16th – 18th October 2012

by Vernon O’Byrne

The trip started with the coach pick ups in Los Alcázares, Lo Monte, Quesada and La Marina and then we were on our way to Cuenca. As the journey progressed, Karen our guide pointed out items and places of interest as we passed through Novelda, Petrer and Elda, Villena and the plains of La Mancha.

We arrived at the Hostelaria de Cañete our accommodation for the two nights and had lunch, and then we went for a walk through the town of Cañete. The walk took us to, the two Muslim gates and one Roman gate of the old walled town which dated from the 9th Century. Dinner was served later at the Hostelaria and there was music and dancing till midnight …..  at latest, it had been a long day 16 to 18 hours.

On day two, after breakfast, we headed towards Cuenca via Carboneras stopping at the “Devils Window”, our first glimpse of the high sheer cliffs. On then to the “Enchanted City”, a park filled with volcanic rock structures shaped by nature into human and animal forms, a unique experience.  We were then surprised, on our return to the coach, by a snack of bread, jamon, cheese and wine. Back on the coach and off to Nacimiento Rio Cuervo, a forest park, where we had a long uphill trek, under sheer cliffs, to the birthplace of the River Cuervo. Some of those who did not do the walk, helped prepare a very long five course meal cooked over a large wood burning stove. We had fresh tomatoes, bread, paella, Pork, sausages, freshly made alioli, fried potatoes and loads of wine. Many of the ladies then dressed up in funny costumes and there was singing and dancing for a few hours. We went back to the Hostelaria for dinner and more dancing and again no-one lasted after midnight. Could age be a factor?

On Thursday morning, having checked out of the pleasant Hostelaria de Cañete, we motored to Cuenca City, stopping en route at Cañada del Hoyo to see some of the deep circular lakes coloured by the natural minerals in the soil.  Arriving at Cuenca we saw the “Hanging Houses” built down the cliff, and then we went walk-about to the Cathedral, the Monastery and the Roman archways. We left Cuenca, for the long drive home, at 4pm arriving in Los Alcázares at 10pm.

The three days were a great success, sometimes tiring but always enjoyable and excellent value for money. Our thanks go to Karen our tour guide, Louis our driver and to the SAMM Social Scene team for their initiative and organisation.