Sun 10/04/16: Back on the coast and after one night in a fairly industrial camping site in Benicasim we moved on about 15k’s up the road to Oropesa del Mar and a much smaller site on the sea front. Way less industrial we thought and the site much smaller and hands on. Oddly having said about camp sites and how wonderful they are in my ‘3 months on’ blog I failed to mention that the majority of camp sites seem to have the smallest of entrances they can possibly have and also sometimes the most amazingly difficult pitches to park on. This one was no exception and seemed to have a lot of Dutch and Germans campers on it, both of which we quickly fell foul of whilst trying to home NiKi. Still we stood our ground and defended our territory and got our Niks and us settled for the stay of 2 nights. Once that was done we headed out on our usual ‘reckie’ and as it was a weekend we stopped quite quickly at the onsite bar and restaurant- it’s important to check out all the amenities when on site we find!! We settled down oddly with a café con leche and a wonderful view of the sea just over a small mound in front of us, but at the back of the restaurant and the terrace a lovely swimming pool area. We walked along the front and a lovely prom it was but again with a lot of apartments and a few upmarket hotels all of which seemed to have a theme and a water park with an entrance fee of €34 per adult for 4 hours so no small amount really for a family. As we walked back to the site the whole of this resort seemed to be a theme park but with not many takers at this time of year, but very Disney like. We headed back to our camp site and the lovely terrace by the pool and had the €12 menu of which there was way too much food including paella for main course which we both opted for. Lovely and included all the right ingredients but again the rice was a bit stodgy for us so wasn’t up there with the Valencia beach paella nor Willy’s Vejer family birthday paella but still a good value and a flavoursome option.
Mon 11/04/16: A lovely bright and sunny day and off we set on our bikes along the seafront back to where we had come from yesterday, but as we hugged the coastline completely it was a much prettier ride along and again the shore line was just stunning. The whole area was so much quieter than the weekend we had arrived which happened to coincide with another marathon- we seem to be following them or them following us but come the Monday everything was back to normal and very very quiet. In Benicasim along the front there are a series of old villas that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries as this seafront area was like Brighton for the Victorians and all the wealthy from Valencia would come here for health reasons and take in the air and waters. Unfortunately many of them are now in ruins and are just swamped by huge monstrosities of apartments, but the actual beach front and the sand are just lovely and so you can understand the draw to come here, just different ideas of what cultures and nationalities like I guess. Dinner that night was in house and not a favourite for me- burgers They are everywhere here in butcher’s shops, like home now-homemade burgers and oddly are one of the things I do make at home, but we opted to try these locally made ones and for me they were a disappointment, but for David with the salad he loved them. We finished the dinner off with the last of the lovely chalky cow’s cheese from the same area of Navarjos. I will give the locally sourced burgers another go but will also get my hands in there with the meat and make some myself, at some much later date……perhaps.
Tues 12/04/16: Time to move on and explore more coastline and see whether we can get away from these tower like coastal apartment resorts and so we headed to a camp site that was within a another national park, surely this couldn’t be Disneyworld and as we hit the dirt track into the site we knew it was not. The site was lovely and the pitches huge some we a tantalising glimpse of the sea one of which we picked. The restaurant wasn’t open until May but the reception lady assured us that the town wasn’t far and it was also a lovely walk through the park and into the town including past a small marina. Off we set and indeed a lovely walk with craggy rock and coastlines and a huge modern lighthouse. As we got nearer the actual town so the sea fog worsened even though by then about 11 am and we could get no sense of a marina or of the town just the sea and rocks, really quite unreal. Then as we drew closer to the town so we saw the lovely small marina with dockside houses and boat parking and the town stumbling back from the shore. A wealth of restaurants no huge tower blocks a delightful coastal area. We made our choice for of restaurant, oddly for me under cover on a terrace so the best of both worlds, the waiters still wrapped up on their shirts and jumpers. My favourite dish of the day here and my first taste in Spain gazpacho, and it was a goodie- garlicy, tomatoey and came with all the necessary accessories – a soup salad but without the green stuff-lovely, my type of food and the first of many I hope as the weather ‘hottens’.
Wed 13/04/16: Decided on a long walk further along than yesterday, just to exercise our bodies, get some sun and attempt to rationalise some news from home. But as ever for whatever reason we were later leaving than usual and although the Spanish do have a later cut off lunch time for food than in France we realised we weren’t going to get to where we wanted and also have some lunch, plus although the day had started very hot a wind had picked up and it was becoming unpleasant to walk unless in absolute sunshine. We passed another campsite that was as I would say industrial unlike the lovely small rural one we were at, but it did do food and a menu of the day, but none of it stood out for either of us and so we opted to turn back and head to town again and get a lunch there rather than compete our walk, we had actually done quite a few k’s but then anyway. Opposite the industrial campsite was a fairly big restaurant on the road but with uninterrupted sea views with the unfortunate name of Chepi’s. There weren’t too many people in there but enough and they had a menu for €12- it didn’t actually show what was on the menu just that they had one. The restaurant had such a positioning that all of its clientele were actually watching us anyway and the ’ would we, wouldn’t we’ moment. We did and as we sat down and the waitress ran through in Spanish the different courses I ordered meat lasagne to start and David, wait for it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, fried vegetables, as seen on someone else’s table. The lasagne was a delight, homemade for sure but the meat quite pale, so we weren’t sure if it was a mix of meat which is quite common here or even if it might have been pork. Either way the lasagne was lovely and was almost sweet which must have come from the tomatoes. David was more than happy with his vegetables as well, but reverted to type with is main course of pork. A half jug of rose came with it as well as pud. It was a true case of never let a name or look influence you.
Thurs 14/04/16: With the weather due to improve again we decided to head back inland again and to the mountains, we really need to get through and over them and they are so lovely, it’s just the cold that puts us off. We decided to head due west more or less looking at a map to a town inland called Morella stopping of at a town called Peniscola where El Cid was filmed and Rick also walked along the beach so hollowed turf. The beach was lovely, swallow and soft sand with the castle overlooking the beach, we did the walk along the beach and up to the castle but just headed off to Morella after this. Oddly, Peniscola didn’t actually have any mention of El Cid but apparently is famed for, and although we didn’t see any avoiding the tourist shops various articles making a play on the first part of the name- think about it! Dinner was in house-keema peas with real peas brought at the costly sum of €2 so still quite expensive for here and on a lovely free aire just outside of the amazing hilltop town of Morella.
Fri 15/04/16: Well what to say about lunch really here, as you know we eat out quite often it being one of our things and at this stage having the ability to do so, but this lunch date turned out to be a bit more of a treat. Not necessarily because of the price but because of the quality and the fact it is Michelin starred, not something that I look out for or am even drawn to as there is much good food out there. The town of Morella is a food town with most of the shops selling cheeses, hams, honey chocolate etc a real taster heaven and pretty to boot, not a white hilltop town but half-timbered wooden houses with an amazing castle at the very top of the town dating back to the Moors and with an elevation of some 1000 metres, so cold in winter and refreshing in summer, mid for us at this time. Lunch was at Daluan (www.daluan.es) and we opted for the €30 menu which consisted of 4 courses but no wine. Unfortunately we were sat by the gin display which was very well done and of course like kids in a sweet shop we had to have one, but G&T’s are taken after meals here not before so our G&T order whilst we perused the menu was meet with horror by the young waiter. The food was a delight and would be called modern Spanish I guess, the delight for me out of it all was the cheese slices, a soft goats cheese served in layers of filo pastry with honey and topped with lettuce, art to look at and also taste wise. The whole meal was wonderful and if we hadn’t have had the G&T’s would have been fairly reasonable with the local house wine only being €9.50 on top of the €30 menu. Plus of course we had had free accommodation at the aire as well, so we didn’t feel too guilty on the spend front. We did purchase in town some of the cheese and also a bull’s ham (as the lady called it) which is essentially that but more of a cured meat I guess, but the tasting bit was lovely. The evening back at the van turned into a bit of a session with us meeting up with a couple we had met previously and another young couple currently on the road for a year- happy travels and fun to sit and chat.
Sat 16/04/16: Setting of with a sore head for me into the mountain passes, up down, round and around and helping to put out a tractor fire didn’t do much for me as we headed to another ‘Bonita’ village called Albarrcin again famed again for its half-timber and dusty pink houses. Lunch was eaten on the road and consisted of cheese, chocolate washed down with water and coke with tortilla when we reached the camp site. For David who of course has twice my body weight the volume of alcohol didn’t affect as much and the drive was more about the concentration. Not a culinary delight day but certainly didn’t do our bellies any harm after the night of alcohol, and with the thought of a sausage sandwich for Sunday morning.
Yet another Bonita village with more cheeses and ham…. Yeah!