Our ultimate goal on this road trip of four days is to go tilting at Don Quixote’s windmills in La Mancha. Given our relative locations, the town of Cuenca made a logical intermediate stopping point. There is a reason, of course: Cuenca is famous for its Casas Colgadas [Hanging Houses].
We checked in late afternoon yesterday. The hotel staff seemed friendly and the accommodation perfectly adequate, in a basic sort of way. Our hostess provided a map upon which she indicated the hotel, the main town area where we might find restaurants, and the old town area where we’d find the tourist sights of the hanging houses. After freshening up, we set off in search of sustenance.
We are travelling with a friend from our valley. After failing to spot any restaurants ourselves, Jim resorted to 3G technology to locate restaurants in relation to where we were. It was Monday. Most restaurants seem to close on Monday. Eventually, he found one that claimed to be open. We wandered to it as the rain began. It was firmly shut. Jim found another restaurant up in the old town. The rain increased in strength so we repaired to a bar to see how things developed. I wasn’t equipped with a waterproof of any description. The barman gave us some gherkins with our drinks; at least we wouldn’t starve.
The rain abated and we went outside. Francine spotted what looked like a restaurant down a side street. I investigated. It was. There was also another taberna nearby, which looked open but the outside menu implied no food on a Monday. We asked and were welcomed in. The meal was great.
This morning it was raining again. We sat watching the rain to the accompaniment of the worst breakfast I have ever experienced. There was a toast machine with, it appeared, tailor-made bread exactly matching its heating elements. I swear to a non-existent god that a 1×4 plank of balsa wood would’ve had more flavour and more texture. At least I got something resembling coffee. Advice: if anyone stops at the Buenavista Hotel in Cuenca, avoid their meagre morning offering and breakfast in town.
The rain eased off, though. We returned on foot to the old town and its hanging houses. It started raining again but a helpful local lady came out from her umbrella long enough to direct us to the best viewpoint. The Spanish are a generally friendly lot. Pants grey skies aside, here they are.
With a few dying spits, the rain eased off … mainly. We crossed that rather unattractive metal bridge to get a closer look. Personally, I was a little underwhelmed. It isn’t really the houses that are hanging, it’s their balconies, as this shot shows. The houses are certainly teetering on the edge of a precipice, though. The old town of Cuenca seems have been well protected, being essentially triangular with gorges on two of its sides. The second photograph gives an idea of one of the gorges.
My being underwhelmed by a tourist attraction is not an unusual state. In this case, given the weather, I wasn’t seeing the sight in the best light, though. In fact, there wasn’t a lot of light at all, and precious little colour. Personally, I found some of the other precipitously positioned more modern buildings more impressive visually.
Leaving the houses and their hanging balconies, we investigated the old town further. Francine began trying to make the most of the conditions by trying to get reflections and saturated colours from a saturated Cuenca. None of the locals appeared to be enjoying the conditions much, either.
Spits continued on and off. We found a very pleasant little bar for a better coffee, together with an edible pastry to fill some of the gap left by our inedible breakfast.
“Come to sunny Spain”, they said. Let’s hope we get better meteorological fortune at the Windmills, which is where we were heading next.