As it has been for the last two trips, our trip to the Montreal airport was a rainy situation. Not a big deal if your doing a “regular” trip. Well, we don’t do “regular”. As some of you may know, our yearly sojourn to Siguënza includes biking. So, in addition to normal packing, we must bring everything we need for riding. That also means packing our rigs in boxes – cardboard boxes. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even bother to check the weather and simply wrap all four giant-boxes in modified garbage bags. Someday we will have real bike-transport boxes…
After last year’s expired passport debacle, this trip seemed like a piece of cake. What could possibly go wrong? Bad luck to ask right? The flights were without incident. I guess you could call it a “red-eye” flight as we departed just before dinner. Sleep or no sleep on the plane? Spain is 6 hours ahead of New York, which makes jet-lag a factor. Add the Spanish-schedule – wake late, main meal at 2pm, afternoon Merienda (snack), “dinner” at 10pm, and then straight to bed, and one really has to wonder what the proper adjustment should be. I don’t know if I should feel hungry or drink a beer. A sidenote about Air Canada: No complaints, food could be better, but complimentary wine is not bad.
Our final approach into Madrid revealed the harsh, desert-like environment which I have come to associate with Spain. Very much like Southern Califonia, just more dry and HOT. Did I mention luck? Our bikes missed the connection in Toronto. Me, in vacation-mode, refused to get perturbed. This is not the first-time we’ve lost luggage or bikes. The bikes were to be on the next flight and should arrive next-day. My in-laws are used to “the crazy American clan” arrival logistics and mobilized for pick-up and took this development in-stride. We headed straight to Siguënza, leaving the bike situation in the hands of my brother-in-law (what a guy!). He would grab them from the airport and deliver to us next-day.
Ever since my first trip many years ago, I’ve come to accept the fact that as “the man” I would be driving. The first-time, I’m like “what the hell?”, you want me to drive in Madrid?! All the signs are indecipherable, traffic is chaotic, and speeds are high. Well, things did improve a bit lately – less drunk-driving, standardized traffic rules (the EU did have some benefits), and better roads. My mother-in-law’s ancient Peugot 505 seemed faster given the recent Le Man’s victory. It seemed people did not look at us with derision (more on Spanish consumption and lifestyle later). Our plan was to eat on the road on-the-way at the Ciento Tres (103), located at Kilometer 103 of the A-2 out of Madrid just before the Siguënza exit. This semi-famous restaurant has been around for long-time and is known for its Bocadillos (little sandwiches). The clientele are mostly travelers, truckers, and cops. I decided to start drinking and left the rest of the drive to someone else.
Arriving in Siguënza was typical – everyone fight to to be the “first” to see the Castillo (castle). Siguënza happens to be on a hill in a valley. Nothing is flat. A mountain-goat’s terrain. Our swollen feet and lethargy required a walk. I suggested a “war-walk” (pedestrian verson of wardriving) of the village to seek out a free wi-fi connection. My mother-in-law’s house is located on a section of town just outside of the main village call Los Hoteles (the hotels). Siguënza is a 12th century medieval village and also a religious center of the area. This neighborhood was the traditonal location of guest-houses for pilgrims visiting the area. The last few years had seen much development (condos!), and I had hoped that some fancy neighbor might have an unsecured router in the vicinity. What a dream! Nada, zip, zilch.
Our first-stop was the Tourist Information office to ask. I’m such a tourism-dork. The lady was quite helpful in suggesting possible location where I might poach some bandwidth. So, with her direction, we began the war-walk. Picture me leading the group through the village with my netbook and Network Stumbler seeking a signal. The Bar Don Rodrigo advertised “internet”, but I think their clientele has changed recently and providing wi-fi was obviously not a priority. (This is putting it nicely.)
So, walking up the hill to the strategically placed and renovated castle, we passed “the library”. Ha, not exactly what you’d expect. I found a strong unsecured signal, but no joy. Onward. Well, as I had expected the Parador at the castle had free public wi-fi. Good, but at the top of the hill?! Damn, that’s going to hurt after a day’s worth of biking.
Speaking of bikes, they arrived on Saturday with no problem. Well, except for the wrong-sized pedals for the trail-a-bike. Looks like the small one will have to wait till Monday when the only “bike shop” in town is open.
We had a nice lunch/dinner with my brother-in-law’s family Saturday followed by our traditional walk in “El Pinar” (the Pines – Yo Mouse!). Beautiful day! Oh, I forgot to mention our shopping trip to the weekly “mercadillo” (little market). It’s sort of a Farmer’s Market + Dollar Store. Very weird as all the junk merchants are Middle-eastern. The produce and fruit kick ass. After the walk, it was down to “El Alameda” (The park where everyone strolls). We alway hang-out for drinks and freshly fried churros (Spanish donuts).
Sunday, today, we did a hilly ride to the highest point of the area where the radio/cell towers are located. A killer grind which I would not do pulling the trail-a-bike. I may like pain, but I’m not “estupido”. Now, I’m drinking beer in the castle so the waiter doesn’t get pissed while I poach their connection. The crappy signal is impeding picture uploads… but I’ll try.
Well, those are not all the pictures I wanted to post because I’m having uploading “issues”. But we can’t afford any more Coca Colas or Beer in the castle, and the waiter keeps looking at us. So, I’ll try again later, and hit “publish” for now.