Thursday, 15 December 2011

Spain 2011, Chinchón

Although we had stayed in Chinchón before this didn’t help us pinpoint the location of the hotel which was hidden away in the warren of tiny backstreets at the back of the town. It took some finding and when we did, the door was locked, there was no sign of life and a queue of people waiting to book in. Eventually someone arrived and it was just coincidence that all of tonight’s guests had arrived at exactly the same time. It had been difficult finding accommodation in Chinchón so I was a bit nervous about the Casa Rural La Graja but it turned out that that had been unnecessary because we were shown to an excellent room with a balcony that looked out over the street and for the first time there was blue sky.

This was good news because so far today the weather had been pretty awful and it had been a longer drive than I had estimated so it was nice to be able to get out into the streets and make our way down to the Plaza Mayor at the lowest level of the town. We walked past the fifteenth century church of Nuestra Señora de la Ascunción where there were preparations for a big wedding with a lot of guests so perhaps that explained the squeeze on hotel accommodation this weekend.

It was warm when the sun shone through the clouds but the sky was full of dramatic movement and shifting cloud formations as it changed constantly from sunshine to billowing white clouds to ashen grey smears of rain cloud and then back again. We sat at a café outside and toughed it out but when the sun went away I had to agree with Kim that it was really a bit cooler than we really like it so we drank up quickly and performed a circuit of the plaza to choose a restaurant for later on. We would have liked one with a balcony overlooking the square but that was going to be optimistic because unless there was going to be a dramatic late improvement the weather was clearly not going to be suitable for al fresco dining this evening. We found one we liked, approved the menu and the prices and agreed that we return there later.

Leaving the square we walked back to the church stopping on the way to look back and admire the views over the countryside as it stretched away south all the way back to where we had started out this morning and then we threaded our way through the narrow streets and back to the hotel. It was such a nice hotel that we wanted to enjoy the sunny courtyard and the excellent room for an hour or so before going out for dinner.

The restaurant turned out to be an excellent choice and even though they were expecting a large party they made room for us and although as predicted we couldn’t sit outside we dined near the window which was the next best thing and we enjoyed an excellent final meal. We didn’t stay out late because we had an early start in the morning because we had to be at the airport at nine o’clock and bearing in mind the traffic problems we had last time we flew out from Madrid my plan was to be generous with the time allowed for getting us there with no last minute dramas.

After the poor weather the previous day we should have been able to correctly predict that it would be excellent this morning and so it was when we woke early and opened the shutters to check. It didn’t take us long to get ready and we were quickly out of the hotel and on the final leg of our journey back to the airport.

It was Sunday so there wasn’t any of the traffic problems that I had feared but we did seem to go the long way round to the airport and through a number of confusing motorway junctions and it seemed to take a long time to get there so it was just as well that I had factored in the extra minutes. Madrid Barajas is a large airport, the fourth biggest in Europe (after London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Frankfurt) and the eleventh busiest in the World so it takes some time to get there, refuel and return the car and get to the correct departure lounge.

While we waited for the flight we reflected on the week and how much we had enjoyed Extremadura and the cities of Cáceres, Mérida and Trujillo and then Almagro in Castilla-La Mancha and we leafed through the pages of the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Travel guide to Spain and wondered where we might go next?

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