April 22, 2009 GMT
April 22 Mora to Bocairent

The next morning thereís stuff to do before hitting the road. Breakfast is a non event at this dump and I make do with a coffee. However they do have internet and so Iím able to sort some things. They also have a coin gobbling payphone which paired with Alistair Sawdays excellent ďSpecial places to stay in SpainĒ yields a booking at a very nice sounding hotel in a place Iíve never heard of Bocairent. This is planned to be a short day, around 250 miles as Iíve decided I owe myself a treat.

So after a repack of the bike Iím off again. Riding down the C-12 to Amposta is a continuing joy.

After that Luisís advice was to use the N340 rather than the Autovia. ďIt may be free in Andalucia but in Catalunya we charge!Ē. So I dribble down the coast with various interludes of trying to avoid the Autovia and find the N340. IMG_2615a.JPG

Now hereís a thing. Prostitutes. In deck chairs. By the side of the road. Thereís no doubt thatís what they are, I pass a couple in a stretch of three miles. The last one I see a few miles gets out of her chair and heads for the undergrowth seemingly at my approach. I find this rather amusing for some reason, but a few moments later I get my explanation as I see a police car heading up the road. They must have alert lookouts to stay in business.

Although for reasons of decency I donít stop to take snaps of the hookers (who after all may charge for this!) I find an amusingly named Merc. Dealers and take a shot of a different arse. I have checked the website which you can see painted on the window www.arsemercedes.com - minutes of juvenile fun to be had.

Apart from that itís not particularly satisfying doing hide and seek with the N430. Eventually I clear the south of Valencia and strike inland towards Alcoy. I find my way to Ontinyent and then thereís a beautiful twisty mountain road over to Bocairent.

My hotel is easily found and as the former train station building, the Hotel LíEstacio overlooks the old town. The manager of this welcoming but undoubtedly rather upmarket establishment Matts Lodder is unfazed by my shabby sweaty appearance with hair plastered to my face and cannot do enough for me. When I ask about the safety of leaving my bike in the car park he says no problem, comes outside and unlocks the side gateway and we park the bike there, safe as can be. Not only that, he gives me the key! By now iíve long perfected the packing arrangements so that for an overnight stop I only need take tank bag and one pannier off the bike.

Bocairent is an undiscovered gem.IMG_2633a.JPG

The Moorish old town hangs on an escarpment
Over an ancient river course whose sides comprise ancient terraced allotments.

Behind the town is an atmospheric hilltop monastery gained by a switchback path. At each turn in the way a grotto stands and over each grotto two graveyard cypress stand sentinel. Bathed in crepuscular rays it is an almost dreamlike sight which combines with a sudden attack of dťjŗ vu that holds me fascinated. 12 hours ago Iíde never heard of Bocairent, so I know Iíve never been here before but Ö.


Anyway hunger pangs stir me from my reverie and hasten me back to the Hotel, determined there will be no cock-ups on the catering front tonight! It seems my luck is in. The wine list yields a Chilean Merlot available in half bottle and from the menu I order the set meal unware that the mimimum order is for two. The waitress brooks no objection and so I proceed to have a delicious multi course meal for 21 euros topped off with a desert I canít actually accommodate.

I waddle off to bed a very satisfied customer.

Posted by Rob Hodder at April 22, 2009 11:34 PM GMT

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