Pedraza Continuation Part II

Old Jul 1st, 2007, 12:06 PM
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Pedraza Continuation Part II

El Yantar De Pedraza
Horno de Asar

We learned of the retaurante Yantar through Scrunchy's great trip report last May. In fact we had never heard of Pedraza but subsequently read about it in Maribel's guides and decided it sounded like the perfect place to wind down at the end of our trip.

Pedraza was reported to be pretty deserted during the week. Still, following our pal Ekscrunchy's lead, I called to reserve a balcony table far in advance. They asked if we would be having the cordero lechal and of course we said yes! I worried that perhaps we should have asked for an extra just in case they were very small (but we didn’t) As it happened we had lunch at Yantar twice, once a simple light (ha!) lunch on Thursday of garlic soup Sopa de ajo, croquetas de jamon iberico (really fabulous croquetas there) Pimientos asados and a good red Glorioso Crianza.

But the grand finale came on Friday afternoon was the famed cordero lechal de Yantar.

El Yantar is one of the many hornos de asar found in the province of Segovia. It's specialty: oven roasted meats, specifically the local cordero lechal (roast suckling lamb), as well as Cochinillo (roast baby pig).
Yantar is also recommended by Maribel and our own Scrunchita. And now of course by us. BTW Yantar is only open for lunch approx 1:45 - 4:30 and closed Monday.

In the glory days of Pedraza it's primary business was that of wool. Years later, the lamb here is still reputed to be superb & possibly the best, although there is certainly competition from Sacremenia, Sepulveda,Riaza, and other as areas in Segovia province. These animals are raised locally by families that have made their living this way for years and they take great pride in the expertise passed down through generations. (I ran across an interesting website of association of Asadores and similar organizations.) There are very specific methods and stipulations that must be followed, the most important being the fact that the lamb should not be more than 30 days old and still at the "suckling" stage. The mothers' milk is said to be fortified by her diet of local rosemary and lavender thus giving the baby lamb a special flavor like no other.

I am getting really hungry now as I recall that delicious lunch so I guess I will just go ahead and jump out of sequence to now share it with you. Get a glass of wine first if you wish.

We arrived for our Friday reservation at Yantar at 1:30 (early) and were seated at the narrow balcony shared by about four other tables. Although this is a fairly casual restaurant where only lunch is served, they have nevertheless crisp white table cloths and napkins, as do most of the restaurants in Spain. (Much more civilized than USA) Our waitress, Goya (Gregoria) already knew we were really looking forward to this special lunch. We happened to hit it off right away because we resembled each other. I knew this from seeing her photo on the website (she is standing in front of an oven )and I told her she looked like a younger sister (yes I really DO look very much like her, only older by a few years. She told us she had worked there for many years and had recently moved to a neighboring town when she married and now had a 7 year old daughter. What a home cook that woman must be!
It was obvious she loved working there. She was just beaming when she brought our 1st platter of HUGE fat white asparagus with mayonesa on the side. (An extra asparagus for us she quietly told me with a wink)
We were appreciative and in a flash it dissapeared. The asparagus was delicious. We enjoyed this so often in Spain and made a note to try and find more fresh asparagus at the local farmer’s markets. But these were enormous.

We oredered a Tempranillo, Tarsus Ribera del Duero.,00.html
We shared a fresh green salad of iceberg lettuce and really good tomatoes in a simple oil & vinegar, accompanied by a basket of wonderful round crust bread.

As we sat on the balcony drinking wine and overlooking the Plaza Mayor we remarked that it really didn’t get better than this. So quiet and peaceful. But it did get better….

The baby lamb arrived hot and fragrant in a terra cotta casseroles. Indeed, as we had read, it looked like a plate of bones. But when we tasted it, what flavor!. So good and juicy, the lamb taste was very distinctive but much less gamy tasting and more delicate in flavor. We both love lamb btw, but this was a better more refined taste. The crispy skin just as described in Scrunchy’s eloquent thread. I ate every last succulent “masita” of lamb and every last morsel of that crunchy skin. You can bet we also mopped up the juices with the crusty bread.

The wonderful leisurely meal was topped off with a cheesecake for DH. I cannot recall the name of the desert I had. I know it was recommended by Goya with a delicious extra rich ice cream mixed with creme (?) and some sort and fruit, but I was long gone sugar gaga by then and also in a stupor caused by the cordero lechal. But it was heavenly. When Goya offered the after meal “chupito” on the house I quietly explained that we needed to watch and not overdo the sugar intake.(I was afraid I would offend her but this is true DH is type II Diabetis) She was so concerned that she immediately brought the two cafes out on the house instead. I must say that the café solo was one of the things I enjoyed the most about Spain, the lingering and the savoring of the meal and the of the coffee instead of the rushing off.

The meal was marvelous. Before we left we were offered a peek at the roasting ovens and the giant meat locker with the little lanbies, which we actually enjoyed seeing. How fortunate they are to have all this fresh local meat and produce available.
As I mentioned earlier in this report, the freshest tasting foods should be just as easy for us to obtain in our home town in sunny southern California.

It somehow is not the same. But DH is determined to make the pig oven in the near future. As for me, I’d simply prefer to simply return to Yantar as soon as possible.

Just in case you missed the link.

Next time, other wonderful things to see & do in Pedraza (other than eating) and later dinner at Codex Calixtinus in Canicosa.

Ana Maria XXOO
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 05:04 AM
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amsdon, Seems to work for me...
Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 05:13 AM
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Ana...Ai yai yai!!!! Tremendo! I was waiting and waiting, knowing that I would be away from the computer for a few days...and here it is. So many memories. Truly marvelous. I can't wait for the partner here to wake up so I can read it to him!! I am LOVING this report!! Tu Scrunchita.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 06:22 AM
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The Thread seems ok now. Thanks Comfy!
Editor please don't nuke this after all!

ana maria
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 06:34 AM
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I wish there were some way to get a couple of frozen corderos over here. for the holidays I forgot to ask that.
As you know we were really looking forward to this. I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but there is only so much eating one can do!

Because it rained pretty hard during our time in Pedraza & Segovia, we decided not to go to the other towns (scardy cats I know) I really wanted to compare the famous Tinin.

I have had alot "regular" lamb and usually cook it with garlic & seasoned more to a Greek recipe oregano etc. I was so amazed at the flavor that came out of those little lambs. I kept asking Goya "are you sure there is NO garlic, no lemon, nothing? " She assured me they just run with salt & pepper & a little fat/oil.

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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 08:29 AM
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I know, I know. The meat in those lambs is just so superior to anything we can get here...and I suspect even if we could get the meat, we would not have their seasoned ovens and all the other elements...

I am VERY impresed that we are having dinner tonight at Codex after that flabbergastingly great lunch. I had to settle for sliced ham ( was jamon Iberico but still...) and cheese on the terrace since the travel partner does not have the appetite that I have!!!

Last night I was thinking about your report..I did not realize you had posted about El Yantar yesterday. I was worried because I am going away for a few days and did not want to miss lunch!!!

We had to leave at 1pm to get to the airport on the last day, Sunday. I was salivating as I peeked into Bodegon Manrique in front of the hotel..they were just getting ready to open for service and I desperately wanted to have one last morsel before leaving...but no such luck. Next time I have to investigate the places off the highway to Barajas just in case.... I KNOW I will be returning to Pedraza. And I hope we can meet up!! And how about that sopa? Pretty great considering it has such simple ingredients!

Ana: If I don't check in while I am away (walk to neighbor's house....knock knock...."HI! It's you mind if I use your computer?.... ..No, not to check my e-mail..just to see what is on the menu at Codex in Pedraza tonight...I really can't wait until I get back to the city..." I will be in touch in a week or so.....scrunchita
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 11:54 AM
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Let me bookmark this...
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Old Jul 2nd, 2007, 07:07 PM
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Hehe Scrunchita you are funny!
Also you seem to know your quesos...I read that other French cheese post. You sure live on the edge (you daredevil) mentioning a Spanish cheese there.....Just kidding.

I bought a large "hunk" of yummy cheese in Pedraza, rather medium hard white cheese slightly salty, that I loved. Think a mellow Romano/Kasseri cross. Would you know the name of it? It was great but I had to throw the remaining part out in the plane becaue I got very paranoid about customs finding an open cheese & I panicked. It broke my heart to do it, buy it was a good thing I pitched it, the Los Angeles Airport Police (part of LAPD) were actually waiting for me upon touchdown of the plane! That's another story. I assure I am a very good girl and not a criminal. That part will follow at the end of the report.

I had to go out of sequence to get to Yantar.
I promised you I'd get to it by Sunday. In reality we did not have the lamb on the same day as Codex.

I will write about Codex soon don't worry. I can say this, Codex is wonderful. But there is still the Castle in Pedraza to discuss etc.
Hasta pronto

ana maria
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Old Jul 4th, 2007, 07:27 PM
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Loving your trip (and food) report so far - keep up the good work!! And you have me in suspense now about the LAPD incident...
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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 06:59 AM
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Just in case you did not see it the first part of the trip report was in a previous post (and excruciatingly long, sorry ) Due to a technical prob I was forced to start again at Pedraza.

I will be back soon to move on. Work calls.

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Old Jul 5th, 2007, 03:24 PM
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I lost track of how many more days to go for your report, Ana Maria. Thanks.
Old Jul 8th, 2007, 08:17 AM
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I know me too!
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 08:20 AM
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The Hospederia de Santo Domingo
is a small lovely hotel with only 17 rooms located in the old Jewish quarter of Pedraza.
It is located 35 km from Segovia, 120km from Madrid and approx 115 from Barajas airport.

The hotel proved to be the perfect place to relax. Though the small building is said to be 300 years old, it is COMPLETELY renovated and in fact has more of a modern feel than any of the hotels we stayed in . We gladly paid 100E per night and 12E for breakfast.
As I mentioned we were there mid week and actually had the entire place to ourselves .
It was extremely quiet and peaceful. If your are looking for excitement go on the weekend but always book ahead as it’s very popular then. Our room #31 was tastefully decorated and practically identical to one on the website with the two mirrors. The room had a modern bathroom, nice sized “cama matrimonial“, minibar and a lovely small balcony with a killer view overlooking the Gaudarrama mountains. During our somewhat rainy stay in May, the view of the surrounding area in Pedraza was breathtaking lush and green. Best of all, only a short distance away from our balcony stood a stork’s nest on top of a pillar. We sat on our little balcony watching the pair of storks come & go, many times making this unusual clacking sound like two planks beating together (the sounds were not disturbing nor loud) Other storks circled the area as the town had quite a few nests. We were told they mate for life and found ourselves fascinated by them. I was always checking on them to see if they were there or not. They really added to the whole peaceful experience.

Pedraza Shopping

The lovely mid evil town of Pedraza is quite small. As Maribel said in her indispensable guides even “sleepy” midweek. It may be too quiet for some tourists looking for action but not for us. On the weekends however it explodes with tourists and locals. It appears it is a very popular place to hold weddings, due to the natural beauty of the surrounding area and the fact that there are several restaurants and hornos de asar able to accommodate wedding parties. What a dream it would be to have a wedding or reunion catered by one of these fabulous places specializing in roasting local meats, the suckling lamb, pig or other game.

Pedraza’s long history peaks in the 17th century when it was sustained by the wool trade.
Now it seems to be primarily a tourist destination although really on it’s own terms and with out the tackiness of the large cities. Be aware that like most areas they adhere pretty strictly to the siesta closing hours of 1 to 4. Because we were there mid week, and because we experienced some days of very heavy rain, some of the shops remained closed. We did get to stroll through several that remained open however. We purchased a pretty hand crafted serving plate made of tin at a shop called Estanos de Pedraza where we say many beautiful and unique decorative items. The owner told us that Pedraza is also known for this type of metal working and the craftsmanship is famous in the area.

We also stopped at a couple of the small local food shops La Tajona de Pedrazda and Atlantar where we purchased delicious cheese, a bag of the famous <N>Arroz Bomba the special round short grain rice and some other snacks.
At La Tajona we also purchased a bottle of a honey colored liquor of orange and cinnamon which we have yet to open.called Orujo it is made with naranja (orange ) y canela (Cinnamon) and shows 40%) For more info on Orujo Great stuff I’m sure.

Interestingly the Orujo bottle shows a website of the company La Cuna, located in Toledo

We did get to browse some of the shops despite the weather. Unfortunately we did not get to see the shop Sanchez Munoz known for original paintings and. Art. The owner was in Madrid for a few days. I would definitely stop in there in the future.
Back at our lovely hotel we had the luxury of relaxing in the little sitting area/library knowing we were the only guests. Needless to say the entire staff, especially Lourdes who was there for most of our stay but also Belen and Estrella and Jose were charming, very attentive and really informative They even provided a tray of fresh fruits, cheeses and refrescos for us to enjoy one rainy afternoon along with the generous breakfast ( I will post photos if I can figure that out)

This hotel was by far the best of our stay and we would not hesitate to return.

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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 08:47 AM
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By the way the afternoon at the hotel when Estrella appeared with the fruit & cheese tray we sat overlooking the terrace watching the storks in the rain . Suddenly it began to hail!
Huge chunks of hail.
Amazingly a short time later the weather was back to normal just a comfortable temperature of approx 65 degrees.
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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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Castillo Y Museo Zuloaga

Pedraza was declared a historical city in 1951 and has a number of interesting sightsm mostly open on the weekend..

Not closed however during our weekday stay was the very interesting castle Castillo Y Museo Zuloaga
The castle was built in the most secure and protected area of Pedraza in XIII and later reinforced in XVI. It was used for various reasons by royalty of Castilla. It was reportedly in ruins and abandoned when it was acquired in 1926 by the painter Ignacio Zuloaga. For information on Zuloaga :
We were told the heirs of Zuloaga still reside in part of the castle and technically own and operate through a foundation as a small private museum.
It also has a very interesting (but somewhat tricky) website.
Supposedly the love affair of the beautiful Dona Elvira and a monk Roberto took place there. Check out the romantic story on the Castle website….

We arrived at 11am hoping to see the castle on a Thursday. Seeing that it was closed however we set about exploring it from the exterior. The fact that there was no security on the exterior grounds made it easy as we wandered about looking at the castle and the magnificent view of the mountains from it‘s perch. At about 11:45 a car arrived and out came the caretaker accompanied by his adorable toddler son. Not realizing that the tour usually was for groups, we asked if he would show us the museum. He very graciously obliged. I can’t remember the cost but it was minimal.

The inside of the castle grounds had a courtyard and even something that seemed like a stage made of stone. The website reports that it is here that the yearly July Concerts of the Candles “Conceiertos de las Velas“ takes place. Imagine wouldn’t you just love to experience a classical concert there in a mid evil castle illuminated by thousands of candles? (Scrunchita is this something you would consider doing in the future??? )

We were shown the little room that houses four or five beautiful paintings. I expressed surprise at seeing these lovely painting in such an isolated place and was assured by the caretaker that the room is temerature controlled (?)
I wish I had taken notes. I am ashamed to say I can’t remember exactly who the artists were in this small museum. I thought there was “Murillo- esque” painting of Christ, ( Can’t be true? ...but the brochure we obtained later states that they sometimes rotate a Goya and an El Greco through this museum!) There was also a portrait of a Gypsy woman and a gorgeous nude. (I am trying to research these if anyone has any info on the artists I would really appreciate it. Plz e mail me at

Incredible. I was dumbfounded at this tiny but priceless treasure trove.
I would love to come back here again to see them and for there Concierto de Las Velas.

Pedraza also holds the Fiestas Patronales in honor of the patron saints of Pedraza La Virgen del Carrascal from approx from the 7’th to the 12th of September.
For more information on Pedraza

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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Los Cuatro Muleros

After a very enjoyable visit to the Pedraza castle Zuloaga DH & I headed down one of the main streets. Approaching us was a very lively group of senior citizens from Madrid on their way to tour the same castle. One of the ladies explained that they frequently travel on bus from Madrid to get away from the city.

They were so animated and fun! The next thing we knew we were all singing and clapping along to her rendition of the song “Cuatro Muleros” right there on the street! .

I leave you for a short break with the music and the visual of us, an mid aged couple from the USA singing along and dancing on the street of Pedraza with this charming group of Spanish senior citizens. What a way to spend the golden years!

Here’s a sample of the song she was singing (Los Cuatro Muleros, also by Garcia Lorca)

De los cuatro muleros
que van al campo,
el de la mula torda,
moreno y alto.
De los cuatro muleros
que van al agua,
el de la mula torda
me roba el alma.
De los cuatro muleros
que van al río,
el de la mula torda
es mi marío.

¿A qué buscas la lumbre
la calle arriba,
si de tu cara sale
la brasa viva?

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Old Jul 8th, 2007, 09:54 PM
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Codex Calixtinus Comedor Solariego

Codex Calixtinus is an absolutely marvelous restaurant in Canicosa, Segovia. We first heard about it here on this very forum from Robert and also the Maribel's Guides. This is a Michelin and Campsa rated establishment. Although we had fallen in love (lust)with the traditional dishes of the region, it was exciting to learn that Codex specializes in an alternative approach rather than the conventional specialties typical of the Segovia province. Articles about the restaurant reference it as being of the Martín Berasategui school.

After finding the website I e- mailed the gracious chef (and owner I believe) Juan Manuel Pretel about reservations. Juan’s response was prompt & gracious. “Happy to accommodate you at any hour you wish to dine” was his reply. So in spite of the rain and threat of another hail storm (and our lack of direction) we decided to drive to Canicosa from our confy and now familiar hotel in Pedraza de la Sierra.

As it happens the restaurant was just a very short drive away, barely ten minutes. The town of Canicosa where Codex Clixtinus is located, was only about 4.5 km away, my guess is that a local would make it with time to spare. We were very happy that we decided to have dinner there and would recommend it as a must do for anyone who appreciates great food and wine.

The Menu at Codex Calixtinus

The meal was absolutely splendid.

The amuse buche was delicious, a bite size appetizer made of bits of rabbit and carmelized onion (confit?)
What a flavorful morsel that was. DH started with foie macerado en oporto (wonderful foie made w/ port)
I ordered ensalada de cordoniz escabechada (pickled quail salad) We both ordered the seasonal specialty Lomos de Cievo (Loin of deer/venison) Medium rare, tender, juicy and
very subtle flavor. Not gamy. Wonderful!
A nice bottle of Tarsus Reserva 2000.
Crusty bread, very good.
For dessert, DH ordered a Terrina de Cacao y Chocolate, a chocolate concoction that was delicious. I ordered the Tarta de Arroz con Leche. This is not the typical creamy but heavier rice pudding that I admit to looving. The Spanish have elevated rice pudding to an art. Here it was a heavenly souffle-light dessert that was luscious and satisfying without being cloying.

We agreed it was perfect.

Mari, our waitress was attentive yet unobtrusive. (She was Romanian I believe and spoke flawless Spanish.)
The restaurant itself was in an old building, elegant and earthy at the same time. Romantically lit, soft music, really lovely overall. Thinking of proposing to someone ? This is the place to do it, get a table in front of the stone fireplace.

This was a special evening and a terrific meal. We loved it. We were the only people in the restaurant on a Thursday. We felt like royalty ourselves. We were told that like Pedraza, Codex comes alive on the weekends. For us it was just perfect the way it was.

The Restaurant is named for the Codex Calixtinus, a famous 12 century manuscript attributed to Pope Callixtus II (though now believed to have been arranged by French scholar Aymeric Picaud) It was essentially a resource for pilgrims who were following the route of St James to the shrine of the Apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, Galicia. In addition to it’s religious texts, the original manuscript called Codex Calixtinus included descriptions of the travel route, works of art to be seen along the way, and the customs of the local people. In essence Codex Calixtinus was the first travel guide. It seems fitting that this restaurant should also bear that name. As for the rest of the name Comedor Solariego this refers to the fine dining room (Solariego means noble or ancestral). It would be interesting to learn more information about the name.

We were already from a web site aware that a Codex Calixtinus hotel is also planned. Here are the various seb sites:

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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 10:45 PM
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Forgot to mention price for the meal at Codex in previous post = $ 129.72E

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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 11:05 PM
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Codex Calixtinus Menu

Since the menu is not on the website
here is part of the menu from Codex for Scrunchy & those Fodor foodies:
(with permission of the restaurant)


Bacalao con tomate confitado
al tomillo con aceite de perejil

Rodaballo asado en su jugo y tomate caramelizado

Chipirones a la parrilla con setas salteadas en aceite de oliva virgen
y ravioli de “couscous”

Rape asado con ajitos dorados y salsa al vinagre de sidra, (donostiarra)

Dorada a la “espalda” con piquillos asados


Magret de pato con salsa de naranja y risotto de trigo con hongos

Conejo braseado relleno de berza y salsa de mostaza a la antigua

Manitas de cerdo rellenas de boletus confitados Y “trinchat” en parmentier

Entrecot con cremas de boletus y crujente de espinacas

Confit de pato con salsa de Granadilla (fruta de la pasion)con pastel de calabaza

Solomillitos de patos a la naranja y guarnicion de compota de zanahoria

Lomo de Ciervo con espinaca y grosella

They also currently offer a “menu turistico” which includes desert, glass of wine & bread.
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Old Jul 10th, 2007, 11:43 PM
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At Last! The Final installment

It was Saturday morning and we left Pedraza de la Sierra with reluctance, but knowing we would return, probably during the Fiestas or for the Concietos de las Velas) We packed up the car the night before to get an earlystart at 6:00 am, said our goodbys to Storky & his mate & took off. The drive was easy & we arrived at Barajas airport in plenty of time. The flight back on Lufthansa was par for the course. Sardine time, only this time a nice little group of 6 toddlers in the two rows in front of us that kept running around like crazy in & out of the restrooms for 9 of the 10 hours. Their parents slept for the most part, amazingly. They would get tired and then have another Toblerone candy bar provided by the airline and get all wound up again.
Anyway they were cute little kids despite the havoc. I spent a good deal of the time trying to strech my legs as did DH. That also allowed me to meet & greet most of the "walkers" on the plane.
Upon landing we heard a brief announcement from the captain: we would have a passport check immediately upon exiting the plane before approching customs. "Great!" we thought, they must be trying to expedite things, "wonderful!"
German efficiency! I forgave them for the bad macaroni on thre flight.

As I watched the line of passengers filing off the plane each one presented their documets to an impressive pair of officers in uniform from the LAPD airport police. When It was my turn I was so grateful and so happy to finally be on my way. But not yet. "Please come with us"
they said. All eyes on me, shocked faces (how could this friendly woman be the "one" they wanted?) As I was escorted by the two big burley officers I could hear the comments and see the surprised looks.

It appears I have the identical name to a woman wanted for some major offense. I was told she was not wanted for the worst possible offense (thank God for small favors) but "really up there on the bad list" was the explanation. When I asked what she had done I was informed that they could not say, but was I absolutely sure I had never been to Argentina??? No I replied "Are you sure?" " No, not ever."

I realized at that moment I would likely never experience a truly good steak since it looked like my traveling to Argentina in the future would involve a complicated re-entry into the USA. I later learned she the other Ana Maria, was a felon or something worse, similar in age and had exactly the same name as I. Althought I was not allowed to know the details, the officer proceeded to tell me she might just be the #2 biggest connection to Argentina in the USA. I speculated. Drugs? Money laundering? White tennis shoes? Anyone's guess but they kept telling me it was confidential & then proceeded to ask more reveling questions. I must say they were handsome. Wish I had thought to have DH snap a few photos for the album. Thankfully he was a good sport about the whole ordeal. What a guy.

After about an hour 1/2 of waiting in the airport customes area (during which time we had to wait for luggage anyway) we were released with a smile and an apology, plus an explanatiom that this would likely happen again for ever and ever. Ahh.. the price we pay for adventure ..
This time no Jamon Iberico in my bag the little dog just passed me by, and we headed for the 405 freeway tired but with the happiest memories of our Spain vacation. We absolutely loved Pedraza and our cordero lechal and Codex and rice pudding. And I couldn't wait to get to Fodors and tell Scrunchita and you guys about Storky..I will try to post photos.
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