Spain, Spain, You’re All The Same

By Abi King | Spain

Aug 11


Tablas de daimiel wetlands in Spain La Mancha

The Tablas de Daimiel: A Surprising Discovery in Spain’s La Mancha

Spain, Spain, you’re all the same.

Full of sunshine, sand and sky-high white complexes that spill lobsters into places so crowded with plastic, it’s hard to see the beach.

Or, well, you’re not, really.

Nope, not even a teensy little bit.

Seven years I’ve been blogging about the world here on Inside the Travel Lab, and for several of those I lived in Spain.

I said it then and I’ll say it again now. Those characterless stereotypes of drunk Brits abroad, stumbling between cinder-blocks and chlorine pools, represent travel in Spain in as much depth as Kate Middleton represents the average woman’s career trajectory in Britain.

Both are true, but they’re hardly representative.

Tablas de Daimiel Poppy

A single poppy in La Mancha’s Tablas de Daimiel


The Real Side of Spain

No, Spain offers windswept salty coasts and lighthouse trails, intoxicating sherry-filled palaces in Andalucia and snow-tipped mountain ranges where the rivers run with gold.

It travels through lush cheese and green-laden mountains, through groundbreaking literature and smoky-skied windmills, beneath the arches of Gaudi in Barcelona and harp-like shark fins of science in reclaimed land to the east in Valencia.

There are abandoned outposts built as a monument to love. Brutal yet beautiful tales of motherhood derived from a darker time. Papier mache parties, stone frogs that bring good luck and otherwise sleepy villages that launched the career of Balenciaga.

But if none of those stories tempt you, then let me try a simpler way to tell a tale.

The one without a thousand words.

The one with that uses pictures instead.

Forget the crowds, the sun, the sky, the sea.

And hush.



Tablas de Daimiel Panorama

Las Tablas de Daimiel

Tread along the wooden boardwalks of Las Tablas de Daimiel, a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Look out across lagoons and crouch in bird-watching shelters, whispering and waiting for kingfishers, egrets and great crested grebes.

Let the shiver of the breeze as it runs through the long grass shiver the quieter parts of your soul.

And embrace the quiet side of Spain in these remarkable literary wetlands straight from Don Quixote .

Not a tower block in sight.

Tablas de Daimiel Spain walkways and wetlands

Tablas de Daimiel Under Threat

Years of illegal water drainage by local farmers and property developers have left these world class wetlands under threat. Spontaneous fires now break out in Spain’s arid basin and authorities have, perhaps belatedly, introduced artificial water supplies. Both the EU and United Nations have issued an ultimatum that it’s now or never when it comes to saving Daimiel.

Environmentalists within the park urge visitors to pay them a visit. As ever, when it comes to conservation, travel and tourism can be a powerful force for good. Each visit helps persuade those in authority that there’s an economic as well as ecological reason to act and act now.

Find out more about the Tablas de Daimiel here.

Close up in tablas de Daimiel Spain

Tablas de Daimiel Different Views

Tablas de Daimiel Forestry

Tablas de Daimiel Flora

Leaving Las Tablas de Daimiel

Disclosure: I love Spain well and have visited many times and even lived there for a while. On this occasion, I visited in partnership with iAmbassador and Castilla La Mancha. As ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like.

What do you think? Had you ever heard of the Tablas de Daimiel?

Hidden Spain: I was surprised to discover a UNESCO biosphere in La Mancha but now would recommend it as a part of unusual travel in Spain. via @insidetravellab


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more.

  • Faye says:

    wow, Abi. I’ve got inspired by your post. Seems like Spain is more beautiful than I thought. Thanks.

    • Abi King says:

      Oh, there’s SO much more to the country! Many different countries in one, it feels at times.

  • Mimi says:

    Spain is so diverse and full of hidden treasures! Beautiful photography and so inspiring! x

    • Abi King says:

      Thank you! Yes – SO much to see. So many different landscapes, languages, cuisines etc. Glad to find someone who thinks the same way!

  • Dave Hutton says:

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I’M a birder and have not heard of this inland jewel before!!

    • Abi King says:

      I’m very glad to have connected you! Look out for the Donana National Park in Andalucia too, in that case. Lots of birds plus white-painted villages where the bars serve people on horseback – tables built at the correct height to boot!

  • Love this as La Mancha is so overlooked!

    Congrats on your ULTRA-cool blog too!

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