Nido’s parked up at another free aire, in the town of Simat de la Valldigna. It’s just on the edge of this typically Spanish town, surrounded by orange groves and on two side by mountains. It’s also about 200m from the ruins of the Monastery of Santa Maria.
It was very cold in the night and we woke this morning to a hard frost on the van, a first for us - we’re generally fair-weather tourers. So we didn’t hang about, quickly eating breakfast before driving on. The journey here, once off the winding mountain roads, was mainly motorway, by-passing the city of Valencia. This is very much citrus fruit growing country, with trees as far as the eye can see. We arrived at Simat at about 1130, which seems to be our average arrival time these days. Firstly, the 2 hour drive is about long enough, although preferably shorter; longer commutes may be needed to get around cities. Secondly, any later than this and it can be a struggle to find a pitch. Today there were about 3 or 4 to pick from and, as we’re in a small panel van conversion, there’s usually a spot we can fit in; the large motorhomes (and some are huge) struggle to fit in some places. Since we’ve arrived I’ve seen a few vans turn up and have to leave due to no spaces. Arriving around midday also allows us to settle in for a short while, decompress from the drive and have some lunch, then we’re ready to explore.
We had a good walk around the monastery ruins, which are free to enter. It’s in various stages of renovation and the footprint is huge. The first monastery was founded on 15 March 1297 by James II of Aragon, who reputedly fell in love with the beauty of the valley. The current monastery was built in the 16th Century, run by Cistercian monks. As well as restoring some of the buildings and stonework, it looks like the gardens are being re-developed in their original style. It’s certainly worth a visit. We had a good walk around the town too, which has a tourist trail you can follow, marked by horseshoes sprayed on the pavement, with various information boards dotted around. We enjoyed our usual walk along the narrow back streets, with the small shops and bars and people going about their daily lives. Young boys were letting off very loud bangers in the street, not for any fiesta reasons, but just because they can!
Back at the aire, some people were stood out chatting, no doubt swapping ideas of places to visit and stay. Cathy had a snooze and I chilled out, looking out at the view of the orange groves and mountains from the cab seat and doing a bit of research for the next few days. We’d like to visit La Albufera, a huge freshwater lagoon about 15km south of Valencia, surrounded by rice paddy fields, so making it the birthplace of paella. I have a great little paella dish I bought in Barcelona but left it at home! We also fancy a drive along the coast road around Denia, Javea and towards Calpe. I’ve noticed there’s currently plenty of free or cheap parking right alongside the beaches in many of the towns; as it’s low season parking’s easy.
|Nido's spot - again the smallest van in the aire!|
|My day dreaming position|
|Catching up on the local news in the paper|
|Now that's a proper dhoby shack!|