3rd of February was my birthday so we got up early and went on the train to Altea which is 5 stops past Benidorm. We changed trains to the diesel train which does the climbs past Benidorm and sat chatting to a lovely English couple who sat opposite us and we learnt that they were stopping in Benidorm for a month. Elaine began to explain that we had been out since the 1st of September and about us travelling around in our old motor home. On being asked where we were from in England Elaine just started to explain that we had moved from Poole to Fordinbridge and then onto Amesbury so we could let the house. Suddenly the woman sitting just across the carriage from us piped up how she had looked at Elaine when her and her husband had got on the train and thought she knew Elaine but couldn’t believe that such a coincidence could happen so she hadn’t said anything. However on hearing Elaine mentioning Poole then that is why she joined in with our conversation. It turned out her and Elaine had worked together at Parkstone Health Centre for quite some time so the rest of the journey was taken up with the two of them chatting away about the NHS and who each had kept in touch with. They also were heading to Altea so the conversation continued on the station platform but they went off on their way towards the port and we started to walk towards the reason we had come to Altea. What a small world it is and how could you calculate the odds on them meeting like that, getting on the same train, in the same carriage, sitting directly beside each other.
The centre part of Altea is a beautiful town built on a hill and every house is painted white and the only different coloured building is the church at the very top. We have driven past quite a few white towns on our travels through Spain and they always look very impressive and Altea is no exception. As we left the station we walked along a very busy , through traffic road and then turned left and started to climb through much narrower roads bordered by perfectly painted white houses. We followed people into a long street market with stalls either side of the road. Mostly the stalls were laden with fruit and veg. and that sounds very ordinary unless you have seen a Spanish fruit market. Here you could buy juicey oranges, 5 kilos for 2 euros and the spring onions which are bigger than golf balls. All the fruit looks so good and most of it is home grown. Every time we see a fruit we do not recognise then we buy one to try and my favourite at the moment is the apple and custard fruit. It looks like a large prickly pear but when you bite into it it tastes just like you were eating a bowl of apples and custard. Why haven’t I ever seen a Cherimoya fruit for sale in England. It is the size of a large orange and it is a cross between a Sharon fruit and a nectarine and the taste is exquisit.
We left the market and climbed up narrow streets to the very top, to the very large square dominated by the church. This part of Altea has not been spoilt by commercialism and only a few of the beautiful houses had been turned into shops selling jewelry and momentos. In a booth tucked up in a corner at the top of the hill was a box which contained a defribrillator, perhaps it gets good use following the climb! After a coffee we headed back down. We both agreed that living here would make you very fit with the steep climbs through the narrow streets.
We quickly rushed through the parades of shops and Elaine even passed three shoe shops wjithout even a sideways glance. My birthday, so I decided on a fish and chip dinner in a nice restaurant overlooking the sea and as the picture shows, a nice glass of wine each.
Whilst we waited for our food we started chatting with an English couple sitting at the table opposite. They told us they were on a months holiday at an all inclusive hotel in Benidorm and they showed us their hospital type wrist bands to prove what they were saying. Elaine started on her well versed speach about our gap year. Before I continue I have to explain about ” When we’s”. These are people that we have all met lots of times in our lives who spend their whole life trying to impress people by telling them over emphasised descriptions of places when we went there etc. Anyway, suddenly Elaine was immediately out ” when we’d “. The quite ordinary looking woman proceeded to give us a list of countries, her and her husband had visited, from Russia to Japan and every place was done first class at the personal invite of some potentate or another. Bearing in mind they were holidaying in Benidorm and that they had ordered beefburgers and chips, we chatted quite amiably with them until our food arrived. On arrival back at camp we met with Sybil, Neil, Roy and Susan at the bar for a birthday drink or two.
We decided today that a good walk was the thing to do so we left early ( about 11 o/c ) and started to walk towards Alicante. We walked all aong the front of St Juan and after a couple of hours stopped at a Tapas bar and had a very nice meal. We then walked around the headland, passed the lighthouse there and then got onto the most amazing rocky walk towards Alicante. I never met Elaine’s perents but had they been mountain goats then I now wouldn’t be surprised. Elaine is 67 years old! By this time we had already been going for quite a few hours and now we were climbing up and down rocks towards our goal. Around bays, up and down craggy rocks and if this had been in England then this “walkway” would have been condemmed years ago. Anyway now we could see Alicante in the distance but it never seemed to get any nearer. Conservatively speaking we had walked 12 miles at least before we got to the train station to get us home and then we still had to walk home from there. Another great day.
Thanks to Google maps, I have put this image to show our mammouth hike we did yesterday. The little blue dot is where our campsite is and in the station, for our return journey is in the middle of Alicante. By road it is 17 Km between the two (about 10.2 miles ) However, we got to the coast and followed that all the way round the headland and around all the bays. It is hard to work out precisely the length we walked but I estimate it to be at least 15 miles. Bearing in mind that a good part of that was done scrambling up and down rocks then I think I can declare Elaine as a pretty fit lady.
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