After crossing central Spain west to east we have eventually arrived at the Med. We reached the coast at Valencia, and are having a couple of days off just south of the city. And we are in a paddy. No, not cross or upset, but literally surrounded by paddy fields. This is Spain’s main rice growing area, and the home of paella, a dish that originated around the Albufera lagoon where we are camping.
Every restaurant around here has an obvious menu, and I suppose we had better sample it before moving on.
It is a while since our last blog, and we have covered a lot of the middle of Spain since then.
After we left the hills of Guadalupe our next port of call was the historic city of Toledo. Touristy yes, but worth a couple of days.
The skyline in the photo above is dominated by Toledo’s Alcazar. The site of a castle for centuries, but now home to an impressive museum. We don’t tend to spend much time in museums, but this one was worth it, both for the exhibits and the setting.
The Alazar played an important part in the Spanish civil war, and the picture below shows a model illustrating the damage sustained during a long siege.
Spain has struggled with it’s civil war history, a civil war is different to any other war, pitting countrymen against each other, but Spain has a particularly bitter history, that little effort over the years has attempted to resolve.
As with every war history is written by the victors, but I think this was particularly true of the war in Spain.
We moved on from Toledo to Cuenca. You will struggle to find a city with a more impressive setting, at the confluence of two rivers, both cutting huge gorges, Our campsite was upstream from the city, along the gorge of the Rio Jucar, one of the most picturesque cycle rides of all of our journeys.
We have visited Cuenca before, and on both that visit and this one the footbridge in the picture above severely tested Sylv’s head for heights.
On from Cuenca we once again met up with the Rio Jucar. We were on a large plain, but the medieval town of Alarcon had found itself an impressive defensive position.
Once again the Jucar had cut a deep gorge, almost totally encircling the town, with a picture perfect castle defending the entrance.
The castle is now a parador, Spain’s posh hotels housed in historic monuments. Someday I am going to treat Sylv to a parador tour and this one will be on the list.
On the cycling front we have learnt to cope with the heat. Asking nicely for camp sites to freeze our water, and the purchase of a camping cold bag has meant that if we are careful we can still have ice cold water throughout the day’s cycling.
Sylvia has just reminded me, as I told her what the blog title was, that I did get into a bit of a paddy myself a couple of days ago. A spate of punctures severely testing my patience. But in a total of about 17000 km cycled so far we have had remarkably few.
Our post cycle campsite relaxation has been greatly improved by the addition of a hammock. Here it is with an assortment of Sylv’s limbs.
At present we seem to be managing to share it, but should any disputes arise we will need another trip to Decathlon for a second one to add to our extensive range of furnishings.
Generally we have managed to find campsites along our route, with only one night of wild camping so far. We have also stayed in a few hostels.
One evening we arrived at a village looking for a Casa Rural, only to find it closed. A helpful lady took us around the corner to the house of an old lady whose daughter would be able to sort accommodation for us.
While waiting for the daughter to arrive this lovely old lady (Amelia) turned into a Spanish version of my Mum. We were sat down and first presented with a beer each, then home made gazpacho, chorizo, manchego cheese and bread.
We have seen some wonderful scenery, and amazing cities in the last few weeks, but it is the little things like this that mean the most.
We have reached the coast, but the next step is straight back up into the hills.
Firstly following what I think is the longest Via Verde (old railway line cycle track) in Spain, at over 150km. which will lead us to our next destination, Teruel.