I had a great sleep and was impressed by the hotel and staff. I woke up and heard Mac showering; he was in great spirits as his singing was loud and in tune for a change. The young, French housemaid we’d met briefly the night before, when we checked in, was making Mac’s bed. I thought was kind of strange as we were still in the room and hadn’t yet had breakfast. Nevertheless I got out of bed and sat on the chair at the window, the view was much better looking in than out. She really hadn’t made a great job and in my half asleep state I was expecting my bed to get the same treatment, I did get an acknowledgement but nothing more, not even a straightening of the covers! The pretty girl, with her tangled hair and now with very little make-up, just fixed the zip on the back of her dress, threw me a teasing smile and skipped out of the room.
We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, it was high enough up to give us a panoramic view of the city, with the impressively wide river in between. We could see people struggling across the long exposed bridge, their umbrellas getting blown out of shape as the made their way towards us. This drab city with its mass of grey rooftops and ugly high rise buildings looked impressively bad in this lousy weather. My iPhone weather app, at every point I checked from here to Caceres was consistent, windy with between forty and sixty per cent chance of rain. Feck!
Over breakfast we discussed taking a rest day as we had a day to play with, though it may cost us in cancelled accommodation. After all, if we wanted to cycle in the wind and rain we could have stayed in Scotland and waited for the summer!
As Brian and Aldo were the two named drivers, they got a taxi into town to collect the hire car. Mac and I agreed to take the cases down to reception and checkout. We stayed in the room and relaxed, only to be startled by Aldo banging on our door. I wondered why he wasn’t away yet! He wondered why the hell we were sitting on our lazy backsides and not checked out yet!
Against all odds, Aldo and Mac eventually set off. Despite the weather forecasts, our fears and pessimism, what seemed like a miracle had happened, the rain had stopped and the roads and pavements were drying up pretty quickly.
The terrain, although a little hillier was much the same as the previous two days, with some long straight roads that extended a little longer at the top of each blind summit. The guys may have been growing tired of this but their focus was more on the skies, constantly wondering whether the rain would stay away. At least until it came. It did come, the clouds threw it at them close to the summit of the day’s biggest climb. Brian and I got a great view of this from a big cafe at the side of a little town off the main road. We watched the rain with the locals as we sheltered under canopied area out front and drank our coffees. Brian now happier that he’d discovered cafe con leches but still thought it strange that I was still drinking such a small shot out such a tiny cup. It was also at this stop that Brian learned his first Spanish word. or at least the first Spanish word that he would remember – hamburguesa, a word he would practice often throughout the rest of the holiday. Once the coffee was finished Brian, under the guise of genuine concern, drove back along the road for a better view of the two cyclists getting absolutely drenched.
We saw the cyclist onto their bikes and left Pueblo de Obando in the sunshine. How quickly it turns. In the short time it took us to find the car and manoeuvre it out of the parking area, the two cyclist were miles down the road, such was the descent. We passed them and I gave them the now customary wave out the passenger window as we headed to Caceres to find the hotel and make their drinks.
We found the AH Agora by accident, passing right by it, just when I thought I’d navigated down the wrong street. In most places we’ve passed through, if you miss your stop you have to navigate your way around the crazy one-way system. Caceres was no different. We unpacked the car and quickly made ourselves familiar with the pretty reception staff; they let us put the bike and empty bike bags in a corridor behind reception. I managed to lock us out of both rooms which was a little embarrassing but did give the girls at reception a good laugh. As we walked back to the edge of town I wondered how long it would take Mac to get even more familiar with any of them.
Caceres as a destination was very disappointing. It was the first place we were targeted as tourist. There were meal deals and pictures of not so pretty menu dishes displayed outside the restaurants. There were staff on the street trying to tempt you in. It was the night of bad food choices except for Mac, who preferred the look of Aldo’s main course so claimed it as his own. It was the night of the Copa Del Rey. It was the night that Aldo discovered Turrón.
Atlético Madrid beat Real Madrid with an goal in extra time, Mourinho was nowhere to be seen.