30 ago 2018

Day trip: Patones de Arriba

A city of made of slate. That’s how I always describe the pueblo of Patones de Arriba, which snuggly sits in a mountain crevice on the northern border of the Madrid community. Having visited villages across Spain, I can promise you this one has “nothing to see” (nothing to do – nada que ver) with the others.

Kitty cats seem to rule the 16th century town and its tiny streets that curve and swerve up and around ivy-covered slate buildings. Homes with itsy bitsy doors and impossibly small windows appear better suited for Snow White and her seven dwarves than any sort of modern-day Spaniard. With only 500 inhabitants, chances are that not too many modern-day Spaniards likely call this place home anyway.

As if the fairytale pueblo weren’t enough to fill your craving for getting out of the city, it also happens to have a pretty spectacular backyard. The town’s sweet slate-cobbled streets fade into dusty mountain paths bordered by wild flowers and the skeletons of buildings past. Hiking through the ruin-speckled hillsides that cradle the town, you can imagine the livelier atmosphere of days gone by – before most of the residents relocated down the hill to Patones de Abajo.

Only about a 50-minute drive north of Madrid, Patones de Arriba makes for the ideal urban escape. And if you’re anything like me, then you’ll have worked up a Spanish-lunch-sized hunger by the time you arrive. Which means that you won’t have any problem putting back some cordero lechal (lamb that has only been fed milk). Upon arriving, I suggest you immediately tackle your hunger at El Abuelo Manolo. The restaurant, which sits at the top the hill, has expansive views of the valley, and serves up cordero that my father rates as one of his top five favorite meals ever (my dad, Michelin, same thing right?).

After eating, a stroll through the village is just what the Spanish doctor ordered. And depending on how much cordero you ate, a hike through the trail-laced mountains might be even more appropriate.

To get to Patones, you can either take a bus from Plaza de Castilla, or drive north on A-1 to Nacional 320 toward Torrelaguna.

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