It was Tiffany and Dave’s day off today but they very kindly invited us to join them for lunch at their favourite restaurant, Refugio Vista Bernia. Dave also offered to take us for a sight seeing tour of the local villages before we cycled 12 kilometres uphill to the restaurant.
It was a beautiful morning and, thankfully the sun had reappeared after yesterday’s rain. First we headed through the vineyards to Lliber, the nearest town.
Lliber is really picturesque with narrow cobbled streets, trees and plants everywhere, and beautiful views towards the mountains.
After we had passed the church and cemetery with 12 stations of the cross, we could see far across the valley to the mountains we climbed in the rain yesterday. Stunning!
We headed even higher out of the town to a junction where there is some iron artwork, and we could see down into the next valley. John also got chatting to some French cyclists about rugby!
After this, we headed back downhill and along the valley to Jalon, or Xalo in Valencian. Here we stopped at a cafe bar for cyclists, which is decorated in a quirky way. Cycling shirts, bottles and bikes adorn the walls and and ceilings, and a table at the back has been signed by famous cyclists who have trained in the Xalo Valley.
Then it was time to head up to the Puerto de Bernia, a 450 metre climb. We were going to earn our lunch!
The climb was steady, with an average gradient of 4%. Signs every kilometre showed us how far we had left to go, and how much ascent we’d climb in the next section. I was pleased to be able to manage it with only the green level of assistance on my eBike.
From Puerto de Bernia, it wasn’t far to the restaurant, perched on the top of a hill with the most amazing view to the coast. Apparently on a clear day it’s possible to see Ibiza! The scenery all the way up was spectacular and reminded us of the Dolomites, with limestone outcrops towering above green forested slopes.
Tiffany drove up to join us for lunch. The restaurant offers a limited menu of either paella or a meat platter… simple food, done really well. John and I chose the paella with rabbit, chicken and pork.
John and I were surprised when the waiter brought over some bread and tapas to start with, then a mixed salad, before the main course was served. Everything was delicious, especially eaten in the sunshine, looking over the valley, chatting to Dave and Tiffany, and being entertained by two young cats who were playing under the trees. Just perfect!
Full of food, it was a good job it was all downhill back to Jalon. Although Dave had moved my seat forwards, once again, I struggled with sore hands and forearms because I needed my brakes all the way. I must be unusual in preferring to go uphill than downhill! At least I was rewarded with a large cold gin and tonic, back at the cycling bar!
It has truly been another fabulous day… the weather, the cycling, the food and our amazing hosts, Dave and Tiffany, who are looking after us so well, and are also great company. The day ended with cheese and meats, washed down with wine and port, and we’re looking forward to whatever tomorrow brings.