A Travellerspoint blog

Oropesa

Day 1

Luckily we set off with plenty of time built in to the trip across to Gatwick. Not that I was expecting too many hold-ups on the way, but you never know. In the end it was the car-park that was the stumbling block. I booked the same place we always use, Courtlands, just off the airport itself. Sadly, when we arrived the entrances were all closed up and it was deserted. A quick phone call revealed they had merged with a neighbouring place and the other entrance was in use. Actually easier to find off the roundabout not far from the South Terminal building.

Flight no problems. Easyjet very good and as we were there so early we got to hand in the luggage very early and earn ourselves a chance to get on the plane first. It is all very civilised at Gatwick, not the mad and unseemly scrum that you often get at the Spanish end!

Car hire with http://www.carjet.com/ no problems as usual. At Valencia we had booked the cheapest car available and expected a Ka but in the end got a four door Fiat Panda. Not a bad car as it happens and easily capable of what we needed.

Fiat Panda

Fiat Panda

We opted for the A7/AP7 route from the airport to ensure we arrived in Oropesa del Mar in daylight and in time to find the apartment and book-in. As we arrived we found that Marina d'Or is a newish complex of apartments about half a mile north of the main town in a self contained sort of world. Building going on apace still.

Further on were a series of campsites that seemed to be doing good business with the silver vacationers in their motor homes, although the "park it anywhere" brigade were out in some force practically everywhere there was a spot for them to stop.

The first night after booking in we parked the car in the underground car-park and went to a nearby restaurant. Our first calamares and chips was a little different; instead of chips we had patatas bravas and patatas con alio. Very nice.

Day 2

After a bit of a lie in we had breakfast and then had a run out up the coast towards Benicarlo where I have stayed before, twice in fact, at the Parador. The weather was so-so and we arrived in good time to park up and visit the supermarket for a few things and then have a walk round. We decided to have a picnic on the beach.

We called in the Parador to have look and get their brochure full of the hotels across Spain. I was surprised to see I have been to a few more than I remembered as the book triggered the grey cells. The only one I have stayed in twice is the Benicarlo hotel.

On the way back we went along the coast to have a look at Peñiscola, the next town south on the coast and the old town on the end of a promontory.

Dscn0091small.jpgTraffic free street @ Peñiscola

Traffic free street @ Peñiscola

Headland @ Peñiscola

Headland @ Peñiscola

Me @ Peñiscola

Me @ Peñiscola

Lighthouse @ Peñiscola

Lighthouse @ Peñiscola

Peñiscola

Peñiscola

Peñiscola

Peñiscola

Peñiscola, Castelló

Peñiscola, Castelló

Peñiscola

Peñiscola

Sentry Box in Peñiscola, Castelló

Sentry Box in Peñiscola, Castelló

Narrow street in Peñiscola

Narrow street in Peñiscola

White walls and pot plants in Peñiscola

White walls and pot plants in Peñiscola

Sentry Box in Peñiscola

Sentry Box in Peñiscola

Cliff view at Peñiscola

Cliff view at Peñiscola

Main entrance to old town at Peñiscola

Main entrance to old town at Peñiscola

Crown of cactii in Peñiscola

Crown of cactii in Peñiscola

It was getting a bit windy and we took a few pics before heading off back to the apartment. We thought we'd end up coming back another time, maybe not even on this holiday and having a look around.

Day 3

As it was Monday we thought that most of the museums etc might be closed as they are in France and so we set off for Castelló (Castellon in Castillian Spanish) to have a look around and maybe have a look in the El Corte Ingles store.

In the end the morning took on an altogether more exciting turn as it was the first day of the Fete of Saint Magdalene. All the shops were shut and the people were out in their thousands in the street, many in traditional dress and many more taking part in a carnival procession through the streets.

We stopped to look and Claire expended a few megabytes on hard drive from the borrowed video camera. I took a few pics of the processions and it reminded me of the carnivals we used to have when I was a kid in Oldham and more recently in Congleton.

Of course as soon as we saw the "Churros and Chocolate" stall we had to stop and have some. Churros is like having a long extruded doughnut and the chocolate is rich and very thick, you can either dunk your churros in it or drink it, or both.

Claire & Churro

Claire & Churro

Once we had munched it was time to get back to avoid any further street closures. Driving back on the N340 can be a nightmare as the trucks are all shifting at 100km/h and rarely give any quarter so joining in a small car can be quite a nervy matter.

The apartment we had has a sea view and over looks the gardens they have built along the seafront. In the midst of all the apartment block building this seems a rather strange thing to do. It also provides space for a bandstand/stage and a seating area to watch what is going on.
Most of the seats in the garden are made from patterned mosaics, which is not surprising as the local area's main export is ceramics.

Once back and with the car parked we had a walk around to see what there was to see in the gardens. As well as water, waterfalls and fountains, it is also stocked with huge koi carp. Each of the pond areas is separated from the others by a sort of dam and with the water level being quite low the fish were able to squeeze over the "wall" between ponds. There was quite an audience to watch them when we were there.

Plus there are trees from other parts of Spain and around the Mediterranean.

Day 4 - A day in the mountains.

First stop to check we were on the right track was just outside Cabanes, just 14km from the coast. Another "Spanish" village with loads of building of flats on the outskirts, and some at crazy prices. Crazy LOW! Two bed and two bathrooms with underground parking for €93000?!

On the outskirts they have rescued a roman archway and it is now sited in the middle of a new roundabout. It looks as though it could be quite new!

Roman Arch, Cabanes, Castelló

Roman Arch, Cabanes, Castelló

From Cabanes the GPS took us further inland and after a short distance we began to get cold feet about the lack of fuel in the tank. The Panda seems to have quite a small fuel tank and we couldn't find a local petrol station. So we opted to return to the coast, to one of the many stations that line the N340 towards Benicarlo and then tank up, returning across the mountains towards Morella.

Once we had a full tank we let the GPS take us off the N340 and into the mountains. Even up here there is evidence of building with roads being improved and the EU flag showing prominently all over the place on signs saying how many millions of euros had been expended!

We took a detour off the route into Sant Mateu. On the outskirts it was billed as a "national monument" although as we didn't speak Spanish or Catalan it was difficult to see why. I'll check the Internet when I get home I said!

Sant Mateu - Valencia Province

Sant Mateu - Valencia Province

Sant Mateu - Valencia Province

Sant Mateu - Valencia Province

Sant Mateu - Valencia Province

Sant Mateu - Valencia Province

Sant Mateu, Castellón

Sant Mateu, Castellón

Sant Mateu, Castellón

Sant Mateu, Castellón

Sant Mateu, Castelló

Sant Mateu, Castelló

Sant Mateu, Castellón

Sant Mateu, Castellón

As well as the Cathedral there is a really nice and quiet square. When we arrived it was lunchtime and apart from a few locals most of the bars were closed. Our lunch consisted of a coffee and a bocadillo. Very nice to sit out in the sun even if we both had thin fleeces on!

Once we had eaten we had a walk around the deserted streets, even here a lot of work going on renovating the old buildings in the square and some of the ones in the streets off it. The tourist office was one in question and the handiwork of local carpenters was there to be amazed at. Sadly, too dark to get a decent picture of.

At the end if one street was a still in use communal washing area, and I did take a photo of that.

After that we had a walk back round the outside of the old town walls that can still be seen and decided that as it was getting late we'd head back to the coast and to Peñiscola and this time have a look at the town itself.

Peñiscola

Following the signs towards the old town took us along the beach and we decided to park just short of the fishing port.

We arrived just in time to see the boats begin to return after a day at sea and there was quite a lot of horns going off as they raced around the breakwater and into the quayside. From then it was all action as they unloaded the boats and rushed the boxes of fish into the market and the ice store. Some of the smaller stuff was being sold off small tables right by the boats.

From the port we had a walk across to the old town and up through the gates. I imagine this will be very packed in the summer, although the lack of anything even remotely in English may mean that the tourists are Spanish and maybe other Europeans.

The climb up through the narrow streets takes you around the edge of the walled part of the old town overlooking the sea. here and there are watch towers for the guard and above a new lighthouse to replace the old stone faro.

Although not actually the warmest day of the year, it was February after all, it was still mostly thin jumper weather rather than t-shirt weather. We stopped in a little cafe for a drink, Claire having a glass of rosado and me a cortado.

Once we had had a rest we made our way back through a web of small streets and steps back to the port and the car for the last leg of the day's drive out and back to the apartment.

By the time we got home we were a bit peckish, but we had bought stuff in and Claire cooked a rather "special" lentil and sausage concoction. What joy that it would last two days.

Day 5 - Valencia

I decided to park in an underground car park opposite the El Corte Ingles store. It makes it much easier when you can follow their signs as well to find where you have left the car! Getting into the city was straight forward with the GPS doing all the hard work for us, Although she did take us past the Valencia CF football ground twice as we had a problem deciphering the directions she was giving us.

The first pic I took was of the bullring at the end of Carrer Colon. Next door is the railway station but its ornate and early Edwardian facade was very hard to get a decent angle on with all the damned traffic!

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

From here it was a right turn towards the similarly ornate and hard to photograph Correos and then the Town Hall. This is easier to photograph,m even if the guide book is misleading when it says the city's coat of arms is left aloft by two naked females. Not quite what I had expected. The bat is there above the shield as this is in memory of the fact that a bat is supposed to have landed on the helmet of EL Cid before the city was recaptured from the Moorish invaders.

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

From here we managed not to go in either of the oldest horchateria in the country although we passed them and took a look in. Very austere with white tiled walls and stone floors, just like a few pie and mash shops I know in London!

From here it is a short walk to the cathedral and once again an opportunity for us to have lunch, yep, you guessed it, a boccadillo and cortado, but this time and opening course of a Coca-Light!

Circumnavigating the Cathedral lets you see the different architectural faces and the differences in the doors. Sadly, the cathedral was closed when we were there and so we were denied a chance to glimpse the Holy Grail. We saw the epic film with Monty Python actually looking for it, even Indiana Jones had a look and couldn't find it, and it was in the Cathedral all the time! Apparently, an eminent scientist has done a bit of work on it and to disprove the story that it is indeed the cup that Christ drank from at the last supper; he did various tests to prove that the goblet is pre-Christ's time. So what does that prove? The cafe he was in with the disciples was in fact very frugal and made sure their cutlery and glasses lasted as long as possible! Anyway, until Christ drank out of it is wasn't worth anything. How many million glasses are made each year in the UK, and then some celeb has their lips in the rim and it's suddenly worth a few quid. Why not the same with the Grail?

Once filled with a bit of Christian fervour we decided to make the 60 miles trip back. The car was in a car-park and there were no humans about. In the end to get the right change to fit in the machines I had to buy a couple of ice-creams to get the coins to go in the machine. An expensive day's parking at over €9 for about 4 hours in total.

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

Valencia Spain

The drive back was quite uneventful, sticking to the N340 through Vila-Real and all the massive porcelain and ceramics factories, the place where Spain's bogs and sinks are made!

Evening meal? The rest of the lentils and sausages.

The rest of the trip?

Sadly the rest of this trip was lost when one of the free web hosting sites went defunct. I lost a lot of photos and trip write-ups.

Posted by InvictaMoto 07:43 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Andalusia

2007

Day 1

We were up before 5am for the drive across to Gatwick, where we arrived at the parking about 6.30am.

No problems at all getting there and none leaving the car. The reason we went so early was due to the expected (and reported in the papers!) long delays at the security check. In the end we were through in 8 minutes!

Luckily there were no delays on the flight and we arrived on time. We had hoped to meet brother's party on their way out, but an hour and a quarter queuing to get the hire car put paid to that.

In the end we got a diesel Focus instead of the booked Fusion. Not a bad car, although damned heavy and I keep stalling it when on the hill out out the apartment parking!

At night we went into Fuengirola for dinner. I can recommend the portions at the restaurant. If only I could remember the name!

Day 2

Local day. Got up late after the long day we had had the day before and after breakfast we Went to Marbella. We got parked easily and walked down to the promenade and then all along it westwards until it ran out! On the way past the Banana Tree pub I ducked in to see that the Arsenal were 2-1 up over Sunderland.

We went to the lower level on the edge of the beach as the grilled fish was attracting us. We had sardines and salad and a couple of small beers to quench the appetite and thirst. Man was it hot!

Sardines on the beach?

Sardines on the beach?

Beach Art @ Marbella

Beach Art @ Marbella

Beach Art @ Marbella

Beach Art @ Marbella

Marbella Street Artwork

Marbella Street Artwork

Marbella Street Artwork

Marbella Street Artwork

Marbella Street Artwork

Marbella Street Artwork

Marbella Street Artwork

Marbella Street Artwork

We had a swim in the late afternoon on the beach just down from the apartment. The water was freezing at first and then we acclimatised.

In the evening we worked out the TV was showing UK channels and we saw the Jocks lose the rugby to the Argies, Top Gear and then Michael Palin in Eastern Europe. Has he been to Slovakia yet? I'm sure he can't miss the opportunity to visit Andy Warhol's family home in far eastern Slovakia!

Day 3

Whose idea was it to go to Malaga to shop and have chocolate and churros?

The traffic even after 11am was horrific! The 25 miles from the apartment took over 75 minutes and we were finally parked in the cool of El Corte Ingles car park. This is one hell of a department store. It sells everything. Even Piaggio scooters!

Our first stop was the market for fruit and vegetables. Tomatoes that taste like they should, and everything on a scale about 50% bigger than at home.

The chocolate and churros part of the deal was thwarted as we couldn't find the little back street where we had enjoyed the thick chocolate and sweet doughnut like churros the last time we were there. Instead we had to make do with a coffee.

The drive out wasn't as bad as the drive in.

After another swim we decided to eat out again!

Tomorrow it is our longer trip to Cordoba. I even borrowed a digital movie cam for that!

Day 4

Up and off to Cordoba. This time the motorway past Malaga was clear and we made good time to the turn off up the main N331 towards Cordoba. We were slowed as they are building the motorway alongside it.

On arrival the GPS had is perfectly on route but it can't plan for local drivers blocking the road. After a detour and a bit of manoeuvring we arrived right by the Mesquita. Coppers everywhere. The reason was some European conference on intolerance to Moslems.

The hostel I had chosen was recommended in the Rough Guide to Andalucia. The Hostel Santa Ana is a short walk to the Mesquita. After parking in the private garage, we set off for lunch and then into the Mesquita. We even went back to the hotel to get another couple of Nikon batteries for the still camera.

I'm still not convinced about the movie cam. Although we managed to take 30 different short films in and around the Mesquita itself!

Hostal Santa Ana @ Cordoba

Hostal Santa Ana @ Cordoba

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordobés perro...

Cordobés perro...

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

Cordoba, Spain

We had a long walk that ended up in the new city. Once again the hunt for chocolate and churros was thwarted!

By now it was time to change for dinner. This was taken in a Moroccan restaurant near to our hotel.

Now it's time to delete the chaff off the cameras before tomorrow's trip to Medina Azahara and then back to Cala de Mijas.

Day 5 Medina Azahara

After staying in Cordoba the night before we were handy for Medina or Madinat Al-Zahra as they call it locally.

We arrived about 1100 after a late morning and getting the car from the car-park and the heavy traffic in Cordoba!

The car-park at Zahra is quite small and less simple once a coach or two are involved. We ended up on the way in, half on the road and half in a ditch, and they charged us 80¢ for the privilege.

On the other hand it is free for EU citizens to get in!

For the next three hours we spent walking in the burning heat and looking at the magnificence that Abd ar-Rahman III built and named after his wife.

As well as a palace it was also his main seat of power and was connected to the city at Cordoba with a brick road, sadly not yellow or paved with gold.

The site is in two halves, the business and private areas. It is hard to see the difference. Both show an opulence that was designed to show his power and visitors got the IKEA system of walking round and round to get to his official "office" or the throne room. The best of the discoveries was in the private area and is covered to protect it.

The work of discovery and restoration will take years and years.

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Medina Azahara, Cordoba, Spain

Day 6 - Estepona and Casares

A long walk and a paddle on the almost deserted beach at Estepona before a drive up the mountain to one of the "white villages" of Andalucia.

Casares is perched on the side of the mountain and comes into view as you round a bend in the road.

Well worth a visit.

Posted by InvictaMoto 08:03 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

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