During our housesit, we lived about 15 kilometers away from Vinaros (30,000 inhabitants). Our finca was three kilometers from the nearest village, in the middle of orange and olive trees. The nearest neighbor was a few hundred meters away and we could enjoy an exceptional quiet. Especially at night, the little light pollution was clearly noticeable and produced the most beautiful starry sky of the winter.
The dogs of one house sittungs…
..and the dogs of the other sit
We also had to take care for a pigeon
Vinaros offers, apart from a beautiful beach and a charming city center, relatively little for tourists. The most famous landmark is probably the bullring. Otherwise, there is a market to stroll around, countless cafes, bars and restaurants and one or the other older building.
Worth seeing is the “Arxiprestal de l’Assumpció”. This is a 17th century church that can be found in the city center. Another attraction is the carnival, which is reminiscent to the Brazilian variant. In addition, there is a festival called “Nit del Pijama”, in which the residents walk through the streets in pajamas. So far we have experienced the carnival and the holy three kings live. Some pictures from Vinaros and surroundings:
The port of Vinaros welcoming the holy three kings – of course they arrive by boat
The start of the parade of the three kings
They used to use real animals
Carnival in Vinaros
About 25 kilometers from Vinaros is Peniscola. The city has only 7,000 inhabitants, but it is so popular as a holiday destination, that during the season up to 150,000 people stay in the city.
The view from the castle
The history of Peniscola goes back to the year 1000 BC. Nowadays, you can hardly recognize anything this old, as today’s old town dates back to the 14th century. The castle on the 64-meter-high rock was built between 1294 and 1307 on an old Arabian Alkazaba. The Pope Luna then had the castle convert into a papal palace in 1411. There is also a statue dedicated to him, that should bring luck when touched. You can experience all this for the low entrance fee of 2,50 Euro.
At a historical festival at the castle – there’s suckling pig…
…and of course paella
The statue of Papa Luna
Incidentally, the castle is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Spain. The old streets and the atmosphere that surrounds the fort reminded me of Chefchaouen in Morocco. If you had enough of the castle and the trouble, you can take a look at the natural park “Sierra de Irta”. Here you will find untouched nature, peace and secluded coves.
The narrow alleys of the old town
A house of shells
The castle in Peniscola seen from the beach of Benicarlo
Benicarlo is located between Vinaros and Peniscola and is a popular seaside resort. As a sightseeing I would like to recommend, beside some old buildings in the city centre, a visit to the Papagayo Garden. There, one can gaze at turtles, butterflies, parrots and other exotic birds and feed them in huge enclosures.
Papagayo Garden – an incredible number of birds that are eager to be fed
There are also kangaroos
Benicarlo is also known for the cultivation of artichokes. The vegetables are even part of the city’s coat of arms and the Fiesta de la Alcachofa (the artichoke festival) is held annually. Other tourist attractions are the beaches and the market hall.
A Tucan – remarkable animals
A white kangaroo
Where the English say something is “Greek”, the German say “Something seems Spanish”. They do have some unusual habits, that only attract attention when someones tells you. For example: The average Spaniard never pays his traffic warrant. After all, the penalties are not assigned to the driver, but to the car. Each motor vehicle gets only once license plate, in contrast to the German standard. These plates remain on the car when sold. So if you want to buy any vehicle, you should first ask the police, if there are and how high the accumulated ticket debt is. Accordingly, the selling price is reduced.
Who leaves his house in Spain unguarded, can get big problems: Should someone break into the house and stay there for more than 72 hours, this person legally (!) changes from burglar to inhabitant, a so-called “Okupas”. To me, this was an unimaginable situation, but it is reality. However, the laws are changing (spring 2018). To date, the occupant of a home is more protected than the owner. Therefore, to get an unpleasant “tenant” out of the house took months or years and was associated with high expenditure. After the change of law, this should be possible within three weeks “only”.
The olive harvest at our hosts
Before going to the press
When filling the oil
Besides these inconsistencies, I noticed many things that somehow are weird: street signs, when there is no road; Bike paths that end in a garbage bin right after a curve; Lane changes that do not interest anyone – people drive as they did before. It does not matter if they are riding on freshly laid out green. These are just a few examples that support the phrase, “Something seems Spanish to me”.
A bird at the castle in Peniscola
A caterpillar in the garden
Otherwise, the Spaniards are a lovable and relaxed people, as long as you leave them alone during Fiesta. By the way, in Catalonia there is no Fiesta held. There, people work the “ordinary” way, with only one hour for lunch. In the rest of the country, the Fiesta can take two to three hours.
A praying mantis
In any case, we had a very nice stay in Spaincs and will visit the country again. Then I will expand these posts with new material. Until then, enjoy reading and check out the posts about Valencia, Barcelona and Girona, too. Feel free to share this article or comment. And of course: I am happy about any invitation for coffee.
Me and the dove on the laptop.