Sunday 3 January 2010

Off Road Adventures

We bid farewell this morning to our host family as they left the driving rain of Spain and returned to the sleet and snow of England. Faced with the prospect of staying at the house with Spanish television or venturing out on our own we decided to explore the countryside around Huelva. After suitable perusal of the travel guides we decided to head east to the small town of Niebla to explore its walls and towers. We were not disappointed and although the rain meant we did a driving tour, the roads were deserted leading Sebastian to remark that the town had obviously been abandoned. Not true as I believe the many beautifully tiled homes were occupied but like us everyone was staying indoors and out of the rain.

We had 2 unsuccessful attempts at trying to find a place to grab a bite to eat and made a spur of the moment decision to head for La Palma del Condado. After one hair raising experience with a toilet at a petrol station we found ourselves at this breathtaking town, a centre of Spanish wine production. The rain lifted long enough for us to have a walk around the town square admiring the beautiful church, narrow lanes and gorgeous homes. At this point we ducked into La Agencia for lunch which is so far my favourite part of the trip.

No one spoke any English. They didn't even have a menu with bad English translations. The waiter did his best and everyone was so friendly. Sebastian managed an hysterical conversation about football (go Chelsea!) and Abigail wants to know why everyone keeps petting her head of blonde hair. The children had some fabulous chicken. I had a wonderful steak in gravy but Marc wins the grand prize for the most spectacular tapas choices ever. I couldn't even begin to tell you what it all was but we wanted more!

We had one last stop to make. We had seen a sign directing us to a site of archeological importance, Dolmen de soto, which should be a burial mound or possibly a plinth like those found at Carnac. We decided to investigate and turned off the main road or rather what looked for all intents and purposes to be the road. The road was marred by larger and larger pot holes. At one point we were crossing a bridge that I'm not entirely sure really was a bridge. And there were holes in that. I had visions of ringing the hire car company and having to explain (in Spanish) why their hire car was stuck in in a hole. I am certain that the alignment of the steering will never be the same.

The good news is we found the site. The bad news is despite a large visitor centre being evident the site was closed off. A large hole in the fence provided a few Spaniards entrance but we decided not to risk it not wanting to fall foul of the legalities of trespassing and returned to our car never having seen the attraction. Still not even sure what it was we were looking for.

The day was filled with adventures big and small (trying to purchase laundry soap at a petrol station) and by the time we returned to our home we were all shattered!

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