Valencia, Pucol and Sagunto

We decided on a final visit to the coast before heading for home, choosing a site near Valencia (Camping Valencia) in a small town called Pucol.

Van on site in Pucol

Even though first impressions of our chosen site were, shall we say, less than favourable, we managed to move to the nicer part of the site on the 2nd day and ended up extending our stay to a whole week 🙂

We did spend a fair bit of time simply relaxing here, but we also visited the nearby town of Pucol on our bikes – there are many opportunities for cycling, with a really good cycle/running path into town.  We also cycled the other way along many green lanes/farm tracks – of which there are many 🙂

Days out were 1 day driving to Valencia, failing miserably to find a parking space so parking on the outskirts and riding back in!  More on that later 🙂

We also drove in the opposite direction to visit the ancient town of Sagunto, which is well worth a visit.

So let’s start with our visit to Valencia.  Having parked on the outskirts (I’m sorry I can’t tell you where exactly (it might have been Benimaclet), but it was adjacent to the cycle path and we parked for nothing).  I do know that we headed past the university and into the city before finding our destination of The Turia Gardens.  We had heard that this was a wonderful way to cycle the city situated as it is through it’s heart where the Turia River flowed until it was diverted to prevent further flooding.

With numerous exits and entrances to this 8km long area we joined a little way before the futuristic Museum of Arts and Sciences, an amazing building bordered by numerous wasterways and fountains.  A beautiful, tranquil area to relax.

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We simply cycled along the paths of the gardens, eventually stopping for some lunch near the old city – I think it was the Bar Baja la Puente Calatrava (no. 7 on this list of Turia Garden eateries from JuliaEats).  I do know that we enjoyed our lunch and that there was plenty of parking available for our bikes 🙂  I also know that whilst we were sat there there was a long series of VERY loud bangs, which startled us but seemingly nobody else!  We later discovered that this is a daily occurrence in the weeks leading up to The Fallas Festival – The Mascleta; read all about it here.

We left the gardens at the Puente de Flores, bordered as it is on both sides with beautiful floral displays 🙂

We came out by the old gateway to the city (that we saw on our last visit), had a little cycle around the fountains before returning to the gardens and heading towards the car.  Which we eventually found – even though we took a completely different route!!

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Our other day out was to Sagunto, a small town with a big history.  There was a market on the day we visited so we couldn’t drive directly into the old town; after a detour of about 2 miles (well it felt like it anyway) we found ourselves about 100m up the road and on the other side of the old town – these were very narrow streets!  Even in the little car it felt tiny.  We had to be really careful as many of the streets turned out to be dead-ends and it was pretty awkward reversing back down the steep hills whilst navigating the amazing Spanish parking!!  We finally spotted a space by the side of the road.  Leaving the car we headed up one of the steep roads towards the hill holding the massive castle.

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I say massive – this castle is visible from miles away (including from the campsite), and during our visit we discovered it actually ranges across the top of the hill for about 1/2 mile.

We followed stone steps and pathways up, up and then down, down the hill.  Which was a little disconcerting!  We passed a small white chapel on the way before coming across the Roman Ampitheatre, free to visit and definitely worth a visit.

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Around the hilloutside the ampitheatre was the old cemetry (Judio Cemeterio) consisting of graves dug into the hill itself.  We walked passed many more as we made our way up the steep hill towards the castle itself.  Also free to visit we maybe managed to see half of what there was to see!  There are extensive ruins to be seen, although it is a work in process of renovation.  I would suggest taking a picnic and spending the day exploring 🙂

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I need to point out that the beach at Pucol was lovely, but unfortunately we didn’t really have the weather to take advantage of it 😦

All in all we had a lovely time here and there were a couple more excursions that we could have taken, but we just wanted to relax by then!

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Here’s hoping I manage to finish off posting about our last trip before we head off on our next one (in a couple of month’s time!!)

 

We stayed:  Camping Valencia, Pucol 

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A few days of relaxation, exercise and thermal pools – Banos de Fortuna

A spa town in the hills north of Murcia. Amazing thermal pool – well worth paying a little extra for 🙂

On leaving Oliva we were going to head to Isla Plana to stay at Los Modriles (1 of our favourite Spanish sites in 2017), but instead decided to head a little inland to try a new area and different site.

We found ourselves slightly north of Murcia in a little town called Banos de Fortuna, just a few kilometres past the town of Fortuna, but otherwise pretty much in the middle of nowhere up in the mountains.

The clue is in the name ‘Banos’ meaning ‘thermal’.  We didn’t immediately realise this or that this was a proper spa town.  Not until we took a different turn on coming home from the mountains one day and found lots of people wandering around in their dressing gowns!

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We did struggle to find the original spring, although there were a couple of contenders.  There were also 2 campsites; we were staying on La Fuente – not an amazing site but it was home to the, simply amazing, thermal pools 🙂   I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we revisited on our return journey!

The area is very special with the underground water providing a particular environment for rare grasses.  The main picture was taken from our van as the sun went down – and this was our view every morning and evening.

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View from our window at La Fuente – it never got old 🙂
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Our view at Banos De Fortuna

The area was settled originally by the Romans and we rode up into the mountains to find the Cuevas de Negra.  Amazing views but steep inclines on the way – Calv rode his bike all the way up to the caves and then had to come back for mine, as I’d resorted to pushing and was really struggling…

At the bottom of the final incline we found a large abandoned building which was completely open – so we had a look.  This answered some questions about why there are so many ruined buildings around.  There were massive cracks running down the walls.  Calv says that these buildings have no foundations and that is another explanation.  (Also, we’re now convinced that all Spanish buildings are rendered to cover up the diabolical brickwork – we have now seen the backs of many many walls – it’s a shocker!)

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We took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up in the traffic in the, fairly busy, town of Fortuna.  We discussed going further this way, but didn’t really like the feel of the town so headed back up the main road to the site.

On the way we found an English bar, Tina’s Bar, so stopped for a quick drink.  It turns out that there is a large ex-pat community in the area.

The next day we headed out again in search of the original spring and evidence of any roman settlement.  We still have no idea if we found anything, although we did manage to convince ourselves that we might have done!  It was a mini-adventure though coming back down the ‘mountain’ that we had gone up, as the way we went was marked as private land and we ended up clambering down the terraces (which wasn’t as easy as it might sound), and then making our way to the road via an unofficial rubbish tip (that’s what it felt like anyway!!)

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Banos de Fortuna – had we found Roman remains??!!
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Banos de Fortuna

Our final day was spent by the pool.  It cost 6 Euros (which is the normal price for non-campers, but we didn’t purchase ahead of time so got no discount).

It was worth every penny.  Not only was there a constant temperature of 38degrees, there where jacuzzis and massage jets that were every bit as good as having a real massage 🙂

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The pool at Banos de Fortuna
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The pool cover at Banos de Fortuna

All in all a fitting end to our time here.  Our next stop was back on the coast at a site we’d previously stayed at, Mar Azul – we weren’t initially heading there but more of that in my next post 🙂

Related Content:

Campsite used:- La Fuente (click for our review)

Next Campsite:- Mar Azul, Balerma (click for our review)

 

Sunday in Tarragona

Amazing city with a rich Roman history – also a strange tradition of building human towers..!

One of the places on my list to see whilst in Spain was Tarragona – so for just the 2nd time this trip we managed to actually tick something off of the, admittedly very short, list (the other being Carcassone).

From our campsite we had about an hour drive.  We took the non-pay road.  Well we fully intended to, but accidently ended up on a pay road for about 2 mins – we came off as soon as we realised – but it still cost us 2.13 Euros!!  This was the C-32, and it happened as we believed that all toll roads began with the designation of ‘AP’.  We now know we were wrong on this!  The fact that it was a ‘peage’ road was shown by a small sign next to the road name with ‘peage’ running through the middle – if I could find an image for you I would, but let’s just say it wasn’t an ‘in your face’ kind of sign!  Anyway lesson learnt we carried on along the C31 through Cubelles and beyond.

About 1/2 hours out we realised that whilst we had remembered to put our hi-viz jackets in the car (this time – we keep forgetting), we had left all the other documentation AND our passports and driving licences in the van – doh!!  This caused the stress levels in the little car to rise somewhat, as the police in Spain have a habit of stopping cars, pretty regularly, at the entrance to roundabouts for spot-checks.

We’ve been stopped twice, once on the way to Tarragona….  Luckily though, as soon as they realised there was no steering wheel when I opened my window, they waved us on (this happened the first time as well) – phew 🙂

Once there we took a left by the ‘ampifeatre’, following the road towards the train station and the sea and found a car park immediately.  We were right in the centre of things and ended up paying 10.75 Euros for about 6 hours – we were happy with that (even though we hate paying to park!!)

So our first stop was to see the ampifeatre.  To be fair you get a really good impression of it without paying to actually go in, but it is worth wandering Continue reading “Sunday in Tarragona”