TEXT AND PHOTOS MERCEDES PAGODA: JAVIER ROMAGOSA
Want to read this article in english? Click here
Spain is a country full of landscapes of great beauty, monumental complexes of the utmost importance, the best gastronomy and, which is vital for gasoline fans, dream roads. It is often feasible to schedule weekend trips to escape, even for a short time, from the stresses of the postmodern world. Also now, thanks to the Madrid company Spain in a Two Seater (STS), it is even possible escape in a classic rental car and with an organized route.
That is precisely what we have done in his Mercedes Pagoda, driving through an itinerary calculated for three days between the provinces of Madrid, Segovia and Guadalajara. First of all, we must say that it was difficult to choose our mount among the classic rental cars available; an Alfa Romeo Duetto or a Morgan Plus 4 They did not make it easy for us, but we finally surrendered to the charm of the star model, heir to the fabulous 300SL of the 50s.
So let's go, buckle up. We are in the STS garage in Guadarrama where, first thing in the morning on Friday, his gracious staff hands us a bottle green 250 SL with beige interiors. It looks really gorgeous and we can't wait to drive it, so, with the proper farewells, we escaped to the nearest secondary road. The feeling of solidity, the fruit of the traditional Mercedes build quality, is felt from the first few meters of the journey.
Mercedes Pagoda: Covert Sportsmanship
We leave Madrid crossing the Puerto de Navacerrada towards La Granja de San Ildefonso, a real site of rare beauty that we will visit first. To do this, we take the M-614 roads and, later, M-601. The initial kilometers help us to become our convertible, which feels low, big, heavy and powerful at all times. We accelerate, the sound of the 6-cylinder in-line with overhead camshaft, a prodigy of progressivity, it's a delight.
From the start you realize that this is not an agile car: It does not like roughness or fast weight transfers, at least with the standard suspensions. However, once this is verified, and if we drive with finesse, the stability of the Pagoda is astonishing; if desired, even with curves, it is capable of maintaining cheerful cruising speeds. And it is that caste suits the greyhound
It is among the pine forests of the port of Navacerrada where, firmly holding the steering wheel -or rather the rudder-, the magic of the trip surrounds us. At a leisurely pace, but while still enjoying the forks that follow each other to the left and right and that pose no problem thanks to great brakes, we are approaching our destination. At La Granja, we parked; top and windows up, and closing both doors of our brand new classic rental car.
Let's stretch our legs ...
La Granja, the kings also go on vacation
Historic summer residence of the Spanish monarchy, the Granja de San Ildefonso grew from its royal palace to become a municipality of clear French and Italian influence. In addition to their charming streets and gardens, For around 300 years it has been home to an imposing glass factory that has now been converted into a museum. Thanks to all this, La Granja is a needle in a haystack that, along with other similar towns such as San Lorenzo de El Escorial, should not be missed.
Photos: Sergio Romagosa
As the hours go by, driving and walking among the graceful architecture, our appetites are whetting. It is time to visit a steakhouse and order a lamb, suckling pig or kid; we are in the Castilian mountains and diners will not regret it. Once this is done, and after walking a few minutes to rest the food, we get back on track. We turn the ignition key of the Pagoda, that always starts the first time, and we head down the CL-601 road towards Segovia, where we intend to spend the afternoon and spend the night.
Segovia: Mixture of Civilizations
What to say about Segovia? Millennial settlement declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, it is a perfect example of the capital of the Castilian-Leonese province with many examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The most emblematic of this city is the tremendous Roman aqueduct of almost 800 meters in length that crosses one of its central squares; almost 2.000 years of history that are accompanied by the two other great monuments of the historic center, namely the Gothic cathedral and the fortress in which Disney may have been inspired to build his fantasy castle.
After exploring Segovia, we arrived tired at the end of the first day of the trip, which we can consider precisely as a monumental day. After the usual dinner, and if we have not already done so, we go to the charming hotel that we have booked in advance and in which we advise you to hire parking service. At the end of the day we are in a classic rental car and it would not be good for him to sleep on the street.
After a good night's sleep, the alarm clock rings at 8:30 AM: We are on vacation, but there are still a lot of kilometers ahead and, above all, a lot to see. Back aboard our beautiful convertible, we began the second day of the trip, a Saturday dedicated to the unknown. We are going to enter the Serranía de Guadalajara, a territory that links the mountains of the Central and Iberian systems and is dotted with natural places of high ecological value - cradle of the Henares and Jarama rivers-, Romanesque architecture, roads to the old fashioned way and a medieval and renaissance jewel known as Sigüenza.
Our little green friend He is ready to do his best on the N-110, which we access as soon as we leave Segovia. This is a national highway with more movement than the ones we have traveled so far, which will help us to test the benefits of the Pagoda in this type of traffic. Leaving the mountains to the right, we accelerate to 100-120 km / h in order to cross the subsequent straights. The 250 SL is fitted with a 4-speed manual gearbox (the 5-speed ZF is Rare avis), so we don't want to scorch it by going faster; on the other hand, thanks to this circumstance, in the multiple overtaking that we have the opportunity to make, the Mercedes comes out like a rocket.
The unknown Serranía de Guadalajara
Strolling or dodging cars, as you prefer, on the way to Soria, we arrive at the town of Riaza. There we turn off to take SG-V-1111, with the aim of reaching SG-145 in Santibáñez de Ayllón and going down. Both are ways whose patched asphalt it will suspiciously remind us of the country roads of yesteryear. From now on, we simply recline on the sofas of the Pagoda and let its effective suspension work while we enjoy, at low speed, a landscape dotted with holm oaks, pines and gorse.
The Serranía de Guadalajara is one of the areas with the lowest population density in Spain, so we drive lost in the vastness until, from time to time, we come across some adobe town culminating in a beautiful Romanesque church. These are the cases, which are also of remarkable importance, in Campisábalos and Albendiego.
Further on is the medieval town of Atienza, crowned by its castle. This region was important during the time of the Castilian textile predominance, when the flocks of sheep of the Council of the Mesta traveled its roads. Since then, it has been declining until become a mystery just about 150 kilometers from Madrid; a mystery that not only houses the attractions described, but also wide oak, beech and slate groves in its western area, in the part known as Sierra de Ayllón.
Sigüenza, religious splendor
By now on Saturday our appetite has been whetted again, And what better way to stop than Imón, a town in Salinas -another of the region's traditional sources of income-, to eat at the restaurant 'The Cabin'. If we have not done so yet, it is certainly time to treat yourself to a barbecue; if not, any of the dishes we order will be up to expectations and at a great price. We highly recommend the stop.
From here, the road is clear to Sigüenza, the capital of the Serranía. Prosperous during the time of Romanized Hispania because it was halfway up the road that connected Mérida and Zaragoza, after the fall of the empire it became a religious center of the first order administered by a bishop. During the Muslim domination it lost importance in favor of the neighboring Medinaceli, and in 1123/4 it was reconquered by the Christians, who devoted themselves to the restitution of the ruling prelate, the construction of a lavish cathedral and the remodeling of the citadel.
The fact of having been a religious center of the first order has left an indelible mark on the culture, economy and art of Sigüenza. The zenith of your wealth It took place in the XNUMXth century, when the famous Cardinal Mendoza, a cultured man, a warrior and very influential, enlarged its historic center thanks to the tithe of the salt flats.
The legacy of the importance of Sigüenza has reached the present day, in the form of a perfectly preserved medieval city of brown and ocher tones that is worth visiting. Who'd say? In reality, many of the small corners of Castilla have great stories to tell. After visiting the city, perhaps these conjectures will help us fall asleep at the chosen hotel, especially if we are lucky enough to have a reservation at the national parador.
Another advantage of traveling in a classic rental car
The alarm goes off early again ... Wow, it's Sunday already! After the tute that we have stuck in the previous days, what do you think if we relax a little and enjoy our hobby? It just so happens that today the annual gathering of vintage vehicles organized by the Sigüenza Classics Club. Obviously, and since we have a beautiful 250SL, we signed up to participate and enjoy, as always, as a family.
The car is greeted with admiring glances. 'How nice! Although I don't like Mercedes, this one does', It is usually the most repeated phrase among enthusiasts. The Pagoda always causes the same effect, and it is that the lines drawn by Paul Bracq they are truly irresistible: In this car everything is in its proper measure; it is elegant but not pretentious, sporty but not intimidating, with an undertone even of finesse. It is one of those clear examples in which art and motorsport are intimately linked.
Photos: Sigüenza Classics Club
Brihuega: In injury time
After spending the morning with friends, we had lunch and left Sigüenza along the GU-118 road-viewpoint, which crosses the Barranco del Río Dulce Natural Park towards the A-2 motorway. At the end of the day we are going on a German tourism and we are curious to try it in the autobahn. Once incorporated, we maintain sustained speeds of 110-130 without any problem.
We are already in the discount time but, if we were lucky enough to travel the anodyne road of Zaragoza in August, we might want to visit the lavender fields of Brihuega at kilometer 83. It is of the Spanish Provence, which is also in a completely unexpected place.
Sadly, it is June, so while we get used to the idea that sometime this afternoon we will have to return the Mercedes, we continue to move on the black belt. The objective is to reach the M-40 ring road, already in Madrid, and then turn right and continue on the Colmenar Viejo or M-607 road, which will be in charge of taking us through the parting curves via Cerceda, Becerril de la Sierra, Collado Mediano and, finally, Guadarrama. Goodbye Pagoda!
* We thank STS the transfer of the rental Mercedes 250SL to carry out this report. We recommend the experience to all our readers, especially through the tourist routes recommended by the company itself. It is an excellent way to try some of the best classics in history while enjoying an unforgettable day - or several -. Finally, we will say that both the Pagoda and the rest of the fleet are available for events and celebrations such as the filming of a movie or a wedding, among others.