What a magical place to stay!
THIS IS THE ULTIMATE WRITERS RETREAT!
I ride to it on my Motorbike. Down a winding route into the mountains of the Sierra De la Demanda, East of Burgos. Turning of the Logrono road at Ibeas one is soon onto a rural road though it is in pretty good condition, one continues up to the Embalse de Demanda and then on for Pradaluengo. This is the closest town (5 mins) with shops, it has a market and a sort of Ferretaria (hardware), a bread shop, and little supermarket style shop as well as restaurant/bar opposite to the market on the tight ‘U’ bend in the middle of the town. You curve up and over a rise and THE VALLEY opens up ahead. Cross the little river amongst the poplar trees and up the valley you can see the Visigothic Church. Up to the rise and ahead is the vista of the valley, the church and beyond the high mountains of the Sierra. A short distance down the track on the right is the gates to Villa Flavina.
Opening the door and walking into the house your senses are immediately struck by the extraordinary spacial aspects. As you walked to the door you became aware of the quietness, the subtleties of the sounds. No traffic, perhaps the wind in the ‘choppo’, the poplars down along the river below. Now inside, your own footfalls are loud as you enter a space that has the kind aural qualities of the church across the field; height, spaciousness a clarity of sound because of the clean hard tiles and glass wall that also re-connects you visually to the fantastic view of the valley and mountains.
I opened the door onto the small balcony and stepped out. In the next moment there came the haunting totally surreal sound of an organ, I realised after my initial surprise that someone was practising on a keyboard inside the church, the sound was unworldly and it seemed it had taken me long moments to connect it to the real world. It was I think a Bach fugue to start with. Another time whilst I was writing my western novel on the balcony they suddenly broke into ‘The Man with No Name’ theme from the film ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’, it was so apposite. I did not go to see who it was, I wanted the sound to continue in its existentialist, magical dimension.
I was working and struggling with the last chapter of my novel, with but three days before the submission deadline for a competition. At first the silence, the space, the unreal feel of the place distracted me, it was like holding long, long breaths as my mind re-adjusted to the environment. Then becoming accustomed I found myself able to inhabit the world of my novel, to write 2,000+ words a day, to find my way through to the previously elusive end of my book.
In the mornings and evenings I would often see deer strolling across the stubble field below the house. Rabbits scrapped on the lawn. A pair of Black Redstarts flick their tails as they dance along the balustrade. Goldfinches, Serin and Spanish Sparrows come for the seeds from the dried out plants on the slope below the house. During the day a great spotted Woodpecker alarm calls from dead poplar branches and a Sparrowhawk “ki-ki’s” from down the valley, then drifts circling across the fields and over the church. One night I sleep out on the balcony, lullaby’d by the cicadas and crickets, called to by a Tawny Owl across the way. Tiny bright blue and citrus yellow butterflies join jazzy coloured beetles on flowers. On my last day I spot Griffon Vultures high over the mountainside and much closer a Short-Toed Eagle perching in the bare branches of the Woodpeckers dead poplar.
The house is exceptionally well appointed the king size bed on the mezzanine overlooks the living area with its wood burning fire beside the glass wall, the kitchen below has the most modern equipment. Upstairs too you can enjoy the mountain views from the comfort of the Jacuzzi. The fantastic insulation and the eco-friendly biomass heating system mean that the temperature inside is always comfortable even if outside is -10° or 30°+. There is a small double bedroom downstairs as well.
By the entrance gate Goyo Sancho has grown a small patch of tomatoes and cucumber from which you can help yourself and he his planning to have herbs in pots which with a few supplies from Pradaluengo will see one happily cooking culinary delights. For a honeymoon, an anniversary or a ‘re-connect’ week this is the most special place. When you get tired of enjoying the solitude you can go walking or biking in the mountains, go to Pradaluengo for great tapas or a menu of the day, or slightly farther to Ezacray which with its Basque influences has extra fantastic seafood cafe’s and restaurants. Skiing in winter in the Sierra, the wonderful city of Burgos with its Castle and Cathedral on your doorstep. You can stay a night on your way in or out at one of Goyo’s family Hotels in the city. DO IT! http://www.casaruralflavina.com/