Introducing Delicious Drives Spain Route 1
By Jackie De Burca
I teamed up with Hertz recently to explore some stunning routes that are off the typical tourist trail here in Spain. These special experiences capture the essence of the gastronomy of the areas featured, all embraced by spectacular surroundings.
Breathtaking views, fun adventures and delicious foodie offerings were thoroughly enjoyed on this road trip. Our Opel Mokka 4x4 was perfect for a smooth, relaxing drive across some challenging terrain.
This first Delicious Drive takes you to the beautiful Belle Epoque Villa Route by the beach in Benicassim, and then up to enjoy the most amazing views in the Desierto de las Palmas. The route was made even more delicious by a tipple of Carmelitano Liqueur and a light, tasty lunch with absolutely spectacular views.
Belle Epoque by the Beach & Carmelitano Liqueur
Having picked up our car in Valencia, we headed straight for Benicassim on Spain’s Orange Blossom Coast. Although best known for its music festivals, Benicassim has beautiful beaches, great food and famous Belle Epoque villas, which overlook the beach.
Known as the Biarritz of the Levante, Benicassim is also home to Carmelitano, which is one of the oldest distilleries in Spain. Head there to meet the Barefoot Caremelites, who have been making their Carmelitano liqueur since 1896.
It’s a delicious liqueur that deserves to be tasted. It certainly set us up for the day! The Carmelitano brand has won a number of awards for their liqeuers and also for their gin. The most recent was a bronze medal for their 119 Gin, which the monks won in London at the International Spirits Challenge.
Their tasting tours cost only €3.00 for those over 18. Under 18s are free, but obviously can’t sample the liqueurs! You can tour between 9am to 1.30pm and from 3.30pm to 7pm. The Carmelitano distillery is open also during weekends and holidays.
Belle Epoque by the beach
After take the short drive to Voramar Beach, which is where you can explore the Villa Route. These Belle Epoque villas were designed in the late 19th to early 20th century, by some of the top architects of their day, who were employed by rich Valencian families.
To date 51 villas have been catalogued, and the route has two distinct faces. One is the Celestial Court, which is the group of villas known for their tranquility and the other is the collection of properties known as the Hell Route.
As you can guess by the name, these splendid villas were renowned for their scandalous parties in the Roaring Twenties. The route is filled with beautiful architecture and all of it overlooking a lovely Mediterranean beach.
Awe-inspiring views & delicious food
To understand the Barefoot Carmelites a little better, we headed up into the Desierto de las Palmas (Desert of the Palms), where they constructed their monastery in 1697. As you’ll observe from the photo on the left, it’s certainly not a desert. That aspect of the name was connected to the peacefulness of the area, rather than its geology.
It is said that they were deeply moved by the scenery and solitude.
You don’t need to be religious to do this part of the route, as the views are absolutely awe-inspiring and you can see why the Carmelites were moved by it. The original monastery was destroyed in an earthquake, but you can see the ruins.
A delicious discovery…
However you need to continue up to the top, where you’ll find a good restaurant with incredible views, back down over the landscape. The Desierto de las Palmas restaurant has been serving good food since 1967.
We were lucky to get one of the best tables, right at the window. I chose the imaginative, delicious salad which had a selection of leaves, prawns, crabstick, pineapple, raisins and apple, with a very tasty dressing. I followed this with one of my favourite dishes – Gambas Pil Pil (Prawns in a slightly spicy garlic oil).
Between the breathtaking views and great food, all of my senses were satiated before it was time to get back on the road again.
Follow our second Delicious Drive, where we’re off to meet the Mussel Professor, go on a boat trip and more …! (link to article)
We also worked on this campaign in collaboration with A Luxury Travel Blog. This post can be seen there at Delicious Drives Spain.