17th November 2016. Peñiscola, Spain.

Wakey! Wakey!  We were hoping to have an early start today to try to get into the town BEFORE all the restaurants closed after lunch for a change despite the efforts of the non stop barking and howling dogs, the braying donkey AND the rubbish collection around 1 a.m. this morning.

We heard the bins being emptied during the night at another aire too.   This area of Spain have HUGE public rubbish bins, they look small above ground but there are large chambers underground.  I think the locals have to empty their household rubbish into these bins so that it’s all collected from one point.

Anyway I digress, we cycled into town along the promenade, it seemed a surprisingly long way but that might have been because we were cycling into the wind.  We had only Googled Peniscola this morning and discovered it had a castle that had been the last castle ever built by the Knights Templer before they were wiped out.  We could see it in the distance with spray from the surf swirling round in the air at the base of the cliff it was perched on.

I was a bit of a wimp today, Darren cycled right up to the top of the hill in through the castle gate. I pushed my bike!  The road up to the castle was intriguing, it was made of cobbles but some of them were like pebbles from the beach, larger ones made shapes and little ones filled in the shapes but on the hill the cobbles were long curved shapes, I thought they were made like that to give some grip on the steep slope but a man walking past me still managed to slip as he walked down the hill.  I had no idea that there were so many little lanes or so many houses inside the castle walls, it was a warren of narrow streets.

Darren was stopped by an English couple who wanted to know whether he was a tourist (he just pointed to his fold up bike).  They were trying to find out how to get to the castle because the route they’d taken was closed off, which was fortuitous for us, it saved us going that way.  Darren pointed up a road and said he thought they might be able to get to the castle that way.  He was right and we saw them at the castle a short while later.  It was a good day today, instead of just looking at the outside of the castle which we’ve done for most of this trip we actually paid to go in and have a proper look around, it was well worth it.

There were so many rooms to explore and many levels to clamber up and down with stunning views across the bay and harbour.  We watched the fishing boats returning to the harbour surrounded by flocks of seagulls swirling around them and in their wake and we gingerly walked down an extremely narrow set of stone steps to the lower level.

On the middle level there was a Great Hall and a chapel.  The window was filled with what looked like a sheet of stone cut so thinly that it was translucent and showed the grain in it.

After we’d had a good look around the castle and taken tons of photos we went in search of food.  It was much faster leaving the castle as we free wheeled down the cobbled slopes.  We found another exit which came out beside the harbour and cycled along the sea front from there.  I was a bit worried that we’d missed our chance to find a restaurant that was still open as we cycled further from the town (during the afternoon lull) so when we spied one we made a bee line for it.

The nice thing about the towns geared up for tourists is that the restaurants often seem to have the menus printed in various languages so it was very easy to order food this time.

We had a nice meal and after we’d asked for the bill the waiter brought over two iced glasses and asked whether we’d like a drink before we left.  It was an apple liquer and it made a very nice end to a thoroughly lovely day.

The sun was going down which changed the view over to the castle with the sun setting behind it and we ended up dawdling a bit while I took some more photos of the same view but with the sky washed in salmon pink this time.

We got back to the van just before it got dark, perfect timing and as if by magic the pack of dogs started barking again.

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