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Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Day Trips

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With our impending 3-month trip to Asturias coming ever closer, we thought it’d be a good time to look back on our years here, and compile some “Best Of” lists. We’ll start with Day Trips. As is always the case when creating lists, we’ve had to leave a lot of great things out… but these are our favorites. In the next few days, we’ll be publishing more Top Fives!

The city of Valencia offers enough diversion for any length of trip, but it’s worthwhile to get out and see some of the other incredible spots which are nearby. We took a lot of day trips during our time here, but these are the five which we enjoyed the most, in no particular order.

El Palmar and the Albufera

Found just a few kilometers south of Valencia, the natural park of the Albufera is home to an enormous freshwater lagoon. From the city, you can bike there in less than an hour, and be rewarded with some incredible nature… dunes, wetlands, birds and fauna, the beaches of El Saler, and beautiful nature trails. The village of El Palmar is found deep within the Albufera and is world-renowned for its paella restaurants.

El Palmar – The Perfect Day Trip
Bike Trip to Saler and the Albufera
El Palmar and the Albufera – Another visit

Sagunto

Sagunto is famous for its Roman theater, and its hilltop castle which stretches over a kilometer. A must-see for history fans, “Saguntum” was a powerful Roman city, and the first to be attacked by Hannibal. It’s just a short train trip away from Valencia.

Sagunto: City of Ruins
Sagunto, Part II

Dénia & Xàbia

There are a lot of great opportunities for biking in the Valencian Community, but the trip we most enjoyed was around the Montgó Mountain, between the touristy seaside villages of Dénia and Xàbia. Even without the bike trip, both towns are worth visiting; particular Xàbia with its crystal blue water and beautiful coastline.

Bike Tour around the Montgó: Dénia-Xàbia

Alcoy

Alcoy, with its magnificent old town and castle, is worth a visit any time of year. But it’s especially impressive in late April, when the Alcoyanos put on Spain’s biggest Christians & Moors Festival. For three days, marchers, dancers, musicians and animals fill the streets. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Alcoy – Christians & Moors Festival 2009
Mentira – Alcoy’s Awesome Party Drink
Valencia Scenic Drive: Alcoy to Altea

Xàtiva

With trains leaving the Estación del Norte about every half-hour for Xàtiva, there’s very little excuse to miss out on this fascinating town south of Valencia. The Castle of the infamous Borgia family is the highlight, but there is a lot to see and do in this city of the Setabenses.

Day Trip to Xàtiva
Xàtiva – Introduction & History
Random Xàtiva Photos
Xativa Castle in HD

Rent a car for your day trip from Valencia

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July 23, 2010 at 9:19 am Comments (2)

Eerie Valencia, Spooky & Beautiful Images

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post-office-Valencia

Here’s a set of some eerie nighttime photos I’ve taken of Valencia. Enjoy!

eerie-valencia

agora-at-night

eerie-turia

pink-pink-building

Spinning-sick

valencia-spain-flags

children-eater

banco-valenciano

moon-ayuntamiento

Follow us to Oviedo

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July 21, 2010 at 9:13 am Comments (2)

Spain: The Best Country in the World

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What a glorious finale to an incredible month of soccer. Last night, all of Spain collapsed in an ecstatic fit when Andrés Iniesta slammed home his winning goal in extra time. Spain is the best country in the world. I mean that. The best country in the world.

Yo Soy Espanol

It’s as though the tournament had been scripted! The Spaniards weren’t just the World Cup’s best team, but the classiest. Fair play and a beautiful passing game have come to define La Roja. They’re also the bestlooking team in the world. Hands down. And in the Netherlands, they had an almost comically villainous opponent — the dirty-playing, karate-kicking, flopping, petulant Dutch.

They were the good guys. Spain deserved to win. And then, they did! THEY WON! When the tension couldn’t possibly have gotten any more unbearable, Andrés Iniesta freed his country from a legacy of defeat. Spain is the best country in the world.

Check out our awesome video of the celebration at Café Burlón in Valencia, and afterwards at Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

Congratulations Spain! You richly deserve this victory. And, although I’m not a native, I hope you don’t mind me singing along… ¡Yo soy español, español, español!

¡Yo soy español, español, español!

Valencia Spain Weltmeister

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July 12, 2010 at 11:09 am Comments (5)

Bike Tour around the Montgó: Dénia-Xàbia

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For my birthday, Jürgen and I went biking around the mountain of Montgó. Separating the vacation cities of Dénia and Xàbia, the Montgó raises to over 2400 feet and has an impressive, plateau-like profile visible from miles in every direction.

The Volta al Montgó takes from 2-3 hours, though you should plan on 4 hours if (like us) you constantly pause for pictures. Besides a short but brutal climb into the hillside town of Jesús Pobre, the tour is easy — either flat or downhill. And the nature and beauty of the area is breathtaking.

We rode through grape fields, groves of olives and orange trees, and into some areas that felt untouched by the passage of time. I loved contemplating the Montgó’s various faces as we circled it, and the mountain’s constant, imposing presence was a comforting sign that we hadn’t gotten lost.

The land around the Montgó is a natural park which contains some of the most diverse flora and fauna in Spain. Over 50 endemic plant species join animals like eagles, owls, badgers and wild boar. The only wild creature I saw was a crazy photo-snapping German (Fotographus Alemanus), but that didn’t make the trip any less exciting.

Midway through the trip, we stopped for lunch in the quiet town of Jesús Pobre (I can’t get over that name). Situated on the foothills of the inland side of Montgó, the village boasts an excellent view over the landscape. Replenished by paella, we enjoyed an easy, downhill trip into the southern end of the mountain, La Vall de Sala. We stopped by a cemetery and arrived in Xàbia at around 5.

That left us enough time to lay on the beach and swim in its crystal blue water. Gorgeous, and the perfect reward for a day of exercise. But our trip wasn’t done yet! In order to return to Dénia, we hopped on a 40-minute ferry around the cape. Cliffs shot vertically from the water, with a blinking lighthouse atop them. The sun was beginning to wane a little, and it was an incredible ending to an incredible day.

We can really recommend this tour to bikers of any fitness level or experience. It’s easy, though not particularly well-marked — especially coming into Xàbia and in Jesús Pobre, a few important signs are missing. But bring a map, and you’ll be fine. The tourist offices in both Dénia and Xàbia have itineraries of the path.

Tips:

Book the Mini Cruise here
Best way to get to Dénia from Valencia with Bikes
Low Bugdet Dénia / Low Budget Javea aka Xàbia
Hotels in Dénia / Hotels in Xàbia

Cruz Denia
XXX
Flores España
Rapunzel Tower
Book Market
Stierkampf Bar
Denia
Minarette Spain
Kaktus Blüte
Korn Blume
Monkey Bubble Tree
Montgo Montaña
Berg Montgo
Spanische Trauben
Green Spain
Sneaky Photographer
Paella Jesus Pobre
Dog in Spain
Graveyard
Spanischer Friedhof
Dead
Three Towers in Spain
Beach Javea
Hunk Fishing
Sailing Boat Javea
Waiting for the Ferry
Denia Javea Crise
Lighthouse Javea
Lighthouse Javea
Berg Javea

Bite Away


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July 2, 2010 at 3:17 pm Comments (6)

Los Baños del Almirante

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Right off Calle Palau, within 2 minutes of the Cathedral, lay the Baths of the Admiral — a bathhouse originally constructed in 1313.

Unlike the baths we visited while in Granada, these are of Christian origin, though with their arched doorways and star-shaped skylights, clearly owe a lot to Moorish aesthetic.

We’d been meaning to visit for more than a year, and finally did a couple weeks ago. Our visit began with a short video demonstrating how a 14th century lady might have bathed herself. Afterwards, we took a short guided tour of the building. The baños consist of three rooms — cold, warm and hot. Unlike the Arab baths, guests would only sponge themselves and sit in steam, and not fully emerge in water.

The architecture and history are neat, but this isn’t exactly Valencia’s most interesting cultural offering. The Baños have been fully restored, but have lost any sense of their antiquity. The introductory video was a little cheesy, bordering on distasteful, and our guide was unenthusiastic, bordering on comatose. But again it was all for free, so it’s difficult not to recommend a visit.

The doors open every half hour for the visit. Just wait outside until invited in.
Tue-Sat: 9:30 – 14:00 and 17:30 – 20:00
Sun & Holidays: 9:30 – 14:00
605.275.784
Location on our Valencia Map

Bragains from Spain

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June 29, 2010 at 9:38 am Comments (2)

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