Trips from Valencia
A belated update from a still gloriously warm and sunny Valencia. At the end of October we hired a car and set off back towards south west Spain. We had two main reasons for the trip. The first was to see the cities of Sevilla and Cordoba which we missed out on our sail here because we didn’t have the stamina to enjoy them in the baking heat of August. The other aim was to meet up with some old friends from our years in Cambridge in the beautiful countryside of the “frontera” towns north of Gibraltar. We walked among the cork oaks near Jimena, saw vultures overhead and learned much about the local flora and fauna from our knowledgeable hosts whose daughter and son-in-law run a delightful group of traditional rural houses for holiday lets in a lovely setting.
We then spent two days with our friends seeing the sights of Sevilla and all fell in love with Spain’s fourth largest city. The weather was wonderful, as were the famous sites of the Alcazar, Giralda and Cathedral, but it was the elegant architecture, the wide streets, sense of space and general atmosphere that was most enchanting (not to mention some excellent tapas bars).
After driving back to Jimena for a final enjoyable and sociable evening with the Rayner family, we drove on to Cordoba and spent 2 days there. We visited the Mezquita (the world famous 10th century Moorish mosque), the tiny 14th century synagogue (one of only 3 left in Spain) and a wonderful museum of Roman remains from the city. We also enjoyed the local barrelled wine (Montilla-Moriles) which is a bit like fino sherry but much nicer!
En route across the central plains of Spain we were amazed by the sheer extent of the olive production. We stopped for the night in the small Renaissance town of Baeza on a ridge surrounded by olive plantations. The town and its nearby neighbour Ubeda (which unfortunately we didn’t stop at) are both Unesco World Heritage sites and full of interest. An added bonus for us was a night of real luxury in a 4 star hotel in a converted 17th palacio at very low out of season prices.
We returned to the boat on November 4th via the citrus groves of the Valencian hinterland. As committed consumers of mountains of clementines over the years, it was great to drive alongside the sea of orange that confirms it’s that season again right now.
Last week we did a day trip by train to the nearby town of Sagunto which has a Roman theatre (largely reconstructed now but still atmospheric) and a rambling group of Roman remains, Moorish castle etc on a hilltop with great views all round. Walking back down from the top, we had a close encounter with a red squirrel which made our day!
We have also been spending quite a bit of time reviewing rental options for a place in the old city centre of Valencia for the Christmas/New Year period. The family (apart from Stuart) are joining us and the boat is a little cramped for 6!
Back on the boat we’re having some fantastic weather, daytime temps in the mid to high 20’s and great sunsets!