9th December 2016. Guadalest, Spain.

We headed off early for Guadalest, we were hoping to get there before it got busy because we were worried about where we would park however we needed to stop for groceries and Darren programmed in a Lidl stop on the way.

Once again our dopey SAT NAV sent us down the wrong road, she’d decided that we could reach an unmade up road THROUGH a hillside, luckily there was a roundabout at the end of the road so we backtracked and found our own way in.  Unfortunately all the parking spaces in Lidls had sunroofs so we had to drive a long way up the road (and up a hill) to find somewhere to park.  It didn’t seem to take long to walk back down to the shop but it seemed much further when we were returning to the van laden down with shopping!

The road to Guadalest was very windy and steep with lots of ups and downs and the warning light came on for the brakes (Mark, your mountain traumas came to mind and added to our nerves.  Mark and Lucy’s adventures are on ‘Where’s Frankie and Stella the SAT NAV’).

When we eventually got to the village the car park attendant pointed back the way we’d just come to the coach park, there was nowhere to turn around there, it was teeming with people and cars so Darren carried on along the road thinking it went round the village.

Unfortunately it took us out of the village and off down the mountain!  Luckily after about a mile we saw a large car park in front of a restaurant so we did an about turn and went back up the hill to the village.

It’s quite amazing how dense people can be, as I just mentioned it was heaving with people and vehicles but some numpty had decided that he should park his car by a junction and by a speed hump which was used as a pedestrian crossing, there were no other cars parked along that narrow road but he was obviously important enough to be the exception to the rule!  Darren then had to squeeze the van past the car on the wrong side of the road while the motorist on the correct side of the road decided that he was going to carry on driving towards us making the gap narrower!  Oh great joy!

Despite all the excitement we eventually got to the coach park where the same parking attendant across the road pointed in the general direction we were heading but there was also a barrier across another road going downhill so I got out to see what was down there.  There was a HUGE outdoor car park with two tiers.  I was just on my way over to the Tourist Information Office to ask if we could park down there but as I walked round the side of the van I discovered that the Tourist Information lady was already talking to Darren.  Apparently we were supposed to pay her 2 Euros and she would move the barrier so we could go down to the car park where we were allowed to stay overnight.

What a wonderful place to have an overnight stay and even better that it only cost 2 Euros.

We headed up the steps into the village.  First things first, we found a coffee shop where we had breakfast, coffee and tostada con tomate (can you become addicted to tomatoes?) to fortify ourselves for the climb up the next set of steps!

The climb up to the old town was worth it.  WOW!  What stunning views!  It was so beautiful that we even paid to go up to the fortress so we could get to see everything.

We spent ages wandering around taking photos and then we had coffee and VERY tasty home made cake in the first little café we came to.

We’d intended going back to the van and continuing exploring the village the next day but I caught sight of Museo Etnologico Casa tipica del siglo XVIII, a house from the 18th century open to the public.  It was extremely interesting, even if the exhibition hadn’t been interesting the layout of the building was, it was built into the rock face.  I loved the film shows which must have been made in the 1950’s and were in black and white and showed the farming of corn and how they made olive oil, the fact they were so old made it very special.

When we left the house we were positive we were going back to the van however we passed a museum of miniature art and decided to see how much it cost to go in.  The lady in the ticket booth chatted on to us for ages telling us all about the museum and that if we bought a ticket for this and the other micro/gigantic museum downstairs it was cheaper, I wanted to say we didn’t speak Spanish but I couldn’t get a word in.  When she’d finished we were completely dumbfounded with bemused looks on our faces, Darren turned to me and said “I think she said it’s 4 Euros to go in one museum and 6 to go in two” and the lady started laughing and said “Oh, you’re English!”  she then went through the whole thing again but in English this time!  We bought tickets to both and I’m glad we did, the art work could only be seen through a magnifying lens and we actually walked past two of them thinking they were just empty pieces of cardboard.  We only discovered they weren’t when we checked them out later, just in case.  The ticket booth lady was enjoying seeing the incredulous looks on everyone’s faces.

We couldn’t believe that the next museum could compete with that but it did.  The work was done by the same artist and he’d also made two pieces of HUGE art work.  The lady in this ticket office took us through to the room where we saw an enormous conch shell on its end with a staircase running up it into a room above.  She explained that there were tiny pieces in cases all round the walls and that the artist had also made the tree of life that we could see in the middle of the room.  It was very ornate.  She took us over to the wall and pointed up to the mezzanine level, our jaws dropped in astonishment when we looked up.  The ‘tree’ went up through the floor and the canopy of the tree covered the ceiling.  It had taken the artist years to complete it and when we climbed up the stairs in the ‘shell’ we were greeted by the sight of all the branches reflected in the big mirrors on the floor, superb!

What made the visits to all of the museums particularly special was that each of the women we spoke to were such happy and friendly people and they obviously thoroughly enjoyed their jobs and enjoyed seeing the pleasure on visitors faces after they’d visited their museum.  A few years ago we went to the Harry Potter studio and one of the ladies there said the same thing, it made her very happy to see the look of amazement of everyone’s faces.  I think that’s so lovely.

When we’d finished looking round the museum we wearily but cheerfully made our way back to the van where we watched the sun go down over the mountains and then crashed out for the evening.



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