Day 4: Valencia to Cullera - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 10, 2024

Day 4: Valencia to Cullera

loo Hu
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I am familiar enough now with breakfast at the NH to appreciate subtle differences. For example, today the braised vegetables newly included zuchinni, asparagus, and eggplant. That was super. And I noticed that they have bruschetta. Also, anticipating what I wrote in the blog yesterday, they have moved the chocolate cake closer to where I can get at it!

Last look at our hotel - for this year anyway.
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Straight out pf the NH, we again saw a flock of parakeets. This is a big difference from Yucatan, where we scarcely ever saw parrot type birds holding still long enough for a photo.

Monk Parakeets
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Monk Parakeet
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The Turia park also had lots of pigeons and doves.

Common Wood Pigeon
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Ring Necked Dove
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The street beside the park has quite ordinary apartment buildings, but the linear park (on the right) is so super that it dominates the area.
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The park continues to show us new birds:

24123 Common Blackbird-male
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24124 Common Blackbird-female
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There is room in the park for everyone, but the runners are very plentiful.
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The park has a number of playing fields, many bridges, and some surrounding interesting buildings. This photo attempts to capture that in a single shot.
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The park also provides general green space in the city center.
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A tropical looking tree.
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If you look closely at the white and black bit, you will see that this is part of a Gulliver figure, lying in the park.
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A Griffon, up on a bridge.
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Such a pleasant place to cycle.
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We arrived at the City of Arts and Science in what felt like less time than with the bus. 

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We passed through the City area, still with many runners.
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Karen PoretLove how you are ALL sharing the path !
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2 months ago
The Agora building is always fun to look at. Peeking in a doorway, it did not seem like much was going on inside.
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Here we are south of the City, where EV 8 picks up. We cycled 20 km today before we left protected path and had to use the shoulder.
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24125 Spotless Starling
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This random church is one of the few to be found outside the old center.
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We are coming soon to an area of wetlands along the Mediterranean coast. It comprises a very large lagoon and numerous drainage channels.
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The Turia river, diverted from the town, enters the sea here.
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We are still on good quality protected path, as our way parallels the coast.
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This Gray Heron was our first water bird to be seen in this area.
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Our protected bikeways came to an end here,
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In this shot, the sea is to our left and the wetlands are to the right. It seems a lot of the area grows rice. Restaurants in the region seems to call themselves "arrozarias" - rice restaurants. Presumably they specialize in paella.
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I thought this could be rice in flower - if it does flower? Other fields that clearly were rice did not look like this.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo You are a true fount of interesting information. Thanks.
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2 months ago
Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAppreciate the praise, Steve. Hope my comments are not taken in the “this is not cycling” logbook ..
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2 months ago
We finally came put on the open expanse of the Albufera lake. The wind was extremely strong, whipping it up really a lot (and pushing us around on the road).
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The sea is to the left, and there are many raggedy looking apartment lining it.
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The rice paddies make a good home for the Egrets.

Little Egret
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Little Egret and Glossy Ibis
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Glossy Ibis-adult, feeding
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We had come only 35 km before we arrived outside the town of Cullera, at the hotel Alqueria de Vilches. It had been an interesting and easy ride, and we were looking forward to the early stop, to try to finish up yesterday's blog. We were three hours before the listed 4 p.m. check in time, and hoped we would not have to hang about in the wind until then. There being no answer at the door, I walked around to the side and found not only a way in to a courtyard, but lots of staff. I addressed the first staffer that looked sufficiently alert, explaining that I had a reservation through Booking.com. The person immediately denied this, claiming that the place was closed. But at my insistence we made our way to their office area and fellow looked on their computer. Here, he denied ever having heard of us. A bit more insisting, and the story changed to Booking had cancelled our reservation. We would have to phone and take it up with them, he said. 

We did phone, though this was difficult because of the roaring wind in the outer courtyard, and loud music within. The music was a warmup for what turned out to be the real situation. The place had a wedding reception about to begin. The wedding was what had motivated them to cancel our reservation, without notice, and rent out the entire place to the wedding party!

We presume that Dara and Kevin were unaware that their happy day was throwing two old folks out on the street.
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Yes, it does not look like there would be room for us!
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Booking, to the extent we could hear them, did agree that someone would have to find us a place to stay, and to pick up any difference in price. They said they would work on it, and get back to us in thirty minutes. Meanwhile a hotel staffer came and said we would have to get our bikes out of their courtyard, because wedding reception guests would soon arrive. Using the translator, I told them to screw off - that this was their fault and that they were not about to dump us out into the wind. Eventually I did move the bikes and they did establish Dodie in their closed restaurant, to continue dealing with Booking.

It turned out that the 30 minutes that Booking had requested to fix the problem was not the time they required to find us another place, but was the time they were giving the hotel to find us another place. Needless to say, no one made any moves, in thirty minutes or otherwise. Meanwhile, we ourselves found  a place down the road - a four star large hotel - and told Booking that this was the place it was going to be.  They agreed, and before long we were back on the road, but still wondering at the poor performance of both the Vilches hotel, and of Booking.com.

We got Osmand+ to plot a way to the new hotel for us, and because we were now fairly frazzled, we let the voice speak the directions, rather than converting the route into a "track". I thought this worked quite well, as Dodie could clearly hear the spoken directions from her phone.

We suspected that, just our luck, the hotel would be atop a mountain that we could see coming up. The mountain also had a defensive wall, so we decided on a gloomy outlook.

The mountain
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The wall
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As it happened, our way skirted the mountain and followed the coastline in front of it. The wind was reaching hurricane style gusts, and at one sandy bit, was filling our eyes and mouths with grit. Up one hill, full into the wind, I just barely could get the bike to move.

A lighthouse along our road to the new hotel.
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The town turned out to be fairly large - the first real development we had seen since Valencia - and built up the lower slopes of the mountain.
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Osmand+ led us easily to the hotel Santa Marta, where I walked in and declared that I had a reservation. Nope. It turned out that Booking had had Dodie believe that they had made a reservation, but no. So we just plunked down our credit card on the spot, and said "sign us in". Lucky thing, the desk clerk explained, this was just about the last vacant room in the hotel.

The view from the Santa Marta entrance.
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Our room is large, clean, and has a desk and a balcony, but does not feel particularly like a luxury or 4 star experience. There is, for example, a relative lack of electric outlets. However our balcony does look (beyond some apartment buildings) to the incredible blue of the Mediterranean.

A nice beach, and some blue sea, beyond those apartments.
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We already have an email from Booking, asking how did they do. Oh, they'll hear about it!

Today's ride: 45 km (28 miles)
Total: 55 km (34 miles)

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Sue PriceWe had a similar incident when we went to Pasadena. Booking did find another place, but it was in an area we did not feel safe in so we went to another place. In the end, we were reimbursed by booking and they were very apologetic but ya, not great! Glad you found a place to stay!!
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2 months ago
Kelly IniguezWe had a lodge, Heather Mountain Lodge (the name is seared in my brain), cancel our booking for a wedding. They were located in the middle of NOWHERE in Canada. On a big climb. It did not matter how many months previously we had made our reservations. Out we went. I am still frosty.

I'm happy you found something else without too much trouble.
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2 months ago
Karen PoretSo much for “customer service”.:(
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2 months ago