We are home-based in Albir, Spain, a small town by the Mediterranean. The pebble beach is a vacation spot for many northern Europeans making this a beautiful place to stay for the view but our days will be spent taking trips in the opposite direction. I really don’t enjoy “relaxing” on a beach and would rather venture out to look for history, culture, and nature.
We rented a car in Barcelona – a Citroen Picasso. I love it! It is a small, cute, station wagon; easy to drive BUT the rental place decided that I did not request a GPS (I did) and we are without. This has made most trips twice as long as they should be. Tomorrow we are going to the local superstore and trying to purchase one. Spanish highways and street signs are not always easy to see. You can make few left turns and most locals do not speak English.
Taking a cue from the literature on paid tours, we traveled on our first day to Jalon, a place known for its vineyards. Up a steep mountain road, we went, oohing and ahhing, until we located the small town. It has one vineyard that is closed on Sunday. Oh well, I suggested we sit down at a lovely grape leaf (real ones) adorned bar and enjoy some Sangria. Not being a Sangria expert I didn’t realize the punch would come in a large pitcher. I thought the waitress was mistaken when she brought it to me. She was also surprised that I was not part of a large party and suggested that we order some food. She didn’t think that much wine on an empty stomach was a good thing and we agreed. Soon plates of meats, cheeses, olives, and tomatoes arrived with a basket of bread. We were delighted. Couldn’t finish the drink but the food was good and the conversation with the Dutch people beside us made for an entertaining afternoon.
The next day we ventured up to another mountain to the small town of Guadelest. You must walk up and through a short tunnel to enter the old part. In that section is a 17th-century home that has steps that will lead you out to a castle built in the 13th century. Unfortunately, earthquakes have made the castle mostly ruins but you can see the valley below which overlooks Lake Guadelest, an azure blue lake. I have only seen this color artificially, never for real, and am sure that my photographs will not do it justice. A torrent of rain held bay until the last souvenir was purchased and we dashed back down the hill to eat at a recommended, privately owned restaurant. The waitress allowed us to go out to a closed-in deck so we were able to view the castle while dining and enjoyed a carefully prepared late lunch (or early dinner) depending on your cultural preferences. The gazpacho was divine, creamy, and seasoned with just the right amount of olive oil and salt. We finally found the correct and most direct route back which also included an orange stand. Our unit has an electric juicer and I want to make fresh juice. I also purchased some chocolate soap which I hope will make me smell delicious. It doesn’t get dark until about ten o’clock allowing enough time to relax, read and swim, not necessarily in that order.