vineri, 21 februarie 2014

Don Quichote's Land

We started our journey today in Toledo, with a magnificent sunrise from our hotel's terrace (me) and a ride in the bushes to catch the light over the Tajo river (my husband, the Photographer).

Then, decisions, decisions. To go in Madrid and visit the Prado Museum or to follow the steps of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in La Mancha? Dark or sunlight? Inside or outside? North or South? Oh, difficult choice! And the only possible answer was... come on, the windmills and the lagunas, of course!

First stop was kind of "Please, honey, exit the highway and take right! Now! Look at those beautiful clouds over the hill!" And so he did, so we visited Consuegra, a small village famous due to its windmills. They became famous in the 16th century, when Don Quixote was first published. The introduction of the windmills was made by "Caballeros Sanjuanistas", who brought these machines that helped millers by using the wind to grind grain.

Most Spanish windmills, like those described in Cervantes's Don Quixote, can be found in the province of Castilla-La Mancha in central Spain, like exactly where we are now. The best examples of restored Spanish windmills may be found in Consuegra where several mills spike the hill just outside of town, giving us a spectacular view of the 12th-century castle and of the town. The castle was once a stronghold when Consuegra was the seat and priory of the Knights of San Juan, the Spanish branch of the Knight's Hospitallers of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. That's Wikipedia info.

Next stop: the scheduled one, Campo de Criptana. This is the site of Don Quixote's "terrifying and never-to-be imagined Adventure of the Windmills", in which the knight jousts with a whirling sail and is flung off his horse. There are 10 restored windmills, out of an original group of 32, the higest windmill concentration in the area.

After a gargantuesque lunch, we hurried up to the Parque National de las Lagunas de Rudeira, that's a chain of 15 lakes, on different levels, so the upper lakes flows in the lowest through some gorgeous waterfalls. Is one of the most amazing forms of the nature I ever saw.

Between the first lagoon, Blanca and that of Cenegal, there is a 120 metres drop, and the remaining lagoons form a chain and are connected via waterfalls, brooks, and underground currents. Las Lagunas de Ruidera are considered to be the source of the river Guadiana. They are supplied by the waters of underground aquifers and the river Pinilla. The main vegetation is made up of reeds, bulrushes, rushes, near the lagoons, and well as junipers and holm oaks. In their waters you can spot barbel, carp, pike, water snakes and tortoises.

We came back in Toledo late at night, catching the sunset on the highway. 

On the table we found strawberries and black chocolate, as well as a bottle of sparking wine, so please excuse me now (wink). I'll see you back tomorrow, now we're kind of busy...