Southern Spain is one of the best places in Europe to enjoy a road-trip. The climate, landscape and the excellent infrastructure all make for an extraordinarily enjoyable and memorable experience.
Recently we took the road to enjoy one of the latest campers to join the fleet at Flamenco Campers – Lola, a superbly equipped HymerCar Grand Canyon MaxiCamper.
Castillo de Almodóvar
Our first stop was in Cordoba province, to visit Cordoba’s finest castle, Castillo de Almodóvar del Río. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you will recognise this impressive castle as the film location for ‘Highgarden’. Based on the number of North American accents we heard today strolling the ramparts, it’s clearly on a lot of American fans’ bucket lists.
It really is an extraordinary place – truly impressive. The castle is not served by very good facilities, so we were happy that we had our Flamenco Campers van, offering he flexibility to eat where we wanted.
You can read more about the Cordoba area on this site – including visits to the mosque and to the remarkable Islamic city of Medina Azahara.
To mix things up a little, we decided to continue driving north to Castilla-La Mancha, one of the three autonomous regions of Spain that border Andalucia.
Castilla-La Mancha is vast, covering almost 75,000 square kilometres, from the south, with the ‘border’ with Andalucia, up to its regional capital of Toledo.
To keep things simple, we focused on the southern part of Castilla-La Mancha. The region is sparsely populated and makes for a great road trip environment with long, empty roads and sweeping landscapes of Valdepeñas vineyards and farmland.
There are many iconic sites in the region to explore – understandably so as this is the land of the legendary Don Quijote, the title character from Cervantes most famous work.
Lola was a pleasure to drive. The camper looks big, yet once you are behind the wheel its like driving a 4×4. The high driving position is superb, giving you a distinct advantage when navigating unfamiliar roads.
Campo de Criptana
The town of Campo de Criptana is one of the handful of communities famous for their historic windmills (together with Belmonte and Consuegra) – and it had been on my bucket list of Spanish destinations for some time.
In the time of fictional Quixote the plains here would have been littered with mills. Now far fewer remain; yet on the drive here one can still spot small groups of whitewashed ‘molinos’ on modest hills that punctuate the otherwise flat landscape.
Each Saturday one of the restored mills here in Campo de Criptana is put to use.
It’s a captivating place. There is a visitor centre and information in English. You can drive right up to the mills.
This is another fascinating, charming town, and home to The Corral de Comedias theatre. This sleepy Castillo-La Mancha town is famous for having the last remaining theatre from Spain’s Golden Age – architecturally it echoes the design of a classic Manchego house with open air patio.
The theatre was closed in the 18th century by Royal decree – yet thanks to becoming an Inn (and popular place to play cards which was also banned) it survived. From the 1950s it was recognised for its significance in the story of Spanish theatre; and now it once again hosts regular performances.
The town has a classic ‘Plaza Mayor’ – perfect place to enjoy a beer and tapa.
Throughout the surrounding countryside are ‘bombos’; unique agricultural ‘casitas’ only found in this part of Castilla-La Mancha. Our road trip was taking us back home to Andalucia, so as we headed back south towards Jaén province we passed through the town of Tomelloso which is surrounded by these unique and historic structures.
They made me think of the trullo houses (in Puglia, Italy). Here in Spain these little Manchego houses are built with a dry-stone technique with a false dome of stones piled one upon the other. You see them amongst the vines yards and fields of the countryside around the town – charming. Many are still used as a place to rest for farm workers, or to store tools etc.
Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park
Our night was spent in one of Spain’s most spectacular natural parks – Cazorla, in Jaen province. Coming from Castilla-La Mancha means that one enters the park from the north, offering you the chance to drive all the way through the park – it’s a sensational route for nature-lovers!
This time I took the chance to visit the mountain village of Hornos. It’s so high up and the air is so clear that it has a ‘Cosmolarium’ for star-gazing!
Lola – Flamenco Campers
Lola, our Flamenco Campers campervan, was our home on this week’s road trip and we’ve fallen in love:)
The camper is compact and easy to drive and has superb interior design by Hymer. The double bed at the back is wide and long enough to stretch out in; and there’s another double bed on the upper deck too – ideal if you are travelling with kids. There’s a small shower & W.C. and the gas boiler provides hot water and central static heating when parked up at night. The designers have thought of everything. Also, this is the perfect camper for the cooler months of winter as it is so cosy and warm – and allows travellers to be self-sufficient. We were super-comfortable.
Our last night was spent enjoying the mild weather of the Andalusian coast – and staying in the camper made us feel totally immersed in the natural environment.