Firstly, before we arrived in Madrid, we spent two days in Dubai. The reason being is that we really thought we should break up another of our long-haul trips.
Dubai is a shoppers paradise, very visually stimulating that at times I found it too intense, too artificial an environment with the lack of proper infrastructure in the form of many green outdoor areas to enjoy in the cooler months or evenings. The experience was not regretted it just won’t be repeated.
So let’s just head on to Spain where our roadtrip was to begin.
As we entered Madrid, only then did we realise how huge this airport is, it is enormous. Over 10 km long. It took us at least 1/2 hour from exiting the plane to pick up our baggage!. While driving to our overnight accommodation, the street lights looked like stars twinkling in the dark. I fell in love with this city straight away. Unfortunately, we had no time to explore Madrid [though hopefully in the future this can be recified] as we were to leave the next day after picking up our hire car from Europcar. This is one car hire place that we can’t fault for excellent value and service. Though this is the first time, we have dealt with a Spanish franchise. We will have the car for the whole 3 months we are based in Spain. It will give us far more freedom to explore than trying to rely on public transport, which is not an option or available where we have a few housesits, so a car is compulsory.
Leaving Madrid airport the next day heading towards Toledo was a straightforward drive, and, nondescript with the road signage readable and within an hour we arrived at our hotel [Hotel Cigarral el Bosque] just out of the old city of Toledo.
Wow, what a vista, we loved our exceptionally cheap hotel room with a view.
UNTIL we realised we had no hot water. Mutterings of a few unprintable words later we had negotiated free breakfasts and a change of room. With that dealt too we decided to check out a little part of Toledo, as it looked incredibly impressive from our room. Of course, we were not disappointed, though we were exhausted and did not last long before heading back to our new room with the same view to catch up on some much-needed sleep.
To read up on our first full day in Toledo, head over to City of Three Cultures – Toledo.
Heading out of Toledo bright and early with another glorious sunrise to feed our soul, and a reasonable breakfast to feed our mortal bodies we were looking forward to heading onto our first housesit in Alicante.
Though firstly we had an approximately 5 hours of driving to do and a few stopovers before we settled for one night by the beach at a local hotel.
Now comes the exciting part, I got to drive YES, amazingly we both survived this experience and indeed it was no bother at all to drive on what really for us is the wrong side of the road. The roads in Spain are meant for long road trips, they are incredibly smooth, and with a top allowable speed of 120kms an hour, a driver can chew up a fair distance in no time.
When not driving I snapped a few photographs of the passing countryside. Highlights were seeing the windmills tilted towards the skies in the historical region of La Mancha, southeast of Toledo. To the large shapes of bulls standing erect on hills by the highways.
As far as the eye we could see fields of vineyards, displaying beautiful autumn colours, olive trees weighed down with juicy fat olives, then there was the odd dust willy amongst the recently ploughed dirt fields.
A stop to indulge in the local coffee and pastry is non-negotiable. The place we decided to have a walk around and enjoy refreshments was in La Roda which is a large town located in the Province of Albacete in the autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha. Very reasonably priced coffee and a lovely church view.
There are numerous places to stop and enjoy a meal or just a caffeine fix while travelling along. Try not to be put off by the appearance of many of these cafes, as most we have visited have been enjoyable, with quality and quantity in abundance, without the price tag of the many cafes in the more tourist-friendly areas.
Before long we were nearing our final destination for the week. To our first Spanish housesit to be more precise it was an apartment with one gorgeous cat called Lottie, A room with a view – Alicante Style.
The words “Are we nearly there yet?”, were on the tip of my tongue and silenced by the sight of a humongous mountain of rock and a sneak preview of the sea.