Benicassim is quite nice and thanks therefore to Graham and Jane for the recommendation. We checked out the other site but it was way too busy for our liking. And while we found a couple of pitches that would have suited our 8.5 metre long van it would not have been as handy as this site at Azahar so we stuck rather than twisted.
This place was made famous in the mid to late 19th century by the rich and famous building some amazing villas on the shoreline. Of course it was all uncontrolled and they would be horrified at what has followed. But many have survived and impress us still. Others have been torn down to make way for eight and ten storey apartment blocks of nil architectural and negative landscape value. They simply hide the splendid hills of the Desert de les Palmes that rise 600 metres high behind them. Happily these early pioneers refrained from blocking the beach line so that today there is a splendid promenade along the sands, with a tastefully limited number of cafés and restaurants.
So it goes for about 3 kilometres and then the terror strikes. Villas built right on the beach block the view, end the prom and make reaching the superb sands a grim walk down tiny alleys between the walls erected by the greedy, thoughtless yobs who built the very nice houses so close to the sea. Too late now to tear them down and start again – too expensive! So Benicassim has some ten or eleven kilometres of brilliant sand of which you cane easily reach less than a third!
The town of course is not down here on the playas (platges in Catalan) but a couple of kliks inland. It straggles up a long slow hill and while still served by the high speed railway it actually had an old ferro running within the town. The former station is the nick and the goods yards are the market square. Two bridges from those days remain, preserved as industrial relics, and the line itself is a foot and cycle way linking the beaches and the town. Very neat.
We drove towards Valencia but its just another ugly Spanish city really so we headed for Segunt which has a huge castle but turned out to be just another ugly Spanish town so we diverted to Castillon which turned out to be a huge but ugly Spanish town which had allowed a massive Carrefour to be built. It is all so depressing.
Sunday we went into the hills and found a little real Spain. No villages sadly but some amazing hills and scenery in the national park, Las Desert de les Palmes. Super bit of off-road, nice picnic and lovely little restaurant for coffee and beers. A little still survives.
Now we are off to Zaragoza, more new territory for us before we reach more familiar ground in La Rioja and then the northern coast for the ferry.