Home » BLOGS » Don Quichote’s world
Greeted by Don Quichote and Sancho Panza
Spain, Portugal and Basque France Adventure 2014

Don Quichote’s world

Córdoba, Andalusia, Spain and Canary Islands
Monday, June 30, 2014

We left early morning for Toledo, often called: City of Three Cultures: Arab, Christian and Jewish. The history of Toledo dates back to the Roman occupation (Toletum) circa 192BC.

We found parking at the end of a steep hill near the 13th century cathedral or the Alcázar that sits on the outskirts of the old city. The origin of the building dates back to 3rd century Roman times. El Greco lived here for many years and some of his works can be seen in the Gothic Cathedral and the Church of Sano Tome on the Plaza Mayor.

We walked downhill through the charming old cobblestone roads towards the cathedral and gawked at all the wonderful things to buy: Spanish shawls, delicate lace, leather work, damascene articles (fine Arab-originated craftwork), steel ornaments, metalwork, artful displays of knives and swords of excellent quality, gold and black enamel work and tiles, jewelry and colorful pottery. We were obviously entering the world of Don Quichote because we were greeted by a variety of statues and momentos of him and his side-kick Sancho Panza. I could not resist buying a tile featuring the two heroes.

We cruised through La Mancha’s vineyards, olive groves and acres of sunflowers. As we neared Consuegra, we could see atop the hill, the white windmills and castle that inspired Cervantes in the sixteen hundreds to write the famous scene in his book Don Quichote. Some of these twelve windmills have been turned into museums for pottery and wine.

On our way down the hill, we stopped for lunch at a theme-park Don Quichote restaurant with a very jovial host who kept us entertained while we enjoyed the fresh mountain air and the sight of the romantic windmills against the blue sky. We had the most delightful entrée of slices of fresh sheep cheese and olives.

Then, it was on to Córdoba, home to Europe’s second-largest Old Town where we would overnight. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for ancient architecture reflecting the region’s diverse history. It was a real battle to find the street where the hotel was situated in.

Our GPS sent us into a maze of streets that got narrower as we plunged ahead of an ambulance trying to get to its urgent destination. When we emerged into what looked like a reasonably wide road, I asked a dental office for directions, and after a further dead-end, we parked the car and Herb went off on foot. Apparently, a few inhabitants sent him in different directions, but eventually, he got back to us and we knew where to go. Our fuses were all pretty short by then!

Hostal La Fuente turned out to be a beautifully adorned small hotel with a gorgeous courtyard of ornamental tiles and pot plants (oops: Americans, read ‘potted plants’!).

Maryln and I went for dinner up the road and came upon a beautifully preserved excavated Roman Coliseum with eleven tall columns dating back to the third century. Absolutely amazing! We joined the locals at an open-air restaurant. I ordered chicken kebab and to this day, I still don’t know what was served in a cone-shaped dough holder – something resembling chicken stew. Oh, well, chicken kebab surprise!

We find that ordering food in Spain is a hit-and-miss affair. The exterior of a restaurant is nothing to go by, nor the number of people frequenting the place. Sometimes the fish (we decided all white fish is called ‘merluza’) is nice and juicy, other times very dry. Actually, the same can be said for the meat. Tapas can be delight fully pleasant or very uninteresting and repetitive. There is plenty of ham, cheese, squid, calamari, barnacles, cockles and paella on the menu. The rice in the paella is usually quite sticky. We seem to be living especially on a variety of bread rolls that are really good, but I for one started to drastically cut down on. Sometimes one has to pay extra for butter.

Greeted by Don Quichote and Sancho Panza
Street near Cathedral in Toledo
Quesos, Jamones and Vino
En route to Cordoba
Entrance to restaurant
Don Quichote’s windmills
Don Quichote-style restaurant
Don Quichote’s castle
Don Quichote restaurant
Beautiful balconies, Toledo
Series Navigation<< Hanging houses and crazy plazasMoors, Christians, Romans and ‘chiringuitos’ >>