Go with Ted

Travel, trains, drinking and cooking with Ted

Alicante and Cuenca


and onward by train to Valencia and Zaragoza


This page combines notes from three trips that included visits to the historic city of Cuenca (pictured). The first, in January 2014, was primarily an excuse for train travel in Spain, on both high-speed AVE trains and scenic regional lines, to part of Spain we had never been to. From Cuenca we returned to Málaga by a very roundabout route via Valencia and Zaragoza. Ted and I liked Cuenca so much we decided we would happily return and in March 2017 the opportunity arose to visit once more, this time with our friend Dave. We arranged to meet up with Dave at Alicante airport and took the opportunity to visit the city. In October 2019 we returned once more, this time with our friend Ken, as part of a journey from Andalucía to Aragón.


The 2014 and 2017 journeys are described below, as is the 2019 visit to Cuenca. There is some practical information and a bit of railway buffery at the end of the page. Anyone who would like further information can contact Ted or myself (and those more interested in the historic buildings, churches and museums should look at a proper guidebook). The 2014 visits to Valencia and Zaragoza were brief stops on the journey and we have explored them in a little more depth since – see Guide to Valencia  and JOURNEYS SPAIN Zaragoza and Tarragona . The 2019 trip from Andalucía to Aragón is described in full in Andalucia to Aragon .

cuenca24Castel de la Santa Barbara, Alicante

2014 Benalmádena – Málaga – Madrid – Cuenca

The day began with a local train to Málaga, a cup of coffee, then onwards by the 1105 AVE high speed train to Madrid. The journey takes two and a half hours for the 513 km, a far cry from the eight hours it took when we first made the journey in the 1980s. The line tunnels through the coastal mountains followed by the endless olive groves of Andalucía to Córdoba (the only stop for this train). After that it’s through the middle of nowhere (actually the Sierra Morena) – there are still many empty parts of Spain, despite all the development of the last thirty years.  We pass the depressed-looking former coal-mining town of Puertollano. Next is the abandoned Ciudad Real Central Airport, which cost €1billion or so to


construct, opened in 2009 and closed in 2012 (pictured). It was briefly known as Don Quixote Airport – which suggests the intriguing prospect of a flight from Don Quixote to Robin Hood, from one white elephant to another. Unlikely, as its’ sole international flight lasted six months. Ciudad Real itself is historic and meant to be interesting, but there is not a lot visible from the railway line and we weren’t impressed when we visited for a few hours in 2018 (see Journeys – Huelva and Badajoz). Finally, we arrived at Madrid Puerta de Atocha station – the huge AVE station dwarfs the old station, which now boasts a botanic garden inside.


By the exit farmers are demonstrating outside the Ministry of Agriculture, but we head for lunch at El Brillante opposite the old station. On a good day it is ideal for people-watching outside over a bottle of wine, inside it’s a Madrid fast food institution boasting that it serves the best bocadillos de calamares (huge baguettes stuffed with fried squid rings) in Madrid….we are spotted by the bar staff on entry and served in seconds with the sandwich and a caňa of beer (or two). Then it is time for the onward train to Cuenca via the newly opened AVE line to València and Alacant/Alicante….it takes only fifty minutes to Cuenca Fernando Zobel station, a few kilometres from town by ‘connecting’ local bus. After we all boarded and paid our fare it sat there for more than thirty minutes before trundling off.


2017 Benalmádena – Málaga – Alicante


There are no direct trains from Málaga to Alicante so instead we chose the alternative cross-country journey by coach. Alsa, one of the main bus companies in Spain operate several coaches each day – the slow journeys take up to 8½ hours, stopping along the way. However, there is a daily express journey calling only at Granada and Murcia, which takes 7 hours, including a lunch stop at a venta near Baza. This was the first time I’ve bought a ticket using the Alsa website which was easy to use. It was quite expensive but worth it – the coach (pictured) was one of the newest in the Alsa fleet and I could choose a single seat with an excellent view (small bears don’t take up much room).

cuenca21After the Granada stop we are in new territory. Very quickly we enter hilly, sparsely populated country (apart from billions of olive trees). The lunch stop at Restaurante El Romeral is busy, though there is plenty of time for a huge sandwich and a beer. Once we reach Lorca it becomes more populated until we roll into Murcia – another corner of Spain to visit at some point. We reached Alicante on time at 1700.

Alacant /Alicante

As we make our way to the hotel, on a Saturday Alicante (Alacant in Valenciano) is already jumping. The lads and lasses of Alicante are out on the hoy in groups, queuing outside the music bars. In Southern Spain this is a quiet time of day, even on a Saturday, but it looks like the locals have learned how northern Europeans (mis-)behave – either by visiting nearby Benidorm or on their summer school English language courses in Dublin or Brighton. However, it is all friendly enough, and much less drunken than at home in Durham. We are on our own until we meet Dave tomorrow and our challenge, after checking in, is to find some quieter bars where we can eat and drink away from the crowds and the loud music.

cuenca15I’ve visited Alicante once before, on my first ever trip to Spain (and first plane journey) in the 1970s. This was a university geography field trip to Benidorm to study tourism (!), heavily subsidised courtesy of the Scottish Education Department. We soon discovered that booze and tabs were incredibly cheap, and it is the only time in my life that I’ve smoked like a chimney (on the occasions when I was sober enough to coordinate hand, cigarette, mouth and breathing). We must have passed through Alicante on the way to and from the airport – there would be no motorway then. A group of us went to Alicante for a visit one day – I remember nothing about the visit, though the city centre seafront looks vaguely familiar. I have a bus ticket to prove it – 40.50 pesetas for the 40km journey. The original price on the ticket is 27ptas, overprinted with 31ptas, and 40.50ptas written over that, which suggests that inflation may have been a problem at the time.


cuenca22Today, Alicante makes good use of its seaside location. There is a beach, the Playa del Postiguet, right in the centre of town with a wide paseo behind with crowds walking along the front. The old central docks have given way to a large marina, with hotels along the quays. (Alicante remains a substantial port, as we saw from the coach as we drove into the city). The main rambla, Rambla Méndez Nuñez, leads up into modern commercial and shopping areas, with slightly newer areas to one side and the old town, cathedral and town hall to the other, northern side. On the hill above the old town, the castle, Castel de la Santa Barbara, overlooks the city.

cuenca36We had a couple of beers in the old town and one in Kiosko Rafael, the bar beside the beach in the centre of the city, which is nowhere near as expensive as it could be given the location. We also found Calle San Francisco, a street of tapas bars such as El Rebujito, and an Andalucían style freiduria, El Burlaero, selling plates of fried fish, which is where we eat. Finally, we visit a couple of small bars close to the market and the hotel before we give up for the night.

Sunday morning is quiet as the city recovers from Saturday night. In a little street behind the hotel there are two cafes serving breakfast, so I have my fresh orange juice, tostada con tomate and coffee before we set off for the day. We are not meeting Dave at the airport until mid-afternoon so there’s time to explore.


We take the tram from the underground Mercat/Mercado stop to the beach, Playa de San Juan, in the suburbs (pictured). Alicante has developed a modern tram network with several lines in the city and a long route to Benidorm which replaces an old narrow gauge railway (See railway buffery 1 for more detail). The beach is already quite busy. A few people are sunbathing, though it is only March and most people are being active, jogging or playing games.


After a walk along the beach we take a tram back to town and make our way to the castle. The easy access is by a lift from the coast road – there’s normally a small charge but the cash machine is not working and everyone ascends for free. From the entrance a tunnel leads inside the castle hill to the lift shaft, and at the top you emerge in the middle of the castle. It is a classic defensive site and while the current buildings are mainly sixteenth century there are Roman and Iberian remains. From several vantage points there are great views over the city and the port in all directions. There’s also a café bar so we enjoy a beer in the sun before returning to the city centre and the airport bus.


The airport is busy, mainly with flights to and from the UK, as people head for Benidorm and the other nearby resorts. Back in town with Dave the airport bus drops us off by Kiosko Rafael by the beach, so we pause there before checking him in and planning the evening. Since we’ve carried out our research the previous night we try many of the same places, plus a few others. As a start to the evening, Soho Bar in the open air under the trees in a small square (Plaza Portal del Elche) is very relaxing before we head for the tapas bars.

In the morning we breakfast in another nearby café, then head for Alacant Terminal station. We walk, because the tram line stops a few hundred metres short of the station at Luceros – did the money run out? The high-speed AVE train to Cuenca takes ninety minutes and the countryside is pleasant. The bus service into town is now regular – every 30 minutes Monday-Friday and hourly at weekends. It is still only mid-morning when we reach the hotel to leave our bags, but there is a room already vacant and we make ourselves at home briefly before heading for town.


cuenca6Plaza Mayor, Cuenca

cuenca29As mentioned in the introduction we have now visited Cuenca three times – in 2014, 2017 and 2019. On our first visit in 2014 we had a rest after arrival, then headed out for a couple of hours early evening to get our bearings. Cuenca is not that big a city. The hotel is in the modern town, not much more than a 10 minute walk from the centre. However, from the modern city it’s a steep climb to the ciudad antigua (old city – also called the ciudad alta – upper city), in a spectacular setting on a ridge between the gorges of the rivers Júcar and Huécar. It was a cold night but dry. It was not that well signposted but we found our way to the Plaza Mayor, the centre of the old city, which contains the cathedral and town hall. We had a couple of beers and tapas in Los Arcos, a bar next to the arch into the Plaza Mayor. Round the corner we found a bar called Glasgow (!) – looked like a mock-Irish late night place – but it was shut. After the climb and the beers we were exhausted and returned downhill and back to the hotel, picking up some odds and ends to eat in the nearby supermarket.

cuenca7In the morning it was dull with the occasional shower – not bad enough to prevent a proper explore, and the visibility was good. This time we caught the town bus outside the hotel, through the shopping area, and up to the Plaza Mayor by a different route than we had walked (presumably because the bus can’t climb stairs). We explored the alleys leading to clifftops with views over the gorges, then walked to the topmost area of the upper city. It is known as Castillo and looks like it has been built inside the walls of the old castle. It has the appearance of a formerly poor area now being gentrified by craft shops and restaurants. There are tremendous views over the city and the gorges wherever you turn. We walked back to the Plaza Mayor, past the cathedral, which has a strange unfinished looking façade that looks out of character, past the Museum of Abstract Art in the casas colgadas (hanging houses), which are the best known symbol of the city and down to the Puente de San Pablo bridge. From the rickety bridge there are great views back to the old city and the hanging houses, perched on the side of the cliff. From there we walked along the bank of the Rio Huécar into the modern centre. Ted liked the hanging houses so much he brought one home.


cuenca16Time for lunch. We discovered that Cuenca is one of these towns where places compete to offer good free tapas. There is a row of cafes and bars in Calle San Francisco (close to the central Plaza de la Hispanidad). The first one said it specialised in prawns. There was no sign of them but we were served excellent home-made pork scratchings, an empanada and tortilla. La Ponderosa looked like a basic boozer – no outside terrace, few seats, mainly standing room, and a few desperados at the bar. It turned out that it is well known for serving some of the best food in town.  There were hunks of meat, bits of animal we didn’t recognise and didn’t dare ask, fresh tomatoes, asparagus and field mushrooms and an interesting way with fried eggs. The tapas were good and we resolved to have a proper meal next time. Our last stop before leaving town was the bar of the Restuarante El Coto de San Juan, which served huge tapas. It was packed on a damp January Wednesday, and the restaurant looked popular too. We headed for the station, stuffed and watered.


In 2017 our visit was a repeat of our first. In the daytime we caught the bus to the Plaza Mayor then walked uphill and through the old castle walls to Castillo. This time the weather was much better (it was March) and for a Monday there are quite a few tourists around. After we walked down to the bridge across for the view of the casas colgadas we called in for a beer and tapa on the terrace of Bar Picaro, by the side of the cathedral. Glasgow Bar was still there, but it looked firmly and permanently shut. We stop in the bar of Restaurante Las Brasas on the road downhill from the Plaza Mayor – its busy, the restaurant is packed, and they have a choice of beers. At the foot of the hill we have a beer outside Bar El Espliego, a basic boozer by the River Huécar, and a final one in Ponderosa before it closed at four – which is enough to convince both Dave and I that it is the place to head back to later – it has not changed at all since our first visit.


Which is exactly what we do in the evening, after a walk to the bridge and up to the old town to take some photos at dusk. We had a vague intention of having a meal but decide to have a few tapas first. By then we’ve had enough to eat. The quality is impressive and we feel slightly guilty that we don’t spend more than we do. We’re drinking red wine this evening (enough cold beer at lunchtime) and the house wine is excellent. We look at the wine list and it is as good as the food, with some very unusual (and expensive) bottles. We’re drinking by the glass but end up having more than a bottle – it’s no more expensive and our final drink is topped up by the remains of a bottle. Excellent place.


In 2017 Cuenca was the end of our trip and the following morning,  after coffee and doughnuts before catching the station bus. we caught the AVE to Córdoba and changed for Málaga. There was a few minutes delay because the conductor couldn’t get the doors to open – they had to be released individually – but eventually we can board. Three hours and almost 700km later, much of the time travelling at 300km/hr, we were in Málaga in plenty time to meet friends for a lunchtime and afternoon tour of the city’s bars.

cuenca14In 2019 we had two nights in Cuenca and, after showing Ken the sights we had plenty of time to check out the bars and beers. Though we didn’t visit them all (we have a habit of turning up at places on their day off), in the old town Picaro, Los Arcos and Las Brasas are all still there, though Glasgow Bar is definitely defunct – most of the letters have fallen off. On the way down the hill and into the city centre we called in at Mesón Candela (C/La Moneda 44) and sat at an outside table watching the world go by. We crossed the Río Huécar cofbridge and called in at Bar las Hoces at C/Las Torres 4, which sold the local craft beer Tormo on draught.  We called in at La Ponderosa which was quiet – it was early and most people were sitting outside the neighbouring bars. We’ve still not had a meal there, but we did try the beer and tapas in the two nearby bars which were perfectly good. We visited El Coto de San Juan both evenings (pictured), where the tapas remain impressive and a bar (we can’t find the name anywhere) on the street leading to the town station had a good selection of bottled beers. In a square off the main road near the hotel (the address of the square seems to be C/los Hermanos Becerril 14), is Diamante Tapas, a modern style bar with excellent fish and seafood tapas, and Café Bar Don Julián, which we used for breakfast. Our final call before leaving Cuenca was the cafeteria in the bus station, which provided cheap coffee, churros and tostadas.

2014 – Onward from Cuenca

cuenca11Back in 2014 the trip continued. Ted and I left Cuenca from the town station on the 1536 Regional train along the old pre-AVE line to Valencia. See railway buffery 2 for more about the line. The journey takes three and a half hours, compared to one hour by AVE, but it’s a far more scenic and interesting journey. There were few passengers which suggested the line could be at risk of closure (and indeed it is likely to close in 2022). We pootle through the mountains of the Serranía de Cuenca, past off-the-beaten-track villages in the middle of nowhere. Some impressive


engineering was necessary to build the line…..there are several tunnels and long, high viaducts.  Eventually we descend and reach more fertile land as we cross the regional border from Castilla-La Mancha into Comunitat Valenciana.  The earth is rich and bright red – sort of like Kincardineshire with olives.  We pass through the agricultural area around Utiel, Buñol (of tomatina festival fame), then, as it gets dark, through the suburbs and into Valencia. The train terminated at the suburban San Isidre station and everyone transferred to the narrow-gauge Metrovalencia train to the centre of the city at Plaza Espanya station (Metrovalencia is a narrow-gauge suburban rail, underground and tram system operated by the Valencian regional government). We found our way from there to the Estació del Nord and our nearby hotel. Tired, we decided on a quiet night in……and to leave exploring Valencia to a longer visit in the future. Which we did in 2015. The result is a city guide to Valencia, which has been updated following a further visit in 2019 – see Guide to Valencia

Valencia – Zaragoza – Málaga – Benalmádena

cuenca8Estació del Nord, Valencia

The 0917 ‘Intercity’ train is a three coach diesel unit that takes five hours to cover the 359km to Zaragoza. See Railway buffery 3 for more information about the railway.  It’s a scenic journey, with the first half to Teruel being particularly worthwhile. I guess there were about twenty of us on the train, and there are three trains a day each way. Renfe (Spanish Railways) has had the accountants in, working out which trains and lines are most heavily loss-making, so the line could be at risk. However, there are also plans to upgrade the line as an alternative freight route between France, northern Spain and the Mediterranean ports.

cuenca40The slowest train in Spain – in Teruel a tractor goes faster than the train

The train heads south out of the North Station (well…why not) then, after it turns towards the north, there is a view of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia’s major new attraction. After half an hour the train reaches Sagunt/Sagunto, overlooked by a huge castle. It (the train, not the castle) reverses, so sit facing backwards leaving Valencia and you’ll be facing forward for the bulk of the journey.

cuenca42Immediately the countryside changes, the line climbs and the area is much less developed than the coastal strip – plenty more olives for the time being.  Though there is the occasional industrial site and the autovia is nearby some of the time, the area is attractive. The villages and towns all have very large and prominent churches, they’ve either been very religious or rich. After Segorbe the scenery becomes wilder.  The line winds and climbs further, eventually passing a huge wind farm to reach Barracas (a one street village with a truck stop on the autovia). The former narrow-gauge line that ran nearby from the iron ore mines at the strangely-named Ojos Negros (Black Eyes) to the coast (shown in green on the old map) has been converted to a vía verde cycle and walking route. A day spent walking down from Barrajas to Caudiel station would be an excellent trip from Valencia, the section being remote from the main road.

cuenca41Teruel – for more about the city see Andalucia to Aragon

We cross the regional boundary into Aragón and the province of Teruel and the scenery opens out into high plains. We pass two neighbouring village halts, Rubielos de Mora and Mora de Rubielos, which must cause problems for the post office. The line reaches a summit of 1223m above sea level at Puerto de Escandón and there are several very slow stretches due to poor track and weak bridges. Soon we travel through a region of dry river beds which have sculpted mini-canyons in the red earth and rock, then down to the provincial capital of Teruel (the only provincial capital in mainland Spain not linked by direct train to Madrid, I read somewhere), two and a half hours after leaving Valencia.

cuenca9The next hour is the least interesting of the journey, across a flat, high, cold-looking plain with arable agriculture sustaining a series of scruffy small towns and villages. Eventually, past Calamoche, the line climbs out of the wide Río Jiloca valley into the hills and we travel slowly through a series of small villages, round sharp bends, over weak bridges and over a pass into the Carineňa wine region. From the village of Encinacorba through Carineňa itself there are vineyards everywhere. The final stretch is a fast, flat run through the inevitable industrial areas, centros commerciales, railway and motorway junctions and disused farmland around the city and into Zaragoza.


The principal Zaragoza station for both conventional and AVE trains is the modern Zaragoza Delicias, on the edge of the city. We had a few hours to spare so we took the frequent bus into the city centre, walked down the Avenida de la Indepencia to the Plaza de España, and into the warren of old streets that make up the historic city. A modern tramway runs through the city centre (on battery power, to avoid wires messing up the views) and we resisted the temptation of jumping on a tram heading for Mago de Oz (Wizard of Oz!). See railway buffery 4 for more on the tramway. We returned to Zaragoza in 2017 and went to see the wizard – for more about our visit see JOURNEYS SPAIN Zaragoza and Tarragona . The huge Plaza del Pilar provides good views of the basilica/cathedral, where I took a few photos, then it was time for food and drink.


There are plenty of bars in the old quarter. Most take a long afternoon break and were just closing but we managed to find one (La Pilara, C/Cuatro de Agosto), with some interesting tapas (bacon stuffed mushrooms and a different take on boquerón’s en vinaigrette). The beer is Ambar, locally brewed, much the same as any other Spanish lager though maltier.  Then it was back on the bus to the station and we caught the 1733 AVE direct to Málaga with a cheap first class advance ticket. About 850km in four hours, with a free snack, glass of Rioja and a spectacular sunset thrown in. We reached Málaga on time, caught the suburban train to Arroyo de la Miel, and were home by 2245.

A few practicalities:

Trains. There is no need to book tickets on the Cuenca – Valencia and Valencia – Zaragoza trains. They are second class only and there are no cheap advance fares. For AVE journeys there are some very good advance ticket deals online at www.renfe.com. For details of travelling by train in Spain ask us and/ or visit The Man in Seat Sixty-One www.seat61.com . Turista is second class, turista plus, where available, is a first class carriage without service, preferente is first class and includes a drink and snack on certain services.


Hotels:  In Alicante we stayed at the 3 star NH Rambla de Alicante, on all three visits to Cuenca at the 4-star NH Ciudad de Cuenca (pictured) and on our 2019 visit to Valencia at the 3 star NH Ciudad de Valencia, booked at www.nh-hotels.com . All are modern business type hotels with good quality rooms with aircon, free wifi and quiet – and very good deals at off=peak times. The Cuenca hotel is very modern and comfortable, the Alicante hotel is a bit more cramped but very central, close to the Mercado tram stop, the central market and a small Supercor Express supermarket open all hours and the Valencia hotel is fine, though a bit out of the city centre. All have cafes nearby if you do not wish to pay for an hotel breakfast.


In Cuenca there are a number of fine looking hotels in historic buildings in the old city, which look ideal for a more romantic break. On our first visits to Valencia we stayed at the modern, comfortable, 3-star Sorolla Centro, booked via booking.com, only a short walk from Estació del Nord. There is no food (except breakfast) or bar (except a minibar), but there are plenty of places very close by. None of the hotels charge for small, quiet bears.

cuenca31Cuenca: It is definitely worthwhile catching the bus uphill to the old city rather than walk. Bus 1 runs from the AVE station, via the NH hotel and the modern centre to the Plaza Mayor. Bus 2 runs from the modern centre, via the Plaza Mayor to Castillo. Both run every 30 mins Mon-Fri and hourly Sat and Sun and stop outside the cathedral in the middle (literally) of the Plaza Mayor.  The fare is €1.20 for any journey, except to the AVE station which is €2.15 (December 2019) a journey. There were only a few (i.e. about three, including Ted and I) tourists about when we were there in January 2014, more in March 2017 and in October 2019 but I expect it gets very busy in summer, as it’s an easy day-trip or weekend break from Madrid. We haven’t had the time (i.e. we preferred to go for beer and tapas), but the Museo de Arte Abstracto inside the finest of the casas colgadas, is meant to be well worth a visit, if only for the views.

Zaragoza: Buses 34 and 51 link Estación Delicias with the city centre (Paseo de Pamplona stop). The 51 is slightly more direct. €1.35 a journey. It’s then about a 20 minute walk through the old town to the Plaza del Pilar.

Railway buffery                                                         

This information is gleaned from the internet – mainly Spanish Wikipedia https://es.wikipedia.org  – any mistakes in the  translation from Spanish are my own.

1 Alicante tramway.


The original tramway in Alicante closed in 1969. A narrow gauge railway linked Plaza del Mar on the seafront at Alicante with Benidorm and Denia from 1914. The new tramway began operation on a short stretch of this line in 1999. A new underground route into the city centre opened between 2007 and 2010, the Benidorm line has been integrated into the system using tram-trains and Plaza del Mar station closed. There are now four lines in the city, from the Luceros and Mercat / Mercado city centre stations and an occasional service to the seafront Pl. Marina. It is hoped to extend the system to the railway station by 2023.  The TRAM Metropolità d’Alacant / TRAM Metroplitano de Alicante is operated by the Valencian Regional Government. The Playa de San Juan beach can be reached by line 3 to the Costa Blanca stop or line 4 to Pl. La Coruña.

2 Cuenca – Valencia

Despite being planned since 1885, as a result of various financial problems, the difficulty of the terrain and the Civil War it was not until 1947 that the railway line from Cuenca to Valencia was finally opened throughout – which explains why many of the bridges, viaducts and railway properties are built in concrete. In 2014 the line was operated by class 592 DMUs, now quite rare (it’s certainly a long time since I was on a train like this…..though the aircon sort of works and there are toilets). At Valencia, the connection to Estació del Nord was severed in 2010 for AVE works. Reconnection was approved in 2013 and by 2017 trains were running directly to and from Nord. The line from Tarancón via Cuenca to Utiel is proposed for closure in 2022, which will leave the less interesting high speed line as the only link between Cuenca and Valencia (see ‘Aranjuez – Cuenca – Utiel-Requena closure by stealth in Spain’, Mike Bent, Modern Railways 314, April 2022, page 14).

3 Valencia – Teruel – Zaragoza railway.

The line from Valencia through Teruel to Catalayud was opened in 1901, with the connection from Calamocha to Zaragoza opened in 1933. There were grand plans that the route València – Zaragoza – Canfranc and over the Pyrenees into France would compete for freight and passenger traffic with the (relatively) flat coastal routes from Spain to France but these didn’t materialise. Following reconstruction after the Civil war, and more recently since 2005 by the Spanish infrastructure owner ADIF, there is not a single level crossing on the route, and even halts with one train a day have subways and disabled access. The line is being modernised to enable freight services to use the route and electrification is underway. Much of the line was paralleled by a narrow-gauge mineral railway taking iron ore down to Sagunt/Sagunto, and this is now a vía verde walking and cycle route.

4 Zaragoza tramway.


Following closure of the old system by 1976 Line 1 of the new Tranvía de Zaragoza tramway opened in stages between 2011 and 2013. For operation in the historic city centre the trams have a supercapacitor storing braking energy (no I don’t understand either) for overhead-wire-free operation.  To the south of the city the trams terminate at Mago de Oz, (Wizard of Oz), presumably after following Yellow Brick Road (in my view this beats Auchenshuggle or Two Ball Lonnen in the Top Strange Termini list).

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Dave Kerridge who joined us on the 2017 trip to Alicante and Cuenca and to Ken Donald who was with us on the 2019 visit to Cuenca.

Photographs: All photographs are by Steve Gillon except for the following:- The Tormo beer tap is by Ken Donald. The following photographs were sourced via Google Images: Ciudad Real airport is from http://www.telegraph.co.uk, the steam train on the Cuenca Valencia line is from http://www.cadenaser.com, the train and tractor photo is from http://www.publico.es, the railway map is from http://www.ferropedia.es, the Teruel photo is from http://www.erasmusu.com, the NH hotel is from http://www.booking.com.

Copyright © Steve Gillon, 2014, 2017,2020, 2022


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