The Mediterranean Tour, Day 3 Castellón de la Plana- Valencia

Day 3 of the tour was actually the shortest ride of the whole trip, giving me an opportunity to actually slow down a little and enjoy any town for a bit longer than before. Valencia was the next bed for the night, and getting there meant crossing The extensive fields of orange trees, as well as some very busy roads. But first, I wanted to see more of Castellón, which as it turned out did not take very long. The main attractions of the centre were mostly centered around the Plaza Mayor (go figure) but what impressed me was the Concatedral de Santa Maria and the tower (El Fadrí) disconnected from each other, which I found quite bizarre at the time. The city centre certainly has less historical aspects than other major cities on the Mediterranean coast, and I would not come here if you are looking for stunning architecture. But Castellón is a great stop over for any occasion, and by 11am I was ready to go.

Villareal was the first stop of the day, 8km away, and there is very little to talk about between these two towns, though there is a possible detour to Almanzora and then to Burriana, two distinct towns a little closer to the coast. However, traffic makes both of the routes quite dangerous, so I stuck with the most direct. Villareal itself was a pleasant surprise as everyone knows the town for it’s football club. The city centre has some notable sights such as the Plaça de la Vila, and the Basilica de San Pascual, and I must say I liked this place a little more than Castellón. It’s extremely bicycle friendly there, and very easy to leave. The N-340 beckoned my journey once again to Nules.

12km of open road through the orange fields was the main experience I was drawing from this stretch of road. Again, very easy going and flat, Alquerias del Niño Perdido is not worth visiting unless you have issues with supplies. The scenery does slowly change, and you start to edge a little to the coastal range, but again for any cyclist, this is a very straightforward stretch of road and within 40 minutes of leaving Villareal, I had arrived in Nules, Though I highly recommend you detour to Mascarell, a small village surrounded by a Moorish wall, and well worth a look.

I decided to have a major break in Nules, and took advantage of enjoying the sights from the Plaza Mayor, Where you will see the ayuntamiento and the Iglesia Archiprestal de San Bartholomé, a very impressive church with a blue dome, and the main attraction. The town itself is pleasant enough, but you don’t need much time to see what there is, and half an hour later, the N-340 was beckoning once again, and the next stop, would be Xilxes/ Chiches. Just 9km separating the two towns and again, a very pleasant experience and not too much traffic on this section. Xilxes is not the most accessible town having to cross the trainline, however, you are not missing much, and I didn’t even stop to check it out.

The village of La Llosa and Almenara are next on the journey, and just off the side of the main road is the Castle which blends in with the hill. Both towns other than that are very much residential with not much going on, the same level as Xilxes. Nevertheless, they can provide you with anything you need provision-wise. This 6km stretch of road is the only one of the day that provides any sort of resistance over the course of the whole day. These are also the last towns of the Castellón province before entering Valencia, and one of the biggest highlights of the day, Sagunto was the next stop.

Crossing the border into Valencia province, the sign fittingly surrounded by oranges, the Castillo de Sagunto can be seen in the distance after a few kilometers from Almenara. 11km separated the two towns, and the heat was starting to build a little getting to around lunchtime, knocking on the door of 30 degrees. Again, there is very little challenge for any cyclist on this stretch of road, but I was still notably sore after my mammoth previous day. 40 minutes from Almenara, and it was a certain rest stop in sagunto.

This city was the highlight of the day, with the impressive castle overlooking everything with added bonus views of the sea which was only 5km away. Like castellón and Xilxes, Sagunto also has extended all the way to the beach and essentially has two city centres, but it’s the one inland which is more impressive in my opinion, and the old quarter was brimming with people, with the Glorieta opening the way to explore, and climb toward the Castle. Other attractions include the Juderia, and the modernised Teatro Romano. I wanted to lose myself in these beautiful narrow streets forever, but I still had 30km of cycling to do.

The next stretch of road is one of the most, if not, the most dangerous of the whole 6 day trip. Sagunto is at a bust junction which connects Valencia and Zaragoza via Teruel, So the autopistas and autovias all connect forcing you onto one of them for a very brief period before turning you onto a service road. I however accidentally missed that turning and ended on the V-23 all the way to Puçol which I was not allowed to do, but got away with it. What’s also confusing is that you don’t see the no entry signs from when the N-340 merges. Another alternative route is the Camí de Gausa which will take you to the outskirts of the town. most of this 9km stretch was not particularly enjoyable, so blaze through this as quick as you can.

Puçol/ Puzol is the next town, where directions to the town centre require you to cross the dry river bed, where you are greeted with the Plaza Iglesia and the ayuntamiento after a series of relatively narrow and kinda charming cobbled streets. This is also the last town before you start entering the metropolitan area of Valencia, and now the land is becoming almost flat as a pancake, so you start believing you are on the home straight. The CV 306 is the main road, but there’s also a Via Verde cycling route barely 100m to the left via Calle Mercé de Rodoreda that takes you almost directly to Rafelbunyol, the next town, something I discovered after the trip.

Though there is virtually nothing to see in Rafelbunyol/ Rafelbuñol, seeing the metro station gave me a lot of motivation despite still being about 15km away from Valencia. You immediately follow either the CV 300, or the Avenida Mayor through to the centre of La Pobla de Farnals which is what I did, and I have no idea which one is quicker. The road starts off as Carretera de Barcelona, but the reality is, just go straight on and you’ll slowly get there. It’s almost a continuous chain of towns to Valencia from this point, and I continued up through La Pobla, then Massamagrell, Museros, Emperador, Albalat dels Sorells, Foios, Meliana, Almassora and Tabernas Blanques. Most of which I just blazed through. Traffic gets heavier the closer you get to the 3rd largest city in Spain.

Just before crossing the Avenida dels Germans Machado, There is a monastery that is not well known to tourists, The Monesteri de Sant Miquel de Reis that would be worth a look. Unfortunately for me, it was closed When I passed it, but I wasn’t too bothered as I was now entering Valencia, and I had to be careful on these roads. The north of the city has a few tramlines connecting the Estadio de Levante to the beach, But you start to get excited once you reach the dry riverbed of the Turia, and within 10 minutes, I had reached my hostel, just off the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

73km, The shortest day of the 6 was now complete, and I arrived at around 4pm, with plenty of time to rest and enjoy the city, though one night is nowhere near enough time. Nevertheless, I knew I had complete freedom and the chance to do some walking for a change, and visit places like the Plaza de la Reina, the Mercado central, La Ciutat de las Ciencies, and the beach, and have a well earned ice cream or buñuelo. The following day was another slog,117km to Xabia/ Javea in the Province of Alacant/Alicante.

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