To Zamora, another way - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

October 8, 2019

To Zamora, another way

We walk out into the plaza early this morning in search of morning coffee.  Our hotel will offer it, but not until 8:30; and imagining the uninspired slab of dry bread and tiny croissant that accompanied it yesterday doesn’t inspire us to repeat it today.  We hopefully walk over to La Colegiata, a bar restaurante that advertises desayuno.  It looks dark down there at the end of the street, but Google Maps promised that it opens at 7, and it’s 7:45 now.

Google Maps let’s us down again.  Pitch dark and obviously not open, but apparently opening soon.  Three guys chatting outside tell us ocho, so we’re at least close.  We’ve got a few minutes to kill, and even though it’s cold out and we didn’t bring coats we decide to stay close by.  We walk over to the overlook above the Douro, evaluate a modest sunrise, and get chased back because of the cold breeze.  Better to stand in front of the church where it’s sheltered, and wait.

At 7:57 a car drives up, a man gets out.  A minute later, two more men walk up.  It’s the same everywhere - the locals know when things open, and show up just at the last minute to queue up at the door.  We chuckle, enjoying watching a small town vignette.

At 8:00 sharp, the bells chime and a light dimly comes on inside La Collegiata.  The queue enters the door, its entryway still dark in the shadows.  We cross the square, enter ourselves, and find guys at the counter, already sipping their drinks.  We walk up to the bar ourselves, ask for a coffee, and receive a puzzled look and then a bit of a glower from the man behind the counter.  It’s not open after all, and he quickly turns off the light to prove his point.  

We walk down the street in the other direction, through the clock tower to the newer part of town, and find the door of Pasteleria el Postre open, its lights convincing on.  I ask the woman at the counter if they’re open.  She shrugs, and then turns around to resume loading loaves of bread into the display cases.  A few minutes later she finishes up, turns back around, smiles and takes our order.  It’s a great little place - good coffee, good pastry, good WiFi.  We hang out for an hour and then head back to the hotel to prepare for the road.

Along the Plaza Major, 9 AM.
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Before leaving Toro, we have two stops planned - the church and the old bridge.  Santa Maria la Mayor Collegiate Church opens its doors at 10, and we roll up minutes after, lock up our bikes and step inside.  Rachael goes in alone at first, because I want to go pose Rodriguez beneath a flag that’s being draped above the square in preparation for some event.

In Plaza de la Colegiata. Something is on tap for today - flags are being draped from balconies, lines with pennants are being strung up above the plaza, trucks drive up with loads of equipment.
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Andrea BrownRodriguez, is that you?
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownYup. Amazing what you can do with cosmetic surgery these days.
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekRodriguez has lost some of his beefy girth.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekYup. I’ve had him on a high carbon fiber diet.
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1 month ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonHar!!
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1 month ago

The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria la Mayor is described as one of the most characteristic examples of transitional Romanesque architecture in Spain.  Modeled after the cathedral in Zamora, which in turn was modeled after the Old Cathedral in Salamanca (we’ll see both in the coming days), it was begun in 1170.  It’s striking inside and out, its walls lined with splendid relief sculptures and other works of art that catch your eye as you walk through its vast, open interior.

The organ, Santa Maria la Mayor Collegiate Church
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Inside Santa Maria la Mayor Collegiate Church
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Several vivid polychrome works like the one on the left line the walls. The figure on the right is part of a larger, intricate work in ivory and tortoise shell.
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By far the most exceptional feature of the church though is the Majesty Portico, a wonderful polychrome work that depicts scenes from the life of the Virgin, Christ and the final judgement.   It’s something you can’t take your eyes off of - every aspect you look at is so fine, so subtly colorful.

Pórtico de la Majestad, the Majesty Portico.
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We leave Toro to the south again, dropping to the Douro as we did yesterday.  Today though we take the main road out of town rather than the precipitously steep street we dropped down the first time.  We enjoy gliding down to the river, the open countryside spread out ahead of us - it will prove to be the most dramatic part of a fairly mundane ride today.  At the bottom, just before crossing the river, we turn off onto a sandy path that takes us to the old bridge.  Crossing it, we look back for a last, spectacular view of the city before biking on toward Zamora.

Puente de Toro, the old bridge.
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Santa Maria la Mayor Collegiate Church, from across the Douro.
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Leaving Toro by the old route.
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Video sound track: Si Ya No Estas Conmigo, by Kany García

We’re taking the direct route back to Zamora today - a flat, short, almost effortless ride west along the south bank of the river.  At less than 25 miles and with minimal climbing, it nearly qualifies as a rest day.  Which, after seven straight days in the saddle, is fine with me.  I’m looking forward to an afternoon off.

Most of the day’s short ride looks like this as we follow the course of the Douro downriver to Zamora.
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A politically incorrect sunflower, in blackface.
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Jacquie GaudetHave you been following the Canadian election news?
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetFunny, and perceptive. Actually, that was in the back of my mind.
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2 months ago
It’s so quiet out here. The only sound is the raspy rustle of the dried leaves rubbing against each other in the slight breeze.
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In a deft maneuver, Rocky neatly negotiates a sharp turn and avoids careening off into the safety bales.
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Ron SuchanekThat was too close! Thankfully she keeps herself nimble.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekYup. It’s taken years of training, but she’s gotten the basics down quite well.
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1 month ago
At the high point of the ride. After rising about a hundred feet onto a small balcony we enjoy a brief panorama across the valley.
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We arrive back in Zamora at about 2, entering town the same way we left Toro - by crossing another old bridge across the Douro.   Too early to check in at our apartment, we immediately seek out a restaurant for what we plan as the main meal of the day; and find a great one at Restaurante Liberten.  We order the set menu, and for 10.90 euros each enjoy a fine two course meal, bread, wine, water, and dessert.  

Afterwards we check in at our apartment, Yolanda’s place, a spot we heartily recommend.  It’s very comfortable, full of thoughtful features, a place we could stay in comfortably for a month.  It’s laundry day, so Rachael starts the wash and then departs for a nine mile walk along the river while I crash on the bed.  I wake up ninety minutes later, hang out the laundry to dry, and then loaf around catching up on the journal for the rest of the afternoon.

After dark, we walk a few blocks up into town to a tapas bar for a light evening meal, enjoying sitting outside in the warm evening air, watching the crowds, snacking on a variety of treats that set us back another eight euros.  These warm autumn nights in Spain are getting very easy to take.

Entering Zamora the old way.
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Zamora and the Douro
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So I was wrong a few days back. Those storks weren’t on the roof of the cathedral after all. This majestic building is the real cathedral. We’ll visit it tomorrow, so come back for a closer look.
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We should end more nights like this.
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Jen GrumbyYes! I only see 2 people looking at cell phones. So nice to see humans relaxing and interacting with each other.

And no cars in sight!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyEspecially charming was the drama with the little girl, her unseen friend, and their father. Peek-a-boo, hide and seek; and the girls kept beckoning him to come over and stand hiding in a doorway with them. We’ve seen a lot of doting fathers over here.
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2 months ago
Not a bad haul for 8.30 euros.
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Well, hello! We left the window open, and kitty walked in. Strolled across the floor to sniff my foot, found it wanting, and promptly turned around to leave again.
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Ride stats today: 24 miles, and a whopping 500’; for the tour: 493 miles, 22,900’

Today's ride: 24 miles (39 km)
Total: 493 miles (793 km)

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