tired and hot and so we’re off.
As a finale for this part of the trip, I was planning on visiting Salamanca, which I’ve always wanted to see. However, it’s another 100km exactly, we’ve had enough of towns, people, and big roads, and a quick check has shown me that we’ve just strayed into Dorling Kindersley’s Back Roads Spain territory. So, Salamanca will be put off to another day, possibly on our journey North, after Portugal, and we will join ”Drive 14: The Spine of Castile”.
This will take us into the mountains and valleys and the peace and quiet we crave. Being practical about these things, I consulted Park4night as to where in these parts I could empty the toilet cassette. We therefore set course for Villanueva de Avila, and before long we were in the quieter hills and less busy roads.
I was hoping to find a viewing point with parking, sufficiently set off from the road, that might serve us for the night, but there were no “official” Park4nights along the way. We did find such a carpark though, serving a tiny chapel, with fresh running water, and we have in fact created a new Park4night. The mountain views are excellent, it’s very peaceful, despite the nearby minor road, and there don’t appear to be many people joining us to admire the view. So we’re optimistic of a great overnight stop.