• Morgan Fagg

Following in Don Quijote’s footsteps

Updated: Feb 27, 2020

New Year's Eve in La Mancha

Anna and I went to Don Quijote country for New Year's Eve but needed some wheels for the adventure to Belmonte in La Mancha.

I checked out some rental cars for the end of December and the prices were ridiculously high.

I deliberately didn’t enter the 31st into the website as some sites apparently raise the prices when the cookies recognise repeated searches for particular dates.

I was left with a few choices for cars which went from Ford Fiestas for almost the same price as a Maserati. Naturally I would have gone for the Maserati to go to the fiesta if I had to but €270 is a lot of money for 24 hours and was almost ten times what I would expect to normally pay for a car in Spain.

I found a nice valued Mercedes van for €32 but Anna wanted to travel by car. Once upon a time, a Mercedes Benz really impressed people.

I found a Ford Focus for €50 and almost booked it but when I read the small print, I saw that the car had limited milage of only 160 kilometres but I wanted to travel 168 kilometres and then back again the next day.

Each additional kilometre would have cost 45c which made the Mercedes and even the Maserati look more and more appealing but then I found a Fiat 500 for a more reasonable €80.

No need to buy or rent a donkey or horse, no need to pick a fight with windmills, we were able to fly down to Belmonte in our little Fiat 500.

What I found most interesting about renting this time apart from the Ford Vs Ferrari prices was the fact that I started to consider e-cars and hybrids which I had never considered before because of the costs. At one stage I saw a Lexus hybrid car and thought hmmm, interesting.

I have seen a Tesla Model 3 in the car rental parking space in the past and think that society is finally embracing electric and hybrid cars.

With a 160km drive and nowhere to charge it by Belmonte Castle, I would need an e-vehicle capable of more than 300km. Having never used a hybrid vehicle, it is not clear to me how efficient they are and how often you have to charge them or what you do if they break down.

In a village in La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind, Anna and I stopped and bought a bag of grapes so we had the necessary 144 grapes for the 12 guests to celebrate Nochevieja.

€20 for fuel for a 300 kilometres trip in the little Fiat is fine with me but as petrol prices rise, and if car rental prices included better value hybrid and electric vehicles than gas guzzlers might just be as much a piece of the past as the piece of ass Sancho Panza followed Don Quixote around on.

Don Quijote country might be a rural touristic route but I doubt many people would try it on a donkey or stallion and with e-vehicles becoming more accessible, you can still haul ass without renting a donkey and I don't think Belmonte will need to build a donkey Hotel for those following in Don Quijote's footsteps.

I love getting invited to Belmonte so check out these grape photographs from over the years.

BIT OF A MOUTHFUL: 144 grapes for the 12 guests as is the Spanish tradition on New Year's Eve.

FERTILE IMAGINATION: The old and new co-exist all around Belmonte.

BAGS PACKED: Anna outside her sister-in-law's family home in Belmonte.

GHOSTLY CASTLE: The beautiful Belmonte Castle covered in fog.

PLENTY OF ACCOMMODATION: Knights camped out for a tournament at Belmonte Castle.

KNIGHTS OUT: All dressed up and looking their best, these guys ended up in a fight.

CLASH OF THE TITANS: Teamwork also plays a part.

ALMOST: Tick tick twelve

BOOM: The bells and fireworks ring in the New Year in the town square.

GRAPEFUL: Anna enjoys her 12 grapes at a celebration in the town square back in 2016.

GET OFF YOUR ASS: A statute depicting Don Quijote on his horse in Belmonte.

UPDATE: You could be the town fool and still have a smartphone.

FLYING THE FLAG: American Corey McDaniels takes a stab at being an Irish knight.

JUST LET GO: As my boss used to say, "Be the arrow, not the target."

CHAIN GANG: I wonder if their act ever gets rusty.

AT THE HEARTH OF IT ALL: Anna at the hearth getting the party started with bellows.

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