Well, that was Salas for us. Still had not had a decent long ride due to slightly unstable weather, but today was going to be a long day no matter what. Even the direct route would be four and a half hours. But with finally a very promising forecast we were looking forward to a more indirect route. Mountain passes even!
We really enjoyed our time in Asturias and despite the not unusual wet weather we saw a bit of the area. We liked the little towns and villages the green hills and quiet roads. We also liked the architecture, the food and the general lack of mass tourism, mainly reflected in hardly anyone speaking any English at all. We really felt like we were in a different place altogether.
Had a quick breakfast in our room with a self-made ham and cheese roll, the ingredients we had bought in Oviedo the day before. Cheap, tasty and just better than the hotel breakfast to be honest. Thought we’d skip the coffee and get out on the road instead.
Left at 9am and rode East first towards Oviedo on a twisty N-road before turning South at Trubia to head into the Parque Natural Las Ubiñas-La Mesa. The sun was shining and had cleared all the fog by now as we wound our way deeper into the mountains on a nice little road. We learned from our mistake and always check Google Street View before plotting any route on smaller roads.
The deeper we went the more dramatic the views. The good road surface made cornering a piece of cake. We only climbed very gradually even as we turned off to head up to the pass. The gorge around Paramo was breathtaking! Cheddar Gorge on steroids. Absolutely amazing!
Short few minutes break letting off some adrenalin induced steam as we excitedly chatted about the amazing ride so far. Without the intercom we had to do it old school and have a chat about our experience afterwards. By now I had also come up with some signs to signal the road shape ahead. The wriggling left arm was “twisties”, straight arm with a pointed down wrist and hand was “switchback” and the fist pump was obviously “hell yeah, I nailed that corner”.
Up at the pass at 1587m views both sides with the highest peak well over 2000metres. Wow!!! Stopped at a viewpoint to soak it all in. Ahead of us Castilla y Leon, behind us Asturia. Bye bye beautiful green mountains, hello brown and yellow meseta.
Down the now more eroded road we went with wide views ahead and the mountains in the back mirror. A twisty road with long sweeping corners led us all around a lake and hopefully a cafe at the end, but unfortunately is was very closed. Bummer, no coffee yet.
The scenery had changed from one moment to the next. Gone was the lush green and replaced with more brown and yellow and grey. It felt a lot drier down here. Instead of coffee we opted for petrol just after the next little place. Whilst I was sipping a cold coke an older man approached me, asked where we were going and if we were taking the motorway. I obviously said we weren’t which prompted him to give me detailed instructions on what the most scenic way to Palencia would be, what we could see, where to turn off etc. Bless him. I understood a few words and nodded and smiled amiably whilst he was chatting away.
Once he had basically explained every place and road on our route he continued his journey and we ours after I thanked him with a big smile. Lovely old chap.
Next stop we found on the map was Cistierna pretty much going East from where we were avoiding going through or around Leon. Views to the left were dramatic as we road to the South of the Picos and their surrounding national parks actually.
Had a quick coffee at Cistierna and being in the dead zone for food places between like 11 and 16:00 we had to revert to another self-assembled supermarket sandwich. I swapped my fleece with a thin long sleeve as the temperatures were climbing at last to 23 degrees. Next stop in Sahagun saw me loosing my long sleeve and swapping gloves to the lightest ones. It was now 28 degrees and hot, hot, hot, hot. Our light aerated jackets finally came to their own now.
From Cistierna the last two hours were basically on straight roads. And I mean bang on straight whilst more green was replaced by yellow and brown. We kind of enjoyed this bit even though it got a bit boring after a while. Yet I loved the change in colours and the little villages to the side of the road we never went through, but they all had very old churches and brown brick houses. Would’ve loved to have a look at a couple of those, but we just wanted to arrive now.
Checked in to our hotel in Palencia just before 5pm. Showers and then out for drinks and a wander. Nice little city this, with a good vibe and pedestrianised centre. Had a couple of ice cold pints of San Miguel before hunting for a restaurant. We weren’t in the mood for small plates or tapas. Yet we had to walk for a good half an hour or so to finally be successful. According to Google Maps there were tons of place. Yet most were bars with just snacks. We tried four restaurants of which two no longer existed and the other two were very much shut. Had a look at a Sushi place which was deserted and didn’t look inviting otherwise, so had one more go before reverting to our hotel and got lucky at Los Candiles the Tono.
Shared some grilled meat with chips which was fantastically seasoned and had quite a strong taste, like it had been aged for a bit longer. Then a plate of iberico ham, chorizo, fried egg and chips, also very good. Happy and stuffed we wobbled back to the hotel after a fantastic day!
202 miles from Salas to Palencia