Valencia Inside Out
Valencia Inside Out is devoted to a series of excursions throughout the whole of the Valencian region, and will build up over time. They are taken from my books, Inland Trips from the Costa Blanca, a guide book of twenty-two excursions through the Comunidad de Valencia, and Small Hotels and Inns of Eastern Spain, eighty of the most delightful places to stay in the region.
Inland Trips from the Costa Blanca
Since the Scandinavians began their sun-seeking forays into eastern Spain in the early 1960’s, the Costa Blanca has become synonymous with miles of golden beaches, almost year-round sun and the relaxed lifestyle that epitomises Mediterranean Spain.
Most of them never ventured more than a few kilometres from the Mediterranean shore. Those who did were well rewarded. They discovered a region of glorious diversity, from rugged mountains to almost lunar landscapes, and vast areas of natural beauty where the scent of aromatic herbs filled the air and wild flower-lined walks meandered through pine forests.
They stumbled across Neolithic rock paintings, majestic waterfalls, searing rock faces and deep caves formed over millions of years, and explored picturesque villages where recipes were handed down from generation to generation and the rhythm of life was dictated by the growing seasons.
Incredibly, this wondrous inland region still exists – and this book is a guide for those who want to experience more of Spanish life than sun, sea and sangria and are ready to jump into a car and visit places where a foreign accent is still a rarity, to explore the narrow cobbled streets of historic mountain villages where the past is in the present, and witness bizarre rural fiestas whose roots go back to pagan times.
The 22 excursions in Inland Trips from the Costa Blanca cover an area from just above the city of CastellÛn in the north to Alicante (and Murcia just over the border) in the south, and are arranged in such away that you link excursions to create itineraries for a day, a week-end or even longer. Each excursion includes a map and route details as well as information on sights to see, overnight accommodation, where to eat and local specialities. Also in the book is general information on driving, basic vocabulary and a few hints on the use of the Valenciano language.
For the past four decades eastern Spain, and most notably the Costa Blanca, has been thought of as a sun, sea and sand holiday destination, but what many of those sunning themselves on the golden beaches did not know was that within twenty minutes they could be dipping their toes in mountain streams or meandering along narrow roads through stunning mountain scenery with great vistas down to the Mediterranean. A half-hour further, to the high wine-growing plateau, hill-top castles and Disneyesque villages of narrow cobbled streets and gorgeously decorated churches, so peaceful that little moves except the shadows or a languid cat.
As Spain is said to encompass Europe and Africa, from the lush greenery of Galicia, to the arid plains of Andalucia, the same can be said of the Valencian Community, from the forest-covered mountains of the Maestrazco in the north of Castellon, to the semi-desert in the south of Alicante – a change of continent in a three-hour drive, with the un-discovered regions of Teruel and Murcia a short drive further on.
Until little more than a decade ago few visitors to eastern Spain set foot in the interior, partly because of the lack of decent accommodation. The image of rural Spain as a backwoods of flea-bitten hostelries with holes in the ground for toilets is part of the dim and distant past. All that has changed, particularly over the last decade and the region now has top quality places to suit every need and pocket, from tiny village casas rurales to sumptuous hotels, often designed or restored by the owners themselves, incorporating family heirlooms that make you feel part of a Spanish family and not simply a paying guest. Many beautiful old mansions and farmhouses have been turned into delightful rural hotels and it is rare to be offered a room in even the smallest casa rural that isn’t en-suite.
The increase in demand for good quality accommodation away from the coast has led to the rejuvenation of many old buildings that would once have continued on their decline into dereliction. Flour mills, palacios, country houses of the once-rich, tiny farms and village houses, all full of history now brought back to life.
Small Hotels and Inns of Eastern Spain is a selection of eighty of the most charming hotels in Valencia, Alicante and Castellon, with a dip into Teruel and Murcia.
We thought you would be interested to know that many of our guests have come to us after reading your book Small Hotels in Eastern Spain. The latest to visit us because of your book were a Norwegian couple, who were driving home to Oslo after spending a couple of weeks on the Costa Blanca. They read your book and chose to stay with us, to break the long drive home. They seemed to enjoy their stay and commented on how pleased they were to have bought Small Hotels.
Richard Scott and Peter Szabo, owners of La Casa Serena in Chulilla