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Valencia Scenic Drive: Alcoy to Altea

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valley-Valencia

We have been living now in Valencia for over a year and a half, and are ashamed to admit that we know very little of its surroundings. Turns out that Valencia has breathtaking landscapes to offer, and we finally got to see a tiny glimpse of them while taking a scenic drive from Alcoy (home of the Moors & Christian festival) to Altea.

valencia-hills-mountains

almond-valencia

The highlight of this short drive was passing by the Castillo Guadalest:

castillo-guadalest

guadalest-castle

We were short on time to return the rental car so we didn’t stop much. But this has given us the appetite for more.

Anyone have recommendations for more scenic drives around Valencia?

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July 12, 2009 at 10:36 am Comments (6)

Alcoy – Christians & Moors Festival 2009

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What must be the Valencian Community’s most impressive Christians & Moors Festival takes place in the beautiful mountain city of Alcoy on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of April.

alcoi-alcoy

Scratch that — this must be the best such festival in all of Spain. We went on the 22nd, and find it hard to imagine that anything else could even come close. This was one of the most impressive celebrations I’ve ever seen. (If you want to go, make sure to book your hotel or hostel in Alcoy early!!!).

Hotel-Reconquista
alcoi-konfetti
christian-flags

With beautiful, ornate costumes that manage to look both hundreds of years old and sparkling new, thousands of marchers transform the streets of Alcoy’s magnificent old city into a gigantic party. The festival’s first day sees the entrances: first of the Christains at 11:00, and then of the Moors at 17:00. Each parade lasts hours and hours, and is chock full of incredible music, dancing, floats and costumes.

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christians-alcoy

The streets were jam packed, and it was difficult to find a place to stand. So, purchasing a seat for the parade is well-worth the money. You can do get tickets from Alcoy’s tourist office.

spain-festival

On the 23rd, Alcoy celebrates the Fiesta de San Jorge. All day long, the streets are packed with revelers. And on the 24th, the city sees recreations of the infamous battles between its historical masters. This, from the pictures I’ve seen, consists of people marching down the streets with shotguns, making a lot of noise.

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Mighty-Knight
happy-knight-spain

All three days are worth seeing, but the Moorish Captain we had a chat with after lunch confirmed that the entrances on the 22nd are the most interesting for tourists. For locals, the battles of the final day are the most anticipated. Probably because they party all night.

alcoy-is-fun
christian-soldiers
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If you go and spend the night, it’s worth trying to get into a Fila hall. We didn’t do this, so I don’t have first-hand advice, but the Filas are the different groups in charge of the festival, similar to Valencia’s Fallas commissions. There are Moorish Filas, which try and recreate a feeling of Arabian marketplaces, and Christian Filas, too. These are private grounds, so you have to be invited to participate, but this is usually possible without too much effort.

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moors-guy-valencia

While you’re watching the parades, we can highly recommend the typical drink: la Mentira. Details here!

Even without the festival, Alcoy is definitely worth a day trip from Valencia. The old city is gorgeous, accessible from a more modern area of town across a long bridge. The streets are hilly, and there are plenty of monuments and natural beauty to gawk at.

Book your rental car here. BCO best prices for rental cars in Valencia.

Many more images:

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April 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm Comments (8)

Mentira – Alcoy’s Awesome Party Drink

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When we went to Alcoy for the Christians & Moors festival, we were delighted to be introduced to la Mentira, the city’s official party drink.

mentira-copa

Mentira is a delicious and highly intoxicating blend of coffee liquor and lemon slushie. Served in a bucket. And no: I’m not lying! “Mentira” is Spanish for “lie”, so when the wasted Russian guy dressed as one of King Arthur’s knights told me the drink’s name, I didn’t believe him for a second. But, really — that’s what it’s called. Anyone know why?

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April 24, 2009 at 3:18 pm Comments (3)