Mrs Paella has been given the honour of writing a guest blog about her recent trip to Alcalá del Júcar with some friends. This was done as a guided day trip with David’s Coach Trips.
Our first stop was Almansa for coffee and a second breakfast for some. It came as a bit of a shock to realise how much cooler it was here compared to down on the Costa Blanca. This town is presided over by a Moorish castle which sits atop a white limestone crag. It is possible to visit for a mere €3. Entrance is via the tourist information office located half way up the hill towards the castle. Unfortunately it is not possible to climb the steps up to the castle without paying the entrance fee. The TIC also has an interesting exhibition area downstairs.
After leaving Almansa we climbed up onto the plains of La Mancha, Don Quixote country, past many vineyards growing grapes for the famous La Mancha wines. The guide pointed out the solitary rose bush at the end of each row of vines. These are used as an early warning system with regard to fungus and pests. The vines and rose bushes suffer attacks from the same kind of diseases but these appear in rose bushes before they appear in the vines giving time for the vines to be treated.
The plain of course was very flat but this changed once we reached the Rio Jucar gorge which winds its way many metres below the plain and through the small town of Alcala. Jose, our driver, was an expert at negotiating the hairpin bends down to and through the town. To say the location is breathtaking is an understatement. From the town we climbed up to our lunch stop at the Restaurante El Mirador. As can be guessed from the name the views were stunning.
After lunch, Jose dropped off those who wanted to visit the Cuevas del Diablo. For €3 you could wander through the tunnels and rooms of this cave complex and finish with a drink at the bar (included in your ticket) with a view down to the river and village. The various rooms are home to an eclectic collection of old machines and other random objects.
Exiting the cave it was a steep wander down through the old town past the castle to the Hostal Rambla where Jose was waiting for us. It was a very enjoyable if long day trip from the Costa. To fully appreciate the town and surrounding area an overnight stop is recommended.