A 5 day cycle through Roman, medieval and Moorish villages, a visit to a world heritage site and a couple of days in Madrid. Mountains, pine forests, rolling plains and dusty hills. Flights £60, bikes £60 accommodation £30 max a night. All the photos , and the map and the original plan

El Escorial de San Lorenzo

Day 1+2 Edinburgh to Madrid Sat 26th +Sun


Gordon and Brian’s car breaks down on the way to airport so they run for the bus. Easyjet £30 flight leaves Edinburgh on time at 17:05 arrive Madrid 21:15. A €2 ticket takes us into the entre of Madrid and its a short walk to the Hostal La Macarena for €189 a night in centre of Madrid right off the Plaza Mayor (main square). Next day meet Paula at 10, watch Madrid marathon, go to Irish bar to see Rangers – Celtic, visit Botanic gardens, see Velasquez, Goya and others for free in Prada Museum. In the evening Russell goes to Real Madrid game, Gordon got sunstroke (waiting in queue for 3 hours with Russell) and the others watch game in bar.

Day 3 Cercedilla to Segovia 30 miles Mon 28th

Pick up bikes from Bravobikes who give us lift into the mountains. Up and up we went towards the snow line . Very, very cold and Raymond used socks as gloves. First 12 km 600m uphill as this terrain guide shows .At the top of the mountain we followed the road down and down but were actually going back on ourselves. Luckily (?) the road ended abruptly on a cliff but we had went five miles downhill in the wrong direction.

After we got back to the top of the mountain we travelled to Segovia via the old Roman road down through village of Valsain which had its own bullring and where Russell got the only puncture of the tour. In Segovia we went under the 2000 year old Roman aqueduct, up into the old town to stay in Hotel Sirenas for €132. Our evening meal was lasagne nouvelle cuisine style in a bar off Plaza Mayor while the locals sang opera or dressed up the groom as a Scotsman for his stag night.

Day 4 Segovia to Arevalo 50 miles Tue

The wind was in our face today so we took the CL605 main road out of Segovia as far as Santa Maria. Gordon carried on to Arevalo while we all went ot Coca castle. We arrived in the medieval town of Arévalo late in the afternoon. Walked by churches of La Lugareja (just outside village), San Martin and Santa Maria all of which are notable for Mudejar Art . The village itself is quite interesting as it has changed little since the 17th century. Only three hotels in this small town and we stayed in Hotel Fray Juan Gil at €55 a room. Watched Man Utd game in bar at night where wine only €3.

Day 5 Arevalo to Ávila 34 miles Wed

An initial cycle through a pine forest and then a stop for sausage rolls in Hermansancho. In the afternoon we arrive in Avila the provincial capital and a world heritage site with its city walls and many religious buildings. Excellent roasts and the famous veal T-bone steak are famous here as well as cakes and pastries, especially the renowned “yemas de Santa Teresa” (a sweet made with egg yolk and sugar). Raymond tried the local delicacy of cochinillo ( suckling pig). Stayed in converted synagogue Hospederia de La Sinagoga for €164 in the heart of the city next to Cathedral. This is the fourth best rated hotel in Avila. Best evening of the trip as we toured the bars just outside the city wall.

Day 6 Avila to Cebreros 25 miles Thu 1st May

This was the best day for us all. Up into mountains to Cebreros. On the way we came across a village in a valley where all the locals turned out for may Day celebrations. We were the only outsiders present. Arrived at Hotel Dracos for €145 a night. Soon tucked into their menu de case which had three courses and wine for €10. Then in the evening we tried some more of the local cuisine at €10 including “Patatas revolconas” (a potato dish with bacon, paprika, peppers and onions)

Day 7 Cebreros to El Escorial 30 miles Fri 2 May

Another day of mountains, a day too far for some. Passed European Space Agency deep space telescope. Had the garlic soup at the top of the mountain while Raymond, Brian and Gordon got the train. El Escorial is the burial place of the kings of Spain and the site we should see here is the monastry. Get Bravo bikes to pick us up and take us back to Madrid. Booked into Hostal La Macarena for €189 a night in centre of Madrid right off Plaza mayor (main square). When we arrived we were put in different rooms with no fans. Took a lot of complaining to get one from management. At night we met Paula , went for a curry and watched the 2 May celebrations where marching military bands passed our restaurant as they left Plaza Mayor.

Day 8 Madrid Sat 3 May

The day of arguments. In Madrid the tourists appear to be rich pickings. Two of us went out for breakfast to two different venues and neither got change when we paid for the bill. Waiters treated us as if we were invisible once they had our money. Andy went to the tourist office to ask about the lack of air conditioning as the hotel had advertised but not provided. Nothing could be done. On hos return to the hotel he discovered that the hotel now wanted cash for the room. The tourist office again advised nothing could be done. Negotiations with the manger got a solution of phoning the bank to authorise credit card payment. As this was on one of the biggest days for Madrid and the hotels were full we decided not to press the case about air conditioning.

Then it was onto the tour bus. First bus had two seats where the earphones didn’t work. The second bus had no earphones working anywhere on the bus. We then got off at the Bernabeu to get the excellent tour. Onour return to the bus stop we waited 90 minutes before we could get back on a bus. They sold tour tickets for the buses but didn’t match them to the number of available buses. The queue was augmented by hangers on who didn’t queue but hung around. Worst was some Spanish guy and his girlfriend who took a great interest in the bus shelter advert at the top of the bus shelter, only to stay at the head of the queue once reading it. The bus pulled up and there were only a few places. The lurker pushed forward only to be met by Raymond’s arm. In the ensuing shouting match the Spanish guy said he didn’t care about the queue or the others and a head to head nose to nose encounter ensued. Raymond stood his ground and the guy stood his. For 30 minutes we stood like we were in a lift. During the commotion the bus driver decided no-one was getting on his bus and drove off. All the other lurkers suddenly decided to queue so a minor victory was achieved.

When the next bus arrived we all got on only to find the commentary wasn’t working again. The last straw. Raymond demanded our money back which we got. The we went shopping before a short walk to the Irish bar. It would have been a short walk but then Andy decided on a short cut. 20 minutes later they arrived.

At night it was back to Sol to try out some bars. The first brew pub bar we went to charged 13.5 Euros for a litre but 3.75 Euros for 0.4 a litre Another argument that ended with the manager reducing the drinks to 10 euros.

Day 9 Madrid to Edinburgh Sun 4 May

Hangovers an early departure to airport and a delayed flight which leaves 90 minutes late. Raymond falls asleep nearly missing flight

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