Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spain February 2008

Spain is cool though bright and sunny for this February visit.

The Costa del Azahar area is quiet and my hotel in Benicassim is good value out of season.
Though many restaurants and some hotels are shut for the off-season there are enough open to enjoy the hospitality with the locals.

Not too far away is Vila-Real (or Villarreal)
Home to the yellow submarine.
Who are up against Russians Zenit St Petersburg in a UEFA Cup 2nd leg game.

In a three quarters full stadium , with the drums beating, Villarreal took a long time to score after Zenit had stretched their overall lead to 2-0.
Although the Russians eventually had two men sent off - one for a second yellow for time wasting - they just about held on for an 'away goals' rule win.

There was a good sized group of away fans inside the ground and before that packing the local bars outside. Probably not too many came directly from Russia.

For the sightseeing part of this trip I drove to Vilafames (an attractive hillside town with a nice contemporary art museum) & Montanejos (via the CV20 a memorable drive through the mountain gorges in very pleasant weather)

Then from Benicassim to Albacete for an early evening game.
The town centre is quiet on this Saturday afternoon though there are some active bars around the side streets - a few (Sporting Gijon) away fans are in evidence.

Albacete 1 Sporting Gijon 2

This 2nd level match was won comfortably enough by 6th placed Sporting against a lowly home team who generally lacked confidence , only scoring near the end. Some 6000 watched in cold(two pullover) weather.

Its even colder (c. 7 degrees) in Soria for the next days midday kick off.

Numancia still have the old stadium next door - based on a biggish stand with track around.

The home team are leaders of the Segunda division and they struggle somewhat but do overcome Hercules (2-1)

Less than two hours away , by car, is Pamplona where it is thankfully warmer.

Here I saw Osasuna defeat a moderate Atletico Madrid to help ease their relegation worries.

Its a lofty view from the main stand - disproportionately much larger than the other three sides.

To finish this trip - some more culture and a look around the nice medieval centre of Vittora Gasteiz in the heart of the Basque region.

for more pics see

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