On the Road to Valencia

Thursday November 26, 2015

Bob is loading the car and we will soon be on our way to Valencia.  This is the view from our balcony.  As you can see, we were right on the edge of Los Alcázeres, just fields beside us, so it was a nice quiet location.FullSizeRender_3FullSizeRender_5

Before long we are passing lots of salt pans, which are large shallow ponds of sea water. The water evaporates and leaves behind the sea salt, which is then harvested and piled into these enormous piles of sea salt.  Seems strange to think that the salt we eat is produced in this fashion. I had visions of workers out raking up sea salt from the salt pans, not bulldozers and big machinery.  A bit naive on my part I think.Image-1We stop to stretch our legs and have lunch near this beach.  It is certainly not as pretty as other beaches we have visited.FullSizeRender_2The view in the opposite direction.  This is an area full of condos and apartments and partially constructed buildings. FullSizeRender

We stopped for another break a bit further on… FullSizeRender

and found these strange hairy balls, hundreds of them all over the beach!  Some of them were several inches in diameter.  Does anyone know what they are? FullSizeRender_4

We detoured into what we thought was a little town called Alcoi, thinking we could go for a walk in a park area near the town, but we got a bit lost in what turned out to be a rather large city. We also discovered that the park didn’t have any easily accessible areas for walking, so we were soon back on the road. Next stop was the town of Xativa where we visited the ruins of a once grand castle with 30 towers.  FullSizeRender_3FullSizeRender_2

It was getting late in the day and we only had just over a half hour before closing so we saw as much of the castle as we could before the sun set and the castle closed. This was one of the water features in the garden area of the castle. FullSizeRenderThe view from the castle was quite spectacular.FullSizeRender_5

There are lots of market gardens visible in this photo.FullSizeRender_3

We still see lots of graffiti along the highways but we also see these murals. Too bad I can only glimpse them flying by in the car.FullSizeRender_2

There are numerous orange orchards and the trees are absolutely loaded with oranges, so many that they are falling on the ground. Sorry for the blurry image, this is another photo taken from the car.  I never did find a place to pull over and get a good picture of an orange orchard.  Too bad…FullSizeRender_4

Thanks to our trusty iPad and its GPS we find our next Airbnb apartment in Valencia and we were pleasantly surprised to find that our host had very kindly stocked it with all sorts of groceries! It also has lots of artwork as our host’s husband is Nico Munuera, a Spanish artist.Image-1

Doñana National Park

Monday, November 9th

We tried to book a guided tour to visit Parque Nacional de Doñana, along the coast south of Seville, which is one of Europe’s greatest wetlands.  It includes 50,000 hectares of marshes and sand dunes, which are home to thousands of migratory birds in the winter months. The tour company does not operate without a minimum of four passengers, and we are the only two, so we decided to visit the park on our own.  This turned out very well and we had a relaxing day, even though we didn’t see many birds.

Along the road to the park we pass acre after acre of these domed greenhouses. We aren’t sure what they are growing but they cover field after field sometimes as far as we can see in all directions!image

We also see lots of these coniferous trees.  They have been planted in rows and the bottom branches have been pruned as they grow, yet they don’t seem to be a tree that would provide lots of lumber.  I was not  sure about these either, but I love the rounded shape of the top of them.  After a little research I now know these are Stone Pines, they are grown for their pine nuts and in some areas they have become naturalized.   For more information see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stone_pine  image

First stop is the Palacio Del Acebrón which was built in the 1960’s. The land around the Palacio was cleared, planted with Eucalyptus trees, gardens, paths and trails were built and a huge pond was dredged and lined so that plants would not fill it in.imageThe building is now an interpretation centre, and we get there in time for a visit before it closes at two.  These long Spanish lunch hours make it difficult to plan our day.  Seems things are always closed when we are out and about and then opening again when we are ready to head home!  Bob is checking out one of the displays.image

We go for a hike through along a little river and through some of the grounds.  What would a holiday be without at least one tree hugging picture?imageWe hiked along another trail to some bird blinds but only saw a few ducks in the distance.  We decide that the migratory birds either have not arrived yet, or it is too early in the day for viewing so we head for the ocean and the sand dunes. We walk a long ways down this beach, and I gather a few sea shells as souvenirs.
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We also see this victim of a discarded fishing line.  If you look closely you may make it out wrapped around this bird’s neck.  We saw quite a lot of plastic debris washed up this beach.imageThese are sand dune cliffs that line the length of the beach, as far as we can see, and our version of a ‘selfie’.image

All too soon the sun begins to set so we head back to the car along this boardwalk through yet more sand dunes.image imageWe get to our car just as the sun sets.  We didn’t see many of the birds that this park is famous for, but it was still a very enjoyable day.image