With a very decent restaurant in our parador, at least last night we had no trouble finding a restaurant in Soria. Having walked back up the long, winding, steep boardwalk from the river below, we certainly weren’t going to go back down again to eat elsewhere. The dining room began serving relatively early by Spanish standards, too: 20:30. 😀 I went for the rabo de toro [oxtail], which had been taken off the bone, shredded, and rolled into a sort of sausage affair, whilst Francine opted for turbot with black rice. The black skin of the fish and the black rice made it look like a sandwich. Clever. Very relaxing and quite good – a touch more seasoning in the rabo de toro, chaps.
On another blissfully sunny morning, we returned for breakfast, most importantly, coffee, before heading back down the winding boardwalk to the river. The walk would help digest the morcilla [black pudding]. 😉
Our first port of call was a set of supposedly notable cloisters, the Knights Cloisters of San Juan, beside the river just over the bridge we’d crossed when arriving. We shelled out the exorbitant entrance fee of 1€ each and wandered around the quadrangle of cloisters, open to the sky. Fortunately, we got in before a few others arrived, and managed some people-free pictures. Why is it, I wonder, that, when faced with an area, people will insist on standing in the centre, thus ruining almost every possible photographic angle?
A coachload turned up and began to stand … right in the centre of the cloisters. OK, now, where’s my river?
There were footpaths on both sides of the river starting at the town road bridge. We chose the sunnier town side, rive droit as the French would have it relative to the flow, since that might give the best chance of insect action. We were right. I was soon stumbling about in some reeds trying to follow a damselfly that I was having trouble identifying without a decent picture. Further along I kept seeing more and eventually managed a long distance contre-jour shot. With only a distant, dark image on the back screen of the camera, though, I was still struggling with an id.
The path was heading towards some very rocky cliff-like banks. Almost magically, the path became another of those metal-supported boardwalks, engineered perfectly into every twist and turn of the rocks. You can see it curving round a few rocky outcrops, left middle distance, here. It was a surprising piece of engineering, an elegant solution to enable people to walk (or run) beside this very attractive stretch of river. Bravo!
The bank transformed again into a conventional footpath sided by a scrubby bank. Quite a few butterflies were flitting about the various flowers. Amongst them, I spotted what I’d been thinking of as Moroccan Orange Tips (Anthocharis belia), which is what my older butterfly guide called them in Spain, fabulous creations like our Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) but with a yellow ground colour instead of white. These characters rarely settle and I’d been wanting to snag one for a couple of years. Then the impossible happened; one settled on a yellow flower. I managed a few shots, not great shots but shots. Delight! I have now discovered that there has been a sort of reclassification: this creature in Spain is now classed as the Provence Orange Tip (Anthocharis euphenoides), having been split taxonomically from the Moroccan Orange Tip, of which it used to be thought a subspecies. OK, complex stuff but whatever it is, I’ve got one. 🙂
The path eventually crossed over a footbridge to rive gauche where we could continue our walk back towards town. Here, I found yet more of those curious damselflies but this time, in a better situation and I got a decent shot from the correct side of the light. Now I knew what I’d been looking at: Common Winter Damsel (Sympecma fusca). We’ve seen them in France on a couple of occasions but here they were, our first encounter in Spain, in large numbers, almost swarming, along quite a stretch of the river.
We returned to the town bridge where it definitely felt like beer o’clock. [More of which separately.]
After our foray into town, we returned to rive droit to see what the parkland beneath the arduous climb back to the parador might produce. More damsels: Azure Bluet/Damselfly (Coenagrion puella), another first in Spain, which surprised me a little on a large river, Large Red Damsel (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) and Common Bluetails (Ischnura elegans). I might have expected to see some Demoiselles flitting about but, no. Neither did I see a single dragonfly, though I was half expecting something of the river species, such as Blue Chaser (Libellula fulva) or maybe one of the various Clubtails.
We found a bar beside the river for some light refreshment prior to tackling the climb back to the parador.