Week 12 of the Grand European Tour
Week 12 – Day 81 – Monday 18th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles
I was swithering (a word the spelling auto correct thought should either be withering or slithering, but I know I was swithering) whether or not to post last weeks blog or make it a double edition next week because of our data problem but I managed to upload it without the videos. That took up most of the morning today and then I decided to wash the other three quarters of the van I didn’t complete last week, interspersed with lunch of an open Mortadela ham sandwich (very continental) and crisps which we enjoy. I tidied up the garage of the van and Louis is now as clean and tidy as its been since we set off back in September, maybe even ever…
In the afternoon we walked along to the reception area to try and connect to their slow but free wi-fi and update our tablets and The Navigator caught up with some of her legion of followers in Mid Argyll by e mail. The problem with hot cloudless days is that it gets very chilly when the sun dips low and casts shadows around 4.30 so we retreat to the van and read or play games until dinner, and by way of a change I was excused my BBQ duties today.
Week 12 – Day 82 – Tuesday 19th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles
Although it had rained on and off during the night we were off on an adventure today, taking the tram into Alicante, a place we know nothing of, apart from the fact it has a busy airport shuttling in tourists to Costa Blanca and beyond.
Alicante did not disappoint. For a start it was bigger than I was expecting and well laid out with a huge big long pedestrian avenue shaded by tall palm trees with some stalls selling mostly tourist tat.
On the right were some very elegant buildings with restaurants on the ground floor and on the left on the other side of a busy dual carriageway is the marina full of impressive yachts and superyachts.
We wandered up the tree lined avenue then crossed over and walked back admiring the yachts and taking a mental note to start the euro lottery again when we return! By this time it was lunchtime and we headed for a back street tapas bar recommended by a British couple on our campsite. They have been spending the winter on this campsite for a number of years and they had 2 tips if we were going into Alicante, first was this tapas bar and second was the castle, and more on the castle in a minute. Now The Navigator is an old hand at picking her tapas mostly selecting ones with prawns, crab meat or fish, where I tend to favour a mainly meat topped selection. This establishment was different, very different. For a start there were no tapas adorning the bar counter, you just told the barman how many you wanted, in our case 4 (to start with anyway) and 2 drinks. The drinks were called Cañas and were small lagers costing only €0.60 and when they are brought to your table, the tapas assortment are served on blocks of wood and are all priced equally at €0.90 each.
The first 4 consisting of a slice of pork, a slice of a bacon like meat, a few calamari and a bit of squid were polished off before we decided to have another 4 and this time the selection was a sausage, a slice of turkey steak, a few chicken nugget type things and a battered cheesy thing. Lovely. A great meal for the princely sum of €9.60.
After lunch we walked along the beach front until we came to the entrance to a huge long tunnel that takes you the lift that takes you up to the castle for €2.70 each. Now the 30 minute tram ride in to Alicante had cost €1.45 each so the castle lift could be considered a tad expensive, given that you can walk up to the castle for free, but I considered the €2.70 an investment as the medical bills for the heart attack that would have ensued if we would have walked up would be considerable. Perched on top of Mount Benacantil, at a height of 166 metres (544 feet), the views are simply stunning. We Scots are rightly proud of our history and ancient castles but I have to confess that Alicante Castle is on a par with the likes of Edinburgh or Stirling for its strategic location and all round vistas. There are no grand apartments or historical artefacts to see, hence there is no entrance charge to the castle, what you are here for is the view. Sadly the sun was mostly behind a large cloud casting Alicante into shadow but other parts of the surroundings were in bright light as you can see in the following pictures. The Navigator is still fascinated by the mountainous backdrop to the coast!
Week 12 – Day 83 – Wednesday 20th of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles
Wednesday is market day in El Campello but we gave it a miss as there was nothing much we needed – no need for Christmas shopping this year which for me is a blessing. We said goodbye to our German neighbours this morning as they are moving further south for, they hope, more heat than here. I have no data until tomorrow so I walked along to reception to take advantage of the free wi-fi there to update the news and e mails. Our neighbour back home, Linda, e mailed The Navigator to say she missed a good night at the ‘Rural Christmas meal’, a regular night out for her in the past few years but she had to make do with yet another BBQ!
In the afternoon we cycled into El Campello to arrange a night out on New Years Eve. A Welsh couple, Alan and Ann we have met said that they were going out to a British owned bar to see in the New Year and we were welcome to join them if we wanted. As we were heading off for a cycle we offered to go into the bar and book a table and so that is how we came to be at Bernies drinking wine, too late however for the regular Wednesday afternoon Quiz, but we listened in anyway, and tough it was too. A table for New Years Eve was duly booked, doors open at 7.30pm, hot and cold buffet all evening and Elvis will be in the building! I have to confess to a blonde moment as the woman who was explaining what was happening said that not only was there a buffet and an Elvis impersonator, but we would also be celebrating New Year twice, Spanish New Year and British New Year to which I asked what the difference was to be informed they were an hour apart!! Hey Ho…
Bernies is fairly close to Lidl so we stopped off there to stock up on the €0.99 wine we like, Vega Del Cega and some bread. Those who know The Navigator know it is a rare occurrence to see her the worse the wear for drink but the state of her trying to slice a loaf in Lidl and then bag it was a sight to behold and that was after just one glass of Bernies red, goodness knows what condition she will be in after a 5 hour session and 2 New Years is anybody’s guess!
Week 12 – Day 84 – Thursday 21st of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles
Nothing of consequence happened in the morning. Its mostly cloudy today with the odd bit of blue sky on view but not enough to make it pleasant to sit out. I edited another 2 videos and with Lourdes now completed I can now start to edit the Spanish towns and cities starting with the beautiful San Sebastian then it will be Tarragona. Regular watchers of the 123 videos will be delighted to know the music will be changing starting with San Sebastian to reflect the guitar based sound of Spain. The music is actually a Brazilian samba but it sounds remotely Spanish (ish)! If you are not aware, you cannot use any copyrite music on a video you are posting on YouTube so I am constrained to a few online sites that offer music you can use as long as you credit them so the choice is limited.
Week 12 – Day 85 – Friday 22nd of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles
From the moment the blinds were lowered we could tell it was going to be a scorcher, and so it proved, however before we could sit out and enjoy it we needed to do a bit of shopping so we headed for ToysRUs, Carrefour and Mercadona. We only needed a couple of things from Carrefour but it is an amazing shop filled with every delicacy under the sun, not the cheapest but the range is staggering. How anyone can walk round it and only buy 2 items defies belief but we managed it. Cycling back from there we stopped off at Mercadona, fast becoming our Spanish supermarket of choice as Super U had been our favourite in France. After lunch we sat out and enjoyed the sun, some more than others as this picture testifies.
It is hard to believe that we are only 3 sleeps away from Christmas Day as Spain seems to have a far more relaxed version of Christmas and it is no where near as commercialised as the UK. It gets cool as the sun goes behind a nearby tree around 4 and I edited more video. In the evening we watched an episode of Subarru, a dubbed 10 part Italian crime drama downloaded from Netflix which is turning out to be really good.
Week 12 – Day 86 – Saturday 23rd of December 2017
El Campello – 0 miles
As its Christmas Eve tomorrow, followed as ever by Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and with Spanish shops needing little excuse to close at any given moment, we cycled round to Mercadona for some supplies to tide us over into next week, apart from fresh fruit and veg, which we will get at the local market tomorrow morning.
That mission completed I decided to treat The Navigator to a top notch lunch at Euro Mania a large restaurant on the esplanade (well it is nearly Christmas) so we cycled there in bright sunshine. Not exactly a tapas bar, the concept is a menu of little bread rolls filled with different fillings all for €1 and Cañas (lager) for €0.60. If your budget can stretch a tad further they have a wide selection at €1.20 which we tried as well. We sat outside on the esplanade watching people go by and some Africans trying to sell knock off handbags, trainers, scarves and sunglasses without too much success. Our entire meal was €10.70 and it was excellent.
We were in lovely warm sunshine but looking up the coast to Benidorm the sky was black and it looked as though it was raining there. After lunch we cycled to the end of the esplanade and had a seat near the statue of the couple that we found earlier in the week and took in the view along the huge wide sandy beach.
Thinking the rain was heading in our direction we went back to the van for a cuppa and a visit from a Princess, here for a quick visit to get her hair pleated, more of Princess Astrid tomorrow…
In the evening we listened to some more downloads from the BBC Radio APP including the final part of Donbey & Son which I think Dickens found himself stumped for an ending as it just seemed to stop with loads of loose ends not tied up to our satisfaction. There was a superb comedy drama called Single Beds we also listened to and I recommend you find it on the BBC APP and find time to enjoy it. The rain never did find us.
Week 12 – Day 87 – Sunday 24th of December 2017 (Christmas Eve)
El Campello – 0 miles
ITS CHRISTMAS EVE – and it started early, very early, 3.30am early and too early for someone, more of that shortly. As we are not overlooked at the rear I have taken to sleeping with the back window blinds down and usually if I awaken during the night I can look out at the stars and planets twinkling away and count them until I drop off again! This morning when I woke about 3ish and looked out there was a cloud covering most of the sky, but not all. It was orangey white, reflecting street lights etc but the more I looked at it I saw something unusual, some might say very unusual, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
There was a dull light shining on / through the clouds in a seemingly random circular / oblong pattern. As the direction I was looking was southwards towards Alicante my initial thought was it was a searchlight on Alicante Castle but there was no beam of light shining up from the ground so that theory was plausible, but maybe not the best.
Next theory was some form of alien encounter. Maybe there was a mothership in the atmosphere beaming down a mesmerising light over Alicante as their way of making contact with civilisation! If this was the case, had I stumbled unwittingly upon one of the big conspiracy theories of the modern era?
Having woken The Navigator (not best pleased) to sound out these, and other random thoughts, at least she did see the same unexplained (at his point) phenonomen, so I wasn’t cracking up, which was her initial thought on the events unfolding before our eyes. Having given it some careful consideration, it was almost 4am now, I came to the conclusion the lights were from a lighthouse whose beam was now pointing skywards instead of out to sea which would explain the circular motion anyway. Unless – and its a big unless – it is a lighthouse that has gone rogue and is trying to make contact with ET which would combine at least 2 of my theories.
Just incase there are people reading this thinking it might be Santa Claus trying out his Sleigh with its new halogen running lights over Alicante, well thats just silly!
Anyway, back to business. After all of the above we (finally) woke to a cloudless sky and another scorcher. After breakfast and some prep by The Navigator for today’s main Christmas Eve meal (with guests) we walked round to the weekly local market for the weeks fruit and veg and as a bonus we bought 2 pineapples for €5 which the guy cored and sliced all in one with a nifty device, well its not Christmas every day.
Back at the van I wrote the above sitting out in the lovely warm sunshine while The Navigator faffed about in the kitchen preparing for our guests. Its not easy being a man!
Our guests for the day, Joel, Phillippa and Astrid arrived in the early afternoon and we had a really lovely time chatting and nibbling away until it was time to eat and the BBQ was pressed into service for the turkey steaks with the seasonal touch of stuffing, while Phillippa and Astrid had a pasta dish as they are vegetarians.
Later, when the sun went down, we retired to the van and had a few more drinks and nibbles. OK. A lot more drinks, with Phillippa and The Navigator seeming to handle it better than Joel and yours truly.
A memorable day with great company.
To put this week into context here are two maps showing where we are…
The red dot on the first map shows us just north of Alicante.
The red dot on the second map shows our location on the outskirts of El Campello.
Its Christmas week in El Campello and we have our first Sprouts free Christmas Day ever… Stay tuned…
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