With reluctance we left La Mora. We could happily have stayed for weeks but if we did that we'd not be able to finish our trip here.
The delta of the Rio Ebre is formed by silt brought down by the river forming a large wetland expanse that sticks out 20 km into the Med. We drove through soggy farmland that was the natural habitat of rice. Everywhere were rice paddies with a multitude of irrigation canals bringing the water to the fields. Right at the eastern end are water-bird reserves. Boardwalks have been built through the frontal dunes and into wetland areas. Substantial hides at the end of the walks allow you to watch the prolific bird life most of which is migratory and settles in the delta for the winter.
But it was blowing a gale and sitting on the beach was an invitation to be sand-blasted so we headed back towards the main roads and moseyed on to Peñíscola.
One thing before we move on. I have made sure to spell this place correctly with its accents... The little accent over the 'i' is important; it means that the emphasis is on this syllable, and not on the 'pen' and the 'co'...
Peñíscola is a beach resort, by which I mean it has a long, almost 5km long, stretch of beach backed by a lot of hotels and high rise apartments on its esplanade. However, out on the headland on a rocky promontory is the original town with high, thick walls encircling a castle and whitewashed houses. We strolled down to explore.
The castle was built by the Knights Templar and is a fairly austere building reflecting the style of living the Knights adhered to. The pretty houses all white but with bright blue doors and windows often housed colourful souvenir shops but on close inspection they were of the toothpicks-in-a-torro variety, so only interesting if you are a big fan of kitch (especially with the name Peñíscola written on it). A surprising find was a Raptor sanctuary with large eagles, falcons and the like as well as some beautiful owls tethered to semi-circular hoops in the ground. The birds seemed somewhat agitated most of the time - hardly surprising as they only had about 50 cm of room to move with the rope around their legs.
A crowded campsite this time and not nearly the pleasant surroundings of La Mora, but we move on tomorrow so no matter.