On the morning of 31May, in the spirit of staying faithful to our original itinery, we left Toro and headed in the general direction of Zamora. And yet again, opportunity interfered with the temptation of a worthwhile diversion.
Once we realized how rapidly we would arrive in Zamora, we began to question making such an early stop. So we skimmed the outer suburbs of Zamora and acknowledged that it was probably a choice we would regret. We were just feeling that we needed to get further along if we were going to end up at Casa Perfuto Maria by Saturday.
So we pushed on with the intention of arriving in Orense by early afternoon and spending rest of the day and night there.
The entire drive beyond Zamora had yielded not one of those underlined towns on the map. You know the towns that for some reason the map makers have decided are "localidades de interes". (If the town has a green box around it, it is a "localidade de GRAN interes")
Just as I begin to regret our choice of the faster A52; and wish we had taken the N122 through Braganca, or at least that we had opted to spend the day in Zamora and then drive to Orense for the night; I look down at my map and see the town Pueble de Sanabria underlined in green. And slightly north of that town is the "Parque Natural del Lago do Sanabria." Things are looking up.
Lago de Sanabria is the largest glacial lake in Spain. And, at least during the day we were there, a remarkably 'untouristed' one. We guessed that it was truly a local holiday destination. Like Lake of the Ozarks for Missourians, or The Catskills for New Yorkers.
There were modest vacation houses scattered around the park but few docks or boat ramps. Many hiking trails and a few small hamlets that predated the Parque Natural designation of the area.
One of those hamlets, Moncabril, was the dead end of the road we were driving. It was home to no more than 4-5 cottages, a few dilapidated barns, and a herd of goats. At the very end of the dead end, where the road devolved into a rutted cart path, we found an interesting one marker grave, overgrown with weeds, yet the marker itself didn't look terribly old. So, if anyone reading this can translate the marker, that would be great.
We left the park at about 2PM and headed back to town to find lunch. The only game in town appeared to be a restaurant called Plaza Armas. The building itself was very interesting. You entered on the ground floor to a nondescript bar. If you wanted to eat anything other than tapas you are directed up a steep staircase in the back of the room leading to the first floor. Here tuxedoed waiters and white linens awaited. We sat at a table next to the bank of windows that overlooked the town.
Plaza Armas may have been the only restaurant in town, but it surely didn't use that advantage to serve second rate food. My gambo stuffed pimiento morron dish was served in the BEST remesco sauce I've ever eaten. It was ultra smooth - silky in fact. I don't know how they got the almonds and hazelnuts ground finely enough. However, I know they were in it, because I could taste them. I've been trying to recreate it every since we got home.
After lunch, we walked around town for a few minutes. This town has an interesting tradition of constructing homes with large family coats of arms on the facade. Even the most modest home sports a family crest. Most of them are carved in stone.
Here are two pictures of the same house. The first of the entire front of the house and the second a close up of the crest.
There was a large castle in town, with some historic significance, but we didn't want to wait for siesta to be over for it to open. We were already becoming somewhat immune to the castles of Spain. There are just SO many. So we headed out on our way to Orense -- at least we thought that was where we were going.