Two Short Weeks in Spain

A few years ago, my husband Bill and I, along with several other bloggers, were invited by the Land of Valencia Tourist office on a trip to experience the Valenciana  area of Spain and the FIB Music Festival, held for the past 17 years in Benicassim.

Benicassim beach

Benicassim beach

Although we have traveled to Europe more than 40 times, this was our first trip to Spain. We were delighted with the invitation, and we decided to add an extra week to our trip so we could visit Barcelona. We are so glad we made this trip. Spain is so different from the other places we have been to in Europe, that we were constantly surprised by the unique architecture, the abundance of fresh produce and seafood and the exceptionally friendly people.

Halfway to the castle and tower in Benicassim

Halfway to the castle and tower in Benicassim

Benicassim, which is located on the Costa del Azahar north of Valencia, is a resort town that is a favorite of the British. The FIB (Festival Internacional de Benicassim) Music Festival draws thousands every year, mostly from England. This year the Festival was held July 15 -18 with Kasabian, Vampire Weekend, The Prodigy and Gorillaz as headliners. But there were scores more bands performing on the three stages over the four nights.  The weather, though hot during the day was glorious for this outdoor, nighttime venue.

Morella, Spain

Morella, Spain

Our days were spent touring this gorgeous part of Spain and in partaking in long, delicious lunches of tapas and fine wine. One day we drove to the Medieval, walled city of Morella. The drive to Morella was memorable in itself. We drove on some one-lane roads up and down the El Maestrat region’s mountains. The mountains were terraced centuries ago and are still used for agriculture today.  There are several viewpoints along the way, where you can get a postcard view of the majestic Morella sitting atop a high outcrop.  We finished the day with a visit to Peniscola, a  fortified town built on a narrow peninsula on the Mediterranean.  This area of Spain, the Castellon, is where the Knights of the Templar lived and fought.

Peniscola, Spain

Peniscola, Spain

One evening we took a hike on the hills above Benicassim to the ruins of a castle that was once the fortress of the legendary El Cid. It was a 5k hike that was led by a young historian, which made the hike all the more interesting and fun.  The memory of watching the dramatic sunset from the castle grounds still stays with me.

Although Valencia itself was not on the agenda, we found two days to visit this fantastic, yet overlooked city.  It was truly my favorite city on this trip. Just three hours south of Barcelona by fast train, Valencia, the third largest city in Spain, is so beautiful, it takes my breath away. The buildings have a Moorish influence that distinguishes it from Barcelona and other cities to the north.  And the City of Arts and Sciences, set just outside the old town, is spectacular. Designed by Valencia born architect Santiago Calatrava, the City of Arts and Sciences is a large-scale urban recreation center for culture and science which also incorporates L’Oceanogràfic, an underwater city designed by the late Felix Candela.

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences, Valencia

We then spent five memorable days in Barcelona, enjoying the Ramblas, the sea, the museums, and the legacy of Gaudi.  The days were quite hot, but walking under the arching plane trees on the Ramblas, with the intermittent breeze from the Mediterranean, made it more tolerable.  The hot days gave way to wonderfully comfortable nights which is when this city comes alive. We can’t wait to go back!

The Ramblas, Barcelona

The Ramblas, Barcelona

Written By Terri Fogarty and photos by Bill Fogarty for EuropeUpClose.com

 

 

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Comments

  1. nest says

    To the people that want to travel to Spain and especially Andalucía I give you a good tip. There is a great hostel where you can crash! In the White Nest Hostel in Granada, recently opened, you can find a young international group of like minded people, in fresh vibrant surroundings. You will have a great time to remember your entire life…..Based at the foot of the Alambra, the area is both central and historical.Full of tapas` bars really close and everywhere!!. I recommend you to stay in Hostels Granada and experience the life of Albayzin, Sacromonte and the heart of Granada itself.

  2. says

    The pictures look good. A reminder of the beauty of Spain. I would like to see the ruins of a castle that was once the fortress of the legendary El Cid. Although I have never been to Valencia, I will see to it that this fantastic city is on my list the next time i travel to Spain.

  3. Arantxa says

    Valencia is my favorite city in Spain. It’s charming, cozy and beautiful. People is very friendly and food is fantastic. It’s also much more economical than Barcelona or Madrid. Great beaches and nightlife.
    They are famous for creating the Paella and the Horchata with Fartons. Both a must if you go visit.

  4. says

    How lucky you were traveling here. It’s a gorgeous area of Spain and well worth a visit. Sounds like it was your first visit to Spain? Hope you come back, it’s still my favorite country even though I’ve been to more than 100 others 🙂

  5. says

    i arrived in granada and it was 114 degrees in july! actually a good time to go as few tourists are there. i took a siesta like the rest of the city, headed out early, stayed up late in the cool night air…yes, if july and august are your only month to go, it is possible!

  6. Brandy Bell says

    just love Valencia– it’s home to one of my favorite festivals in the world- Las Fallas, where giant dioramas are it on fire on the streets at the conclusion of the event… massive fun! 🙂

  7. jimmy says

    very rejuvenating pics i visited Spain last year and want to visit it again again …the most beautiful country in the world.

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