Spanish Road Trip 2022 Day 8 Puerto Lumbreras to Villafranca de Los Caballeros
Day 8 of our Spanish Road Trip 2022 1st August - Puerto Lumbreras (Murcia) to Villafranca de los Caballeros (Toledo) 374km
Leaving behind our lovely hostal, which sadly was not available for a 2nd night we started our quite long journey to Villafranca de los Caballeros, for the 1st time in four years we were having to back track and drive on some of the same roads we had driven on in day 3, but you never tire of the scenery here in Spain as its constantly changing.
The main idea of our stop over in Puerto Lumbreras was to check out Lorca, a place we had driven past many, many times, unfortunately this was not really successful as there was no where to park in the town and although we could see a nice looking castle situated on the town boundaries there was only one sign post in the whole town, which did not direct us to the castle, so knowing we had quite a long journey ahead of us we headed onwards. Lorca will have to wait another year or two.
Lorca is probably most famous in recent times for its recent earthquakes which ocurred on May 11th, 2011 where two earthquakes shook Lorca, leaving nine dead and about three hundred injured. The first earthquake, of magnitude 4.5, occurred around 5:05 p.m. and could be felt in much of the Region of Murcia such as Cartagena, Águilas, Murcia, Mazarrón, Alhama de Murcia and even in numerous municipalities of Albacete, Jaén (including the capital and Andújar), Almería and even Alicante.
Spanish Road Trip 2022
Lunch at Riopar. On our previous visit to the famous El Mundo River on day 3, when returning to the car a friendly Spanish gentleman handed us a leaflet for a menu del dia at his restaurant, as we were passing we thought we would have lunch here, bread, soups, main course, drink and dessert only 10€ what a bargain, now the real reason I mention this lunch is due to the fact that our Spanish is often not quite perfect, but we generally get by everywhere we go, BUT on this occasion Derek did not hear all the dessert options correctly and only heard the word Manzana (apple) thinking he would get a wonderful tarta de manzana (apple tart, a very common dessert on a menu del dia), his face was a picture when the waitress arrived with a single apple on a plate, I can still see his face now, Derek loves every thing appley but not apples themselves, strange I know, anyway to save his dignity he proceeded to eat his apple and complimented the staff on the meal.
Continuing on with our journey north over the wonderful mountainous area and through deserted sleepy Spanish Villages, the landscape changes to rolling hills with windmills, and on our journey we encountered a thunderstorm which cleaned the car of dust and grime and was a welcome escape from the heat for a few kilometers.
Villafranca de Los Caballeros - is a municipality located in the province of Toledo, Castile-La Mancha, Its economy is mainly based on agriculture, largely to the cultivation of cereals, grape vines, olives and saffron, the main tourist attractions here are the natural lagoons, which are areas of protected nature reserves called Grande and Chica, Laguna Grande is one of the largest river lagoons in La Mancha, the Grande lagoon covers 72 hectares, both lagoons were declared a Wildlife Refuge in 2006
The lagoons have been used from the times of the Iron Age to the present, in the eighteenth century they were exploited to make gunpowder.
The lagoons were formed by tectonic processes and are permanent waters, but they can become dry without sufficient rain. They have depths of about 2 meters. The Grande lagoon would be classified as hypo saline of magnesium sulphated waters and the Chica lagoon as subsaline of calcium-magnesium sulfated waters.
The Laguna Grande has various spas, restaurants and hotels surroundings its banks and is a popular area during the hot summer months as its a refreshing oasis in an otherwise quite dry landscape with handy picnic spots and peddle boats for hire. There are paths surrounded by pine trees that take you to the Chica Lagoon, which is a refuge and wintering and nesting place chosen by hundreds of waterfowl such as mallards, coots, red ducks, imperial herons and flamingos, sadly being summer season there were only a few ducks visible.
To be quite honest on arrival we were not that impressed with the area, but our opinion did change the longer we stayed, we did enjoy an evening in the local restaurant enjoying a glass or two of Tinto Verano which all the locals seemed to be drinking.
Situated just across the road from the beach, which was its selling point, I mean where do you find a beach in the middle of Spain?
Oh gosh where to start with this supposedly 3 star accommodation...... We arrived late afternoon to find no one at reception, after ringing the bell a few times, a half asleep receptionist stepped out to deal with booking us in, we had obviously woken her up from her siesta. We had originally booked a twin room with a patio but were happily informed that they would upgrade us to a double, happy days.
The room was situated on the 2nd floor (no lift), so no patio, it was a standard size with the promised, quite uncomfortable double bed, the bed linen, towels and furniture had all seen better days. The major problem was the smell, it was noticeable the second you opened the door and on inspection we had no idea where it was coming from, knowing we would not really get much response from reception we opened all the windows and decided to live with it, thinking it would either dissipate or we would simply get used to it, neither of which happened.
After a rather uncomfortable night due to the bed and the smell I woke very early and with Derek still zzzzing, decided to head out for a cigarette, taking my camera with me which turned out to be perfect timing as the sun was just beginning to rise over the lake and it was just beautiful.
Getting slightly carried away taking photos, I wandered further round the lake, thinking Derek would not even miss me, unbeknown to me, he had woken up, realised I was not in the room, thought I was just going to be outside having a smoke, so decided to join me, obviously I was no where to be found and he started to panic. I had the room key with me so there was no way he could get back in, there was no one on reception to ask if they had seen me, eventually I headed back to find a relieved, if not slightly annoyed Derek.
We seriously have no idea how this hotel managed to get a 3 star rating, what they class as a patio is actually an inner courtyard which only a few rooms have access to, we will not be returning that´s for sure. But I fully enjoyed the sunrise, which made the nights stay worth it. On with the journey...... Next stop Cuenca.
Additional Pictures Below
Spanish Road Trip 2022