THE COSTA DEL AZAHAR (ORANGE BLOSSOM COAST)
Self-Contained Holiday Rental ? Sleeps 4
GANDIA 5km & over 17km of Blue Flag Beaches
If you have been hankering after the ?real Spain? ? you won?t be disappointed. The small pueblo of Palma de Gandia (known locally as Palma) is sheltered by the Safor Mountains and is almost surrounded by orange groves that stretch down to the sea and was featured on Channel 4 A Place in the Sun, . You will be charmed by the authentic Valencian townhouse with its traditional vaulted beam ceilings and Valencian features which has been tastefully converted for modern day living ? a home from home. Casa Ana is in a small quiet cul-de-sac of 4 other Spanish owned properties in the historic or Moorish part of town where narrow winding lanes and quaint passageways criss cross with small squares and shady parks.
Built about 100 years ago, the traditional Valencian door has shuttered glass windows and decorated ironwork rajas? and opens onto a spacious open plan L shaped living area. Near the doorway is a casual seating area where you can sit in the summer and catch the cool breeze. A formal dining area has seating for 4. A second sitting area with comfortable settees and chairs has a TV/DVD/CD player and a cast iron electric fire. For chilly evenings there is a reverse air conditioning unit, electric heaters and a large portable gas fire.
2 bedrooms (1 double with ceiling fan and 1 twin with fan and of course air con in the main living area) each bedroom has a large floor to ceiling wardrobe and cupboards and window shutters to keep out the sun in the summer. The modern bathroom is fully tiled with vanity unit, wc, bath and shower. With seating for 4, the kitchen/diner has new kitchen units and appliances and opens onto the patio. This high walled private area has a southerly aspect and there are small shrubs and trees, garden furniture and gas bbq for al fresco dining.
Just seconds away brings you to the small Plaza de la Vella where Rosa and Jose have their bakery - ideal for your warm bread in the morning and not far to go! There is also a hairdresser and a public telephone box in the plaza and just round the corner is the butcher and a small supermarket and an English speaking Pharmacist. Nearby you will find ?Bar Palma? where you can eat delicious home cooked food in the evening. There are various tapas bars in the town an English bar and a Chinese takeaway. Just 15 minutes stroll brings you to the restaurant ?Aventura? where Moma has an excellent menu of home cooked food and delicious square pizzas. All the food is very reasonably priced. To complete your holiday, you should not miss the Viva Espana restaurant on the Gandia to Oliva road. At weekends there are excellent flamenco floorshows and Lipizzan horse exhibitions, however, its advisable to book. The food is excellent and we can certainly recommend the paella.
In the evening there are some lovely walks through the shady orange groves or you can meander along the town?s old narrow lanes down to the river. Nearby there is river and sea fishing and the town?s open air swimming pool is open in the summer months but the big pool is next to the sandy beach 5kms away.
The area is steeped in history so when you get tired of building sandcastles on the beach, you can discover the ruined castles, palaces and quaint old cobbled medieval towns and cave houses. The sophisticated city of Gandia is just 10 minutes away and was home to the infamous Borgia family. The medieval part of Gandia is traffic free which enables you to explore the narrow passageways: the Borgia Palace is magnificent. The area around the Cathedral at night is atmospheric and a costume film about the life of Lucretia Borgia was filmed in this area. There are boutique shops, cafes and the famous Lizeran tapas bar. The paseo with its fountains, runs the length of the city, with banks, restaurants and small cafes where you can sit and watch the world go by. A Carrefour supermarket can be found in Gandia and there are shopping malls, a multi screen cinema and 10 pin bowling.
Gandia Playa is about a kilometre from the city and is backed by a road and long wide pedestrian promenade. The beach has much to offer the sports enthusiast with beach and water sports available: it has beach loungers, changing rooms, toilets, childrens playgrounds and lifeguards etc. The area around the playa also has a scattering of shops with an excellent selection of cafes, bars and restaurants and a couple of small supermarkets.
Oliva ? 8 km south of Palma . The old ruined castle of Santa Ana overlooks the old historic Arab quarter with its steep narrow winding streets, quaint white washed houses and blue domed churches. The new town has a selection of shops and supermarkets and on Friday morning there is a huge outdoor market ? it gets very busy and ends promptly at 1pm. Heading towards the sea from the new town is Oliva Playa not perhaps offering the range of sports and comforts of Gandia but it can be a little quieter. There are other beaches in between Gandia and Oliva: Miramar, Bellregard, Daimus, Piles, Kiko, etc. all having small promenades and cafes. South of Oliva are rustic beaches which are backed by tamarisk trees. The quality of the sand is excellent for building sandcastles and the beach gently slopes into the sea. So good is the sand that on occasions it is exported to the Canary Islands.
The Valencian region is excellent for walking the ice trails and around the old towns (see our Walking web site: http://www.valenciawalking.iowners.net ) Scuba diving, bikes, horse riding and go carting are all available and there is an 18 hole Severiano Ballesteros Golf Course south of Oliva. Gandia is very central to many of the old castles and historic towns such as:
Xativa (the castle was home to Hannibal and his family and where Rodrigues Borgia (father to Cesere and Lucretia and later to become Pope Alexander VI) was born. The castle is perched on three hills and there are excellent views of the plains beyond. Xativa was the first town in Europe to manufacture paper and there are some interesting old medieval buildings with magnificent doors. It is also said that there are over 1,000 fountains in the city!
Bocairente was called Bekirén by the Muslims because of the dominant architectural style in the town which used the form of beehives. There are extensive cave systems both in the town and 500 metres on the outskirts which archaeologists believe are remnants of an Arab settlement. The town has steep cobbled narrow streets and many of the houses are built into the rock including one of the bars. The bullring dates back to 1843 and is also built into sold rock
Elche, south of Alicante is a very pleasant day out. The Palm Grove, dedicated as a World Heritage site, is the largest in Europe and has 200,000 examples of palms dating back to prehistoric times. The Basilica of Santa María was built on the site of a mosque and is where the Mystery Play is performed every August. The tower has many steps but is well worth the climb for the superb view. For Dan Brown fans, there is a life size statue of the founder of Opus Dei, Jose Marie Escriver. There are many historic places to visit, the museum, the Arab Baths and the Archaeological Museums. Elche?s footwear factories produce almost half of the footwear manufactured in Spain and there are factory outlets on the edge of the city where you can shop till you drop!!
Alicante, Javea and Denia all have old historic areas and castles and beaches and the medieval town of Guadalest has a castle
( reached by a tunnel) which is perched on a pinnicle of rock. The surrounding views are stunning. Just 200yds along the main road is Los Arcos, the animal sanctuary where rescued bears, tigers, lions and monkeys can end their days after being abandoned or mistreated. As Los Arcos exists purely on charity, please be generous with a donation.
To the north of Gandia, surrounded by freshwater lakes is Cullera. The natural vantage point of the medieval Castle and Sanctuary of La Mare de Deu del Castillo stands at the highest point of the town. Cullera lighthouse and Dragut cave awaits the traveller on the other side of the hill. The Turkish pirate Dragut used the cave when he raided the town around the 14thC. You could round off the day at Utiel, at the Vicente Gandia Vineyard (la Hoya de Cadenas Estate) an area that produces excellent wines. You are invited you for a small charge, to taste their wines and have a tour of the vineyards or perhaps have lunch there too. In Utiel there is an old historic network of underground caves divided into Jews, Christian and Muslim areas, a very old 19C bullring and honey and wax museum.
North of Valencia is Sagunto and Peniscola. There are mainly Roman remains to be found in Sagunto: the ruined temple of Diana, a Citadel and a 19C restored Amphitheatre. The city was captured in 219 by the armies of Hannibal and under Roman rule minted its own coins. Peniscola has a beautiful crescent shaped beach and the old fortified town with a castle was where ?El Cid? was filmed.
Near Benidorm are the theme parks, Terra Natura, Terra Mitica, Aqualandia and Monduver. El Vergel Safari Park 20 minutes away where you can picnic to the sound of lions and tigers. If you can catch them you can pet the domestic animals including pot bellied pigs who love being tickled and scratched.
Valencia is a 40 minute train journey through rice fields (for our paella) vineyards, orange and olive groves. There is a tourist bus where you can hop on and off at strategic sights, but must sees are: The Cathedral that holds the Holy Grail, the beautifully tiled Indoor Market ? the largest in Europe, the Arts & Science Museums (l?Hemesferic & l?Oceanographic) and if you want to join the café crowd, there are plenty of tapas bars, museums and art galleries. The Botanical Gardens have recently had a make-over and the new Bio-park (zoo) has recently been opened.
It has been confirmed that the 33rd Americas Cup regattas will be held in Valencia in 2010 http://33rd.americascup.com/en/
August. - Formula 1 Racing comes to Valencia http://www.formula1.com/races/ - 2008 is the first of a 7 year contract - 2008 is the first of a 7 year contract.
TURIS VALENCIA PRESS RELEASE: From the 21 to 23 August 2009 we will experience the passion of Formula 1 in the Telefónica Grand Prix of Europe in Valencia. Three exhilarating days that will kick off with a free practice session, continue with the official practice and qualifying round, and end with the Grand Prix of Europe. But this year, the novelty will be the inauguration of Valencia's first Formula 1 street circuit, the Valencia Street Circuit, which promises to bring the most exciting racing spectacles over the next 7 years.
The Valencia Street Circuit has a superb set-up; the port of Valencia, and is designed to ensure the safety of drivers, as well as the enjoyment and fun of the fans. Visit www.valenciastreetcircuit.com the official webpage of Valencia Street Circuit. For more information of whats happening in Valencia http://www.turisvalencia.es
The Moto GP Grand Prix Valencia is held every year at the Ricardo Tormo Stadium - (Sunday October 26th) http://www.soldouteventtickets.com/listings/252/320/9595/MotoGP%20/valencia-motogp .
Of course there are lots of fiestas, the important ones being le Fallas (where 30? papier mache charicatures are built and then burnt at the end of the week, the nearest being Valencia, Gandia and Denia in March. The Moors & Christians battle it out for supremacy: the best being Alcoy but smaller towns have them too.
The famous tomato festival in Brunol is held in August (http://www.thefanatics.com/latomatina/ and local towns have bull running festivals. The old bullring at Ondara has bullfighting during the summer, notices on the outside walls usually inform you of dates.
In two weeks you won?t have time for all the sights but you can be assured of a holiday to remember savoring the traditions and kindness of the Spanish people, their culture, customs and their food.