Benidorm Day 3 – Albir and Altea

Benidorm – Thursday. So, it’s an earlier start. We’re intent on checking out the advice gained yesterday off Colin from Bolton. The bus he’d suggested passes the hotel and the actual stop is very nearly opposite so a quick breakfast later and we’re waiting for the number 10 to Altea.

It’s very full but people move to accommodate and after forty minutes rocking and rolling in the aisle we alight three or four kilometres short in Albir.

It’s a blue sky day and by that I mean that there are no clouds, just blue sky and so rich in colour that there is no obvious delimiter between sea and sky. It’s about the same strength as an English sun in the summer, just divine.

We find the cafe that we used last year when we walked the loop from Albir over the Serra Gelada on a glorious day like today but a little warmer. My ramblings from that walk are here:

We have a bit of a discussion about where we are and come to a conclusion that we’re about three kilometres from Altea but we’re happy with that, it gives the opportunity of a walk along the prom and inspect a few boats that we can’t afford in the marina but we’re happy to look.

There’s every size of craft imaginable from small ‘ribs’ with engines the size of a large fridge strapped and locked to their bulkhead to forty-foot cruisers with twin water-cooled Volvo diesels supplemented by a tiny outboard sitting on the stern and not looking like it had ever been started let alone used. I’ve visited many marinas and, as usual, I have yet to see any of these wonderful possessions move. To paraphrase our friend Anne who said there are two major events in the life of a boat owner, the excitement of the purchase and the relief of the sale!

We need to find a way out of the marina and take a shortcut through a chandler’s shop. This is a treasure trove to the Pilgrim. There are belays, cleats (yes I spelt that right), ropes of all sizes, thingies for cleaning decks and associated cleaning fluids and tablets but then her eyes fall on a set of Stanley knives, three for €2.20; well they’re a bargain and she purchases without hesitation.

We make our way back out into the sunshine complete with purchase and begin the process of auditioning a place for coffee and light lunch. This process has a single criterion, it needs to be busy. The next two hundred metres or so are along a promenade that’s been laid with highly polished stones of different colours that are very ornate but look like they could be lethal when wet. The sea is flat calm and as blue as I’ve ever seen in it on our right and to our left is a small grassy area with exotic palms and occasional Bougainvillea draping themselves off any structures that will support them.

The Pilgrim is impossible to walk behind; anything on which there is writing, will be read especially if it is pinned to a notice board. It could be a Greek telephone directory or even Egyptian hieroglyphics, if it’s being presented on a wall or a notice board, she’ll slow down or even stop to read it so the trick is to walk adjacent or in front. Today it works to huge advantage. As we make our way along the front there are occasional maps and she spots one. It’s a walk. Apparently, there are five official walks around this lovely town and this is one of them.

There are random stops as we admire a sculpture, or sometimes not, we pass numerous uninhabited cafes when the Pilgrim notices a busy one; however, all the tables are taken, bugger; these are the highs and lows of cafe choice…but wait, I notice a couple leaving their table that’s in full sun, the latter is a sub-criterion for the Pilgrim, and it’s got some limited shade for me…result!

We spend a very relaxing hour people watching, drinking coffee and eating a sandwich although there is an agonising period when the Pilgrim deals with the culinary conflict of choice between mussles and sardines, the sardines win but they’re a bit scaly although very tasty; oh, and we discuss the walk.

It’s nearly two and the walk is about two hours long so we need to make our way to the start or in our case, the end, we’re going to walk it in reverse which is a sensible decision considering we’re already at the end point and the start is near where we’re catching the return bus back to Benidorm.

The calle (street) that we’re looking for isn’t obvious but we do eventually find it and begin to follow a mixture of Google maps and the way markers that have been helpfully placed on walls and signs; however, their placement is for the traveller that is following this route in a clockwise (recommended) direction, we’re going anti-clockwise and need to take this into account by looking behind and around us at each junction.

We make good progress initially but then can’t find a badly directed lane to a Roman aqueduct and hermitage. The Pilgrim disappears and the wonderful Dutch gentleman that we’ve picked up along the way plus myself walk along the road looking for her. After five minutes either way I volunteer to look after the bags as he ventures into a local garage with a view to identifying the route and within seconds re-emerges with the Pilgrim in tow. She’d gone into the garage and met the proprietor who it turns out is a man from Rochdale who’s lived here 27 years and never heard of the Roman Aqueduct but did know where the hermitage was and furnished a complete description of where we need to go.

So it’s off to find the aqueduct. As we make our way up the lane towards the combined objectives of hermitage and Roman aqueduct we pass some small heaps of rocks. The church, true to Spanish style is locked and, if I’m honest a little disappointing as it’s only a couple of decades old and almost belies it’s label as a hermitage! We walk around it and meet at the back trying to peer into the frosted windows then walk back to a small group of Dutch people who seemed to be resting from their cycling activities. They’d already indicated where the aqueduct was with a broad sweep of the hand but our attention had been distracted by the ‘hermitage’. John, (pronounced Yon), our fellow walker, is already in conversation with them, they’re naturally speaking Dutch but change to English as we speak. The Dutch, like the Belgians are language chameleons and impress me whenever I’m with them.

The Pilgrim is asking again where the aqueduct is and the indication this time is very specific, it turns out that what is left of the aqueduct is the various small piles of stones and whilst this is initially a disappointment, it still fills me with admiration and sense of heritage as I think that these are the remnants of the design of gifted Romans and the labours of some unlucky locals conscripted or even enslaved to do the building work. Yes, definitely worth the visit.

After a brief photography session we’re off again this time walking through citrus groves with oranges, lemons and grapefruits contrasting yellow against the heavy green of the leaves.  It’s surreal and beautiful as a Brit whilst being common place but equally beautiful to a Spaniard.

There are wire mesh fences separating the lane from the groves often with a small wall and always with a warning of video surveillance. As we reach to top of one of the gentle hills there are some overhanging oranges and we’re tempted as Mike once told us in France that it was acceptable to scavenge but only for personal consumption and not for gain – so, encouraged by the Pilgrim, I pinch one…

She spends a little time removing the peel and getting covered in sticky orange whilst I avoid the fine jets of citrus juice by taking a walking position just behind. Eventually I hear, “That’s it, here…”, and she hands me a couple of segments. We’ve been walking in the sun for a couple of hours now so we’re both on the dry side of thirsty but not dehydrated so I shove the lot in at once.

It’s nice to to feel the juice escape into my mouth then I note that there is only a minor element of sweetness, in fact it’s so minor it’s almost a mystery; then, the bitterness invades my mouth, tongue and nose but, mostly my eyes where any gain I was getting from the liquid of the orange was escaping ten fold from my eyes. I should have been sucking lemons as a training exercise but now it’s too late. I try to remove the offending mass from my mouth surreptitiously but only manage a suppressed cough and a controlled retch before pitching it into the grass at the side of the lane. The Pilgrim, in the meantime, is munching away on a mouthful and absent-mindedly observing that it isn’t quite ripe but very thirst quenching.

The lanes take us inland so the Aitana mountain range is in view as we walk. The atmosphere is so clear that they stand out in 3D set against the blue of the sky. We’re as far inland as this route takes us and begin the descent back down to the coast.

They even have oranges growing out of rubbish bins!

We’re not particularly high but the undulations occasionally raise the heart rate and that’s good. On the way back down we pass the lane to the second hermitage but choose not to go, the expectation being that it will be locked shut anyway.

Back at sea level we had back to the restaurant/ bar that has become our local to top up our fluid levels and wait for the bus.

The transport back is excellent with seats and we can appreciate the countryside.

Enjoy the snaps…G..x



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