20 May 2010 – On to Cambados

Although I don’t eat much of a breakfast at home, I judge hotels in large measure by the quality of their breakfast buffet.  I’m sorry to say that the Salamanca Parador does not meet the same standards as the other Paradors for breakfast. It ws possible to get fried or scrambled eggs, but an omelet with ham, cheese, or mushrooms was not available. There were not as many other breakfast selections, either. We met a couple from Wales who were touring Paradors for the first time, after many years of touring in a caravan, or trailer home. 

I was so irritated by the lack of decent map of Salamanca that I left a critique sheet, which listed four items, 1) No ingredients for omelets, 2) Overdone pork chops at lunch, 3) They were too long answering the telephone and mainly 4) They should provide decent tourist maps, even if they have to buy them. I did start out by saying that the staff was excellent. I felt I was making constructive comments. I hope they feel that way, too! There was a travel association meeting beginning at the hotel as we left. I wonder if they would have any of the same complaints. 

In planning our trip, one of our desired destinations was Santiago de Compostela, for reasons I’ll explain later, but the Parador there was booked for our dates, so we chose the Cambados Parador, not only because it was close by, but it was on the western coast of

A Romanesque Church in Zamora

Spain, and we wanted to experience that.  We set Miss Nüvi for the Cambados Parador and found ourselves on the way to an intermediate destination, Zamora, a 12th – 13th century Romanesque town. We muted Miss Nüvi as we approached Zamora, so we couldn’t hear her attempts to keep us on track, and drove into the old part of town and saw several of the more than a dozen old churches still standing. They were quite wonderful. We then unmuted our GPS and it showed how to get out of town and we were on our way again. As I was driving, I made a wonderful discovery. Our Mercedes has two speed control modes, “speed limit”, and “cruise control”. Cruise control works the same as on any car I have driven before, which means that it will maintain your speed, and allow you to go faster, but to slow down you have to disengage it, and then reengage it to get back into speed control. For years I have told people when the subject came up (which is not that often), that this was all wrong, and not safe. It tempts you to drive faster into corners than you should, and sometimes causes tailgating, because you are hoping you will not have to take it out of speed control. The “speed limit” mode is what I think all cars need. You can set your top speed to whatever you want, and press the accelerator as much as you want. You will never go faster than what you set, and you can slow down with no fuss or bother. It was wonderful to use. It is stress-free driving because you never have to check to see if you are going too fast. My proposed version allows you to go faster by pressing extra hard, but what we have here is fine. 

Along the way we saw snow capped mountains, many windmills, on mountain ridges, and

A Hostel in the Middle of Nowhere

 acres of photovoltaic systems. We drove for long distances without seeing a house, human, or animal, across flat country and through hills and valleys. We began to get hungry, and wondered when we would see some food. We passed several exits without seeing a fork and spoon sign, but finally we came to one, turned off, and found a Portilla de la Canda Hostel, which seemed like a pub out in the middle of nowhere. Nothing was in English, so we took our best shot, Salchichon, which was sliced sausage, and Lomo-plancho, grilled pork. There were no condiments in sight, and we didn’t bother to ask. We did meet a traveling group from York, England, and a Dutch couple, all on holiday. We were happily driving on A52, and suddenly we found ourselves taking an exit, and our GPS was busy recalculating, which means we had made a mistake. We tried to follow her directions back, but missed a couple of other turns as well, so we were feeling pretty stupid. Eventually we did find our way back to A52, driving on a part of the road we had traveled on before. That was OK, except we took the same wrong exit AGAIN. Talk about feeling stupid. This time we followed Miss Nüvi’s directions very carefully and arrived at the entrance ramp to A52, and found it was closed for construction. Arrgh. There was a worker who told us to take N120 north, which we did, and after quite a long drive, which we could not locate on the map, we came to A52 one more time, this time well beyond the mystery exit. I would sure like to know why that exit was so easy to take in error, but we were not going back to find out. 

The Cambados Waterfront

As we approached the coast, the terrain got more interesting, and we crossed a number of fjords, and drove along the water for a while. We had to pass through Pontevedra on the way, and found ourselves making a least 20 turns, left and right, to get through town. It was hard to believe that this was the best way to go. We at last began to see signs for Cambados, and then the Parador,

Evening in Cambados

and we arrived quite a bit later than planned but in plenty of time for a walk through town and along the waterfront, a drink in the hotel’s picturesque patio, and dinner. I chose their local white wine and it was sweeter than most, but excellent. Because of good experiences at other Paradors, we chose their suggested menu and it was wonderful, as expected. Tomorrow we head for the short drive to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral and learn more about the historical pilgrimages to this town.

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