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exploring Spain's east coast from valencia to nerja

Greetings travel gurus! My husband and I - we're mid-50's - are considering a one or two week driving holiday on Spain's east coast in October 2014, and would really appreciate your thoughts and recommendations. We'd likely start with a few days in Valencia (not in RS books, but looks good in unrelated videos) and end up in Nerja (where we might tack on another week at the end of the driving holiday). We spent a wonderful 10 days in Andalusia in early October 2012 in Nerja (fabulous), Granada (ah, the Alhambra, the vino and the tapas), Cordoba (which we felt was overrated, aside from the Mezquita), Rhonda (stunning scenery, beautiful town, lovely walking, tremendous jamon). We are fairly independent and prefer low-key, unpretentious travel. We'd like to explore and get a feel for Spain off-the-beaten-track, avoid cookie-cutter-condo-resorts, but still find nice beaches, romantic ruins and vistas, and hopefully stay in some nice small establishments. What do you think? (Oh, for context, we'll be stopping in Edinburgh and vicinity for a week on our way from Vancouver to Spain, so we thought to fly Edinburgh to Valencia, and back to Vancouver from Malaga or perhaps Seville - booking an open-jaw multi-destination routing.) Thank you everyone, in advance, for your help.

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The Spanish beaches I consider most off the beaten path aren't near the Costa del Sol. I'd opt for the Costa de la Luz (essentially between Tarifa and the Portuquese border). There are miles and miles of uncrowded beaches there. Places to visit in the area include Gibraltar, Cadiz (somewhat disappointing for us but my FIL's favorite place), Jerez (great Bodegas, overall a pleasant surprise), and Sevilla. There is the small, but very nice, Baelo Claudia Roman ruin right on the beach about 20 km from Tarifa. If you can, traveling in April allows you to see Semana Santa (Easter week) celebrations and/or the April Fair in Seville. For us these were some of the best cultural experiences anywhere. If you go a little earlier, you can also see the Las Fallas festival in Valencia in March.