My Hometown in Spain: Nostalgia and Excitement
I’ve been thinking a lot about my summer hometown Benicassim lately. In part because it’s summertime, and the best summers of my life were spent amongst friends and family in that beautiful beach town. It’s also been on my mind because I’m taking my family there in August for the first time in six years!
My parents purchased a beach apartment 5 years or so before I was born, in the then-quiet beach town, situated an hour north of Valencia and fifteen minutes away from my «school year» hometown, Vila Real. I spent every summer of my childhood in this charming town and on it’s picturesque beaches. I carry those memories close and it will always be my home in my heart.
What I remember most is the freedom of roaming around freely and playing creative games with dozens of children, and playing and swimming at the pool and beach. At night we would walk the car-free seaside boulevard while eating ice cream. I often played futsal for whole afternoons non-stop (often forgetting to go back home for dinner). Some days we would walk into the tight stone streets of the old quarter with it’s quintessential European town vibe, lined with interesting shops and little plazas, stopping in at one or two of the many taverns in town to eat tapas. It’s unbelievable how many bars and restaurants there are per capita in every single town in Spain, and somehow they all thrive. It’s because they are more than just a place to eat and drink, rather they are hubs to gather in community.
Spanish culture is known for being a very friendly, community-oriented and outgoing culture. That is what I miss most about my home country. You can go out anytime (except for siesta time) and you will see people just hanging out in the streets, plazas, and patios. People sit in chairs and play cards in front of their own houses in the middle of the city. You hear laughter and loud voices wherever you go. If you ask someone for a recommendation of a place to eat because you’re so hungry, many would invite you to eat with them!
Would you drop everything and visit Benicassim?
I can’t wait!
A few more facts about Benicassim:
- It’s located on the Orange Blossom Coast in the province of Castellon, Spain, and it’s named after the huge amount of orange orchards in the province.
- This part of the Mediterranean sea shines a bright azure blue and it is usually as calm as a lake, which makes it a safe environment for families to swim together.
- There are five wide, blue-flag beaches (highest-rated beaches in Europe), each with their own charm, and they rarely get overcrowded. Each beach has a beautiful color contrast, with lush greenery from the trees in the backdrop, that highlights the light, fine sand and the striking blue of the sea
- There are about a dozen period villas on the backdrop of Voramar Beach. They are dated from the late 19th and early 20th century, and many of them are architecturally glorious.
- The Desierto de las Palmas (Desert of the Palms) is a protected natural park close to Benicassim.The views from there down over the surrounding countryside and the sea are truly spectacular, and on a clear day you can see the Columbretes Islands.
- The Columbretes Island are Spain’s best example of a volcanic formation and the Valencian Community’s most unique archipelago. The picturesque islands are about an hour away from the mainland and I used to go fishing with my father all the time.
- The old railway line that ran between Barcelona and Valencia, goes along by the sea and is a wonderful walk or cycle route, now called Via Verde. The route is entirely flat, with beautiful views, the old watch-towers, coves, and cliffs which cut the coastal view towards the Cape of Oropesa.
- It would be rude not to mention the famous FIB (Festival International Benicassim) and Rototom Sunsplash, two of the most well-known musical festivals in Europe that take place every Summer in Benicassim. Live music and partying on the beach, which is all great fun if you are young enough to enjoy a party that goes on for days.