Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Benidorm's Grapes Of Wrath

It was New Year's Eve in Benidorm, and the queue for the free grapes and (plastic) glass of cava got ever longer. The señora behind me was so determined to get to the front that she pushed me consistently for a good 10 minutes until I finally gave way and let her push the people in front of me instead. They complained. As we got nearer to midnight and they started the countdown things got tenser. It started as a low murmur, but eventually the queue began to disintegrate amidst shouts of "¡Las uvas, las uvas!". Then it was everyone for themselves, dog eat dog, survival of the fittest. "Why didn't we just buy half a kilo of grapes ourselves?" I asked, but it was no use, the battle of the freebie had to be fought.

It wasn't very warm at all for New Year on the Mediterranean, although I have reason to believe that we did better than much of the rest of Spain. Strong winds meant that the seafront was almost deserted and the sea was rough but at least we still had clear skies.

Once New Year's Day was out of the way the weather got better and we spent a very pleasant day in Calpe. The town itself is not very nice to look at but we did the ascent of the Peñon Ifach. Naturally, with it being a "peñon", I had to put up with one or two remarks about Gibraltar. "But if you've already got one here, why do you need them all?" was my defence. From the top you can truly appreciate the landscape of an area that has long lived under the protection of Nuestra Señora la Santísima Virgen de la Destrucción de la Naturaleza.

The climb to the top looks much more daunting from below than it is in reality, a tunnel has been built so that you can walk up a zigzag path rather than climb up the sheer rock face. It was a healthy piece of exercise before a lunch that has now gone into the record books as the Great Calpe Gamba Massacre of 2010.

Of course not every piece of land has been built on, let me introduce you to the innovative Valencian concept of the microreserva, which I suspect to be a euphemism for a site awaiting the recovery of the construction industry.

The sun sets on one trip but then tomorrow we are off to La Gomera for the puente de Reyes. It's perhaps my favourite of the Canary islands that I have visited so far. After all these trips I'm looking forward to some time in Madrid, which improves enormously in January once the prolonged Christmas/New Year/Reyes festivities are out the way.

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