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With the choo choo to Moraira

Posted by inka on Sep 5, 2014 in art, Day trips, food, Spain, Travel tips

This was the last of my daytrips to nearby destinations before I leave for Greece and Turkey in October. As on previous occasion, my travel friend Tere came with me to go to Moraira, to see my webmaster and get my laptop sorted out as well as visiting his new Café and the town which everybody said is quite nice.
As we both don´t have a car, we made our way by public transport which in Spain is a mixed pleasure. Not because there aren´t trains and buses but because it´s difficult to get information. The internet is next to useless so one has to rely on the people in the info kiosk at the stations. More often than not, I get the distinct feeling that they hate people in general and their job in particular because they are as obtuse as they can possibly be.
I knew that we had to take the bus from Torrevieja to Alicante and from there a ´tramvia´which could also be called a light railway first to Benidorm and then to Teulada which is the stop closest to Moraira. But we both had no idea where the tramvia started from. I showed the guy in information the plan of the tramvia and asked where we should go to catch it. He looked up and asked `what´s that?` Well obviously, the tramvia, no? Finally he could be bothered to utter: Luceros which is the stop where the little train starts. Great, but where is it??? Opposite RENFE`. After that, I gave up. We knew where RENFE is and five queries of passers by and two wrong turns later, we finally found the Luceros station.
The lady at the ticket counter was all sweetness and sunshine! She explained where we had to change train, how long we had between the two and recommended we buy a return ticket because it is cheaper. Which just goes to show that being friendly and helpful is possible.
The little train isn´t really a choo choo because it is electrified, but it chugs happily along the coastline with many, many stops, allowing us a glimpse at all the destinations between, among them Altea and Calpe. The final destination by the way is Denia.

The rugged mountains near Calpe

The rugged mountains near Calpe

A pleasant surprise was El Campello with the best, longest and widest beach I have seen so far on the entire Costa Blanca. Torrevieja´s famous La Mata looks poor by comparison.
Charles collected us from the station and we stopped for a drink at Tiffanys, his café. He told us that the majority of the tourists are British and German. Not surprisingly, right next door to him is a German restaurant offering Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. So, they all are well catered for.

tiffanys

The very colorful interior of Tiffanys

The very colorful interior of Tiffanys

Whilst he dealt with my computer, we went into Moraira proper to see what it has to offer. In two words: not much. A very mediocre beach with rocks, the usual promenade with shops and restaurants and the highlight: a nice little castle directly on the beach.

The rocky beach

The rocky beach

More rocks

More rocks

castle

The picture everyone who visits takes!!

The picture everyone who visits takes!!

Moraira´s claim to fame seems to come from the fact that US writer Chester B. Himes spent his last years here before he died in 1984. If you want to know about his very checkered career, look him up in Wikipedia. His picture and handprint grace the promenade next to the castle.

writer
In less than 30 minutes Tere and I had had enough. Back we went for a meal in Tiffanys and the on the long, long journey home. In fact, the train trip was the best part of this day out not to forget of course, that I now have a computer which, again, works as it should.

 

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Culture hotch potch Mazarron

Posted by inka on Sep 4, 2014 in art, Day trips, Spain, Travel tips

Every little excursion which comes my way until it is time to leave for the Greek island of Patmos at the beginning of October is welcome. My new found friend Teresa who is a world traveler and spends her summers in Torrevieja knows more about organized trips and so she came up with the suggestion of a day escapade to Mazarron, organized by a local old age pensioner organization she somehow is connected to.
Mazarron is a town and port near Murcia, so the bus trip there from Torrevieja took a few hours. Breakfast and lunch were included in the trip, so after a rather lengthy café con leche and tostada we had two hours to explore the town itself. After that it was lunch and then we would be taken to the port of Mazarron, some 7 km away.
Off we went, my friend and I,  and to our surprise we found some very nice things which however, seemed anything but Spanish. The first was a baroque church with the bell over the entrance which reminded us of churches in South America. You don´t see this style very much in Spain. Inside, the church, in true baroque style, gold, statues and ecorations abounded. A miracle performed by the Virgin Mary is supposed to have taken place here, but nobody was able to tell us what the miracle was.

church

altar

mary

placa

ornament

Never mind, plenty of pictures later, we left the church and went to the main square and the Town Hall. Another pretty, pink building but what was even more interesting was an art exhibition which we found inside. We missed the artist, Lola Arcas by five minutes, it would have been interesting to chat with her. She makes stunning sculptures from wood, bronze and clay and has won quite a few awards. As you can see from the pictures, her motives aren´t exactly Spanish either!

Town Hall

Town Hall

Council chamber

Council chamber

Bronze sculpture by Lola Arcas

Bronze sculpture by Lola Arcas

From Egypt to Japan, Lola is a versatile artist

From Egypt to Japan, Lola is a versatile artist

Of course, as we were the only ones to visit, we went where we weren´t supposed to and entered the council chamber as well as sat on the mayor´s chair. Kid will be kids, never mind their age.
After lunch, which, as is usual in Spain, took quite some time, we finally hit the port. Honestly, not much to tell you about, but as it was the unfortunate hours between 3 and 5 pm even the boat trips we would have liked to take didn´t run until 5.30 but our return journey was schedules for 6pm. In other word, we had another two hours to kill in the sweltering heat with nowhere to go and nothing to do.
But, as luck would have it, as we went in search of a café in the shade to while the hours away, we happened upon a Moroccan café, with all four sides open and a huge selection of teas and sweets. Lounging on the comfy sofas, attended by a lovely waiter we tried three different teas and exchanged travel stories about India, Argentina and Turkey. The plan was born to spend Christmas in Morocco, so all I can say is, never have I spent two idle hours more enjoyable.

Serving mint tea moroccan style

Serving mint tea moroccan style

We could have stayed much longer

We could have stayed much longer

 

 

 

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Artistic Altea

Posted by inka on Aug 25, 2014 in art, Day trips, Festivals, Spain, Travel tips

On top of a hill before the background of the massive Sierra Bernie mountains, sits a small jewel: the town of Altea. Easily recognizable is the famous 17th century church of Our Lady of Solace with its distinctive dome covered in blue and white tiles and a smaller cupola next to it. From the square in front of the church, many narrow cobble stones streets and alleys lead down to the only commercial road, King Jaime and the port which once provided the livelihood of the inhabitants of Altea.

Domes and belltower of the church

Domes and belltower of the church

Interior of the church

Interior of the church

Not any more, today it´s tourists and their trade they make a living from. Whitewashed houses line the streets and alleys, many connected by stairs. No surprise then that the entire old quarter is a pedestrian area. Every so often you find nooks and crannies where you can lean over wrought iron banisters and enjoy the view over the port, and the Mediterranean as far as the rock of Calpe.

stairs

A view to wards the rock of Calpe

A view to wards the rock of Calpe

What I liked best though is that the entire area around the church is practically an open air museum or rather gallery. Many artists have been drawn to the picturesque scene of Altea and either settled there or opened a workshop or studio. They exhibit their works by hanging them from every other balcony to be admired in the sunshine.

painting

street
One particular craft shop caught my attention because of the decorated umbrellas. I guess they are more parasols as they don’t look water resistant but they are certainly very decorative. Two more workshops make candles of very shape and size.

umbrella

witch

My hair matches that of the witch above!!!

My hair matches that of the witch above!!!

On a Sunday, the day I visited, it was very quiet which allowed an undisturbed stroll through the streets and a rest in one of the many, many cafes and restaurants. At night and during the festival in late August it gets livelier though, with a fiesta, music and dancing in the church square.
Altea is a really pretty destination for a day trip from either Benidorm or further afield.

 

 

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Parque de Naciones Torrevieja

Posted by inka on Aug 22, 2014 in Animals, Day trips, photo blog, Spain, Travel tips

Beaches in Torrevieja are so crowded in the months of July and August that it´s no fun to go there. An alternative is a park and the biggest and most interesting is Parque de Naciones. Nearly 40.000 m2 of landscaped gardens, a lake in the shape of Europe, zones for kids, ducks, hens, and peacocks roam wild. It´s especially enjoyable in the late afternoon.
See for yourselves:

shape

fountain

turtle

park

shop

hair

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Summer extremes in Torrevieja

Posted by inka on Aug 20, 2014 in Spain, Travel tips

This is the first summer I am spending in my new home town on Spain´s Costa Blanca. I moved in in January, so I got the end of winter, spring which very quickly turned into summer this year and now the height of the summer season.
Torrevieja is a popular tourist resort, for Spaniards as well as for foreigners and it was to be expected that it gets quite crowded. What surprises me though is how the crowds distribute themselves.
Torrevieja has what is called Marina Salina, a marina where the private boats are moored, bordered with several upmarket restaurants abd cafes. Lovely, quite luxurious with Morocco style daybeds and even a pool or two. And…. As I had occasion to observe, totally devoid of people, at least during the day. At night it is probably a different picture.

CIMG1377

marina

Not a soul in sight

Not a soul in sight

beds
I wonder..all these boats must belong to someone. Where are the owners? Why are they not on their boats. Are they maybe on St. Tropez or Sardinia taking out their ´real´boats? The vessels, small and big are just sitting there with nobody on them and you don´t see many on the sea either.
On the other hand, there are quite a few beaches, but their capacity is limited. But it seems, that people have a need to be in a crowd. You can´t drop a handkerchief, leave alone a blanket or a lounger and walking on the beach is next to impossible there are so many people.

The other extreme

The other extreme

people
Why do some of them not take advantage of the marina and enjoy a day out in some luxury, comfort and space ?
I guess it won´t come as a surprise that I won´t set foot on the beach until October. The best thing about Torrevieja is the warm climate year around. Otherwise, I have to admit to myself that I have made a mistake. Never mind, I´ll maybe stick it out for another year, then sell up and move on. The world is big!!!!

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