Monday, July 28, 2014

Madrid, Day 4: Windmills in Consuegra

We had already visited a lot of important sites in Madrid, therefore we had time to check out the windmills in Consuegra.

Theoretically, this is not very economical because you have to spend so much time on transportation. When you actually get there, there's not much to do except photo op. But the view is truly out of the world like something from the storybook. In fact, the windmills are in the novel, Don Quixote. I would say you can put the windmills on your itineraries if you have time to check out all the important culture sights in Madrid. This shouldn't be the priority. But yes, it's truly beautiful.

Our story of visiting Consuegra is so dramatic, where do I begin? In the beginning, I was trying to convince JJ to skip it because making the transportation seamless was just impossible. But he insisted he had to photograph the windmills.

First, we had to take high speed train to Toledo. Then we needed to take a bus to Consuegra. Consuegra is a small town. There is no train going to Consuegra, only buses. But there were not that many buses on the timetable and the timetable of the bus to Consuegra was not 100% accurate. We found out the 10am bus was not available at Toledo bus station. So we had to wait for the next bus. Bus ride was quite long. It was about 50 minutes if I remember correctly. By the time we got there, we only had one and half hours for sightseeing then we had to rush back to take the bus back to Toledo. Had we missed the bus, we would have to wait 2 hours for another bus and gotten back to Toledo really late. You would think one and half hours should be enough for photo op. After the bus dropped us off, we had to hike for 30 minutes to the top of the hill to see windmills. That means we had to make sure we had another 30 minutes to make it down the hill. So we shouldn't spend more than 30 minutes with the windmills. Get it?

When the bus dropped us off at the bus station in Consuegra. I was surprised the windmills looked really far away. I kept asking JJ if we got off too early. But two other tourists also carrying big cameras got off as well. Then we walked through the little town toward the the windmills on the hill. It seemed like a long way. By the time we started climbing the hill, it stopped being fun. It was very hot and the sun was so harsh.  I felt really hot and dehydrated. It was too late to turn back because we were in the middle of the hill. And the windmills still looked far away. On top of that, we had to finish the task under time limit. Taking your time was not an option. Talking about pressure! So I started crying. I thought I was gonna die of dehydration. Good thing JJ brought water bottle so I didn't die of thirst. The next few minutes was me cursing and hiking at the same time. JJ kept apologizing. Finally, we reached to a few lonely windmills, but these windmills were not the money shot. The famous site was those 7 windmills on the left. However, one of the lonely windmills was a shop selling drinks. I got some cold drink and hid in the shade to recuperate. The funny thing was once you stayed in shade, it felt like cooling down at least 10 degrees. All the heat came from the sunlight.

We continued to walk toward the 7 windmills, they were on the left of a castle. After we finally arrived, JJ was busy taking photos. I was lurking around, hiding in the shade I could find, and contemplating how to kill JJ. Then I managed to snap a few landscape photos. I also took JJ's portraits but refused to have my portraits taken because I was not in the mood to pose for pictures.

Then we made our way down and I was whining along the way. Consuegra was such a sleepy town. I was pretty sure the whole town could hear me cursing. They were probably wondering what that angry woman was saying since I wasn't cursing in Spanish. We saw no one walking outside when we walked back to the bus station. It was probably too hot to go outside so they stayed indoor.

It would be nice if there was a shuttle taking you up to the hill for a small fee since they do promote tourism to Consuegra. That could save self-guided tourists some agony since they already have to go through a lot of hassle just to get to Consuegra. You add 60 minutes of walking and hiking in very hot weather, it isn't fun anymore.

We got on the bus and made it back to Toledo. We saw that the thermometer at the Toledo train station indicating it was 36 degrees. Insane. I remembered the weather report said it was 28 degrees. Later I found out the weather in Toledo and Consuegra can sometimes get 8 or 10 degrees higher than the weather report suggests.

The Toledo train station was nice and cool even though there was no air conditioning. Very interesting, the heat came from sunlight and the air was not hot. The store clerk told us it got very cold at night in Toledo. Anyway, JJ took some photos in Toledo before we got on the late evening train back to Madrid.

Now, looking back. Is it worth it? Maybe, if you had time for major culture sites. Then you got nothing to lose to come here for photo op. Those travel blogs made Consuegra sound like an easy trip. It was anything but easy. However, the fairy tale like scenery was unreal, it does stay with me. But when I recall hiking in 36 degrees under time limit in Consuegra, it makes me cringe. I searched high and low, there was no local tour to Consuegra. The self-guided tourists can not skip hiking in heat. The ones who join Spain tour with Consuegra on the itinerary, they get to see the windmills without breaking a sweat. When you see the air conditioned tour bus dropping them off right in front of the windmills and you are hiking like a slave, you start to wonder maybe self-guided tour with all the freedom you can have is overrated.

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