Spanish Road Trip 2022 Day 7 - El Ejido to Puerto Lumbreras
Spanish Road Trip 2022, day 7 31st July - El Ejido to Puerto Lumbreras 261km
With our original idea of following the coast road back to Benidorm well and truly out the window, due to lack of accommodation available at a reasonable price, we decided to head inland once again, even accommodation in Cuenca was impossible to find so we headed to the nearest place available Puerto Lumbreras, situated just 14km away.
Anyone who thinks that Spain needs British tourists, seriously needs to visit areas other than Benidorm, yes Benidorm new town certainly needs the Brits, but Spain as a whole does not. This year we have had serious problems finding accommodation in all the areas we have visited, most are fully booked and those that are available are asking very high prices, due to supply and demand.
Since leaving Benidorm we have seen NO British tourists and heard no English spoken, holiday makers have mostly been Spanish Nationals enjoying other areas of their country and many more French than we have encountered in previous years.
El Ejido to Puerto Lumbreras the Journey
After leaving El Ejido on the E15 one of the very few main roads we have travelled on over the last 6 days, we headed inland to Tarbernas, an area we had previously visited and it was a pleasure to return and enjoy breakfast in one of the local cafes.
This area is famous for being the only official desert in Europe, making it ideal for filming westerns, war films and fantasy adventures, most of the spaghetti westerns of the 50´s, 60´s and 70´s were filmed here including the Dollars Trilogy starring Clint Eastwood: A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More (1965) or the classic; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly from 1966. More recently it has been used for Indiana Jones and Dr Who.
There are three individual film sets to visit in the area: Fort Bravo, Western Leone, Mini Hollywood having previously visited these a few years ago we decided to continue our travels.
As per usual spotting something of interest well in the distance and sort of in the direction we were heading, we decided to follow the signs to the Santuario Virgin De La Cabeza de Monteagud, hoping this is what we had seen, this turned into a nerve racking experience in the Sierra de los Filabres, and one neither of us will forget in a hurry.
To begin with the roads were great as we wound our way round and round the mountain, with the Santuario being visible one moment then seeming miles away the next, all was going well until the next sign post, this took us on to a very, very rough, narrow track with deep pot holes and covered in loose slate, as we began to climb higher at one point the car decided it had, had enough and we were suddenly stuck with a very steep drop to one side and the car not being able to go forwards on the loose slate. When Derek actually starts to look worried, I know I can officially panic. Finally after some very dextrous driving by Derek we were able to continue up the mountain. I can honestly say, this was one of the scariest moments EVER, what would we do half way up a deserted mountain if we got a flat tyre, I think it even beats the time in the Pyrenees back in 2019, when we found ourselves in the middle of nowhere on a fire track.
Thinking no one else could seriously be visiting this place we expected it to be deserted, but on arrival we could not believe our eyes as there was a well paved car park with several cars, and we watched in disbelief as other vehicles approached from the other direction on a well surfaced road, if only we had not followed that first sign and continued for a few more miles, we could have saved ourselves a lot of stress, but then we would not have had the adventure to remember.
As it turned out the Santuario Virgin De La Cabeza de Monteagud is a well known place in the area and the oldest data on the existence of the Sanctuary is on a tombstone dated 1638. It is also known as "Holy House of the Hill of Montahur", ( I can´t think why it got that name lol) the summit is 1350 meters above sea level.
The sanctuary is open for masses, pilgrimages, and other local religious celebrations.
Puerto Lumbreras is a municipality in the autonomous community of Murcia, located in the southwestern end next to Andalusia. This was really just a convenient place to stop for the night so we were not really here to see the sights, it was a place just to rest our heads and only 14km from Cuenca which we fancied visiting.
It does however have some places of interest to visit if you plan on staying longer, such as Castle of Nogalte, Casa del Cura, built in the 18th century. Casa de Los Duendes and Augusto Vels Museum: The Casa de Los duendes, located in the historic centre of the town built in the 19th century. Astronomy observatory, located in the west of the municipality. The Cabezo de la Jara spot: Cabezo de la Jara is the highest mountain in the municipality and is 1,247 metres high.
We enjoyed a relaxing evening at a restaurant just a few doors away from our accommodation and the food, service and price were a real surprise, 3 soft drinks with a large bowl of crisps, 1 very very large portion of potato dippers with 3 different sauces, 1 jumbo chilli hot dog with chips and the largest pizza I have ever seen... the bill..... only 24€. We would come back here just for the food alone, shame I cannot recall the name of the bar.
There were also plenty of other bars and restaurants nearby and even one that was open 24/7 right opposite.
Night 7 - 31st July Accommodation - Hostal del Sol 2 star, 40€ breakfast included.
Never be afraid to book a Spanish Hostal, (Spanish Hotel Star Ratings Explained) some of our favourite accommodation over the years has been in hostals, and this one was no exception to the rule. They just do not have all the extras that most hotels have, but for a one or two nights stay they are perfect, my only requirement is obviously no shared rooms and a private bathroom.
The room was spacious, with the cleanest of bed linens and comfy beds, the bathroom was basic but more than adequate and to top it all we even had access to Netflix. We were delighted to see two cartons of juice and two croissants with napkins sitting neatly on a tray until we realised this was breakfast, there was a coffee machine and vending machine in the lobby but the pièce de résistance was the wonderful roof terrace complete with toilet and its own vending machine, where we enjoyed a relaxing evening surrounded by fairy lights, listing to romantic music.
To be fair the fact that breakfast was not really included was not an issue and this to date was one of our favourite overnight stays on this year's road trip.
Would we return? Yes without a doubt, highly recommended if you are ever in this area.
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