We got a good start -- out of the condo and on the road by 8:45, our personal best for the trip. We briefly got caught in Málaga trying to figure out their freeway system. Up to Grenada, so Dad got to see the Alhambra from a distance. The climb up the hill was steep, on a narrow two-lane road. Seemed like everyone in Spain was behind us, in a terrible hurry to get to Murcia, for no reason I could see.
The trip was dull, but we did see some beautiful agricultural land. Lots of olives again, and almonds growing in gravel.
We stopped about lunch time to use a bathroom in a tiny little farm town. We found a local bar/cafe, which was mostly a bar, and used their servicios. We felt like we should buy something, of course, so we got ice cream bars. The locals weren’t hostile, but they sure weren’t friendly.
Back in the car again. Pretty soon we hit the pay-toll freeways. It was extremely expensive. At almost random intervals -- sometimes five minutes, sometimes 45 -- we had to stop at a toll crossing to pay, once nearly $20.00. Mom figured at one point we’d spent $80.00 on toll, but it got worse than that. We were on the high inland road; if we’d taken the coastal road it would have been free, but very slow.
I took a turn driving at about Valencia, and drove until we stopped for the night. The town was a summer tourist area on the water, called -- no kidding -- Peñíscola. The jokes were flying.
Photo stolen from this nice person
“I’ll have a frosty glass of Peñíscola.”
We drove all the way down the strip -- hotel after hotel. They started getting seedier, so we turned around and found a nice one, Hotel Hey International. Let this be a warning.
Photo stolen from these guys
It looked fine from the outside and very nice in the lobby. They put us on the sixth floor, although it was numbered in the 400s. (They don’t count common area floors in their numbering of floors.)
The rooms were okay and the views were terrific. We went downstairs for dinner, and that’s when the fun started. Even though we were in Spain, where people start eating dinner at 9:00 p.m., these guys closed at 10:00. We got in just in time. They seated us, brought us bread, but no menus. When we asked for menudos ál día, they looked stricken. When we asked to se la carta, they looked as if we were speaking Serbo-Croatian to them. They left, and came back with five huge plates of green beans. Bocci was ticked off, Kenny was annoyed, but the rest of us were starved, so we didn’t argue.
Apparently we had walked into a fixed-plate restaurant, with no posted menu or price list. They offered wine; we asked for tinto (red), and it was so bad we sent it back. The possibilities were looking grim.
The rest of the food was edible, but not good. We weren’t sure if we had to pay for it or if we had already gotten it free with the room. We found out in the morning that the meal cost $10.00 apiece -- what a rip-off. But it was perhaps the most memorable meal of the whole vacation (unfortunately), and it has already become the butt of all of our jokes.
“Do we get beans for breakfast, too?”
We walked down the beach walk in front of all the hotels. They were mostly empty, and some were closed entirely. Partly due to the weather, partly because the season hasn’t quite started yet, and partly because of the world-wide recession, according to Guillermo and Javier.
We had a drink in the bar downstairs. Friday night, and we were the only ones in a bar that could hold 150 people. They must really be hurting.
“I hope we can get a nice big plate of green beans.”
Sleeping is great in Peñíscola because the sound of the water is so soothing. Just about the nicest thing about the area, unless you really really love green beans.