The drive from Burgos to Madrid along the A1 was far more enjoyable than we had imagined.
Leaving Burgos we found ourselves gliding through wide open countryside, like an endless Monet canvass of muted hues underpinned by the Iron red earth.
In patches the soil was a sensitive pink, the colour of cooked Prawns, waiting to be tanned dark ochre by the summer sunshine.
We passed vine yard’s with studded rows of gnarled twisted vines, black like used pipe cleaners. These were strapped into the landscape by red dirt roads that kicked up dust in the breeze.
For a while the road skimmed across the top of a Forest where large scabs of rock split the green with slabs of grey.
In places there were flowering trees like puffs of smoke, Candy floss pink, Soapsud white or occasionally, acid yellow which decorated the landscape with their fresh spring buds and in the distance, the fog grey of the hills were spiked with the crucifix shapes of wind turbines.
The gift that keeps on giving.
We passed an extremely large flock of sheep whose fleece’s were burnished peroxide blond by the Spring sunshine.
They were on the move but their destination seemed random.
They moved not as individuals but as a group, one organism neither leading nor following, yet serving both roles at once. In their midst an old Shepard, waist deep in fluff like he was wading in the foamy surf, seemed to agitate the group into pursuing one direction without any obvious signals.
Over head large bird’s circled in gang’s like vultures waiting to swoop on any poor traveler unfortunate enough to break down.
In the distance the black shape of a huge fighting bull stood framed against the formidable mass of the Sierra Guadarrama mountain range which sat menacingly in our path, slashed vertically by a white icing of snow, they posed a vague threat against the milky blue sky.
Yet the road found it’s Achilles Heel and slipped quietly through a chink in it’s armour allowing us to pass right though them without having to go over the top.
Once through the tunnel at the peak we stopped in a Servicio for refreshments.
Armed with my newly acquired linguistic skills I set off to get some take away coffee in our new thermal cups.
On entering the Cafe I approached a very bored Barista was watching soap’s with the sound turned down.
“Hola,dos cafe con leche Por favor” seemed easily within my remit, but I then fell foul of my high standards by saying.
“To take away please Mate.”
Those of you who have followed our exploits in the past will know my attempts at speaking ‘in foreign tongues’ has been my undoing and I wasn’t about to let my batting aver ages slip.
Fresh from that humiliation I was able to use the Gents Loo’s despite the lack of soap and any means of drying your hands, which seems to be an issue of epidemic proportions here in Spain.
Poor old Jaki couldn’t get to use the ladies as some one had very kindly pee’d all over the seat.
Suitably refreshed we set of down the south side where the road surface deteriorated badly. The road was so pitted and pot holed that the whole van shook and rattled causing the Sat Nav to drop off it’s stand onto the floor.
The surrounding countryside became scrubby with scattered boulders like breadcrumbs after a picnic. It was far more like the Spain I knew.
Once we got back on level ground the road Improved and so did the scenery but it never really captured the beauty of the Northern side.
We made our way through Madrid and encountered our first toll road on the M12 but at €1.25 it wasn’t too painful.
We found our campsite ‘Camping International Aranjuez’ and checked in.
They gave us a map of the site and advised there were 3 different sized pitches. The map had a black dot on all the available pitches and we could choose which one we wanted then come back and pay.
After close inspection, the first one we chose had a black dot so we moved.
The next 3 had reverse polarity on the electrics and our newly purchased Gizmo told us these weren’t to be trusted but it didn’t say what we were supposed to do now that we had identified this hazard.
We eventually found a pitch that had both the Sun and safe Electrics so I set off to reception to pay and Jaki set up camp.
Unfortunately I should never have trusted Jaki with the map and no glasses, so it was no surprise to learn this new pitch was already booked.
Eventually we resolved the issues found a suitable site that wasn’t going to fry us during the night, paid up and bought a weeks Wifi at €15 euro’s.
In need of a Pee, I set off to find the toilet block which wasn’t too far away but as in all good adventures, there was a twist in the tail.
The gender of the toilet blocks are playfully advertised with the cute Logo of a Frog.
Unfortunately unless you are proficient in identifying the genitalia of reptiles, the ladies and gents blocks remain a mystery and as usual I chose the wrong one, ending up the wrong side of the female frog’s door.