A Travellerspoint blog

Albacete: Is It Really Boring (or not?).

We will find something of interest.

Monday 6th June
Room221, Parador de Albacete

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Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. It means someone out there is reading this stuff, so we carry on....

It was not an early start to set out for Albacete as we both had appointments with a GP, to renew our prescriptions, at the health centre in Mazarrón town. We lost the GP who has looked after since we got onto the system, as she retired, and we've been hearing horror stories about a shortage. However, we were delighted to find that the very nice and presentable doctor we saw this morning is our new GP. Hooray. We love the Región de Murcia health service, which really looks after its "clients", as it calls us. After struggling away from the farmacia with a shopping bag full of drugs, we returned to Bag End and packed the car.

Once on the Madrid road, from Murcia, the motorway quietened down and it was, like most roads in Spain, a pleasure to drive, and not much busier than the perennially empty AP7.

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Wonderful barriers of oleander form the central reservation on this motorway

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Patrons of our favourite restaurant in Puerto de Mazarrón will appreciate this!

We started to look for somewhere to have a light lunch. Our Garmin GPS was predicting possible places to stop and crossed fork & spoon signs on the motorway were popping up. We are very wary of these, as, usually, you're dumped in the middle of nowhere and the only place to eat will be in a village with streets the width of a donkey and nowhere to park. We took a big chance, hearts in mouths, and followed a crossed fork & spoon sign off the motorway. It seemed to be taking us nowhere but eventually we ended up in the small and dusty town of Tabarra. We stopped at a likely looking bar, which the Garmin had told us about, but it was CLOSED! Through the town and out the other side and voila, a restaurant with tables outside with a Bodega opposite appeared.

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It was quite busy at it approached 1.30 and the Comedor opened. However we only want a light lunch and John went in to order two 'pinchos' of tortilla and a couple of Vichys (lovely fizzy water). We sat in the car park, under the metal shade provided for cars, but now adapted into an outdoor sitting area. The tortilla was delicious and sufficient, with some wonderfully fresh bread, to see us through.

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Rather than take the motorway, we decided to stay on the N301 to Albacete, about 40 minutes away. This would have been the main Murcia-Madrid road before the motorway was built. What a lovely drive through bright yellow bushes of what John called "broom" but might be something else, fields of barley, ready to be harvested, and orchards of apricots. Plus one field of vines, presumably to supply the bodega. I think we saw 4 cars on that road, plus a "Donuts" van. Arthur explained to Stan that these were not allowed on the motorway as they might explode. He also explained why they take the centres out of donuts, which was to make them less explosive after taking out the detonators.

We arrived at the Parador, which is the middle of nothing, apart from fields of barley and an air force airfield. This also served as an airport for Albacete - a vanity project, which, like so many, has failed. Extremely polite and friendly staff (a couple of late middle-aged señors) checked us in and asked if we remember where the lift was, which we didn't. It was quite a challenge finding it as it looked like another room. We're on the second floor with a balcony looking towards the empty pitch & putt course. Empty because John did remember that they wanted vast sums of money to play on it.

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This Parador was built in 1960 to bring tourists to the area, in "Manchego" style. Yes, of course, Albacete Province is in the Region of Castilla-La Mancha. We would probably call it "colonial" style. The buildings are set in a square around a green quadrangle and a fountain in which the very numerous sparrows had great fun bathing and bitching. We had a nice cool drink in the rather warm shade there.

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Most readers will know that Albacete was once part of the Kingdom of Murcia. In 1822 the province of Chinchilla was created, composed of municipalities in the provinces of La Mancha, Cuenca and the Kingdom of Murcia. Albacete was twinned with Murcia into one province. Then, with the death of Franco and the adoption of the Constitution in 1978, the province of Albacete joined the Castilla-La Mancha Region leaving Murcia as an autonomous community, that is, it's a region and province in one. (The history is far more complicated that that, of course. But Albacete was once combined with Murcia, and the former couldn't wait to break away from the latter!).

Dinner here tonight, which will be reported upon tomorrow.

Tuesday 7th June 2022

Well today, we think that we've proved that Albacete Province is far from boring and, this evening, we hope to find something of interest in the city as well. We'll report back on all that in the next Blog. Just to round off yesterday:-

For convenience and to explore local cuisine, we ate in the pleasant restaurant at the Parador. A nice room but with very uncomfortable, very upright chairs. I'm sure they fit the style of the Parador but someone should have tried sitting in them before they ordered hundreds of the damned things.

However, the food was generally good and interesting if, as is the case in all Paradors, rather expensive. The staff were friendly and attentive and falling over each other (literally on one occasion) to serve us. We like to get the menu in Spanish as English translations can be dangerously inaccurate. However, rather bizarrely, the menu available was in English, with Spanish below each item. We had to make do with that.

For starters, Bob had a selection of Manchego cheeses which came on a board with legs. ("Quesos DOP, Queso Manchego, curado y semi-curado, con paté de queso con azafran"), that cheese dip with saffron was delicious. But why the legs?

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John risked the "Asado Manchego con huevo cocido y atún en aceite de oliva". He wasn't so keen on the "roasted red peppers" which were hot from an excess of raw tasting garlic, but the tuna and hard boiled eggs were nice!

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For mains, Bob had "Merluza de pincho rebozada en pistachos con ensalada de brotes". Hake chunks in a sort of pistachio batter, which was delicious.

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John's "Paletilla de cordero manchego asada a la manera tradicional", a shoulder of roasted lamb was very nice but we forgot to bring the mint sauce!

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Tomorrow we set off for Alarcón in Cuenca Province. We will try and catch up with today's excitement as soon as poss. Thank you for bearing with us and, again, thank you for all the comments which really are much appreciated.

Posted by Johnash 14:26 Archived in Spain Tagged spain mancha parador albacete castilla-la

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Comments

At least the food sounds good. Looking forward to hearing about downtown Albacete

by Annie

Sounds as if everything got off to a flying start. As ever a really interesting read.

by Maggie Punyer

Looks delightful! Glad that Arthur is along. I’ve always wondered about that hole in the middle of a donut! Now I know!!😉

by Linda Ketterer

Hope you have some scales with you. That lamb looks delish. Bob's choice was perhaps easier to finish. No pics of desert so assume you had no room. Weather is with you. Happy travels.

by Jean and Ron

Looks absolutely wonderful all that lovely food too. Enjoy your evening xx

by Wendy

Wow that sounds like a great start to the trip. I think Albacete has been wasted on us as just a breakfast stop on our way to Madrid. We've missed out.
The food looks lovely as does the Parador. Gordy's drooling over the lamb and I'm intrigued by the pistachio hake. I know exactly how you feel about those chairs 😂. Look forward to episode 2. Enjoy yourselves xx

by Sue and Gordy

As usual detailed and informative, food looks good. Glad Arthur is keeping you in check, I heard another version of how the hole got in the donut, but I'm sure Arthur knows best. Be safe

by dancing Jean

A great start to your trip, with perfect weather, accommodation & lovely-looking food too! Looking forward to reading about your finds in downtown Albacete. Safe, happy onward travels ...

by Ian T.

If Fred/Alan had been with you he would have had mint sauce in his pocket!Will remember that forever.Think you should have tried the pitand putt then you would have had room for a sweet. Happy travels

by Vivienne Sawyer

My favourite water is also Vichy. Thanks for takiug me with you on your trip - the detail makes me feel as if I am there! It brings back memories of a similar trip I did whilst recuperating in Spain.

by Mike Cook

Just looking absolutely wonderful. So lovely to be reading about your journey xxx

by Wendy

The cheese was of course served on Arthur & Stan"s table. Clearly a mix up in the dinning room.

by PK

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