Wednesday 29th October.
We woke this morning to fog and it was cold brrrr. A quick breakfast, trip to the bread shop - where an elderly Spanish gentleman remarked to Phil that she was brave to be wearing flip flops in such cold weather - fill the van up with water and we were ready to go. Still cold and foggy for half an hour or so and then it burnt off and we were back in sunshine and it warmed up in no time. We planned to visit Laguna de Gallocanta where we were told we would see cranes, it's a bit off the beaten track and before long we were back on the hairpin bends and narrow roads. The kind of driving we hadn't enjoyed for a while and as we climbed to just under a thousand metres we were rewarded with some great scenery. We parked at the visitor centre which looks over the lagoon about a quarter of a mile away and put the pot on for a coffee. Phil looked out of the window and there they were, cranes! The lagoon was pretty dry but in the fields nearby and flying overhead were plenty of cranes for us to follow with the binoculars, they're really graceful when in flight. We were the only people there and had the visitor centre to ourselves. The receptionist/curator didn't speak English but she showed us around and left us to play with the exhibits and use the binoculars provided to get an even better view of the birds, all for a euro each. The small town has just 158 residents and there can be anything between twenty and sixty thousand cranes during the winter period.
After a pleasant hour or so we set off again for the small village of Orihuela del Tremeda in the heart of the Reserva Nacional de los Montes Universales. By now we were fifteen hundred metres up in the Sierra Albarracin but unfortunately we got our timings wrong again. We arrived just before two o'clock, just as the tourist information office, cathedral, church and convent closed for the two hour lunch! Oh well, we'll get it right one day. We had some lunch and then walked around the deserted town which I would imagine would be very busy in the summer and then set off for Albarracin, which is described as one of the prettiest villages in Spain however our navigation went a little awry so that's one for another day.
As we drove along today we enjoyed differing landscapes, plenty of arable farming on the plateau, elsewhere some forests but mainly arid scrub where small parcels of land had been reclaimed for small fields in between the rocks and outcrops. In places the land was scarred from surface excavations which was explained as we passed a massive cement works dropping down from the mountains.
Eventually after a days driving of 150 miles we arrived here in Teruel, well the outskirts anyway. We're in a car park opposite a very imposing Guardia Civil building where some dude was playing a bugle a few minutes ago. I hope reveille isn't too early in the morning!!
The tiny village of Gallocanta.
The edge of the lagoon.
The clock's wrong.