The Town and Castle of Xàtiva

We decided to branch out this week and take a train to the town of Xàtiva in the province of Valencia. Catching a train from the city seems easy enough but there are always those little details that come back to bite you – little details that locals take for granted, but are missing from every article we read.

The missing information was the existence of “city trains”. Pretty obvious in hindsight I guess but sometimes the obvious is not so obvious.
In Spain, there are regional trains, regional express trains, mid-distance trains and long distance trains some of which are high speed trains, to name a few. I will refer to these trains as “regular” trains. All of these trains require you to have a reservation, often purchased days in advance. When you make your reservation you choose a time of departure, possibly a seat and a class of service. Seems easy enough.
But in the province of Valencia there are also city trains. City trains are an extension of the Metro, although they use the “regular” train tracks they are handled differently than the “regular” trains. This is critical information to know.
City trains, just like the Metro, depart every few minutes to various cities from a different area of the train station. You need to purchase a ticket, which is only valid for two hours, and these can be purchased minutes before your departure. There are no details on the ticket as to place, track or time of departure which is bewildering if you think you are about to board a “regular” train. Instead, you board a city train the same way you board the Metro. Good news is if you miss your intended time of departure you can easily board the next city train going to your destination. Once on board you choose any seat available or you can stand. Clean and reasonably comfortable, with no service, the city train was convenient, cost effective and functional.
It is also important to pay attention when you are boarding from a small station (for instance, when you are returning to Valencia). Multiple types of trains may stop at the station all headed to Valencia but you may only board the type of train specified by your ticket.
Without any of this knowledge we still managed to catch an early morning train for our 50 minute ride south to explore the town of Xàtiva (pronounced sha-tee-va). It would have been less confusing if we had known these little details in advance but there was help available at the station to get us on our way.

The Castle of Xàtiva

Touring Xàtiva Castle has the potential to be a long and exhausting affair starting with a 2.5km walk up a very steep hill to the entrance gate. And that is only the entrance of the Castle! Exploring this castle involves significantly more climbing once you are through the gates – so we took a taxi to the entrance gates for 11 €. It seemed the smart thing to do.

For more information and photos click here.

The Town of Xàtiva

Xàtiva is the prettiest little town of just 30 thousand people and proudly boasts that in the 14th and 15th centuries, it was the birthplace of two future Popes. With massive old plane trees (Platanus orientalis) lining the main street, providing plenty of shade during the heat of the day, Xàtiva is a beautiful place to visit.

For more information and photos click here.

Education House of Xàtiva

An interesting piece of information we learned in Education House was that in the 11th century, after the Arabs conquered Xàtiva, it was here that they developed the first paper manufacturing factory in Europe. This paper was made of rice and straw and is still known today in Morocco by the name of “xàtivi paper”.

For more information and photos click here.

Salut from the roamers,

Ted & Julia

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