Piedras Blancas to Salinas (Asturias)

Peregrinos along the Camino del Norte always have options, depending on if they want a shorter day (along the road, no detours), the coastal way or the mountain way. As there is an private albergue in Salinas just past Avilés, many peregrinos make their way to the coastal town. As I stayed in Avilés, I missed the town of 4635 residents, making my way through an inland path. The two paths meet up again in Piedras Blancas, population 9544. Siempre hay opciones para los peregrinos que hacen el Camino del Norte, depende si quieren un día más corto (siempre por la carretera sin desavíos), caminando siempre por la costa o caminando siempre por los montes. Hay un albergue en Salinas justo después de Avilés, y muchos peregrinos eligen ir hasta Salinas para dormir allí. Como me alojé en Avilés, perdí el pueblo de 4635 habitantes, caminando por una senda por el interior. Las dos sendas unen en Piedras Blancas, población 9544. 

A few weeks later, I found myself at a friend’s house in Piedras Blancas while I was doing some more visa paperwork in Asturias. One afternoon was sunny, so I decided to walk to the beach in Salinas. Unas semanas después, me encontré en la casa de un amigo en Piedras Blancas mientras estaba haciendo más papeleo en Asturias. Una tarde era asoleado, y decidí caminar hasta la playa en Salinas. 

The walk was along the main road, and I remembered where I arrived to Piedras Blancas on the Camino. Such good times. It was only about 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) so I arrived in no time at all to the beach, which is one of the longest in Asturias. La ruta era por la carretera principal, y vi donde llegué a Piedras Blancas por el Camino. Ay, esas tiempos buenos…Solo era unos 2 kilómetros hasta la playa, y no tardé nada en llegar a la playa, que es una de las playas más largas de Asturias. 

There is an interesting “museum” of anchors, and a statue of sorts on the rocks of Jacques Costeau’s son. The views were spectacular. I walked, climbing a few of the rock formations, and then headed to the next beach, Arnao, before walking back to Piedras Blancas. Hay un “museo” interesante de anclas y una estatua del hijo de Jacques Costeau (si puedo llamarla “estatua”) en las rocas. Las vistas eran impresionantes. Caminí, subiendo algunas de las formaciones de roca, y fui hasta la próxima playa, Arnao, antes de volver a Piedras Blancas. 

It was a great short hike, for #29 of 2017. Era una buena ruta corta para el #29 de 2017. 

Hike #28/40 of 2017
Date/Fecha: 29 de agosto de 2017
Kilometres hiked:  5 km
Mountain/Route: Piedras Blancas-Salinas-Arnao-Piedras Blancas (Asturias) 
Difficulty: Easy/Fácil

Hike #29/40 of 2017
Date/Fecha: 29 de agosto de 2017
Kilometres hiked:  5 km
Mountain/Route: Piedras Blancas-Salinas-Arnao-Piedras Blancas
Difficulty: Easy/Fácil

Port Saplaya.

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It was my last Sunday before starting the school year, and I took advantage of a gorgeous autumn day (gone are the days of torrential rain every day. This is València, not Bilbao, and here plou poc però quan plou plou prou.) to go for a long walk along the beach to the next town, Alboraya (home of the horchata, Valencia’s refreshing dairy drink.) Era mi último domingo antes de volver a trabajar, y aproveché de un día precioso de otoño para dar un paseo largo por la playa hasta el próximo pueblo, Alboraya, hogar del horchata, la bebida típica de València de leche y chufe). (Ya no tengo que aguantar lluvia torrencial todos los días. Ese es València, no Bilbao, y aquí plou poc però quan plou plou prou). 

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I caught the metro to the Amistat barrio, and then went via Valenbisi, the bike-for-hire service from City Hall, along Avenida Blasco Ibañez and through the infamous Cabanyal barrio to the Malvarossa Beach, where I left behind the bike and went walking along the Mediterranean coast. Despite being October, the water wasn’t too cold to dip my feet in. The beach changed from València to Alboraya, and there were less and less people as I continued on. Cogí el metro hasta Amistat, y fui con Valenbisi, el servicio de bicicletas del ayuntamiento, por Avenida Blasco Ibañez y por el barrio de infame Cabanyal hasta la Playa Malvarossa, donde dejé la bici y fui caminando por la costa del mar. Aunque era octubre, el agua no estaba muy fría para mojar los pies. La playa cambió desde Valencia hasta Alboraya, y había menos gente. 

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I had to go along a bike path next to the road for a bit, as I wanted to go to Port Saplaya, a place that had long been on my Bucket List as it’s called “The Little Venice.”  It doesn’t get a lot of fame, and most valencianos know it for its beach, not being “la pequeña Venecia.” Port Saplaya had 1902 residents in 2009.  The reason why it markets itself as “La Pequeña Venecia” is because instead of a main square, the port forms a square. That’s right, the town is build around the port, giving it the look of Venice’s famous canals. It’s also a new settlement, as the residential zone didn’t begin until the 1970s. Tenía que caminar por un carril bici a lado de la carretera un rato, como quería ir hasta Port Saplaya, un sitio que lleva años en mi Bucket List porque es conocido como “La Pequeña Venice”. No es muy conocido, y los valencianos lo conocen mejor por su playa, no por ser “La Pequeña Venice”. Es conocido así porque el pueblo se construyó con el puerto como la plaza mayor. Todo del centro del pueblo es el puerto, que lo hace algo parecido a Venecia. En 2009, contaba con 1902 habitantes. También es un pueblo nuevo, como no empezó como una zona residencial hasta los años 1970. 

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Even more impressive was the Carraixet Gully (Barranco) near the town, with a beautiful 20th century church on the shores of the stream right next to the beach. Para mi, el Barranco Carraixet era más impresionante. Está justo antes del pueblo, y hay una iglesia bonita del Siglo XX por las orillas del Carraixet a lado de la playa. 

I had a relaxing café con leche and caught the next bus to Valencia, getting off at the edge of town and Valenbising it back home. Me tomé un relaxing café con leche y cogí el próximo autobús a Valencia, bajando en la primera parada de la ciudad y cogiendo el Valenbisi para volver a casa.

It was a good end to my summer holidays. Era una buena manera de acabar mis vacaciones de verano. Adéu, estiu. 

Hike #26/40 of 2016
Date/Fecha: 2 de octubre de 2016
Kilometres hiked:  6ish. 
Mountain:  Nothing but beach.
Difficulty: Easy. 

Gandia Shore.

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Once upon a time, Spain decided to produce their very own Jersey Shore called Gandia Shore. It was a fantastic failure which represented the very worst of Spain. The infamy remains. Erase una vez, España tenía su propio Jersey Shore que se llamaba Gandia Shore. Era un fracaso fantástico que representó lo peor de España.

The city (90,000 residents in winter, 200,000 in summer) is located on the beach 65 kilometres (40 miles) south of Valencia and 96 km/60 miles north of Alicante. The majority of tourists are Spanish. Gandia is also the home of the Borgia family. La ciudad (90.000 habitantes en el invierno, 200.000 durante el verano) está situado en la playa a 65 kilometros sur de Valencia y a 96 kilometros norte de Alicante. La mayoría de turistas son españoles. Gandia también era el hogar de la familia Borja. 

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Two kilometres (a little over a mile) separate the city from the beach. I had visited the city briefly in 2010 when I first moved to Valencia and was left rather unimpressed. While the Old Town has a few items of interest like the Ducal Palace and some churches, the beach is the main attraction. A bus runs every 10-15 minutes from the train station to the beach. Dos kilometros separan la ciudad de la playa. Había visitado la ciudad antes en 2010 cuando estaba viviendo en Valencia la primera vez y me fui decepcionado. Aunque el Casco Viejo tiene unos sitios de interés como el Palacio Ducal y algunas iglesias, la playa es la atracción principal. Un autobús conecta la estación de Renfe con la playa cada 10-15 minutos. 

I went again upon my arrival on Valencia to visit a friend. My opinion stays the same. It’s overrated. I’ve been spoilt by the beautiful beaches of North Spain! The difference is, people can actually go to the beach and not risk being drenched from the rain instead of the sea! The town did have a bit more charm than the beach. The beach was just interchangeable with any other Spanish beach in my opinion and was overcrowded. Fui por una segunda vez cuando llegué a Valencia para visitar a un amigo. Mi opinión queda lo mismo. Es sobrevalorado. Ya estoy acostumbrado a las playas del Norte. La diferencia es que la gente se puede ir a la playa sin riesgo de ser mojado más de la lluvia que el mar. La ciudad sí tiene más encanto que la playa. La playa podría ser cualquier playa de España en mi opinión y había demasiada gente.

gandia 4

Still, there were some pretty cool sandcastles and is well worth visiting for any beach fan. It was interesting that Pearls Before Swine had a “sun of the beach” pun the day I was visiting my friend. Walking to town was definitely a help finding my walking legs again before my (at the time I am writing this) upcoming Camino Adventure 2016! Pero había unos castillos de arena chulos y si eres aficionado de la playa, te gustará. También, el camino hacía la ciudad me ayudó encontrar animo para caminar antes de (en la fecha cuando escribo eso) mi aventura del Camino de 2016.

gandia 3

Alicante…or Gran Alacant.

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Just a quick note…this is my 75th entry at Setmeravelles! Xé que bo! With me resorting to valenciano, you can guess that it’s time I return to writing about la meua Comunitat Valenciana to write about their third province, Alicante (or Alacant).

I’ve been to Alicante three times now, and each time I have loved the city. My first time was on my farewell for the summer 2009 trip through the Comunidad Valenciana in early June. It was the first time I got to stay at a place that wasn’t a backpacker’s hostel, although the place I stayed at had a similar vibe. I fell in love with having a room to myself, and although it was only 6 years ago, looking back, I feel much younger than 27.  It was a quick overnight trip, and the first thing I did after checking in and applying sunscreen was to buy water and head up to the Castillo de Santa Bárbara which overlooks the city and the Mediterranean. After grabbing an unhealthy lunch, I’m sure, I walked around the beach and went swimming. The next night, I went to Santa Pola and stayed at a guest house ran by a great Irish guy living in Alicante. Santa Pola is a great beach, and I enjoyed swimming in a pool for a change.

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My second time was in 2011, after I had to scrap around and change plans last minute for Semana Santa. I went to Calpe, which is a great village in Alicante on the sea, before spending the night in Alicante capital again.

My third time was in 2012, and I coincidentally booked at the same place I had stayed in 2009. The owner remembered me, but this time, I didn’t enjoy the stay as much. I was on my way to work a summer camp in Murcia, so I had that on my mind stressing me out. I had very little time to explore this time, but Alicante remains one a place I love exploring. There are quite a few places I want to visit in the future, of course.

One place I plan to skip, due to my own personal reasons (and not saying that other people should skip), is the Vegas of Spain, Benidorm. It has a ton of things to do for tourists of all types, but I prefer finding my tourism and travel plans in natural or historic places. At one time, Benidorm seemed SOOO cool, and I have seen it from the Valencia-Alicante bus. However, that time has passed. For those liking resort type holidays, this would be your dream vacation in Spain. For those wanting to get in touch with nature or seeing buildings from Roman or medieval times…there are better places.

Set Meravelles

Calpe y su Peñón de ifach

calpe

The city of Calpe, 30,000 habitants, is special not because of the city itself but the proximity to Peñón de Ifach, a massive limestone rock formation that is home to over 300 animal and plant species. The natural park is 332 metres (996 feet) high and can be seen for kilometres around. I didn’t get a chance to explore the formation, but it is without a doubt one of the coolest things you can find in Spain. On a clear day, you can see the Balearic Islands.

Castillo de Santa Bárbara

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The capital city of Alicante has 334,000 people, and from the top of Mount Benacantil, which boasts the Santa Bárbara, you can see the entire city. The castle was built like so many of Spanish castles by the Muslims in the 9th century. In 1248, it was captured by forces led by Alfonso de Castilla who renamed it Santa Bárbara, but the Aragonese recaptured it 50-some years later. It was once owned by the English for 3 years, proving they have been anxious to colonize the Levante Coast for a long time. ( / sarcasm font) It was opened in 1963 to the public.

Las playas de Alicante

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Alicante is famous for its beaches all along the coast of the province. On the night of San Juan, June 23rd, the beaches are alit with bonfires up and down the coast.

Elche (to be discovered)

Elche is the third largest city in la Comunitat Valenciana with some 230,000 odd residents. It’s home to over 1000 shoe factories. Every August 14th and 15th, the Misterio de Elche, which is said to be the oldest European theatre piece, is performed. It is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palmarel de Elche with its 200,000 palm trees. I did see this from the train from Alicante to Murcia, and it looked awesome.

Alcoy (to be discovered) y su festival de moros y cristianos

The city of Alcoy, 60,000 residents, is home to a castle, rock paintings and every April, a famous festival of Moors and Christians. While performed in several Spanish (especially Valencian) communities, the re-enactment of the Moorish capture and the Christian recapture in Alcoy is the most famous. In Alcoy, it’s around Sant Jordi (April 23), the 22nd-24th, when it is performed.

Xàbia/Jávea (to be discovered)

A coastal town of 34,000 habitants, Xàbia/Jávea is on a bay and located between two rocky headlands. It has several beaches and coves and some buildings left from the Roman times.

Altea (to be discovered)

Altea, 23,000 residents, has been on my list for quite some time. Their casco viejo (old town) is a labyrinth of white houses and cobblestone streets, and it’s right on the sea. I’m looking forward to my chance to visit Altea!