From Valencia we have travelled south to Murcia and Cartagena, then Almeria. From our hotel near the beach in Cartagena, we took a day trip to Lorca in search of old castles and found some beauties – one in Lorca and another just outside of the town. At our very first Andalusian castle, Castillo de Velez-Blanco we met an English trio – a couple and their friend that lived not far away and enjoyed visiting the castle. It was a treat to chat in English for half an hour or so while enjoying a local black coffee and las cerveza. The castle itself had a great view of the surrounding area, a very cool entry, original heavy doors that were very impressive and some great nooks and crannies to peek in to – yes, this is where Steve told me Antonio Banderas lived and caught me trying to find him here and there.
Nearby at Castillio de Lorca, Fortaleza del Sol we had an audio guide which provided some fantastic historical details and info for the imagination to chew on. Despite the heat we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the ancient castle which housed soldiers and villagers that survived a siege for years. What an amazing and scary time that would have been to live in. The ladies at the desk were excited to come across Australian travellers. They happily chatted away in broken English and Spanish to satisfy their curiosity before we started our self-guided tour – got some great photos and the underground water storage areas were amazing and a thankful reprieve from the hot sun.
It was the winding road up to this castle that featured a new and interesting…let’s call it an ‘obstacle’. Navigator Steve experienced an unnerving fear of heights as we climbed. The road itself was bitumen and only narrow in some places. However, the noises from the seat next to me made it clear what he was experiencing…discomfort. Once at the top he was fine and we enjoyed ourselves again until the downward journey. That experience should have been a lesson for me. Little did I know the worst was yet to come… Another day trip out from Cartagena we decided to head further afield than the forts we could see from the natural port area. We headed to the fort in the nearby national park called Bateria de Castillitos. Little did we know when we commenced our adventure that the road would twist and turn as we climbed higher and around the rather large hills to reach our destination. We were also unaware the road would become narrower and narrower and narrower. I must point out here, the Spanish idea of a barrier varies from strategically piled and cemented rocks, limestone blocks and small steel barriers in places on roads such as this. So, when Steve, on the left hand side of the car, found himself close to the edge of the road and looked down there was what became a regular statement ‘OMG! I can’t look down.’ Of course I drove carefully and stopped when another car approached from the other direction and two cars had to pass each other on the narrow road. Then the road became…gravel, yes, gravel. I cannot remember how long this went on for but we were both thankful to arrive. The castle was sooooooo worth the trip and we had the place to ourselves which was unreal! There were big guns, armoury storage rooms with rail tracks for weapons to be moved from one place to another. There were even creepy, dark tunnels that disappeared deeper in to the castle near the armoury. But my imagination and thoughts of zombies and vampires stopped me from entering too far <insert scared face> Two castles that were well worth the visit, despite the ‘obstacle’.