There are but two or three towns in Spain where the knight errant Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza have any adventures. One of these is Puerto Lapice, just south of Madrid and in the heart of La Mancha where the Don is knighted and the town is also near to the famous “Tilting at Windmills” site. Needless to say the inns and shops of Puerto Lapice abound with souvenirs of the Cervantes characters.
There are opportunities to have your photo taken with the characters, with their creator Miguel Cervantes or as the Don himself.
There are several inns in the small town each one purporting to be the very same one, “The Venta Inn” in which Don Quixote was knighted. We tried several of these of course and decided that the one with the best tapas was probably the genuine article.
On a hill high above the town stand three wonderful examples of the very windmills Cervantes had in mind when he decided that the rather fanciful knight mistook one for a giant and attacked it mounted on his trusty steed Rocinante. We were there long enough to see the windmills in all lights from early morning to floodlit night time.
The walk to the top of the hill early one morning was worth the effort just for the wild flowers growing beside the track.
Travelling further north, we skipped around the very busy city of Madrid, the closest we got was the tiny town of Pinto just off the motorway. Even here we were close enough to the city to have to take motorways instead of our preferred small roads. The countryside was still covered by olive trees wherever we looked but the further north we got the greener it appeared until climbing higher in the hills of Northern Spain we found rivers with actual water in them. (Even a few trout but I left them in peace.)
There is still plenty of evidence of the hot summer months to come, however, as this avenue of budding trees grown for their shade along a city street testify.
We had travelled this part of our route several times in the last twenty years so we hurried on to Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees Mountains where we knew of a very good place to stop at the top of the pass leading down in to Saint Jean Pied De Port in France.
This is a famous stop on the pilgrim route to Santiago De Compostela and has some fine hospitals and churches.
It also has some very interesting views and wildlife because of its altitude.
An as yet unidentified moth.
A pair of pond skaters.
An enormous leech.
and a hairy spider. All found along the stream running through the Roncesvalles pass.
The beauty of sleeping in a motorhome is that the evening view is still going to be there in the morning when you wake.
France from Spain at bedtime.
The same valley at breakfast time.
France promised from the morning’s view to be a bit cloudy and cold and for some days, unfortunately, it was.