Monday, June 17, 2013

Patones de Arriba

     After being a bit disappointed by the village of Buitrago, I decided to take another chance at a small village in the region of Madrid. This time I chose Patones de Arriba, which is nestled into the foothills of the Guadarrama mountain range, and is known as a pueblo negro, or black village. There are several pueblos negros around Madrid, so-called because of the slate roofing that dominates the architecture of the towns. A couple of months ago, Jack and I bought tents with the intent of going camping in idyllic settings around Spain. The warm weather was late in coming, and the first time we got the chance to use them was in Patones de Arriba.

(View of Patones de Arriba from the surrounding hills)

     There are no official campgrounds around the town, but it is in a rural area, so we thought it would be easy enough to hike into the countryside and pitch our tents for a night. Camping in a non-designated campground is illegal in most of Spain, but there is something called 'overnighting' (pernoctando) that is legal, in which you pitch your tent in a spot for one night, and leave the next morning. 
     After a nearly two hour bus ride, we were dropped off in Patones and had to walk up into the hills to get to isolated Patones de Arriba. It was Friday and the village was practically deserted (it was in fact abandoned in the 1960s and has since been repopulated). We decided to get some lunch, and after seeing the high prices at most of the restaurants (the village has less than 200 inhabitants, but it is a somewhat popular weekend day trip for madrileños), we settled on a place called the Taberna Real, the Royal Tavern. 

It was a great choice—it is family owned, and the food is both delicious and a bargain. We had homemade everything, including juicy fried mushrooms, Spanish tortilla, ham croquetas, chicken alioli, and nata, a pudding dessert. 
     When we were finished, it was time to hit the hills in search of a nice place to camp for the night. 

(Katie on the trail)

     The weather was great and, though there were few trees, there were many types of interesting flowers.

     After several hours of hiking, we set up camp on the top of a hill, one of the only flat spots we'd seen since leaving the village. From the hill we could see Madrid lighting up against the twilight and one of the biggest moons I've seen coming up over the trees. 


     We had hauled a guitar all the way there and played music after dinner and took turns reading lyrics out of Alan Lomax's American Ballads & Folk Songs by the light of the moon. 

     The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast, packed up and started back toward the town, some three hours away. We (more specifically, I) decided to take a different way home, down a steep hill. It wasn't my best idea. Jack slipped on some slate and cut his arm, which we wrapped with part of a sheet, and then decided to just backtrack and return the way we had come. 

     We could've caught the one o'clock bus back to Madrid, but we had enjoyed the Taberna Real so much that we decided to eat there again and stick around until the next bus arrived at seven thirty. We played guitar, read, and just lounged around the rest of the day, content with our first camping excursion in Spain. 

1 comment:

  1. retard dado will take credit for the writing and music genes however the common sense dna remains a mystery.... even your mama was a stalwart camper in her day..albeit long ago... i hope Katie whupped your ass accordingly.. love dado. You mama (who has to send this) says: great pics and sounds like the Royal Tavern and full moon were worth it all. And hope you learned something...