The purpose of our tour was to visit and film the saffron fields.
It became a wonderful 4-days-encounter of La Mancha. Our very friendly driver, Roberto, brought us,, two Belgian couples, from the Madrid airport to the hotel "De Las Letras", near the old centre of Madrid. It was a good hotel with friendly welcome. The next day we travelled to Tembleque to visit the "Finca La Prudenciana", where we enjoyed the tasteful varieties of the Manchego cheese. In the afternoon of this first day, we visited, in the neighbourhood of Valdepenas, the very modern "Finca Mari Sanchez", better known as the" Bodegas Real" where the lovely Mari explained us the process of winemaking and showed us their huge vineyards, Their red and white wines are great!
We had the opportunity to take lunch in their beautiful restaurant and to taste some local dishes. Very good.
In late afternoon we continued our tour to Almagro to check-in in the beautiful and quite Parador and visited the open-air Comedian theater, " Corral de Comedias" on the Plaza Mayor. It was nice to see how the actors could interact with the public, especially with a lot of humour. A impressive experience.
Next day, Roberto was ready to drive us to Madridejos, to join the saffron harvest. We were welcomed by the President of the "Consejo Regulador DO Azafran de La Mancha", Sr. Antonio Garcia. He took us to the saffron fields to see how the flowers were picked carefully and were brought to the "mondadoras" to separate the saffron stigmas from the flowers. What a tremendous and time-consuming job! Sr. Garcia explained us the whole process from planting till packing and showed us the big difference in quality of the La Mancha saffron, compared with other producers. He invited us to see the museum, that shows the saffron harvest in all his varieties. Well done! The ladies in the museum showed us again the picking and sang for us the "Saffron Song" We offered them a glass of Mistela. When we left the museum, we could join the festivities with folclorical music and dancing of Jotas On the street, farmers were preparing traditional dishes of "migas" and "almondiguillas" and they invited us to taste these very special and delightful dishes. We were very gratefull to have such a wounderful moment at Madridejos! It was really the top-experience of the tour.
In the afternoon, we continued to Consuegra, to visit the windmills, well known of the famous book of Cervantes, Don Quichote. It was a tremendous view over La Mancha we could experience from the top of the hill. The visit of the windmill "Bolero" and the local comedy in front of windmill "Sancho", still functioning, was interesting but a bit too short.
After this visit, we continued to Toledo and settled-in in the well-located Parador. From our room terrace, we had a incredible view over Toledo with all his spectacular monuments.
A Taste of Spain arranged us a dinner in one of the best restaurants of Toledo, "Adolfo", located in the middle of the old town. It was really good. After the jolly-good meal, the daughter of the house invited us to see their tremendous wine-cellar with a 200.000 bottles. Impressive!
With pain in the hart, we left the Parador to have a guided tour in Toledo. The friendly local guide, Sr. J.J. Espadas, took us on a tour through Toledo, and explained us in detail several monuments and their historical and regional background. Really interesting to visit Toledo with a guide like that. The tour was ended by a very tasteful lunch in the famous restaurant "El Bohio", located in Illescas, on the road back to Madrid. We took all four the menu "otono". It was a delightful, gastronomic meal with good wine and local dishes. A reference!
Back to Madrid we ended our wonderful journey witrh a flamenco show at "Corral de la Moreria" which gave us a last memory on Spain, on la Mancha, their temperament, their kindness and their hospitality.
It was a beautiful experience,
We took 3-hours of film rushes and hope to make a nice non-commercial documentary of this tour.
Thank you, "Taste of Spain", Marta and Fatima, for your splendid organisation, you patience in planning this tour for us.
We really enjoined it and we can absolutely recommend it to others.
Jose, Nadine, Willy & Hector
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