15th December 2016. Altea, Spain.

Well we had an exciting start to the day.  Darren noticed a load of people congregating by the fence with their cameras, looking and pointing at something.  He kept trying to get me to go over to see what they were looking at and eventually the thought of missing an interesting photo opportunity was too much for me so I went over to have a look.  One of the men showed me what they were looking at, a HUGE fat caterpillar.  He said his wife had found it under the van and had thought it was a piece of hose pipe so had picked it up, realised it was squirming in her hand, screamed and thrown it to him, he’d then rushed over to the fence and thrown it over into the undergrowth.  It was very interesting to look at but I couldn’t bear the thought of holding it, especially when I saw the little black arms/legs by its mouth (?) YUK!  It was wriggling around in the bush, possibly trying to find somewhere more sheltered to hide.  I did manage to get some good photos of him though and eventually Darren appeared having been unable to contain his nosiness any longer.

After that excitement we cycled along the sea front towards the Old Town of Altea, unfortunately we didn’t take into consideration that it was at the top of a hill so coming without the bikes would have been preferable.

As the only road we could see looked deadly with cars racing past us we decided to go up via the back streets.  This began with a long flight of steps and continued in much the same way all the way to the top, every so often we’d be lulled into a false sense of security when we came to a narrow street but each time they would be pointing from right to left, no good to us, for us (sing along now) ‘The only way is up…. baby!’ which meant carrying the bikes up yet another flight of steps!  Trying to look on the bright side it was very good all round exercise AND we got to see some beautiful little streets (while we were catching our breath).

As we were climbing the 5th set of steps I looked up to to street above and noticed an elderly lady looking over the railings at us so I called out “Hola”, she then started chatting away to us as we walked up the steps and I was trying desperately to remember of how to say “we’re sorry we don’t speak Spanish”, how come when I’m using Duolingo I can remember but in a social situation my brain siezes up and I can’t even remember how to explain predicament in English.  I think she was asking us whether we were looking for the church so she could give us directions, which was kind, eventually she realised we had no idea of what she was saying so we all said “Adios” and carried on along the the street.

We pushed the bikes through an archway and up a cobbled street which ended in even more steps and brought us out onto a cobbled area, Plaça de l’Església, in front of a huge church, Parròquia de Nostra Senyora del Consol.  We wandered around the square which was dominated by the church with its decorative blue tiled domed tower, then we went looking for food which we found in the ice cream shop.

Unfortunately for Darren they’d stopped selling ice cream for the winter (I did say to him no other ‘nellie’ would be wanting ice cream at this time of year when 2 seconds later a man walked in in the hopes of buying an ice cream, so I was apparently wrong!)  As well as being an ice cream shop it was also a posh bakery and they had some beautifully constructed open sandwiches and tartlets and very fancy cakes.  I was very pleased with myself and completely in Spanish I asked the lady behind the counter whether she had anything without meat or fish, well to be more precise I said I don’t eat meat or fish.  The lady said she could take the two strips of tuna off the top of the veggie tart for me (we had to resort to pigeon English and Spanish with a bit of miming during this part of the conversation).

The food she gave us was gorgeous and the coffee came with two homemade biscuits, yummy.  She brought her little grandson into the shop while we were there and I was able ask her how old he was, well nearly, I could say el niños and mime the word little and numbers.  She told me he was 10 months old, he was very cute and smiley.  She got him to wave and was trying to teach him to say “hello”.   She was such a nice, friendly person.  She held her little grandson up to the window so he could carry on waving as we walked past.

As we were cycling down the hill we pulled over to one side to let a police car go past, we passed them a few minutes later taking photos of a bar, I wonder what was going on in there.

The Old Town in Altea was very pretty and there were lovely views over the town and out to sea.

We managed to find another road going down towards the sea but again that had cars hurtling up and down it so we went back into the old town where (after carrying the bikes down yet more steps) we spotted some cars and followed the little road out of the town.

From there we were able to cycle back along the (flat) sea front to the van where we holed up for the evening.


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