Saturday, 18 October 2014

Sizzling in the Sagunt sunshine

We liked Camping Malvarrosa when we first arrived practically a week ago and are still
Oh look! Girlfriend on a beach with a book! 
impressed with it now which is pretty rare for us! Being so close to warm, swimmable sea is obviously one of the main attractions, but it is also generally peaceful, there is plenty of flat countryside for Dave to explore by bike, I have beaches and lovely promenades to jog and walk along, and we even have History and Culture close by. The site has a section for touring caravans and motorhomes, a separate bit for tents, and the rest is a village of various permanent places but each is an individual encampment rather than simply bland, identikit statics. We have had more luck with wildlife spotting. There are several herons that fish the nearby irrigation canals and we have also seen kingfishers and Dave came across a field, maybe of harvested rice, with dozens of egrets in it. A cheeky red squirrel accompanied us for part of the climb to Sagunt castle. It was much smaller than the grey ones we used to see in Polegate and refused to sit still long enough for us to get a decent photograph.

We visited Sagunt city which is a few miles away. We had thought we could walk there, but got as far as the pretty Canet de Berenguer in an hour and a half and decided perhaps all the way to Sagunt was a bit optimistic in this heat. It's up to 29 degrees in the afternoons! In common with several towns along this bit of coast, Canet is spread over two sites. There is a pretty coastal strip of summer homes which is practically deserted at this time of year, and the town proper is set back a little inland. Therefore our walk along the beach to Canet only got us to their part of the beach and not an ice cream kiosk in sight! There were lots of large tyre tracks in the sand where the frequent boardwalks out to the sea are being taken up, presumably for safe storage through the winter. We discovered a shady park for a rest and then wandered home.

Sagunt is famous for its historical past having existed since at least the fifth century BCE, been at war with Carthage, and been invaded by Hannibal after an eight month siege. We visited the extensive castle site on a hill above today's town. There are remnants of several eras throughout the site, but sadly not placarded so we weren't always sure what we were looking at. Roman columns and inscriptions abound, but the ancient buildings were plundered for later rebuilds including a Moorish stronghold and the Christian reclamation that followed. There is also a section at the far end which obviously very recent renovation, perhaps to stop subsidence down the hill. A small museum housed some of the best preserved pillars and inscriptions, otherwise outside was a huge jigsaw of broken stone, sorted to a degree, but not yet with its places identified. An interesting aside for the museum was that all the information was bilingual. One language was Spanish, obviously, but the other was not English or French or even German as most of our fellow campers are, but Valenciano. I knew Catalan had its own dialect but we didn't realise that Valencia does too.

There is a railway station nearby with several local trains a day into Valencia. It is supposed to be getting a bit cooler here next week so we plan to take advantage of this to spend a day or two exploring the city. Any suggestions of must-sees?

In the meantime, my eagerly anticipated Kirsty McGee album has arrived. Do you remember I blogged about its Kickstarter campaign? It's called Those Old Demons and we're really enjoying the music. Interesting lyrics and unusual orchestration make it quite different from our usual fare. I think the official release is at the end of October and pre-orders can be placed here:

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