Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pinto: A legend's peaceful little town

Once we found out that Alberto Contador only lives 29km from Madrid, we decided to make it a day trip to go see where this legend lives. We googled endlessly to find his exact address or at least that of his relatives, but the best we could find was the name of a regular cafe he visits, whose owner also rode with Contador as a youngster. We did find out that his parent's apartment are on top of a plumber's shop, so I tried to find the translation for plumber in Spanish in hope that we'll find it.

As we reached Pinto, our initial thoughts were that we didn't really come with much of a plan, since it didn't look like there was too much to do or see in this town. So we had a coffee, and then looked at the town map and decided we'll amble through town to where there seems to be a big park.

Our journey started, with the first sight being a fairly large bird sitting in a nest it built on top of the church where the cross of the church towers above it. I'm not sure what bird it is, but I'm guessing it's head would reach my hip bones, so it's almost like seeing an elephant making a nest in a tree. Later that same day we saw another one of these birds on top of another building in the same sized nest. We found the cafe (most cafes here double up as pubs) where Contador apparently regularly hangs out. We decided we'll return there for lunch, and continued walking.

Leon's keen eye found a cycle shop down one of the streets. It is the first proper sport cycling shop we found in Spain, all the other's have been commuter shops or big general sport ware shops. Leon found a set of Saxobank shorts (Contador's team) and a pair of Leopard-Trek shorts (my favorite two Schleck brothers) which to his dismay didn't fit him, but to my great surprise fitted me perfectly! We bought Leon a nice jersey similar to those they rode with in the 50s, some sox and then got free water bottles, huge discount on the stuff we had bought and the socks for free. The shop mechanic was busy putting together a beautiful carbon Cannondale with an electric Ultegra group set. Complete bike with the group set - less than R50,000! We thought the bike shop would only support Contador, but they were both wearing Leopard Trek jerseys and the mechanic showed us his bike which is the Leopard Trek team bike.

With Leon extremely grumpy because they had no pro branded shorts for him, we ambled our way further toward the park. The park is beautiful with a man made dam and little waterfalls. It is also huge, my guess would be as big as emerentia except the water section is less and replaced by grassy sections or walk ways. Sitting there we realized why Contador still lives here. It is a peaceful friendly town, which was a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Madrid. The apartment buildings aren't as high and the streets are wider and there aren't any crowds. We could easily stay there for the rest of our time in Spain and just lie in the park every day reading a book or running or sitting in a coffee shop.

We then made our way to the cafe and sat down for their set menu. Again, these people eat a LOT of food. In Spain set menus consist of a plate no 1 and plate no 2 - each number you have 5 or 6 items you can choose from. Plate no 1 we had peas made with ham and fish/chicken paella. This is a full normal sized plate of food, which for me is too much for just one plate of food. Plate no 2 we had fish and a chicken dish - which were both absolutely delicious. With these two plates we still had a basket of bread (almost half a garlic loaf worth). The food was delicious though, and the owner then gave us each a shot of something which after a litre of Sangria had us both rolling out of the cafe. We didn't ask the owner about Contador as we were too shy, but our bags with Trek branding made it very obvious that we are cyclists. The universal language for 'I am a cyclist' seems to be by pulling up your sleeve and showing your cycling tan - which the owner did. They then showed us a picture of them receiving some trophy from Contador which stood on top of one of the cabinets in the cafe.

That was the end of our trip to Pinto. We couldn't find a plumber shop underneath any apartments we walked past, but for all we know we walked past his house and his parent's house and that he has eaten at the same table we sat at that day, and for us it was just great to see where he spends his days when he is not touring Europe training or racing. It is a small, peaceful, quiet town, probably perfect for someone hounded by the media almost every day of his life or with doping control knocking at your door at the most inconsiderable time of day or night.

No comments:

Post a Comment