Teruel to Alcañiz

Today we drove about two hours northeast to Alcañiz. As we neared our destination we came around a corner and could see our Parador for tonight in the distance. It’s the castle on the hill!

After checking in we went down to the old town center. The church is enormous and has cranes (birds not lifting devices) nesting on the roof.

Under the main square there are tunnels and rooms that they used to use for food and ice storage. After enjoying a coffee in a nearby cafe we explored the narrow passageways. Most of them required you to stoop to walk

our parador room is in a tower overlooking the countryside. By the time the sun went down the fog had come in and we could barely see the church below us.

For dinner Duke had a veal steak. Our deserts were really special. Mango and cream for me and brownie and raspberry sorbet for Duke.

Xabia to Teruel

We woke up to gray skies and rain this morning in Xabia. After croissants and coffee at a beachfront restaurant we headed northeast to Teruel. We passed Valencia then headed inland and passed turnoffs to ski resorts. When we got to Teruel the temperature was about 30 degrees and it was snowing!

We drove into the historic center of town and visited the regional museum then enjoyed a couple of beers (cañas) and ham (jamon).

We had dinner at our Parador. I started with a salad.

Then Duke had lamb chops and I had a special dish made with local black truffles.

For desert we had cheese tarts and mango ice cream.

Mojácar to Xabia

Today we drove three hours up the Costa Blanca to Xabia, not too far from Valencia. This is the view from our Parador.

After checking in we walked along the water to the point in the distance.

There are a lot of English people here. This is the view looking back at the Parador.

For dinner we walked down to the beach again. We had an excellent dinner, one of the best of the trip at Posidonia. I started with mussels in a curry sauce and Duke started with ceviche.

Then we shared a paella.

And ended with ice cream and pumpkin cake.

Lorca to Mojácar

When they started building the Parador next to the castle in Lorca in 2002 they didn’t know what they would find when they started to dig. They immediately found ruins of an old Jewish Quarter and synagogue from the fourteen and fifteenth centuries. Lorca was strategically important because it was on the border of catholic Castillo and Muslim Granada. Before we left Lorca this morning we toured the recently excavated Jewish Quarter and the castle tower. It was interesting how they built the Parador over and around the ruins.

After the tour we left Lorca and headed to the coast. The drive along the Mediterranean reminded me of the California coast.

Tonight we are in the eastern edge of Andalucia in Mojácar. This is the view from our room.

For dinner we had pizza and sangria. I forgot to take a picture of the pizza.

Alarcón to Lorca

This morning before we left Alarcón we walked around the village. Back at our Parador we asked at reception for the key to the ramparts of the castle and climbed to the top.

Today we drove south and west about three hours to the town of Lorca. We are actually only about one hundred miles east of Cazorla in Andolucia where we were a week ago. This is the view from our room.

We have the romantic package here so this greeted us in our room.

For dinner we had comfort food.

Cuenca to Alarcón via Valeria

In Cuenca this morning we crossed the pedestrian bridge from our Parador to the town. From the town we had a great view of the Parador

And of the Casas Colgadas or Hanging houses.

On our way south out of Cuenca we stopped at a grocery store for water and sunblock. Spanish grocery stores are fun to check out.

About half way between Cuenca and Alarcón we stopped at the Roman ruins of Valeria. The town was founded by the Romans in the first century BC. It was a cold day but we enjoyed a walk all around the ruins.

Duke decided to stop on the way out of town to take a picture of the town sign for his daughter Valerie.

This week we are staying in eight Paradores in eight nights. It is so interesting and fun to stay in these beautiful places. Tonight we are in the Parador de Alarcón. The castle we are staying in was originally built as an Arab fortress in the eighth century. It was destroyed in the twelfth century and rebuilt in the fourteenth century.

For dinner we had steak.

We had cheese ice cream with honey for desert.

Madrid to Cuenca

We did laundry this morning then stopped for croissants and coffee. Good croissants may be my favorite food!

We checked out of our hotel and walked to Plaza España where we picked up our rental car. Traffic getting out of Madrid was bad but soon we were headed east towards Cuenca. The terrain is very different from what we saw in Andalucia. We are in the region of Castillo-La Mancha. We are seeing very few olive trees and lots of sweeping plains. For s lot of our drive the highway was right next to the high speed rail line.

In Cuenca we are staying in a Parador that is a former monastery on the edge of Huécar Gorge overlooking Cuenca’s Casas Colgadas or Hanging Houses.

This is the bar where we had our welcome drink.

For dinner I started with truffled eggs, potatoes, and grilled peppers.

Duke had salmon for the main course and I had calamari.

For desert I had mouse and Duke had manchego cheese ice cream.

Córdoba to Madrid

This morning we turned our rental car in at the Córdoba bus station. In the car park where we left the car there was a Roman aqueduct that was in use from Roman Times up until the parking garage was built!

From the rental car return we walked across the street to the train station and caught the high speed train to Madrid.

This afternoon Duke and I took it easy and Bonnie and Brian visited the Royal Palace. They said it was fabulous. Today was our last day traveling with them. We have had a fabulous time and will really miss them as they continue their journey.

Parador de Cazorla to Córdoba

It was cold when we left our Parador this morning. As we came down out of the mountains the sun came out and it warmed up. We wanted to stop at the castle and museum in Cazorla but getting there was quite an adventure. The roads through town were very narrow, to the point that we had to pull the mirrors in to get through!

The castle was fascinating. It was never actually lived in but it had a commanding view of the countryside and was used to protect against invaders. We climbed to the top with a guide. The first picture below is the road Duke drove up to get us to the castle.

This is the view from the top.

Below you can see the castle, Bonnie and Brian and our red car.

This is one of the rooms inside the castle.

We have driven through endless fields of olive trees on this trip. After we left Cazorla we made a point to stop and take some olive tree pictures.

In Córdoba we are staying right across the river from the Meziquita. The Mezquita is a Catholic Cathedral built inside a massive former mosque that was built on the site of a Visigoth church.

The former mosque is very very big, 400 feet by 600 feet. When you first enter and walk around the size of the former mosque immediately astounds you. There are more than 800 columns topped by double arches.

In the mid 1500s the Christians who had recently captured Córdoba built an enormous elaborate Cathedral in the middle of the mosque.

After finishing at the Mezquita we stopped for a snack in one of the courtyards of the Jewish Quarter. For dinner we ate at Bodega Campos. We shared a seafood and rice platter that was really delicious. Then we had a variety of deserts.

Ubeda to The Parador de Cazorla

Ubeda is known for its pottery. As we were leaving town this morning we stopped at the Pottery Museum Paco Tico.

From there we headed into the mountains where we are staying at the Parador de Cazarla which is surrounded by Parque Natural de las Sierras de Cazorla. When we checked in they told us that we are their first visitors of the year since they have been remodeling.

This is the view from our room.

We went for a hike up to the pass above the Parador.

For dinner I had stuffed peppers, venison, and chocolate torte.