June 11th, 2018 – Madrid, Spain to Madrid, Spain: ~180 miles
Vy and I do our best Quixote impressions.
Did you miss Day 9? Portugal tries to smother us with rain, so we go back to the welcoming arms of Spain.
Our detour from northern Portugal meant we could spare an extra day in Central Spain, and that was ideal as staying local would also give us the best chance to avoid rain for the rest of the trip. We decided to do a loop and stay in our same hotel tonight, so we ditched the side bags (but kept the trunk as a backrest for Vy) and headed south. After an hour we had arrived at the city of Toledo, which is also known as “The City of the Three Cultures” as it has heavy influences from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. We started our visit on the southern side of town across the Tagus river. This spot is known as the Mirador del Valle (Viewpoint of the Valley), and it was an excellent place to take the city in from.
Toledo is known for a few things – it was formerly the capital of the Visigothic kingdom, it is where El Greco created his best known works [thanks to Thierry Roullier for the correction in the comments], and it’s also the nearest city to the windmills famously known as the villians of Don Quixote. In the city is a statue of Don Quixote’s author, Miguel de Cervantes. Baby Jack tried to sneak a peek in the book.
Toledo is also well known for its marzipan, a delicious combination of almonds, honey, and sugar. The connection is so strong that “Marizpan de Toledo” is a protected designation of origination in the European Union – just like Cognac and Champagne for the libations and Gorgonzola for the cheese. One of the most famous shops in the city is Santo Tomé, which makes 40 tons of marzipan a year!
Also in Toledo was an interesting motorcycle I’ve never seen before – the Yamaha Tricker. Also known as the XG250, it features a 249cc single-cylinder engine that produces 19 horsepower in a package that’s designed for in-town battle with tall seating, wide bars, ample suspension, and a 1.6 gallon tank.
45 minutes southeast of Toledo is what I had been looking forward to all day – the town of Consuegra. Here we found 12 windmills on the top of a hill, each of which has a name from the book…plus a bonus castle.
“Caballero del verde gaban” (Gentleman in the green overcoat) is actually a highly-acclaimed restaurant – unfortunately that day they were only open from 8pm-2am! We weren’t going to stick around for that, but I know what I’ll be planning for if I ever come back…
Whenever Vy and I hit the road, we have to grab one wheelie photo because I’m immature and need to feed the social media machine. I thought the windmills would make for an awesome backdrop for this trip’s wheelie shot.
A stop for fuel meant that Vy and I had to continue our quest for chip flavors that weren’t available in the US. We struck out this time, but I was amused by the Spanish version of Cool Ranch: “Cool Cream Cheese”. I find the latter much less appetizing.
We got back into Madrid and explored on foot. I ended up taking lots of motorcycle photos, many of which are included in a separate album I created of my favorite vehicles from this trip. I’ll do a separate Picture Intermission with this album later. One of my sightings in Madrid was the Benelli TRK502 – a bike that wasn’t available in the US at the time. However, they’re going to be having a small launch event for press in the next few weeks so I’ll hopefully be able to share my thoughts on it with you soon!
Vy’s Lonely Planet recommended that we get dinner at La Finca de Susana because it’s “difficult to find a better combination of price, quality cooking and classy atmosphere” in Huertas, the neighborhood we were walking in. Paella, please!
Back in February of 2014, workers at a Coca-Cola bottling plant began a strike in response to the company’s plan to relocate production to a cheaper city. Their battle cry was “If Madrid doesn’t make it, Madrid won’t consume it.” The strike lasted over four years, and Coca-Cola ended up shutting down the plant in late 2018 to the tune of 112 million euros (most of the costs were said to be severance packages).
It was a meat lovers paradise, full of what Spain claims is the finest ham in the world: Jamón Ibérico. The legs (which are full of fat) are typically prepped by being packed in sea salt and then hung to dry age for at least two years. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is even fancier, and it specifically comes from pigs that spend the last 3-4 months feasting on up to 22 pounds of acorns a day – they double in weight during those last few months. The Bellota (which means “acorn”) classification of ham dry ages for four years! It’s all quite impressive, though the hoof does make it a little less appetizing to me.
Tio Pepe (or “Uncle Pepe”) is a brand of Spanish Sherry. I know nothing about it, I just liked this sign at the Puerta del Sol public square. This plaza is the center of the Spanish roadway system and where their New Year’s celebration is broadcast from.