A Travellerspoint blog

May 2016

Xativa Castle

Incredible Views

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Seeing pictures of Xativa Castle was one of the reasons I wanted to visit this region. The castle dates from the time of the Romans and has been occupied by invaders ever since. The Moors came, and then the French, the Bourbons, the Hapsburgs and the Aragons. It's been built upon by each invader and it is a wonderful visual history. So much of it is intact and there is so much to explore.

We heard there was a tourist train that takes people to the top, and we saw it up there, but ended up just driving to the base of the castle and parking. The drive up is beautiful and you can see parts of the trail that meanders down from the castle. It looked amazing, but with two little ones, we had to prioritize.

The sun was getting hotter by the minute and the clerk recommended we see the Castle Mayor first and then check out the lower castle before the sun really started to bake. It was an excellent suggestion, and the Castle Mayor has some nice shady picnic areas on the way up. As you climb, the views of Xativa below get better and better. Check out the prison - it's about 15 degrees cooler in there!

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After we checked out the Borgias residence, I left the boys to cool off at the restaurant and climes up the smaller castle. The walk up is tough because it's so freaking hot, but totally worth it. The Castillo Menor is actually the older of the two fortifications, built in pre-Roman times by the region’s original Iberian inhabitants. This is a great day trip from Valencia. The city itself is full of shady streets and happening restaurants. The train station is also very nice.

We stocked up at the Masymas, where I bought a lot of cheese - 3 dollars for Camembert, I was too weak to resist. We drove back home through the orange and lemon groves to feed the feral cats and watch the sun go down. We hiked through the 70 hectares surrounding the house and sampled marcona almonds, dates, and some other fruit they eat in Lebanon that I don't know the name of. It was a good day.

Posted by Restless Mama 12:14 Archived in Spain Tagged xativa Comments (0)

Inland Valencia

Driving Over Lemons (and Oranges)

We arrived at the petrol station in Barxeta and met our lovely hostess, who we followed to our house. Well, it's her house and had been in her family for three generations, along with the surrounding orange, lemon, olive, and almond groves. She and her husband summer here, and during the days they work in the fields to produce organic bounty. The house is beautiful and can be found here - https://www.homeaway.co.uk/p596041vb.

The natural pool is clean and clear and is used for irrigation, based on an old Arabic system. For us, it was just a great place to swim!

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The nearest grocery is down a half paved road and into Barxeta, and it's only open from 6-9. So we sent Husband off to gather provisions. The views are incredible and we are surrounded by a natural park. Our first day, we picked lemons from the grove and I made lemon curd. The kids played with the feral cats and Husband brought home cat food to feed them. And now they wait for us every morning! The sun doesn't set until well after 9, and we've been enjoying the most beautiful sunsets. Tomorrow to Xativa Castle!

Posted by Restless Mama 11:56 Archived in Spain Tagged xativa barxeta Comments (0)

A Night in Toledo

Everything is Uphill

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Toledo is an incredibly well-preserved ancient city perched on top of a hill. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and wandering the narrow streets it is easy to imagine every era this city has experienced- from the Visigoths to the Moors to the Christians of the Spanish Inquisition. The city maintains its walls and gates - walls which kept the city from ever falling (other than to prolonged siege).

We stayed at the Hotel Mayoral, which is outside the walls and within walking distance of the series of escalators that ferry people up to the top. This keeps the city nearly car-free (except for buses, taxis, and early morning deliveries). At the top, it's a short walk up to the main plaza, Plaza Zocodover. The plaza is the center of the city and is the place to ask for when you (inevitably) get lost.

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We got lost. The city was celebrating Corpus Christie, and there were fuschia flowers and decorations throughout. The streets twist and turn and there are so many plazas and churches. We stopped to eat tapas and eventually found our way back to the square. We took the wrong escalator down and ended up walking all the way back down. We ended up at the beautiful Bisagra gate and wandered along the walls back to the hotel.

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We headed back for a siesta and then the kids and I decided to go find a park where we could run and play. At 8 o'clock, it was still light out and the park (across the street from the Bisagra gate), was filled with people. Parents and kids, teenagers and couples strolling along the shaded paths. The restaurants and cafes were full and it was a beautiful night. The kids found some other kids to play with and they put together some elaborate war game while I relaxed on the benches and took in the scene.

When we got home at 10, they insisted they weren't tired. Five minutes after lights out, we were all snoring. In the morning, I woke up my early bird kid and we went back up to the city while the other two slept. In the mornings, there are no people and you have the whole place to yourself. All the vendors were delivering their goods to the stores, and we scored some fresh marzipan from São Tomé, a bakery services by the local nuns. Delish. Though our legs were tired, I really wanted to see the Cathedral, which is reportedly one of the best in Spain. Adam was a good sport - he let me take pictures and then we found chocolate croissants. A great morning in a great city.

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Posted by Restless Mama 14:05 Archived in Spain Comments (0)

Oh MIA, Por Favor Hablar Despacio!

Todas Personas Hablan Espanol

Oh Miami International Airport, I love that I can get for real cafe con leche and guava and cheese pastelitos here! And that I can practice my Spanish because no one is speaking English. TSA was a breeze, except this time Noah's bag got the search. Amusing, since I was the one packing mini bottles of Jameson in mine. Adam is traveling with the REI backpack I used when my thirteen year old self travelled to Europe. It puts a smile on my face.

So, with two hours to spare, we found an empty hallway in F terminal and had our version of sack races and parkour. Adam designated gate F8 as our yoga terminal. Then we played MadLibs. I have to wear them out - we won't be in Madrid for 8 hours! And we don't get there till tomorrow! I'm still convinced red eye is the way to go. We're all excited and ready to board.

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Posted by Restless Mama 17:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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