A quiet Sunday in Zamora

I didn’t even take the car out of the parador garage today. After yesterday’s drive and with another 680 km tomorrow it seemed a good idea to use my feet for other than pressing the accelerator. Last night’s dinner at Rincon de Antonio was delicious and when I suggested that I might try a DOC Zamora he replied “Zamora es Toro” and directed me to one of his favourites on the list – Victorino. It proved an excellent accompaniment to the six course degustacion menu.

I should have been shooting audio at 11:00 when most of the town’s churches clanged their bells to gather the faithful – and they clang these are not tuneful chimes but raucous “get to church now” blasts. Lots of the people clearly preferred the call of Mammon as there was a flea market in full swing right in front of the parador. By the way the parador courtyard was back to normal today. There were a very few interesting pieces but most would have exceeded the baggage allowance so I just looked and left.

Just below the parador is Zamora Museum which I was encouraged to enter by a couple of church-bound locals – probably trustees. It was an very interesting small museum with lots of archaeological finds from its long history, an early mosaic floor and some fine jewellery, lots of medieval masonry from destroyed churches and palaces and some paintings and sculpture, among which were two pieces by Mariano Benlliure whom we’d discovered in Valencia on our 2015 visit. He worked and studied in Zamora in the 1870s as a teenager.

IMG_7796I then decided it was time to pay the Duero a visit and fortunately you can walk across the stone bridge, along the gardens and children’s playgrounds on the left bank with great views of the weir (!) and then back over the new road bridge and back to town along the right bank through a splendid avenue. It was a lovely reflective stroll for about two and a half kilometres reminding me a little of Boston’s esplanade on a Sunday with cyclist, joggers and rollerbladers but all on grass and sand.

Lots of families having fun and a few who’d been sent out to the baker’s. Others needed help but were out taking the warm air.

My walk ended by the famous Aceña de Olivares the first sign of industry in Zamora in 986 – or at least that’s the first written reference so they may have been even earlier. IMG_7807IMG_2421

They are flour mills driven by the power of the Duero and were in use until the early part of the twentieth century. They have now been restored and are powered up at 19:00 every evening except Monday so you can go in and see the machinery worked by the water. Maybe later on I’ll whizz down again – although that will entail a steep up to get back. I did make that up to visit Zamora’s castle – of course it has – the grounds of which have sculptures by local artist Baltasar Lobo who died in 1993. A lot of them are very pleasing and on this visit at least, I wasn’t made to do silly things beside sculptures by my companion.

IMG_7818I continued my stroll through the medieval old town passing a super triple stork site through to the newer area where I got confirmation that yesterday’s weather prediction was very close if not there – it was 26° as I passed by so it might have got hotter. It’s fairly typical of Spanish towns with elegant avenues, parks and not-too-ugly apartment blocks and some interesting designs for children’s play objects.

By then it was time for tapas and I elected for my first slices of ham from the paleta always a delight and gave myself a real surprise by ordering sopa de ajo which I’ve always thought of as the lesser known cousin of gazpacho. Not in Castile is it a chilled white confection. It’s more like French onion soup with garlic, pimento for spiciness and toasted cheesy bread circles floated on the top. It was very tasty and when I explained my surprise the waiter advised me that what I had expected is called sopa de ajo blanco and that this local version is the real thing – nothing like regional rivalry.

Then back to the parador to check up on the cricket – easy win for England, much needed one for Hampshire and to get packed up ready for my drive south tomorrow. A deserved beer on the terrace before dinner in the parador tonight and an early start in the morning – although breakfast is included and very good as always with fruit, yoghurt and cereals, eggs, bacon and sausage, cold meats and cheese for all the Dutch and German visitors and then a selection of breads and pastries. I won’t need to stop for lunch – just frequent coffees.

I’ve spared you the full romanesque and modernismo photo essay but here are a few favourite details to conclude. I love the bronze sculpture of the guy just walking down the street with all the others returning from church and the joy in decoration of the modernist architects.