A Halloween visit to Castilla-La Mancha

During a three-day weekend in Madrid, the love and I decided to visit Don Quixote country for a mini-break. As a very repentant procrastinator, I probably shouldn’t have gone, but the temptation of a quick trip was too much to resist. With the Airbnb booked and cash in our pockets, we took off for Campo de Criptana, a town about 2 hours from Madrid.

Windmills by fog and rain

Airbnbs with kitchens are a must for me. I’m cheap. Plus, I’d rather not be at the mercy of unknown (or possibly closed) restaurants on a long holiday weekend, especially after first arriving somewhere new. The first afternoon of our trip, we ate leftovers from home and (I) loved it.

That evening, we had dinner at a restaurant near the windmills, Las Musas. The food was good enough, even if the restaurant was a bit too loud. The service was excellent, though. Prompt and super attentive.

Bacalao from the weekend fixed menu at Las Musas

On the second morning of our trip, we were lucky to see the molinero, Juan, climb the arms of one of the windmills to start the flour-making process. An inside tour showed the process from up close along with explanations of what he was doing. My Spanish wasn’t up to understanding it all, but I was impressed anyway.

The molinero climbing the arms of the windmill to start making flour for the day.

In keeping with the whole “Route of Don Quixote” thing, we visited Toboso, the town where “Dulcinea” lived. Her former home has been turned into a (free!) museum and we stopped there and enjoyed the peek into life on a 16th (?) century Spanish hacienda. I didn’t take many photos but did practice my Spanish reading their info cards.

Wall with grapevines at the home of the woman who inspired Cervantes’ Dulcinea

After the visit to Dulcinea’s place, we ended up eating at a horrible place nearby. The drinking glasses were dirty – I went through three of them before giving up – the breadbasket looked like it hadn’t been cleaned out since covid hit and, when I’d finally had enough and wanted to pay my bill and leave, the waiter was nowhere to be found. I had to track down another server to take my money. Afterward, I had a nice Halloween palate cleanser to make the day right again.

Except for a few brief moments of sunshine, it rained the whole weekend. This made the moments of light feel magical and rare, especially while I stood on top of windy hills with magnificent views spread out in front of me. At one moment, standing in the shadows of massive drifting clouds, I could see far-off hills covered in patches of sunlight. The shadows from the clouds moved with the wind in a way that was hypnotic. It was like watching a landscape painting come to life.

The sun came out only every once in a while. Check out the hills in the background!

We wrapped up the trip with the midday meal at El Mirador de La Mancha, a hotel and restaurant. The food was DELICIOUS but I was just too hungry to take any photos. Their salad with membrillo*-impregnated cheese balls (not their description), cherry tomatoes, plus more stuff that I can’t remember was so, so good. It was the perfect ending to the weekend.

*sweet and jam-like, made of some kind of fruit.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Dia says:

    Love this! Keep living your best life! Writing will come. One love…Dia

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fiona Zedde says:

    Thanks, Dia! I’m hoping so. Getting back to work right now. Sending long-distance hugs!


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