The sandy beaches of famous Costa Blanca - White coast in the Alicante province are marvelous, adorned with rocky mountains between its huge and wide sections.
Valencia is with approximately 800,000 inhabitants the third biggest city of Spain. We wanted to visit its old town but we could not find a parking place for our two campers - Marion's sister Jutta and her husband Hermann were with us. Fortunately we had visited the old town with our little daughter in the year 1986. Fortunately we found space for our cars on its southern end close to its modern impressive quarter Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of art and science).
The weather became better when we came to the smaller town Tavernes de la Valldigna (50 km south of Valencia) and we were eager to climb Via Ferrata Pas de Cabres which was a six hours trip for us.
We spent three days on the wonderful parking place in the little town Simat de la Valldigna which is in the mountains just 10 km away from the coast. Nearby is the beautiful Monastery of Santa Maria de la Valligna founded in the year 1297. A day trip per bicycle and the last part on foot are the stunning ruins of the castle Castillo de Marinyen (also from the 13th century) which is located in pristine mountains more than 200 meters high.
In Catalonia and the area of Valencia the Spanish language is somehow out-of-favor. Valencian is a dialect of Catalan which seems to be a mixture between Spanish and French for us. Most of the signs in Catalonia as well as in Valencia are in Catalan / Valencian and often in English, too. In addition local people talking mainly in Catalan and Valencian.
We continued in the mountains to the busy camper site of the little village Bellus (close to the town Xativa), where we got electricity. With our bicycles we explored the gorge of river Albaida with its prehistoric caves Cova Negra and Cova de la Petxina. From the latter one we hiked to the summits of 344 meters high Alt del Palmeral and 429 meters high Penya Blanca where we could see the huge city of Valencia in the far north (approximately 60 km away).
Denia with its impressive castle is the ferry town to the Balearic Islands and the northernmost point of Costa Blanca. The weather became very windy when we came to the wonderful parking place close to he lighthouse of Cabo de San Antonio where the coastline is falling more or less vertically 150 meters into the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the rain we hiked from Moraira to the ancient tower Torre de Cap d'Or. On the way back to our camper the sunset was outstanding nice, see first picture of this article.
Achieving the summit of Penyal d'Ifac is interesting: It starts hiking through skyscraper gorges in the very touristic city of Calp to the gate of the natural park Penyal d'Ifac where you have to register your entry in the ranger station (free of charge). A 50 meters long tunnel follows after several zigzags. The last part to the top requires some easy scrambling on slippery rocks, some parts with the help of iron chains.
We spent a fully day exploring the beautiful town Altea with its labyrinthine alleys, whitewashed house-fronts and a lot of art on its streets. Via Ferrata Albir Sierra Helada is a short but vertical climb on foot of 435 meters high mountain Alt Del Governador, directly on the shoreline of the village L'Alfas del Pi. On the way down from the summit we wanted to hike directly to the street to the lighthouse Far de l'Albir but all paths ended in dense vegetation. Literally we had to fight with the bushes, sometimes thorny to return to the good path where we had ascended. A little bit scary was the southern view from Alt Del Governador to Benidorm where the negative impact of mass tourism is obvious.
We skipped weird Benidorm and drove directly to exciting Alicante where we spent the last weekend before Christmas. In the late afternoon we watched the final game of the World Soccer Championship 2022 between Argentina and France in nice bar in a suburban of Alicante full of local people which were all supporters of Argentina. Sometimes their noise was hardly bearable for us, especially when Argentina shot a goal. After the game everybody was happily celebrating and many people danced because Argentina had won the championship - an exceptional experience for us.
We enjoyed another stunning experience in Torrevieja, a little town on the southern end of Costa Blanca. When we strolled through its nice center at dawn we saw a lot of people in front of its main church. Pupils were singing Christmas songs - unfortunately the acoustic equipment was in a not so good shape. After one hour suddenly everybody in the crowd turned his head to the church and it became unusual silent. We waited and waited and waited. When we considered to give up the loudspeaker yelled raucously and some magic pictures were screened on the facade of the church. They showed a movie about the history, mythology and legends about Torrevieja with many colorful birds, fishermen, roaring sea and so on - very touching.
South of Costa Blanca is the nice Costa Cálida - warm coast which is less impacted by tourism with one exception: The 15km long and sometimes less than 150m wide spit La Manga between the Mediterranean Sea and the salty lagoon Mar Menor is nearly completely packed with skyscrapers and touristic attractions. We bicycled this spit from Playa Honda to its northern end with the viewpoint Punta de los Guzmanes.
On Christmas Eve we climbed the nice Via ferrata Cabezo la Porpu to the 306 meters high summit with the same name. It is located close to the bigger city Cartagena which has a little bit more than 200,000 inhabitants. Cartagena has two faces - ugly and nice ones. It has one of the biggest ports of Spain with a lot of dirty industries like mining or oil refineries which are visible from the top of Cabezo la Porpu. Its beautiful side is in its center with a lot of Roman history, fancy buildings and impressive art. Many people strolled around in its pedestrian area in the evening of Christmas Eve.
The little village La Azohia is located 20 km west of Cartagena and close to the natural park of Sierra de la Muela. Is has a comfortable camper parking directly in front of rocks with some difficult climbing routes. We were eager to try the easiest of these routes. Also we took our bicycles to the old tower Torre de Santa Elena and hiked to the summit of 332 meters high Cabezo de la Panadera in the awesome and lonely Sierra de la Muela.
Another outstanding bicycling trip to explore pristine beaches and marvelous landscapes was from Puerto Mazzarón to Playa Amarilla where Alfred enjoyed the pleasant warm water of the Mediterranean Sea (still 19°Celsius at late December). Our last stop before we entered Andalusia was the Anibal petrol station west of Aguilas because it provides propane filling service also for German cylinders.