Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tales from la ruta de Don Quijote

If you read this blog, then you probably know that I have a Spanish boyfriend (Alberto) who I met here last year. Last weekend was the weekend we met met last year so we decided to celebrate (cue awwwwws). Alberto wanted to go on a little trip but he wouldn't tell me where we were going. We met on Saturday morning and I took a siesta the entire car ride and woke up in a small pueblo somewhere in Spain. Groggy and confused I asked Alberto where exactly were we? Well, it turns out we were in Castilla La Mancha in a pueblo called Mota de Cuerva. What in tarnation does that mean, you might ask? Well, I found out its where some of the windmills that Don Quijote and Sancho fought are preserved (makes sense because our frisbee team name is Los Quijotes). They were so pretty and really well taken care of. I felt like I was in Holland! We stopped to take some pictures and walk around. Then on to the next part of the route! We drove down the road to another pueblo called Belmonte which had a castle (see picture below) that was featured in both DQ and Lord of the Rings. Fantastic! The town was really small and we went to the only restaurant there to eat an enormous lunch. Trying to break out of the food coma, we went on a tour of the castle. Several excommunicated Spanish royalty lived there as well so we went through and toured (free audio guides what upppp). The castle was really well preserved and had great views of the surrounding area from the walls.
Not wanting to waste any hours of the day we continued on our journey to Cuenca, one of the famous towns in Castilla La Mancha. Its famous because the town was built where a river used to be and so is on a spur with 2 huge gorges surrounding it. Because of the unusual geography, there are "hanging houses" which are apartments stacked on top of one another that literally hang off the edge of the town. We reached Cuenca right around dusk so it was hard to get good pictures but the town itself was adorable. You had to cross the gorge on a narrow bridge to reach the town. It was so quiet and we walked around just taking pictures (like the one below). We stopped for tapas at a place in the new part of the city and then stumbled upon a free concert in the middle of town!

Exhausted we drove to the casa rural which was 30 minutes outside of Cuenca. Casas rurales are bed and breakfast-like spots that are all over Spain. A lot of times Spaniards will go to to a casa rural with a lot of their friends for a weekend to get out of the city. The one we stayed at was really cute and served a delish breakfast. After leaving the casa rural we went to see some Roman ruins that were in the town then drove on to see la cuidad encantada or the "enchanted city". Well it turns out it wasn't a city or enchanted, but lots of really cool rock formations in one concentrated area. Voila, tourist attraction! Alberto and I got a picnic for lunch and set about walking around the "city". We got to see rocks like this one:

After a 2 full days of touring around Castilla la Mancha we headed back home to Madrid. Although I love Madrid, it is really nice to get out of the city every once and a while to breathe the fresh air and enjoy how quiet it is.

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