A Road Trip South of Valencia



Katie's uncle, Graeme, is lucky enough to own a property south of Valencia, closer to Alicante, in a town called Torrevieja. We went to visit him there earlier in the year and made road trip out of it (map here), heading south from Valencia along the coast, making some scenic stops on the way there and back.

Our first stop was at Xativa castle, but going to gloss over it here as we'll talk in more detail in a later post. But let's just say it was a delightful place to visit.

We then stopped at Pozas Pou Clar where there are some lovely ponds, lakes and picnic areas, making it a perfect place to stop and eat our packed lunches. The bright blue waters and surrounding greenery made this a worthwhile stop and one we enjoyed a lot, despite the long staircase to get down to see it.



After our sarnies we jumped back in the car and headed through Parc Natural de la Serra de Mariola. It was a pretty enough drive on a decent enough road, but we didn't come across any outstanding views.

Our next stop was Bocairent, which is a pretty little town that gave us coffee and a view of some awesome caves. Our timing was a little off and the caves were closed so we only got to see them from a distance. We'll definitely be back for further exploration later though.


You can see all of the little cave openings hiding in the wall there
When we finally arrived in Torrevieja, we spent the evening socialising, drinking, and BBQing with Katie's uncle and his friends. Torrevieja is relaxing and charming, and FULL of British expats!

The next day, with uncle Graeme on board, we were back on the road. We drove even further south to a lighthouse called Faro Cabo de Palos, which is on the south-east tip of Spain. It's a cool sight and you can get up close and personal to take in the surrounding seaside view.




We then drove all the way up this tiny narrow stretch of land close to the lighthouse, with sea on one side and a lagoon on the other. It was very pretty with some good views, albeit considerably more built up than we expected, with huge hotels and apartment blocks on nearly all of the available land. 

We concluded that it must have expanded during the housing boom 10+ years ago and has seemingly now suffered the fate of many Spanish towns, with mostly empty tower blocks and hotels. Still, it was a nice place to stop and have a beer and an ice cream.




Before heading back to Torrevieja, we made one last stop in a town called Cartagena. This town is flooded with Roman ruins and we didn't spent enough time there to really do it justice. There was a lot to see and it reminded us of Tarragona in many ways, but much further south of course. It's definitely worth a visit if you're nearby.

The next day we said farewell to Graeme and drove back to Valencia via a couple of places. One was an interesting salt lake called Les Salinetes De Novelda. This was just off the motorway and and appeared to have some more Roman ruins that were being excavated.

Our final stop on this trip was at Villena. This small town had a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding hills and picturesque castle. Again, worth a stop if you're driving past.

This was a whirlwind visit to the south of the Valencian county, and we'll be going back for sure. Partly because we didn't take any 360 footage, but also because we enjoyed it so much.

Hasta luego!



A weird house in Bocairent
 






Ruins in Cartagena


Enjoying a cheeky tapa and tiny beer



 




 

Les Salinetes De Novelda

Villena Castle


One Night in Barca!


Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame was touring around the world and stopping off in Barcelona as part of his “Us and Them” tour. Katie's brother James and his girlfriend Emily were coming to Valencia for a little weekend away and these two events coincided, resulting in something magical.

We planned to go to Barcelona for the night and watch the gig before heading back the next day. It would be a flying visit to this city, which Katie and I have yet to explore together, but we were determined to make the most of it.

The journey up the coast is a long one, especially if you don’t want to pay for the toll roads (roughly €40), and it took around five hours in total. This included a stop off at the recently blogged about PeƱƭscola to show James and Emily one of our new favourite places.

After spending sometime enjoying this beautiful town, we carried on up the coast to the Catalonian capital. We didn’t have long in the city and the lads were spending the evening at the gig, while the girls were drinking wine and eating tapas.

Em and I went with the boys to an area near the gig venue, called Poble Sec. I’d read that this was a good part of the city to spend an evening, with lots of small bars offering up cheap wine and even cheaper little bites to eat called pintxos (pronounced pin-chos). I’ll talk more about pintxos when I write about our recent trip up north to Bilbao and Asturias, but in short, pintxos are small bites of food served on a slice of baguette, secured with a toothpick. They can cost anywhere from €1.50 to €2.50 each and make a great accompaniment to a nice glass of wine or vermut.

Anyway, Em and I got dressed up and had a great night, slowly working our way through the various bars in the area, before the boys came to join us for a bottle of prosecco and a rather posh cocktail after their gig. I had a wonderful evening with Emily and I hope we can replicate it in Valencia when they come back in November.

After a pretty decent burger for dinner, James and I made our way to the gig. It was at the Palau Sant Jordi, built for the 1992 Olympics, in what is now quite a serene and pretty area. It was the perfect venue for the gig and we had great seats; back row on the highest tier, close to the stage. This isn't sarcasm, they really were great seats. But I imagine every seat was that night, as the gig was a spectacle like no other.


Roger Waters knows how to put on a show with lights, balloons, and mechanical contraptions, making it an incredible visual display. And then there's the music. The classic Pink Floyd tunes were unbelievable live. It was the second time I have seen him and it was no less enchanting this time. It's very difficult to put into words the sensations I felt during and after the gig. I was truly buzzing with excitement and glee, as was James. We both knew we had seen something extraordinary. Writing this now brings back a shadow of the sensation and even that is enough to put a wide smile on my face. I have to rate his show as one of the best events I have ever been to. The guy is a legend and his gigs are legendary for a reason.

James and I left the arena and we were like two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl…words fail me. Go see him if you can. I really wish other artists could put on a show like that…I really wish I could see him perform every week.

The next 12 hours were like a dream and involved driving back down the coast to Valencia. We stopped in a town called Cambrils for lunch, which was decent. It was a whirlwind visit to Barcelona and my mind felt like a delightful tornado had passed through it.

Until next time, adios!







Cambrils is quite a busy seaside town and was a good place to rest a bit before driving the final leg home.




Reus and Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park



This is a short post to end our short trip away, which started with a drive up the coast through PeƱƭscola, eventually arriving in Tarragona.

After leaving Tarragona and stopping at Les Ferreres Aqueduct on the way out of the city, we headed back east and a little inland to Reus. The town was nice enough, with a couple of interesting buildings and a Gaudi museum (which we didn’t visit), but there wasn’t that much to write home about, so I’ll leave it there!




From Reus we drove back to the coast and continued east to the Ebro Delta. The area we explored is called Parc Natural del Delta de l’Ebre and it’s huge, with a mixture of farmland, wetlands, lakes, river, grasslands and coastline.


We spent a few hours driving around, occasionally pulling over at a hide to do some birdwatching. Apparently there are around 95 species of birds that breed in the wetlands, as well as 300 more that stop by throughout the year. We saw various waders, egrets, a kestrel, herons, marsh harriers but best of all – FLAMINGOS!


The delta is completely flat and the roads are decent so it’s a great place to explore by bike. Before finally heading back to Valencia, we stopped in a quaint village called Poble Nou for a speedy but tasty lunch, and noticed quite a few guest houses offering bike rentals. A mental note was made and Dad and I have pencilled in a trip for 2019, so watch this space…

Just a quick one today but we'll leave you with photos and hopefully an urge to go explore the Delta. It is very serene and definitely a place worth revisiting. Until next time.




















Poble Nou really is a lovely little village and well worth a visit if you're in the delta