|a view from the edge of town|
|the flat, easy start|
Despite this impressive (if faulty) claim-to-fame, the super-cute houses, and the gorgeous landscape (stunning views from the mountains and dark, shining waters - an important and huge reservoir for Madrid), the inhabitants of Upper Patones slowly started moving downhill to settle in... wait for it.... LOWER Patones (de Abajo). I guess maybe they were tired of being in a forgotten hillside village and wanted to be closer to civilization.
Anyway, Upper Patones was abandoned until 1970, when one industrious couple decided to turn one of the ruins into...wait for it... a restaurant! (Are you really surprised? This is Spain, after all - creating food establishments is in their DNA). El Rey de Patones (The King of Patones) was born again, and by the time the 90s had rolled around, the town had been repopulated, and become a tourist destination, not to mention a UNESCO heritage site.
|too bad we couldn't jump in for a swim!|
Perhaps the hardest part of the trail is the descent. Partially through rocky stuff, partially through pine (which smells amazing when it's so hot outside), it's full-on down a narrow trail for a while. Lots of flowers and mountain views, as well as a few ancient slate shepherd huts to check out. Sadly, I only saw two birds the whole day (a wagtail and a magpie) - I'd been hoping for some eagles, but what can you do? The trail continues, up and down, until finally ruins of slate houses come into view and you can almost taste the meat you smell roasting.
I enjoyed the hike and was glad to have worked up an appetite - there was a lot of food! The restaurant was a little pricey but the food and ambiance were both excellent. Vegetarians beware, this town is famous for roast kid (I went with pork, and only tasted the kid - kind of gamey).
|thanks for the picture, j!|
All in all, a day trip 10 - close to Madrid, interesting history, picturesque, fun hike, great food, and excellent company.