Nov 202010

Oliva is a town that lies on the coast some 8kms south of Gandía, and has much to offer both the holidaymaker and the resident alike. Oliva has, in fact, become a magnet for a certain number of ex-pats of many nationalities, but generally of the type that want to be associated with the Spanish way of life, rather than living in ‘ghetto’ like developments surrounded only by others of their own nationality.

Served by the airports of Valencia to the north and Alicante to the south, Oliva is very easy to reach by car, lying as it does on the N332 highway which runs through the centre of the town. Driving south on the N332, the old part of the town is to be found on the right, whilst the “passeo” and then the beach area are to the left. The passeo is in fact the site of the famous weekly market in Oliva every Friday morning, which is one of the best in the whole La Safor area, with a huge choice of fresh produce on sale, as well as clothes and household items.
Fiestas feature on the calendar of every town in Spain, and Oliva is no exception to the rule. Probably the most famous one in Oliva is the “Moors and Christians” fiesta, which is renowned throughout the La Safor area, and indeed the whole of Valencia province, as being one of the most colourful. Also high up the list is the “Fallas” festival in March – Oliva being a good venue to get the “feel” for this fiesta without the crowds that are to be found in Gandía and Valencia.
The old town that rises up above modern Oliva is full of quaint, winding streets and whitewashed houses, with a good choice of cafés and bars to refresh the flagging sightseer. Carry on upwards, however, and you will be rewarded by Santa Anna castle, built in the 16th century, with spectacular views down over Oliva town, the surrounding countryside and on out to the sea.
Oliva’s beaches are a huge attraction, and rightly so. Stretching for 10kms they have been awarded the prestigious “Blue Flag” award, and are a delight for the visitor. There is also a yacht club, a marina and a beach-side swimming pool to make the area even more attractive. Slightly outside the town other facilities and attractions include the famous Oliva Nova 18 hole golf club (designed by Seve Ballesteros) with a luxury hotel adjacent, a go-karting track and the Marjal wetlands nature reserve. With a great choice of bars and restaurants to suit all tastes, Oliva may be a small town on the map, but it is certainly big on all that it has to offer the visitor. Bed and breakfast accommodation close to Oliva.

Nov 182010

Winter Sunshine in Spain

Winter seems to be on its way to the United Kingdom, with an outlook of colder weather and even warnings that snow might not be far off.  So – what better time to think about a little winter sunshine? With low-cost airlines offering frequent and good value flights to the Costa Blanca, this could be the best time to consider taking a break from those grey skies. Daytime temperatures along the Costa Blanca are frequently in the mid-twenties centigrade with bright, sunny skies, so although it might not be quite swimming weather, it makes a lovely warm contrast to those overcast days of an endless British winter.

Spain’s Costa Blanca is well served by both Valencia and Alicante airports, so depending on your departure point in the UK you will find a huge choice of economical flights at your disposal. Once here, there is no shortage of resorts to provide accommodation and entertainment at exceptionally good prices at this time of the year. Depending on your preferences, you could choose a holiday with city sightseeing as your main focus, driving around in the scenic mountains that lie close by, hill walking, golfing, or just relaxing in the warm sunshine. Spend a week on the Costa Blanca, and you could easily do the lot!!

The famous resorts that the Costa Blanca is so well known for include of course Benidorm with its endless choice of bars and evening entertainment, but also many other places that cater for the foreign visitor. Altea, with its lovely, old town centre and church is well worth a visit, and Villajoyosa is another gem along this stretch of the coast, with a truly beautiful old town and harbour area. Calpe and Denia are also places maybe not so well known to the British holidaymaker, but they have spectacular beaches, lovely harbours and quaint old town centres as well. Working northwards up the coast, the historical town of Gandia is even less well known to the British holidaymaker, but is the number one holiday destination in Spain for the Spanish themselves – and it is not hard to see why. With a truly spectacular award winning beach, Playa de Gandia is about 3kms away from the main town and boasts a huge choice of restaurants, bars and nightclubs as well as a casino to entertain the visitor. The main town of Gandia itself has lots of high quality shopping, historical sights and a vibrant weekly market to attract people from far and wide.

Go just a little further north, and you come to Valencia City itself. Spain’s third city has literally everything to offer the visitor, and most of it all within walking distance. From a fascinating and rich historic centre to stunningly modern iconic architecture, Valencia is a beautiful destination with so much to see, and all set around public gardens that wind right through the whole city, following the bed of the River Turia that was diverted around the town four decades ago.

Villa Florencia is an ideally located base for your Costa Blanca winter sunshine break, just over an hour north of Alicante by car, 40 minutes south of Valencia (or conveniently placed for the train to the city too), and within easy driving range of any of the other places and attractions along the coast or inland. Only minutes away from the A7 motorway, yet set in a completely rural environment near to Gandia town, now is an even better time to come.

Stay with us for a week in a comfortable and spacious room with a choice of either double or twin bedded accommodation.
Bookings made for stays of 7 nights commencing up to the end of February will be given the preferential rate of just €300 per room (not per person!) including a very generous continental breakfast.

What better time can there be to think of leaving the drab, grey skies behind and finding out what this lovely part of Spain has to offer?

All images courtesy of Jeff Clarke – Falcon Display (Maidstone, Kent)

Nov 162010

Looking to buy Authentic Spanish Food from Spain online,…
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Spanish food and wine are famous the world over and Valencia is at the culinary heartland of this food-loving nation.

A Paradise on Earth for carnivores and seafood lovers, Valencia does not cater so well for vegetarians, although the wealth of fresh fruit and vegetables available in this sun-kissed part of the world mean that hearty vegetable soups and stews are always an option. Wine lovers are bound to be ecstatic during a trip to Valencia, meanwhile – among other choices, the region is a prime producer of the Cava sparkling wine that is increasingly giving Champagne a run for its money.

Spain`s culinary scene is synonymous with Paella – that rich mix of seasoned rice and seafood that is the taste of Spain for countless visitors to the country. But not all paellas are created equal and foodies would be wise to look beyond the obvious and source those versions that are specific to the Valencia region. As well as the traditional seafood paella, which will typically include everything from shrimp and mussels to squid and even octopus, Valencia prides itself on its meat paellas, usually made with rabbit or chicken; and its Arroz a Banda. The latter is a rustic local take on the traditional paella, created by Valencia`s fishermen in centuries past. Here, the fish and seafood and rice are cooked separately, allowing the flavours of each to develop before they are mixed together. The dish is typically served with a pungent garlic and oil sauce, known as all i oli.

Rice is very much a staple part of Valencian cuisine and is never bland. Combined with the local olive oil, fresh garlic, herbs and spices, it is delicious even before the addition of fish, seafood, meat and freshly-sourced seasonal vegetables.

Valencia is also renowned for the quality of its cooked and cured meats – most notably the choriza, a spiced pork sausage. The region`s colourful outdoor markets are an excellent place to sample all manner of local delicacies, from chorizo to fresh olives and local cheeses are also well worth investigating.

Sweet toothed visitors to Valencia will not be disappointed, as the city`s abundant bakeries are packed with fresh sweet pastries, cakes and other treats. The Valencian countryside is dotted with orange and almond groves and these two locally sourced ingredients are very often present in Valencian sweets and desserts.

The temperate climate and good soil conditions also make Valencia perfect territory for cultivating wine grapes and there are some 75,000 hectares of vineyard to be found in the region. A popular local drink is fresh orange juice mixed with Cava (try those from Requena for a good quality sparkler). The wonderfully thirst quenching drink is so refreshing that it is known locally as `Agua de Valencia` – which literally translates as Water of Valencia. Visitors looking to embark on wine tasting tours of Valencia will have plenty of options open to them, with some of the best options to be found in Utiel, Villar del Arzobispo and the afor-mentioned Requena.

Forget fast food and pre-prepared meals, Valencian food and drink is all about making the most of the abundant ingredients that are available locally. Food is a great source of pride to the locals and even the simplest of restaurants will serve up lovingly-prepared dishes accompanied by good, usually very inexpensive, local wine.

Gourmet types will relish the opportunity to take in the rich flavours local to the area and the great news for budget travelers is that delicious local dishes are usually affordable even on the tightest of budgets. At the other end of the scale, Valencia city is increasingly home to chic and sophisticated restaurants, where the monied elite gather to see and be seen.
Looking to buy Authentic Spanish Food from Spain online,…
Spanish gourmet food delivered througout Europe & UK. Prompt and couteous service & the finest Spanish products shipped from Spain.

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Nov 152010

Alicante is a modern thriving city in the south of the Comunidad Valenciana, and the capital of Alicante province. Situated about 160 kms south of Valencia City, it is an important tourist centre, has a resident population of just less than 350,000 people, a busy and expanding airport and a port area frequently used by cruise ships and ferries as well as by a certain amount of commercial traffic. Foreign tourists coming to the Costa Blanca resorts will frequently use Alicante as their arrival point in the country, and transport links from the town are improving all the time, especially with the development of the railway network in the region.

The town itself is dominated by the Castle of Santa Barbara on top of Mount Benacantil, which also is home to El Ereta Park, running down from the castle to the old town. Indeed, Alicante has many fine parks, open spaces and walkways, the most famous being the Esplanada de España which is one of the loveliest tree-lined promenades in the entire country. On the other hand, if you are looking for more lively entertainment, Alicante has a wide selection of bars, restaurants and clubs to choose from, as well as beautiful beaches for that summer tan. If culture is more your thing, Alicante has a fine theatre (Teatro Principal) where concerts, dance, opera and other cultural festivals are staged. And of course no self-respecting Spanish town would deny itself its fair share of fiestas during the year, and Alicante is no exception. The main ones to look out for are the February carnivals, Easter processions, the Moors & Christians fiesta, and particularly the Bonfires of St John (Hogueras de San Juan). This takes place from June 20 – 29 and involves the burning of wooden and papier-mâché statues, fireworks competitions, flower offerings – pretty much all the ingredients to be found in the best Spanish fiestas!

So don’t just think of Alicante as the place on the destination board at your departure airport in the UK. With its fine hotels, interesting sights, a wide range of entertainment and beautiful beaches, Alicante really does have something to offer every holidaymaker thinking of coming to the Costa Blanca.

Nov 142010

Situated as it is at the northern end of the Costa Blanca near the town of Gandía, Villa Florencia is ideally situated for visits to Valencia City (either by car or train), but of course also for trips south along the Costa Blanca itself, with all the often hidden pleasures that this region has to offer.
One such place that is a real delight is the village of Guadalest, only a short distance inland from the well-known resort of Benidorm. However, a place more different than Benidorm with all its theme parks, bars and clubs would be hard to imagine. We decided to take the scenic route to Guadalest, so set off down the A7 motorway that follows the Costa Blanca coastline but took the exit at Altea and then headed inland over the mountains and through some truly fantastic scenery. We stopped off at several points along the way for photo opportunities of the surrounding countryside, as well as the large tracts of land we saw that are now used for the under-cover cultivation of nisperos – or loquats.

Guadalest itself is a truly lovely village, although probably very crowded with tourists in the peak season. However, at this time of year – a beautiful November day – it was perfect. All the facilities of the town were open and available to the visitors, but without the summer crowds! You can leave your car in the parking area just off the main through road, and if you wish you can call in to the tourist office there to obtain any information you may want to make your visit more enjoyable. Nearly every town along the Costa Blanca has at least one such office, and they are always happy to supply you with local maps, guides, etc. From there, you can cross the road and approach the old part of the town with its picturesque squares and streets, and work your way up to the castle area itself, although not very much remains intact of the original construction. Viewing points over the countryside around the town give you an idea of what an excellently placed fortress this must have been, and the views over the lake – used as a reservoir – are stunning. The works involved with this reservoir have been undertaken in order to maintain a reliable water supply for this stretch of the Costa Blanca, having to cope with the huge influx of summer tourists to the likes of Benidorm, Altea, Calpe, and all the other resorts along the coast.
Guadalest has not only its castle, souvenir shops and stunning views to entice the visitor – there is also an amazing array of museums of different types to entertain and intrigue you. If you want to see anything from instruments of torture to contemporary art, (normally) large things in tiny miniature to classic vehicles, or even a museum of salt and pepper shakers, then Guadalest and its immediate surrounding area is the place to come. Totally intriguing! And after all that, there is a wide choice of places to eat and have a drink – and not all at outrageous tourist prices. This is a place where – although it is one of the Costa Blanca’s main tourist attractions – you can still have a really satisfying “Menu del Día” lunch for less than €8.00 per person…..depending on your choice of eatery, of course! We found one such place right opposite the car park, so after enjoying a great value meal in the sunshine, we were able to get to the car easily and start heading home. This time, however, we headed towards Benidorm on a less mountainous road than we followed in the morning, and very quickly arrived at the motorway access point, just one junction south of where we had left the motorway on our way to Guadalest. From there, it was only about a quick and easy 40 minute drive back to Villa Florencia. Certainly a great day out!

Nov 102010

Costa Blanca Driving Holidays.
Many of our guests like to take a trip down the coast and to include a mixture of sights and sounds along the way. A favourite route takes them through Denia and Calpe, and then on to the picturesque resort of Altea. This has often been called ‘the artists capital of the Costa Blanca’, as the narrow streets of the old town are lined with the workshops and galleries of the artists and potters who have made their home there. You can buy their produce at evening markets in the main square of the town in the summer months as a souvenir of your visit.

Altea is in fact only a short distance – about 7 kilometres – from the lively and well-known holiday centre of Benidorm, but could not be more different. Altea has a picturesque feel about it, with a famous church distinguished by its blue and white domes, and 2 harbours – the old fishing one and a newer sports harbour on the side of the town nearer Calpe. Bars and restaurants offer a good choice of places where you can enjoy yourself and have a nice meal, and Altea also has its share of beaches and coves too, of course.
As a complete contrast, you can follow the N332 road that goes through the middle of Altea in a southerly direction for a few short kilometres, and you can have a lively afternoon in Benidorm with its vast array of theme parks. There has to be something to suit every taste, with the white-knuckle rides of Terramitica, the animals and dolphins at Mundo Mar, and the water slides at Aqualandia to name but a few.

All these contrasting sources of entertainment are still within a 45 minute drive of Gandia town itself, so when the day finally draws to a close, you can be back at your casa rural at Villa Florencia in only a short time for that relaxing drink or dip in the pool! The choice is yours!
If you are travelling with a GPS, remember to still take a good map of the Spanish road system, because new roads are being built all the time and our experience is that even new GPS’s do not recognise the newest roads and roundabouts in many areas of Spain, whereas recent maps do have them pencilled in (maps can be bought at most Spanish petrol stations).

All images courtesy of Jeff Clarke – Falcon Display (Maidstone, Kent)

Nov 062010

Moto GP enthusiasts Nick & Suzanne from the UK here to to take in the sights and sound of Valencia and the Final of The Moto GP championships.

Nick and Suzanne arrived on Thursday for a couple of nights, with the main purpose of their trip to Spain being a visit to the Moto GP in Valencia on Sunday.  They landed at Alicante airport on Thursday afternoon and then drove up to us, arriving in time for dinner that evening.  They soon settled in, making firm friends with our dogs!

Friday was spent looking around Gandia, Playa de Gandia and the surrounding area, and they again dined with us on Friday evening.  They also have the idea that they might like to live in Spain one day, so were interested to hear about our experiences in settling in this part of the world.  Saturday morning saw their departure for Valencia City, where they are staying for the rest of their visit to Spain.  Their plan is to go to the Moto GP on Sunday and then spend the rest of their time exploring the city, seeing the sights, and discovering what the rest of this part of the coast has to offer.  It was a pleasure having them to stay with us, and who knows – we might well find that they return to us in the future, as they certainly seemed to be impressed with the region.  We look forward to seeing them again!

The Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo Circuit

The Circuit makes up a total area of 1.5 million square metres located in the Cambrillas area in the Cheste municipal district, just 20 km from Valencia city and 5 km from the Manises airport and only 60 km from Gandia Casa Rural Bed and Breakfast.

Full Name: Circuito de la Comunidad Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, Valencia, Spain
Address: Autovía A3. Salida 334. Aptdo Correos 101. 46380 Cheste (Valencia)

Nov 062010

Hiking Holidays Spain

Out latest guests from Germany on the Spanish walking Holiday in the Lasafor Mountains, around Gandia.

A group of friends from near Munich arrived in the early hours of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning to stay with us for 4 nights and to use Villa Florencia as a base for hill walking and hiking expeditions.  They had chosen to come to this part of Spain, rather than the Sierra Nevada for their walking, because it is a less touristy area and one that they felt might be worth exploring.
Wednesday morning found them eager to depart for the mountains nearby, and they went to the La Drova and Barx area only a few kilometres away.  They spent the day following two hiking trails, one of which took them up Monduver – the highest mountain in the La Safor range – and provided them with spectacular views of the area.
They went further afield on Thursday and spent the day in the Jalon valley to the south of here – still only about 40 minutes drive away though.  Again, they followed recommended hiking routes, had a great time and enjoyed the superb scenery of the region.
Friday was a different story – they went underground!!!  At least for part of their walking, anyway!  They walked along the recommended route that follows the path of the old Alcoi – Gandia railway line, taking in the tunnels along the way – a well-known and popular hiking spot in the area.
And then all too soon it was Saturday morning and time for them to prepare to return to Germany, but they all agreed they had had a great time walking and hiking in the La Safor region and had no regrets about coming here rather than to the Sierra Nevada.  There are still many other routes to explore, so maybe they will come back for another visit, or maybe next time even to enjoy the beaches and coastline in the summer – who knows!

Walking routes

The Parpalló Cave is one of the most emblematic and unique sites of prehistoric mainland because there were more than 5,000 stone slabs with representations of animals and geometric shapes. It has been identified as a cave-shrine began to be used 21,000 years ago. Together with archaeologists from the University of Valencia, a study was conducted archaeo the site, finding that the winter solstice sunrise and a few days before and after this, the sun illuminated the inner zone of the cave for a while. To date, this is the earliest indication of a possible relationship astronomical orientation of an archaeological site.

Cueva de les Malladetes
Following the mountain range that contains the monduver to simat, is at a high point with excellent views of the cave they valldigna “Mallaetes”, one of the most important archaeological sites in Spain. It was followed by several stratigraphic levels with different settlements belonging to the Upper Palaeolithic, and even closer to the surface coming in the late Neolithic or early Neolithic.

cueva  malladetes

The natural shelter has three entrances to the interior. The center, which would mark the entrance mouth wider, on the same arc of the roof of the mouth cavity is a second smaller and next to it, a third similar to the previous opening. It is thought that in ancient times the cavity was much larger than today. Limestone is excavated in the Touraine-Senonian period. The cave is on the same mountain range where the cave is Parpalló.

Mount Mongo- Denia

Rio Serpis Railway Track

Gandia is the ideal base for your Spanish walking holiday

La Drova & Barx walking Route
The La Drova and Barx tourist route goes through the hills of Marchuquera and the “Ermita” village of the same name.
From the Passeo Germanias going towards the hospital you will find signs and indicators for the route.  We will follow the road until we meet the towns of La Drova and Barx.  All the way you will enjoy the countryside of Mediterranean forests so typical of the region.
Along this route you will travel through a countryside of orange groves and mountains that is typical of the La Safor region.  Every Sunday a market takes place in la Ermita de Marchuquera.  Firstly we arrive at La Drova – the majority of houses are of a rural type and we can enjoy facilities here like the café in the main road through the town.  From there you can take the road to visit the summit of Mt Monduver or eat in a restaurant with a swimming pool.
Further on we come into the municipality of Barx where we can relax and enjoy a rest.  The return to Gandía can be done by retracing our steps along the same route, or by following the road down to the municipality of Simat de la Valldigna, where you will find the monastery of Santa Maria.
Racó del Duc – Antigua Vía del Tren Alcoy – Gandía Cycling Route
The “Racó del Duc”, also called “Barranc de l’Infern” (Riverbed of Hell) is the stretch of the river Serpis that runs between the municipal districts of Villalonga (Valencia) and Orxa (Alicante).
The suggested route has a distance of 2kms and for the most part follows along the old railway track used by the Alcoi to Grau de Gandía train.
Given that the railway line takes in five unlit tunnels, one of which is 250m in length, it is recommended to take a torch.  Water can be obtained at the beginning of the route at the La Reprimala source (Fuente), or also at another two that are passed along the journey (Fuente de la Mata and Fuente de Botero.
Except for a short slope at the beginning, the rest of the itinerary is almost flat and runs parallel with the river Serpis or the Alcoi.  These characteristics make it suitable for people of any age using a mountain bicycle as a means of transport, although with a little more time we can better appreciate the beauty of the countryside by following the itinerary on foot.
The river passes through a mountain canyon with the mountains of la Safor (1011m above sea-level) and la Cuta (680m above sea-level), in which the significant descents offer a unique landscape in the area along with  highly interesting flora and fauna.
Gandia – Oliva Bicycle Route
La Vía Verde (The “Green Road”) of Gandia-Oliva in la Safor connects the coastal towns by means of a 7km track which picks up the old raised railway line of the Carcaixent to Denia train service which was constructed in 1884.
This is a bicycle route which shows us a Valencian landscape of orchards and canals where the perfume of orange blossom is all around during the flowering season.
The suggested starting point for the route begins in Gandia’s Parc de l’Estacio – site of the former narrow gauge railway station which is no longer in service today.  Opposite you will find the Tourist Information Office.
From the park, take the Calle del Tossal, which will lead us via an alleyway to the Serpis riverbed.  A concrete bridge enables us to cross the river Serpis and to carry on in a south-west direction.  We cross the road which goes along the right bank of the river and down to the area of Gandia known as the Grau.  From this point on, the route continues through orchards and orange groves, and after 3 kms we cross the Bellreguard road.  We cross the river Serpis once again and pass through the towns of Palmera and Piles.
After 5kms we cross another canal which takes us on to the municipality of Oliva.
Technical Details:
Bicycle Tour
7000 metres
Low level of difficulty
No descent in altitude
Simat de la Valldigna – Barx Mountain Bike Route
A journey through the mountains of Barx and the Valldigna area, it is a 9km route where you will pass through and can visit the Font de la Puigmola and relax at the viewing point at La Visteta.  With a maximum altitude of 800 meters, this route is of low difficulty.
Simat de la Valldigna – Sima del Toro – Detour to viewing point (575m) – Crossing with the Corralls road – Detour to the viewing point of la Visteta – Font de la Puigmola – Barx.  The PR has a variant: from Barx to the viewing point of la Visteta.  Connections with the PR-V60 in Barx and with the PR-V51 at the Monastery of Santa Maria de la Valldigna (Simat).
Places of Interest:
Avenc del Toro
La Visteta viewing point
Font de la Puigmola
Pla dels Surars
Camping Places:
Font de la Sangonera (Tavernes, Centro Excursionista de Tavernes).
Recreation Areas:
Font de la Puigmola (Barx)
We begin our journey taking the road from Simat in the direction of Barx, where we travel 1.7kms to the beginning of the path.  After covering this first stretch, a tree situated on the left of the road indicates to us with yellow and white the beginning of the path that will lead us to the town of Barx.
There begins a winding and demanding ascent of 3.5kms.  Once at the top, we arrive at a plateau that enables us to view a landscape of potholes and chasms.  The most important of these is the one known as Avenc del Toro.
We will carry on by following the path between the potholes before beginning the descent into Barx, enjoying the views of the town from the mountain as we approach.  On arriving at the last stretch of the journey, we must take care not to take the wrong road, as the signposting is in a poor state.
The path leads us to an asphalted stretch, which we take in a right-hand direction and lastly when we reach the next crossroads we turn to the left, the pathway to Font de la Puigmola, situated some 250 meters from the crossing.  In La Puigmola we can regain our strength before travelling the last 1.5kms of the route and arriving in Barx.  We will also find on the right a detour which connects up to the PR-V60.
Technical Details:
Distance: 9kms
Maximum altitude: 800 metres
Time: 3hrs
Difficulty: Low