Travellers to Tourists – Alicante and Calpe

So we left our lovely lighthouse at Cabo de Palos with a view to putting a few miles in en route to Valencia. We have a few days to lie low and chill before hitting the City on Friday for the Las Fallas Festival. We are heading for a beachy wild spot at El Pinet. We arrive without issue although we have to turn a blind eye to another 3.5 ton weight limit (can’t see why this would be necessary on a rough road leading to a sandy beach Carpark??). It’s another great spot on the edge of a pine forest meters from the sea. There is an unmade dusty road lined with a few bar restaurants. Once again it has that Wild West feel to it. We get the bikes out and have a mooch. The small town of Elche is close by and is worthy of a view. It is famous for its exotic palm forest, its main industry being dates which are produced by the female palm tree. I didn’t know that!

El Pinet has a long clean white sandy beach, great for the dog, if not a bit uninteresting. The woods behind the sand dunes are great but just watch out for the dreaded caterpillars as I spotted a few nests. There are several wild camp spots tucked away along this stretch of coastline.

From there we head further towards Alicante to Playa de Carbassi, Santa Pola. We drive on the road that cuts through the impressive salt lagoons. There are flocks of pink flamingos everywhere. So beautiful. The road is winding and very steep down through the town. Wish we didn’t have so much fuel and water on board! The fabulous rocky beach sits below the cliff face with the buildings perched on top towering above. It’s an area of outstanding natural beauty. A fabulous place which feels very wild and unspoilt to say it’s so close to a built up holiday resort. We drift on from there and park for the night on the beach opposite Alicante Airport. Mark loves to watch the planes taking off. The sunset is amazing and the sky is on fire. Next morning the sunrise is almost as good.

I always think of Alicante as just a town with an Airport. It’s actually quite a nice place in its own right, you just have to find the old town with its Ramblas, classy bars and restaurants and medieval Fortress, Castillo de Santa Barbara which sits on a rocky hill above the beach. Not to be overlooked if you are passing this way.

Our friends from Faro, Geoff and Chris, were parked alongside us. They said we needed to see some of the touristy resorts just for the hell of it. Benidorm being top of the list! They were going to Calpe. My pals had been there recently for Janine’s big birthday and really enjoyed it so we decided to tag along and be Tourists for a couple of days. The drive there was like a rollercoaster! Unfortunately we got stuck on the Autopista due to two fellow travellers having an awful accident and their van ending up on its side. Thankfully they were shaken but unhurt. Very upset and sorry for them. The mountainous road into Calpe is quite spectacular. I needed gas and air by the time we reached sea level. We passed Altea which is gorgeous. Unfortunately the Aire there is difficult for anything over 8 meters to manoeuvre so would have to be visited by bus or taxi. Mark drove it like a boss! Calpe is a lot more built up than we expected. It’s not a place I would care to be around at the height of holiday season. After spending so long in the wilderness it made us feel quite claustrophobic. How many MacDonalds and Burger Kings does one town need (I won’t lie, I could murder one!!)It was like being in Wacky Races as we drove the big bus through the middle of town. Did you hear me screaming/swearing?! The Motorhome Park we had chosen was up the hill going out of town. Estrella Polar. It was in a nice spot surrounded by trees and luxurious villas, lots of money at this end of town. It was run by a lovely young German couple. They cooked for everyone in the evening if you wanted to join them in the little cozy camp bar. The site was a 5 minute walk from the scenic coastal path and a tiny cove where the dog could take his morning dip. Calpe is built around a huge impressive rock formation rising out of the sea. It has a small harbour with a few working fishing boats and a large number of pretentious leisure craft, yachts and speedboats. Ignoring the towering high rise hotel blocks and cheesy tourist shops and stalls, the beachy bit had a fairly nice feel to it. We had a posh lunch today and then wandered up for chocolate and churros overlooking the boats.

The next day we explored the little coves and then went to an ‘all you could eat’ Japanese Buffet. Mark tried his best to bankrupt them. There is a really good Nepalese Restaurant outside the campsite too. That will be sampled at a later date but comes highly recommended by our Indian pal, Naim.

Altea should be visited. It’s a short bus or taxi ride away from Calpe. Personally I would have much preferred to stay there but it’s not suitable for our vehicle. Perfectly ok for smaller Motorhomes though and there is an Aire.

We had a bit of a sleepless last night there as we had parked under a tree and the wind unexpectedly whipped up around midnight. The branches were creaking and brushing against the roof of the van, so much so that himself saw fit to stick his head out of the roof light and do a bit of designer topiary with his hacksaw. Funny that. We left Calpe next morning to put a few more miles on the clock. The plan was to stay at Javea and take a bus trip over Mount Montgo to Denia rather than risk the steep hilly drive. Denia is a port with a fantastic marina and castle.

We had been to Javea before and stayed in a Villa with family. We loved it. I have very fond memories of drinking Mojito at Mint Bar with my girls many moons ago. I still have that dress!

Moraira is also a pretty upmarket resort and should be seen if you are in the area.

Unfortunately though both campsites at Javea were almost full and they were reluctant to take bookings. We didn’t want to risk it so we bypassed Javea and went to Gandia a bit further along the coast. I must say I did regret that decision as whilst there was nothing wrong with Gandia, it didn’t have the same appeal. Still, we only had one day as we were booked into the site in Valencia and needed to be there Friday morning. We stayed at a small Aire at The Dunes in Daimus. The beach was clean but a bit boring, a typical seaside seafront. Gandia town was a short cycle ride away. It’s a commercial little town but has a nice historic centre with an impressive church and palace. They were getting the town ready for festival weekend. The figurines were huge, Disney themed, affairs! Kids were throwing fireworks about all over the place, my ears were ringing! The best part for my was cycling through the miles and miles of orange groves. The trees are at various stages here. Some are heavy with fruit whilst others are full of blossom. The fragrance of orange blossom will stay with me forever, it’s fabulous. We even picked our own grapefruit for breakfast. Sweet and juicy!

we got the van mucked out, did two weeks worth of laundry then hit the hay ready for tomorrow’s journey to the City. We were both awake at the crack of dawn, very excited at the prospect of seeing Valencia. We showered and smartened up. I even straightened my hair, haven’t used that appliance since Christmas, I’d forgotten how tedious it was! And so once again, we are on the good old AP7 through the mountains and on. Hope my mates back home are enjoying Cheltenham, how I’ve missed the Festival this year. I shall be having a little flutter on the Gold Cup if I can remember the password on my Paddy Power account!

TTFN you lovely people. Happy POETS day and be lucky if you are off racing.


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