Day. 5 : Cullera to Denia - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 11, 2024

Day. 5 : Cullera to Denia

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When it comes to rating breakfasts a lot of factors have been mentioned by Cycleblazers in the past. But something that is not often mentioned is the size and decor of the breakfast room, and the number and activity of the serving staff. These factors are even debatable. A classy room does not make us happy, because we are not classy people. And a lot of serving staff buzzing around is trouble, if you are trying to squirrel away some sandwiches for later. Today we had a large and classy room, and a crazy number of staff around, at least 8, but they were hard to count as they were constantly moving. The staff was popping up to pour juice for us, and any time they saw a stray plate, the would  grab it and spirit it away.  But it was OK, and I am eating my spare sandwich right now as I write this!

Large room, many staff.
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The actual breakfast on offer was very good, perhaps betraying a lot of British customers by having stewed tomatoes and little hot dogs. Something I liked was the fried, not scrambled eggs.

One of the eggs was also "over easy".
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Cake and viennoiserie.
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The aspect of the hotel that produced the large dining room - its multi storey height, really handed us a challenge as we attempted to leave. Our room was on the 3rd floor. Although there was a bank of three elevators, every one that arrived from above had someone in it. That made it impossible to try to squeeze in a bike. After watching a half dozen unusable elevator arrivals, Dodie got a good idea. I went down to the ground floor and commandeered an elevator to come up to the third floor. It would then be free for a bike. 

When we bought our bikes, we got 26" wheels for Dodie and 28" for me. For fitting into elevators, 26" is marginal, and 28" is almost impossible. Today, by lifting the back of my fully loaded bike, I was able to fit it in with 1 mm to spare. But that was only if I yanked and lifted just right. I did get the bike in on third floor, but of course, someone had pressed the button on second. so then I had to try to get the door to reclose again. After that - the first floor! But something went wrong, and the car went to ninth. Following that I really had no hope of descending each floor of the busy hotel! Fortunately on some darn floor a man helped to lift the loaded bike to almost vertical, and the two of us descended to ground. He then went back up to retrieve his family that he had left standing.  In all it took us over half an hour to descend from third to ground with our bikes. It's something we will try to not repeat.

Cullera was not a particularly attractive place, but I recorded one shot, just to give the idea of our surroundings as we left the hotel.

In Cullera
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A river (the Xuquer) enters the sea just by Cullera, and as we crossed it we had a look at a kayak competition. It does not show in the photo, but there was a very strong wind blowing - chilling us and surely not helping the paddlers.  Our starting temperature for the day was 10, but it did end close to 19 degrees C.

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On the river were many Mallards.
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What a handsome boy.
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Leaving Cullera, we could look back and see its castle (Castle of Cullera, of course).  It was built in the 10th century by the Moors and was taken over in subsequent centuries  by Christians, Castillians, Aragonese, and others. Today, of course, it is a museum.

Castle of Cullera
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Kelly IniguezAh, a castle! Now we know you are in Spain.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Kelly IniguezVery funny, Kelly.
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Kelly IniguezI love castles. I take every chance I can to tell people about my four castle day - it was the highlight of the trip.
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Cullera is built on a hill, but the surrounding lands are flat. Inland, however, there are a lot of mountains. These are clearly visible from our track, which is near the water, and are just placed there to make us nervous!

Mountains, that we are glad to be avoiding,
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Just as in France and Germany where our track will run for kms through the vines, here we were running through the oranges. The farm tracks we followed were all paved and flat, and made for great relaxing cycling.

Through the oranges.
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The orange trees here are loaded, and the fruit looks great. This photo also shows the mountains behind.
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There are kms and kms of orchard like this.
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Usually with orange trees, there is a lot of fruit to be seen lying on the ground. But for the shot below, things had become ridiculous.

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Karen PoretWhat a waste of precious food! Time to get out the Osterizer..
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretAnd when we think of the cost of oranges at home.....what a waste.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAgreed! Waste not want not…
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We expect to see this Spanish coast lined with alternating  orange groves, condos, or towns. Here below are some of the zillions of condos.

There are also kms and kms of condos, in all shapes and sizes.
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These are rather small and cute
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Along the orchard roads there were some things to see. Here below is a Moorhen. It's a difficult photo to get because they run and hide as you approach.

A Eurasian Moorhen disappears into the reeds.
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Anyone have an idea what this fruit, weed, or flower is? Identified by Bill Shaneyfelt as White Bladder Fruit.
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Bill ShaneyfeltI might have found it... white bladder fruit.

https://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Araujia+sericifera
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Bill ShaneyfeltIt sure seems like right one. Looks identical, grows in or near citrus orchards in sandy soil, etc. Thank so much, Bill.
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Kelly IniguezI hate to go contrary to Bill, he's an encyclopedia on so many things. It looks like a chayote to me. But, it's a gourd, so if you saw a tree, obviously not a chayote.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Kelly IniguezReally tricky. White bladder fruit is also known as false choko, also from the new world, also a vine, not edible, so ??? Can you research a bit more and let us know. We don't have time here on the road.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Steve Miller/GrampiesJust found a site that points out that chayote is plump at the bottom, while bladder fruit is plump at the top. This one, and the many others we saw, seems to be plump at the top (the point where it attaches to the stem).
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Karen PoretAnd, it’s not “white”..maybe that is a helpful clue..? ( looks light green)
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Great Cormorant
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At one point we came to this sign, advising not to enter water that may be on the road. I looked at the situation and said "It's no problem, I'm going through", but Dodie reacted "No, don't do it!". "It's no big deal", said I, "Why not?".  "Because we are turning left" was Dodie's devastating reply.

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These cute guys were also along the way. They came over to say hello. Speculating on what we could feed them, oranges was clearly not it, if you look behind them in the photo.

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Here was a random town or development on a hillside. This had us thinking of the white hill towns, south of Seville.

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It looks more like a condo development rather than a town.
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In many places, it is common for hill tops to be occupied by forts. Same here.

Castel de Bairen
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The trail continued, mostly traffic free and fun to ride.

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We entered Gandia, and at first (and later) did not find it terribly exciting. It did have lots of pigeons, though.

White variant of the standard Rock Pigeon
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The town looked like this.
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...and this. But you can see the Collegiate Church in the background.
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The church as we see it today was built in two stages. The first was in the 14th century and the second in the 16th century. The second stage involves Maria Enriquez, wife of Juan de Borja. The Borjas were dukes here, and judging from posters, remain the town's major claim to fame. 

Inside the church. There was an entrance for tourists and one for believers. I entered as a tourist but left as a believer.
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As is common with central squares in Europe  (and Mexico), there is both a church and a town hall with frontage. Below a statue of a  Borja duke stands before a restored ducal palace, now the city hall.

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The church on the square.
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Elsewhere in the town is the statue of Maria Enriquez, the 15th century Duchess of Gandia. This statue is featured in posters around the town.
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The Santa Clara convent (below) was founded by the daughter of the first Borja duke.

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The convent had one very devout lady, praying.
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Here too is a very well dressed Virgin.   Also  a sun styled - thingy -that figures in many poster photos around the town as well.

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Karen PoretSun styled “thingy” is just that! An image of the sun, but meant in a spiritual likeness.
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Karen PoretEucharist on altar during exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. It is Sunday after all..time for Mass. ;)
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I liked this sign on the outside wall. What it basically says is "Open 24/7/365"
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Karen PoretAdoration of the Blessed Sacrament ( Eucharist) in perpetuity ..
Amazing! I wonder if there are security cameras to prevent vandalism.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretIn some areas this would rapidly become a place where homeless people might take up residence-warm, dry, open 24 hours......
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesAnother agreement, Steve! Thanks for the clarification …
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Beyond Gandia, it was more great cyclable roads  and paths, through the oranges, as shown below, to Oliva.

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In Oliva, we were at a traffic light and were surprised to hear a parade approaching, with a band. This turned out to be a procession of people all dressed up in traditional costumes. There was a person carrying a banner at the head of the procession, but we missed that, and did not catch quite what the group was about. We spoke to some of them, but could only gather that this was some sort of fiesta. At any rate, they had great outfits, and we saw that all the women had taken great care with the traditional hair arrangement and ornaments, as well as with jewelry.

Part of the procession.
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Both men and ladies were well dressed up.
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Hair details:

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Ladies and children danced in a circle.
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This lady's banner identifies her as the 2024 Queen. It also says "La Mar", so perhaps this is a festival of the sea in some way.
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We continued out of town, passing many seaside condos, and also spotting several birds, such as the Magpie, high in a tree.

94126 Eurasian Magpie
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Typical small condo
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Spotless Starling, one of many of a group perched on a wire.
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Aside from oranges, there were many sub-tropical plants, like this interesting cactus, in flower.

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Google Maps had lined us up to follow a dirt track paralleling the sea and on into Denia. But we found a better alternative, a road with a wide red painted shoulder and also a straight run into town.

Along the road was a surprising lone duck, sorting through the roadside puddles.

24127 Aylesbury (Domestic) Duck
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The great road straight to Denia.
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High on a building we spotted an owl. But on the bigger computer screen, this turned out to be a decoy!

Owl Decoy
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Our road was flat, but there were always reminders of mountains nearby, such as the large outcropping nearby.

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Here, we passed the line of zero longitude. It gives a perspective of where we are, in relation to England.
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The beach, leading to our stop for the night at Denia.
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This is where one can divert to the Balearic Islands, the closest being Ibiza, and beyond that the town of La Palma. We had considered taking this detour when planning this trip, but instead we will continue steaming along the coast here.
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We got separated for a few minutes, and during that time a bird that we had been glimpsing during the day popped up near Dodie. Fortunately we have a spare camera, and she was able to snap this Wagtail:

94128 White Wagtail
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Denia seems to be a nice town, with some quiet or walking streets. Or perhaps it's just because this is Sunday.

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Karen PoretNotice the bike hanging aloft ..ready for the elevator ride.:)
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In Denia
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This time we had a small hotel, but one with no place at all to park the bikes. The desk clerk, however, was very helpful and together we carried my bike up to our second floor room. Dodie's bike fit with a bit of effort into the elevator. The Bike Fridays would have been much more convenient in these circumstances, but we know we will appreciate the bigger bikes in the hills and cobbles of Portugal!

Today's ride: 66 km (41 miles)
Total: 121 km (75 miles)

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