A Travellerspoint blog

Interesting Albacete

Yes, it really is.

Room 103, in the Tower at Parador de Alarcón
Wednesday, 8th June 2022


Firstly, thank you for taking the time to write your comments. They really are appreciated!

Yesterday morning, we set out on a pre-planned tour to find out more about Albacete Province. We could have gone East or West to find some interesting parts of this somewhat ignored province. It would have been a longer drive to the West to the area south of Alcaraz and the Parque Natural de los Calares so we went East, across the vast flat plains containing mostly barley, but interspersed with vines and apricot trees, towards the town of Chinchilla.

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Here's that bright yellow broom of which there's a lot about!

In Chinchilla, we took a few wrong turnings as the road our dear Garmin wanted us to go down was 'No Entry". We luckily found somewhere to park for a few photos, then again for a coffee at the lower end of the town.

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Those of our readers who have driven towards Madrid may have wondered, as they crossed and re-crossed the Madrid railway line, why the sign "f.f.c.c. Cartagena-Chinchilla"? The mystery was solved when we were looking at a map which had railway lines marked. It is at Chinchilla that the line from Cartagena and Murcia joins the mainline in from Valencia. So our line, when it re-opens(!!), is a branch line up to the main line into Madrid! Mystery solved. f.f.c.c is an acronym for "ferrocarril", Spanish railways.

Breaking the skyline from time to time were restored windmills, symbolic of La Mancha. Of course, many have not been restored and these are now just a small, sad pile of stones, their materials having been "nicked" over time. This one had more remaining than most:-

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We then drove on across those flat plains until, suddenly, there appeared this vast limestone gorge through which the river Júcar has chewed it's way. There was no one else about. And the viewpoint we had read about gave us stunning views into the gorge of the road winding its way down, and the town of Jorquera. Bob looked up the population of this fascinating town but sadly found that the population has descended from 2,500 in 1950 to 378 currently. How very sad is that? An example of the de-population in rural Spain of which we have seen a lot of examples in the villages we have driven through.

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We carried on, round scores of U-bends and under overhanging limestone. We weren't sure we were going to fit under in places.

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We arrived at the next town on the river, Alacalá de Júcar . This town was clearly not in decline: far more accessible and not far from the motorway. It had modern dwellings and cafes on one side of the river, contrasting sharply with the old town over the old Roman bridge. There was even a sandy beach from which people were swimming in the cool-looking river. We were lucky to find a parking space in a rambla, right by the beach. At busier times, it would have been impossible. That made it very surprising that there were hardly any other visitors, apart from those on the beach. Indeed, apart from those staying in the Parador, we have seen very few other tourists.

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After a rest back at the Parador, we got a taxi into the city of Albacete (at around 7pm). Cost of taxi was 9€. We preferred doing that to worrying about finding parking. As it turned out, there were a number of parking garages in the centre, but it still seemed quite a difficult drive round the bustling city centre. Yes, bustling it was! A largely modern city with lots of not unattractive blocks of flats and a lot of busy shopping streets There had obviously been some planning control as the city did not have lots of blocks with totally different styles and nor were there empty plots, so often seen elsewhere in Spain. As so many live in the centre, the evenings would bring them out to promenade, chat over a drink, shop and, later eat. A very successful and growing city. Not a great deal of history, but we did start with El Pasaje Lodares, an elaborate, "modernist" shopping arcade, not quite the "Bond Street" we'd seen it described as, but very nice just the same.

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From there we stumbled out into the bright sunshine and the busy shopping streets which lead us to the quite impressive cathedral. On the way we spotted the glistening dome which forms part of the Gran Hotel.

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Over the road from the cathedral was the knife museum. A very impressive and comprehensive story of the history and manufacture of knives, around the world and over the centuries, Albacete being an important knife-making centre.

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The last couple of photos show the bike and "pan pipes" knife sharpeners used to (and still do) use. We used to hear the peeping pipes of the knife sharpener going round the streets of Puerto de Mazarrón but have not heard him for a while.

We had a restaurant lined up for an evening meal, only to find it closed for "descanso", or rest. We had another up our sleeves, just round the corner. Wow! Tuesday was Píncho Night. Just 1€ for each pincho chosen from a vast selection set out along the bar. Just help yourself to what you fancy and and put the used stick, which holds them together, in the pot on the table. When it comes to paying, the (very nice) waiter counts them up, adds the price of your drinks, and that's it. Bob was not very hungry and our total bill for quite a substantial "meal" (for John!) was just over 9€. The picture shows one consisting of smoked salmon rolled round a chunk of cream cheese, the other jamón with a fried egg on it. The choice ranged from one topped with a whole black pudding (small size), to large croquetas, pate with olives, etc etc. A wonderful end to our little visit to this interesting city!

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There was a taxi rank over the street and 8€ brought us back to the Parador where we finished with a drink on the lawn under the stars and the quadrangle lanterns.

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What a smashing day we had!

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Posted by Johnash 15:15 Archived in Spain Tagged albacete_province albacete_city river_júcar paradors

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Comments

Knife museum sounds interesting but love the idea if pinchos another good read.

by dancing Jean

Lovely scenery. We saw the castle at Chinchilla in the far distance on our way up to Toledo but that's as near as we got! What a lovely place Alcála de Júcar is. The beach sounds great and the town looks very interesting. Your pinchos look and sound very nice. We've been in places that do the stick counting thing but these have always been chains and yours looks very much nicer. It certainly sounds like a smashing day to us too. Enjoy xx

by Sue and Gordon

Well Albacete certainly is I teresting. The architecture looks wonderful. When you told me about the knife museum I thought you were joking but no!!
Certainly a city for our list.

by Maggie Punyer

Hi!
Great to know you are again on the road enjoying all that La Mancha has to offer (specially those pinchos!).
Thank you for opening my eyes about Jorquera and Alcalá del Jucar. I'll definitely include those if (hopefully "when") we visit Spain again.
Looking forward to your next leg of the trip

by Gabriela

Beautiful scenery and photos from your day's adventures! The hill towns were lovely and the knife museum looked fascinating. You are doing a great job of digging out the great parts of the area!

by Linda Ketterer

Another great read. Thank you.

by Annie

Very much enjoyed the read & your pics! What a mix of experiences - interesting architecture & museum, lovely scenery, great city & hill towns, delicious food - a smashing day indeed!

by Ian T.

Loved the photo of the dome. Not sure about the knife museum though but that is just me.Sounds a lovely day was had

by Vivienne Sawyer

You should write a travel book John. With all your fab quotes and snippets of commentary.
I’m afraid we didn’t explore Albacete, next time !

by Catherine

"Tuesday was Píncho Night. Just 1€ for each pincho chosen from a vast selection set out along the bar. Just help yourself" Heaven!! Be a shame not to sample all of them.

by PK

Well that was a surprise after bypassing some of them on our way North. Maybe another visit is required. Some fantastic photos to. Definitely like the food choice. All go a finca mosquito Pat is stressing me, as I stress furniture for the pool house 🤣😂 save travels xx

by Paul

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