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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Road Trip to Munich!

Hotel Riscal in Murcia
DAY 1 - Friday 30th March

Our plan for today was to reach Castellon. It took us 9 hours to make the trip. Following the National highway with exception of the new carretera de peaje (toll road) between Torremolinos and Sierra Nevada which is well worth your money as it cuts off half an hour from your trip.
We stopped off for a quick bite to eat at a brightly coloured hotel called Hotel Riscal, found in the province of Murcia at the entrance of Llorca. My parents always stop at this hotel for lunch on their many trips back and forth from Munich and are always pleased with the service and quality of food. You can't miss the hotel as its looks like it dropped out of Legoland boasting a fun and quirky design. We enjoyed a lovely lunch, my mother and I opting for a salad and my father for the three course meal, although I happily volunteered to take his dessert a yummy natilla casera, hmmmmm! Fed and watered we continued our way to Castellon continuing on the National Highway, and found our way to our hotel for the night, Hotel Bag, a three star hotel, clean, comfortable and relatively easy to find.
DAY 2 - Saturday 31st of March
Before continuing, we stopped by to visit some family friends, friends of my parents whom I hadn’t seen since I was 12 years old. They live in Benicassim a 10 minute car ride from our hotel. It was wonderful to see them again and to share a couple of hours in their company. They have the luxury of spending their time between Madrid and the Azahar Coast and have a fabulous apartment which looks out to the beach and sea, making you feel as if you're hovering above the Mediterranean.
Cycle path along Benicassim Paseo Marítimo
In the light of day the first thing I noticed about Benicassim was that all along the beach and paseo maritimo there’s an extra path dedicated to bike riders. Now if you’ve been to Germany or any Nordic country you will know that this is the norm, but it’s the first time I’ve seen it in Spain. With the wonderful weather we enjoy along the coast it’s a shame that other towns haven’t picked up on this healthy and environmentally friendly idea. One of the most famous things that Benicassim is known for is the FIB - Benicàssim's International Festival, Spain’s biggest festival. It's definitely a place I want to re-visit and spend more quality time in.
At noon we said our goodbyes and continued on our way via the National 340 towards the carreterra de peaje in the direction of Tarragona, skirting Barcelona via Gerona, Costa Brava and eventually arriving at the Spanish/French Border. Last stop for reasonably priced gasoline is La Jonquera, so make sure to stop there. We continued through the South of France until Lyon, Bron where we stayed at a Novotel Hotel. In total (stops included) the trip took us almost 11 hours, after which we all gratefully nodded off before facing the last part of our journey!
DAY 3 - Sunday 1st of April
Novotel Hotel in Bron, Lyon
I tend to judge a hotel by what it has to offer at breakfast and this ticked almost all my essential needs:
-Fresh orange juice (check)
- A large assortment of bread, muffins and croissants (check)
- Good coffee (check)
Good tea (check ) and impressed as this is where they usually find their downfall.
-Generous spread of hot food (fail)
Four out of five, not bad, adding to that the service was good, hotel rooms fresh and clean and they offer reasonable prices, I would certainly recommend this hotel if you are going on a similar trip.
Our next stretch of tarmac was Lyon- Zurich via Geneva, Lausanne, Bern to Zurich. If you're planning to go through Switzerland, keep in mind that upon entering you are required to buy a ticket for roughly 35 Euros which lasts the entire year in order, to use their highways. The highways in Switzerland are marked in green whereas in the rest of Europe they are marked in blue.
Lake Zürich
We stopped for lunch at Tibits found in the center of Zurich next to the Opera and close to the lake. Whenever in town we always make a point of eating a meal here as its our favourite vegetarian restaurant. Set out in a buffet style you choose from various international vegetarian dishes, pile it all on your plate and then pay the weight of your culinary delights! If you do have a chance to eat here (I hear one has opened in London) make sure to try their lemonade with crushed ice, they mix in some ginger and its simply devine. Taking advantage of the sunshine and before heading off direction Munich, we took a stroll around the lake, taking in its serene beauty and the impressive architecture surrounding it. It seems like most of Zurich had the same idea!
Snow topped peaks in Austria

Zurich – Munich (4hours) via Bregenz Austria, alongside Lake Constance. This was the last hurdle and also offered the most beautiful views, I must admit I did nod off a couple of times but when I did wake up the scenery had a beautiful tranquility to it and was framed for the most part of the journey by snow topped peaks. We arrived in Munich (my 2nd home) at around 9pm and now I have a week's holiday to enjoy! Happy Easter!

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