We had a beautiful sunrise walk along the beach this morning before we packed up again and hit the road.
We had a look last night for a stopping off point between Valencia and Barcelona and decided on Peniscola. It has a castle on the headland and on old town surrounding on the hill with a long (4km) sandy beach. it looked great from the photos and only around 120km, so a shorter drive today leaving a bit more to do on Saturday.
It was another nice drive surrounded by orange trees and passing several more castles. We had looked around for where to stay on the camping apps last night and the nearest to town was a campsite set just back from the beach. Other freebie spots having been shutdown of late. We were happy to pay to get a nice shaded spot so we could leave the dogs in the cool and go and explore the castle.
We grabbed a little tapas on the ramparts of the city wall before making our way to the top of the hill to the castle. The Knights Templar took over the site in 1294, there was a moorish castle on this spot from the 11th century but this was demolished and rebuilt. There is much mystic, intrigue and myth about the fighting Templar monks, it was interesting to see a place they lived and worked. The castle is really substantially built and I guess partly because of that, it remains well preserved. There are projectors through the tour in different rooms protecting images of life for the monks on the wall of the castle. It is really well done with sound effects like the changing of the monks etc which does really make it feel like a more sacred places. There were stables, kitchens, chapels, guard rooms, wine cellar and the water cistern preserved. However, the open courtyards and views from the top of the turrets were the highlight. The castle was used for filming for El CID and The Game of Thrones. The gateway which El Cid rides through and across the beach at the end form the entrance to the castle. The courtyard area was used as Meereen one of the slaver cities in season 6 of GoT.
The beautiful blue cloudless skies really made the views spectacular. There is apparently a mini heatwave in Spain at the moment and we have temperatures more normal for August, parts of Spain are expecting 40 degrees C in the next couple of days. I am guessing that will be in Seville! Although, there were the lovely narrow cobbled streets of the old town to wander through, we decided to retreat to the shade by our van and chillout with the dogs for the afternoon.
Tonight we are booked in for only our second paella of of our trip to Spain. At a restaurant El Pescador Ermitaño (the hermit fisherman) just up the road from where we staying which has the highest Trip Advisor rating I have seen that specialises in paella. I happened to look at their Facebook page and it said they had a flamenco concert on this evening! So unusually I have booked a table ahead and hopefully we will tick another must-do for Spain off our list tonight too.