[Pronounced Pen-yis-colla, by the way.]
A gota fría was forecast for the Jalón area this weekend. A gota fría is literally a “cold drop”, a particular meteorological phenomenon in which a low pressure area becomes disconnected from its normal mother lode, the jet stream, and floats around causing unpleasantness independently. The cold drop [in temperature] is accompanied by heavy rain. We experienced a gota fría in December 2016 when our river ended up in torrent [see Gota Fría].
We had been planning a weekend trip to visit friends in Peñíscola, ~250kms further north. In Peñíscola rain was also forecast but perhaps not to the extent expected in Jalón. After some debate between us, we decided to continue with our weekend trip, not only because it might be lighter rain up at Peñíscola but also because, if the weather was going to be pants, why not have some old friends to natter to instead of staring at our own walls? It’s a 3-hour drive, including comfort break; we arrived shortly before 13:00 on Friday.
I refer to Peñíscola as El Cid country. That’s because the Castillo de Peñíscola was one of the [four] castles used in the 1961 film, El Cid. This is the castle towards the end of the film where a dead El Cid, a.k.a. Don Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar [El Cid is much easier], a.k.a. Charlton Heston, having been mortally wounded in battle, dies but is then strapped back on his horse to ride down a ramp and scare the crap out of the Moorish foe on the beach. This, of course, was a couple of years after Charlton Heston had scared the crap out of the Romans in 1959 as Judah Ben-Hur. The inimitable Charlton Heston would later be resurrected and go on to be scared the crap out of himself by a lot of very hairy actors on The Planet of the Apes in 1968. What a guy.
Anyway, all that crap is delightful CHB – Classic Hollywood Bollocks. The Castillo de Peñíscola was supposed to represent Valéncia, which doesn’t even seem to have a castle. The Castillo de Peñíscola was actually used by the Knights Templar but let’s not get into any Holy Grail crap. Here’s a crappy phone camera shot of Peñíscola castle taken around dawn from our bedroom in our hosts’ pad, so it’ll give an idea of their views, too, which are not crap. 😉
This MAY be the ramp down which the dead Charlton Heston was sent to scare the Moors on the beach, but I’ve seen the film only once and it was a long, long time ago, so don’t quote me. Whatever, it is the gateway into the old town.
I am pretty sure that this, playa norte, is the beach where the Moors were scared crapless by Charlton, apparently risen from the dead. [Well, he had to rise again to blast off to Planet of the Apes, didn’t he?]
On the other side of the peninsula, the old town is sided by playa sur and by a fishing harbour housing boats which wouldn’t have suited even a Hollywood depiction of the closing years of the 11th century at all, but it makes a reasonable postcard view in the 21st.
We did enjoy a lunch within the walls of the old town in a self-styled Tex-Mex restaurant where, as we have recently learned from the excellent Mr. Rick Stein, they serve Carne con Chile and NOT Chile con Carne, the latter being a Texanization [and we all know how mad the Texans are]. Although, this being a Tex-Mex rather than a Mexican restaurant … well?
Finally, how the hell does one correctly spell chili/chile/chilli? I’ve seen ‘em all and find it mightily confusing. I originally discounted chile as just the country, albeit with a capital, but it seems to be the Spanish spelling of the fiery vegetable, too. If so, I’m up for it. Answers on a postcard to …