A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved

March 24 Javea -> Xàtiva -> Les Cases d'Alcanar

An attendant came by early to unlock our power plug so that we could get away. We left camp driving through the dun drab of dry scrub, the lush green of orange groves, the dull tan and grey of strip development, and between the bright, whitewashed walls of small towns and villages en route en route to Xàtiva. Founded by the Phoencians, a strategic location on the Via Agustus (the Roman route across the Pyrenees and down to the Mediterranean ports of Cádiz and Cartegena). In contrast to El Castel de Guadelest, the Xàtiva’s ancient walls and towers wrapped the castle in a medieval mystique. The 10th century castle walls and the lower city walls stepping down and across the hillside were impressive, but despite the rather impressive engineering feat, the castle fell to Moors, fell again to a rebellious Moor, and again to the Christians during the recoquista. Sheila’s guide book had warned of a steep and tiring climb to the castle, so we tried to find a driving route to the museum parking lot in the castle. We got ourselves lost in a maze of steep, narrow, one-way, often dead-end alleys. Even with Sheila handling the gear shift, driving with my left arm was difficult. Confused, our GPS spun her little blue car on the screen and kept bleating “recalculating.” We had no map. To Sheila's great credit, and despite her anxiety, she interpreted the GPS's confused directions, monitored pedestrian and vehicle traffic, translated road signs, and never missed a shift. Eventually we gave up, found our way back down to an area of light industry and parked. From there we walked to the tourist office only to find that it and the castle and museum were closed on Mondays. It was sunny but definitely cool in the shade as we explored the town. We found a lovely contemporary city with old city charm and wonderful narrow cobblestone streets conforming to some ancient street plan. People of all ages shopped, went about their normal business, or sat at a street side cafes. We wandered the narrow streets, climbing to the old city walls below the castle. From an overlook near the Ermita de Sant Josep, we looked down on the spire and dome of the cathedral and on a sea of tile roofed homes and shops. A  modern bullring, narrow streets and alleys, and new construction carefully maintained the integrity and character of the old city. We finished at a local lunch stop in the lower town where we had fried Chorizo sausage in tomato sauce with crostini accompanied by boiled potatoes in butter and aioli sauce. Finally, after lunch and a long uninspiring drive through some heavy industrial traffic, we arrived at a quiet, uncrowded campsite by the sea at Les Cases d'Alcanar. It was still early in the season and the shade trees were bare, but the weather was pleasantly cool. Just across the beach front road, was a shingle beach. After relaxing over wine and cheese we whiled awhile on the beach, Sheila collected rocks for her travel collection, then dinner, dishes, and bed.
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Crossing a dry ford just out of camp. Narrow, steep streets of the upper town. Late morning coffee The Collegiate Basilica of Santa Maria Traffic  en route to Les Cases d'Alcanar

March 24 Javea -> Xàtiva -> Les Cases

d'Alcanar

An attendant came by early to unlock our power plug so that we could get away. We left camp driving through the dun drab of dry scrub, the lush green of orange groves, the dull tan and grey of strip development, and between the bright, whitewashed walls of small towns and villages en route en route to Xàtiva. Founded by the Phoencians, a strategic location on the Via Agustus (the Roman route across the Pyrenees and down to the Mediterranean ports of Cádiz and Cartegena). In contrast to El Castel de Guadelest, the Xàtiva’s ancient walls and towers wrapped the castle in a medieval mystique. The 10th century castle walls and the lower city walls stepping down and across the hillside were impressive, but despite the rather impressive engineering feat, the castle fell to Moors, fell again to a rebellious Moor, and again to the Christians during the recoquista. Sheila’s guide book had warned of a steep and tiring climb to the castle, so we tried to find a driving route to the museum parking lot in the castle. We got ourselves lost in a maze of steep, narrow, one-way, often dead-end alleys. Even with Sheila handling the gear shift, driving with my left arm was difficult. Confused, our GPS spun her little blue car on the screen and kept bleating “recalculating.” We had no map. To Sheila's great credit, and despite her anxiety, she interpreted the GPS's confused directions, monitored pedestrian and vehicle traffic, translated road signs, and never missed a shift. Eventually we gave up, found our way back down to an area of light industry and parked. From there we walked to the tourist office only to find that it and the castle and museum were closed on Mondays. It was sunny but definitely cool in the shade as we explored the town. We found a lovely contemporary city with old city charm and wonderful narrow cobblestone streets conforming to some ancient street plan. People of all ages shopped, went about their normal business, or sat at a street side cafes. We wandered the narrow streets, climbing to the old city walls below the castle. From an overlook near the Ermita de Sant Josep, we looked down on the spire and dome of the cathedral and on a sea of tile roofed homes and shops. A  modern bullring, narrow streets and alleys, and new construction carefully maintained the integrity and character of the old city. We finished at a local lunch stop in the lower town where we had fried Chorizo sausage in tomato sauce with crostini accompanied by boiled potatoes in butter and aioli sauce. Finally, after lunch and a long uninspiring drive through some heavy industrial traffic, we arrived at a quiet, uncrowded campsite by the sea at Les Cases d'Alcanar. It was still early in the season and the shade trees were bare, but the weather was pleasantly cool. Just across the beach front road, was a shingle beach. After relaxing over wine and cheese we whiled awhile on the beach, Sheila collected rocks for her travel collection, then dinner, dishes, and bed.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map Crossing a dry ford just out of camp. Narrow, steep streets of the upper town. Late morning coffee Traffic  en route to Les Cases d'Alcanar Test arrangements for Sheila's rock colletion The Collegiate Basilica of Santa Maria