Southern Spain - Not like Australia

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Europe » Spain » Castile-La Mancha » Toledo » Escalona
July 23rd 2011
Published: October 24th 2011
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It was a pretty short drive the next day. The famed city of Toledo, as in Holy, was our destination. We tried to follow CM2019 but it was going to take 4 hours. Our need for a scenic drive was trumped by our desire to sit on our bums and have a cold beer. We asked the Irish lady in the TomTom for the quickest route. She wanted us to take a road called N400. At some point in the last few years the Spanish had built a new road. It didn't look all that new to us, but the TomTom didn't have it (just how old were these maps anyway?). We did the intelligent thing and followed the signs, which really freaked out the gps – she yelled at us for a while before shutting down in a huff.

Driving through Southern Spain country felt like Australia, just with a lot fewer dead animals and a lot more ruins on the side of the road. And more castles. And every time you came over a hill or around a bend there was postcard-like white washed town clinging to the sides of dusty hills. So, I guess not so much like Australia after all.

We were heading west, further into the centre of the country, deeper into Castilla - La Mancha. This was Don Quixote country – windmills could be spotted occasionally high on hills, beckoning tourist visits to the nearby town, and the country was higher. Dry, windy and hot, it was I thought of when I thought of Spain.

The first campsite we headed for in Toledo didn't exist anymore, so we headed for Camping El Greco.

We found the most expensive campsite we had all ever seen quite easily – you could smell the ripoff a mile away. Huge and overpriced, and the price didn't even include the blasting equipment necessary for getting tent pegs into the rock. It did have a pool with a great view of the old city... which you had to pay extra for. It was, however it was a reasonable walk or a short bus ride into town. We did score some Vegemite from the Australians next to us. They were just finishing their Europe drive so were offloading whatever gear they could.

The walk into town was an easy 2km, and pleasant enough in the early morning cool. Toledo proved to be a great old city. With a rich history, stretching back to pre-Roman times, it retained a significant amount of mudejar, or Moorish, architecture, which gave it a great fell. I had to hand it to the Moors – they had a hell of a lot more style than the Catholics. A shame, in a lot of ways, the reconquista.

It was stinking hot, but not humid, so walking in the shade of the old city was comfortable enough for us, and in a lot of the wider streets shade had been put up. The heat gave us plenty of excuses to stop for a beer. Not that we needed excuses, truth be told.

The Alcazar was one of the famous buildings of Toledo. Striking from a distance, it had played a large part in Spain's history, including having been famously besieged by Fascist forces during the Civil War. We headed off to have a look, but baulked at paying the entrance. Up close it wasn't that great – big, sure, but there were so many more interesting buildings to see in Toledo, and the streets themselves called out to be walked along.

We polished off a few more beers, wandered down a few more alleys, then headed home. On the bus – by 5 in the arvo the mercury had hit 38 and it was too damn hot to walk.

Additional photos below
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24th October 2011

Your Toledo campsite
looks and sounds a lot like the one we had in Seville. Did you buy anything made of Toledo steel?
25th October 2011

I got an excellent little pocket knife from Klaire's parents.
21st November 2011

I have traveled extensively in the US using a van and now a truck with a camper. It is so much more convienent than setting up a tent especially in bad weather. Next year I may rent a van in Europe for the same reason. Is the van that you guys are using too small in back to put a makeshift bed in. Or do you just prefer using a tent ?
24th November 2011

the berlingo
there would be plenty of room to set up a bed in the back of a van like the berlingo, but mostly we weren't in a hurry and it was easier to set up a tent to have a place to sit around in, cook dinner, that sort of thing.
25th November 2011

Thanks for the info on the van. I will keep it in mind for next year when I will be re-exploring Europe. I explored it back in the 70's in my volkswagon van and it was great. Time to do it again.

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