Something I struggle with on a daily basis when I am planning a trip is my travel itinerary!
I spend hours upon hours researching and analysing the easiest, most interesting and economic ways of getting from one point to another and what to see and do along the way. Does anyone else do that??
SO if you happen to find yourself in Barcelona with a few days to spare before La Tomatina or are enroute to Valencia….. here is an awesome self-drive itinerary I configured! This is a great leeway into Tomatina especially as Barcelona is usually the cheapest and most easily accessible entry point into Spain as opposed to flying direct into Valencia in August.
As you know, I think self-drive travel is AWESOME. Allowing you the freedom to get off the beaten tourist trail, create your own schedule and save money.
Arrive in Barcelona and allow yourself a couple of days to explore all that this enchantingly trendy city has to offer. For my top 3 check out ‘Things To Do in Barcelona’.
Day 1 – BARCELONA TO MONTSERRAT – 65KM
This route actually takes you North West from Barcelona, but is well-worth the 2 hour detour from your trip south. Breathtaking Montserrat is a Benedictine Monastery set high above the Catalonian countryside surrounded by pristine rock formations exuding peace and contemplation. Wander around the grounds of the Monastery, have quiet mediation in the Basilica, rub the orb held by Black Madonna and listen to Gregorian chants or hike to the surrounding cliffs for a spectacular misty view of the holy place.
STAY: Hostal Guilleumes – literally at the foot of the mountains at Monistrol in the Montserrat Mountain Nature Reserve with incredible mountain view rooms.
Day 2 – MONTSERRAT TO VILANOVA I LA GELTRU – 70KM
I had heard of the beach town Sitges mentioned constantly as a must see on the Spanish coast but I wouldn’t stop here again to be honest. I had already been so spoilt by Greece and Malta that I was a little hard to impress beach-wise. Nevertheless it was a Nice driving break for the night a little further down the coast on the quieter beachfront Vilanova.
STAY: The beachfront Solvi Hotel has tastefully decorated rooms (ask for the new refurb’d ones) with ocean views and is situated at the end of a long strip of restaurants offering international cuisine.
Day 3-4 – VILANOVA I LA GELTRU TO VALL D’ALBA – 222KM
Awake with a beachfront morning coffee to start your day. The beach isn’t ah-mazing here (the Spanish east coast really isn’t doing it for me! Has anyone else found any Gems along here??) but you can sit on a lovely
wooden decking on the beach and sip an espresso from a Styrofoam cup…..The Spanish don’t do chic beach like the Greek.
On our quest to South we opted to break up the drive after 2 hours of the scene coastal road with a relaxing stay at a charming B&B surrounded by olive trees overlooking the sleep village of Vall d’Alba. The one-way high street had a dusty almost abandoned cowboy town feel to it, and it wasn’t even siesta time! After strolling around the expansive grounds of L’Ermita we took ourselves for a walk around town to dry and find something, anything, to eat! Walking through the streets we started to hear blasting techno music, the thumping base and teenage yelps of glee got louder. We turned a corner to find a party going off in the back of someone's garage with over-zealous sangria filled teens fist pumping to Enrique’s latest hit (Bailando – FYI. My spanish road trip anthem) The buzz grew the further into the town centre we got, to where we turned a corner to see a massive container and giant bared steel fences separating the people and the road. What on earth had we stumbled upon!!…… Long story short not possible…..will fill you in on this on another post!
Stay: L’Ermita Casa Ripo
Day 5 – VALL D’ALBA TO VALENCIA – 98KM
The last stretch of our mini road-trip was just over an hours drive to Valencia. There is so much to see and do in this beach city and the daily 40 degree weather didn’t stop us! My favourite things were:
THE BEACH – in August temperatures sore above 40 degrees here. Everyone flocks to the beach, 10euro in a taxi – Don’t walk!! The sand front promenade is littered with restaurants selling expensive water, all worth it to escape the heat into some quality air con though!
A NIGHT OUT – There are great tapas bars through out the old town. My favourite was Le Parisienne where you can fill up on local tapas and a good bottle of red for under 10euro each. Follow dinner with some bar hopping antics
around the Old Town. If you’re at a loss of where to go, there are hundreds of bar promoters walking around that will happily escort you to their bar for a free shot and good times! Best find on the street were the black market sellers standing in dark corners selling 1euro can of beer. So worth it, but keep a look out for cops if you’re buying.
CIUDAD DE LAS ARTES Y LAS CIENCIAS – The City of Arts and Sciences. A unique and expansive 2km long complex dedicated to scientific and cultural dissemination’ comprising of 5 elements: the Hemisfèric (IMAX cinema and digital projections), the Umbracle (a landscaped vantage point and car park), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum/the infamous whale skeleton structure (an innovative centre of interactive science), the Oceanográfico (the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species) and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía.
WATCH A SOCCER MATCH – at Mestalla Stadium. No words. Just go. It’s crazy.
This trip was first published on The Hibiscus Traveller.