Orchards at first. Nice old urban houses and squares. Later urban dereliction.
Our well established routine continued with a long drive to Puçol, north of Valencia. This allowed us to avoid the circular motorway around Valencia. The M25 round London and the Peripherique round Paris are similarly unpleasant roads. We did not fancy driving into the centre of the city and paying over the odds to park so we caught a train from Puçol to Valencia Nord. There we changed trains and went back to El Romaní.
The walk started through fields covered in ground frost. There was bright sun warming our backs. The first half of the walk was rural. We passed more rice paddies and orange orchards. There were fields of cabbages, artichokes, lettuce, carrots and onions. At mid day, we had a picnic lunch under the trees of the last orange orchard. From then on the walk was urban. We passed industrial estates and entered a zone of small houses and narrow streets. This was nicer than expected and included a leafy square with a fountain and a church. Later we passed through the grim industrial wasteland that seems to surround all railway termini. There were rusty sidings, derelict buildings and roads roaring with traffic. Occasionally there was an oasis of calm with a sunny seat where we could rest our tired legs. Urban terrain is far more exhausting than country roads or mountain paths; far more dangerous too. Eventually we reached Valencia Nord station where we got the train back to the car.
The weather forecast for today both in the UK before our departure and on the local teletext forecast was dark clouds. The sky is completely clear and we have to clear the windscreen of frost before we can set off. It is cold at night.
We leave the car at Puçol Station on the Valencia Castellon line and take a regional train into Valencia Nord. As I am grappling with the ticket machine, getting returns this time, a train comes in. Neil stands with one foot on the train and one on the platform while I wait for the machine to imprimint my bitllets which seems to take for ever. I get in and the train moves off.
In Valencia we get details of the Valencia Tortosa trains and then catch the cercanias train to El Romaní. This line plays classical music as you travel and I was disturbed to have to alight at our destination in the middle of the Pachelbel canon which I really like. I feel disjointed for quite some time as a result.
We discover that the cycle track we are using to enter Valencia is a marked route called the Via Augusta. I must look into this and see why it is called that. I must also get Livy’s Punic Wars to see what happened in Spain. I also want to know more about Sagunt (a familiar Roman city name).
Today we see small asphodel, small blue geranium, small pink geranium, fennel. We also see a vine nursery with rows of bare stalked grape plants planted very close together. Men were uprooting them and making bare-rooted clumps of plants ready to transport them to the final vineyard. We are on the Xarxa de corredors verds. There are more orange and clementine orchards. A few are abandoned and these provide us with our daily vitamin C ration.
We pass through Massanassa and there is a grilled chicken shop on the other side of the road and along a bit. I suggest a stop for a chicken take-away lunch. Neil ploughs on regardless over the road and down a side street. He even has the gall to say I obviously hate main roads less than he does. I didn't want to stay in the road, just to nip in to the shop and get half a chicken which we could then eat in a little square. As we go along the parallel and much quieter road, I ask about the chicken and Neil says he hadn't realised I had been going in to buy one. After a while, we are forced back on to the main road but there are no chicken shops now. I say to Neil, You know what they are all back there behind us.
We come to the village of Benetusser. I see a bollería just off our route and this time, I am not to be denied. I make my detour and dive in. Two ladies in front of me are discussing the tarts they are buying at great length. Eventually one of them leaves. The second now starts to make her selection. I had been embarrassed at the thought that I was going to have to ask what was in the tarts before choosing but I needn't have worried. That is all part of the process. Suddenly, the lady behind the counter says to her customer, That is not a Castellano word. She replies that is what we call it. The shopkeeper replies. Soy Madrileña in what is almost a sneering tone. Regional languages are still looked down on. I told Neil about this afterwards and he said the Valencianan should have said well why don’t you F off back there then. Now it was our turn. The large pastels were anis and the small one almond. We get one big anis one for Neil and four small almond ones for me and for supper. Then we find a square and have them. We each break off a bit so we can try each other’s. Neil’s has apple and cinnamon in it which is OK but I prefer the almond ones. Suitable fortified we carry on into Valencia.
The last bit is tedious. If we had gone by the coastal route it would have been nicer but transport links are easier this way and as the commute from Vinaros is so long we want to cover a reasonable amount of ground each day. The last stretch in Valencia is horrible as is always the case in cities. The ground seems harder and the kilometres longer. I am exhausted. In the station, I see what looks like a pharmacy open. I go in and ask for otrivine but they don’t sell it, as it is a parapharmacy. My otrivine leaked in the plane and I always like to have some in hand as part of my first aid kit. We did, however, manage to get a caramel ice-cream from a stall opposite the parapharmacy. I say my holiday has really started. Neil says his had already started and he had been having it all along. I realised that I agreed and, on reflection, understood that what I meant was that my Christmas had started. Neil had already finished his ice cream but I still had a bit left to enjoy in the train. We then get the train back to Puçol. and drive home.