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 Walk Across Europe

2008-03-29 - Trip 12 - Leg 86

Spain, Alicante

Teulada to Xabia

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26.7 km today.
139.1 km this trip.
1681.4 km from start.
0 metres minimum height.
283 metres maximum height.
402 metres ascent.
397 metres descent.
 Track Log: Logged.
 Travel: Train, Old Banger, Bus.

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Quiet lanes, a nice coastal strip and dead ends in villa land.

In Teulada, fire crackers were being set off. A local TV camera man recorded Neil with his fingers in his ears.

After we left town we climbed to a high point where cows and bulls were grazing. The Bulgarian man looking after the herd said they were dangerous. We decided to risk it but he over-rode us by offering us a lift past the cattle. Perhaps they were really dangerous although we have walked through similar herds before without incident. Anyway he was nice and his intentions were good. After he dropped us off, we gave him a big caramel Easter egg to say thank you. Our walking rules allow us to use transport when there is no sensible alternative. So far, we have used a couple of ferries to avoid drowning in the river crossings. Now we have had a short car ride to avoid the ravening bulls.

This first part of the walk was really nice. Later we got stuck in housing estates of villas for rich foreigners. There were many dead ends and we wasted a lot of time. The Bermuda Triangle may be similar. You can get in but never leave. The coast near Xàbia was nice. Xàbia is undergoing restoration work. It looked like a nice Spanish town.

The 18:15 bus failed to arrive and several locals abandoned the bus stop. Later they all returned for the 19:15 bus which arrived at 19:45. None of the times seemed to match the notices at the bus stop. We were cold and hungry by the time we got home. Worse still, we need these buses on three more days.

We decide to walk to Altea to be sure of getting the replacement bus to Calp. We think you can get on the train in Garganes and go one stop in the wrong direction and pick up the bus that way. However, after our experience with that bus failing to stop in Garganes we are too nervous to risk it this time. We shall monitor what happens so we can try it next time. It is the last day before the clocks change. We note that the bus does indeed wait for the Garganes - La Creueta train to arrive before setting off. This will save 10 minutes after the clocks change and we need to leave one hour earlier in body clock terms.

We had noted in Teulada that the next few days were going to be fiesta for the patron saint San Vincenz Ferrer. Will there be any sign of this? The streets have been decorated with coloured lights similar to Christmas lights but not with Christmas symbols. We get off the train and work our way through the town. Once in a narrow side street we come upon a crowd of young people wearing San Vincenz Ferrer 2008 tops and throwing very loud bangers about. This was evidently the start of more to come. They were being videoed with a large professional camera. Neil made the mistake of blocking his ears so I expect he was shown on Valencia TV as the tripper who couldn't take it.

I have looked up the yellow alliums and there are three: allium tramineum which is my first choice, allium moly which grew in Neil's garden in King's Lynn and allium flavum, the easiest name to remember. Add in that as we crossed the pont in the bus of our own river Guadalest I think we saw a swan - unusual in Spain. Once out of the town we climb through paradise gardens until we reach some pasture land. Here we meet a man who tells us there are animales peligrosos. We say usually they are OK if the bulls are with their cows. He was unconvinced. It also became apparent that he worked with the animals and probably knew them. Having lived in a space where both cows and bulls roamed freely in Ivory Coast, I wasn't too bothered and set off towards them. The man then got in his car and drove between the animals and us and then stopped and invited us into the car. I asked if the animals were his but he said no. He was from Bulgaria and had come to Spain because there was no work back home. I said we had never visited Bulgaria but would like to. I deliberately took my time to get out of the back of his car, (we called him Uncle Bulgaria) to give Neil time to get him out a large caramel Easter egg as a thank you. Then I discovered it was a very difficult backside to get out of any way and took even longer. The car had UK registration plates and was probably a reclaimed right-off just used for driving round the farmer's own land.

If we get beyond Istanbul we shall get to Romania and Bulgaria both fascinating places to visit. Neil says they keep cellos in the sheds and offer you wee drams of illegally brewed spirit to make you really cheerful. As we passed through the animals I noted lots of cows, the odd heifer, the odd bullock and one bloody great big bull, the biggest I've ever seen. He was magnificent. Our encounter with Uncle Bulgaria and the frequent vineyards mainly well pruned though occasionally abandonada reminded us of Kypros who took us to see his vineyard and showed us how to prune. We spent the morning with him and then had a shared lunch in the shade if his vehicle. We told him that we made our own beer and wine whereupon He offered us a little dram of something he had made. He asked us if we made anything like that. We said no it was illegal to make spirits in our country. So it is here he said, Have some more. He was an amazing character, the taxi driver who fetched us from the airport, the local mayor and the proprietor of a vineyard. Before we left he gave us some grapefruit purloined from a neighbour's trees. He had lived in Northern Cyprus before partition and had grown citrus fruit there. Now in the south he had been given a farm with vineyards. There must be Turkish Cypriot farmer in the north cultivating Kypros' citrus fruit trees and no doubt doing an equally good job of it.

Have I mentioned our visit to the Greek Orthodox priest's house? He came round ours first to welcome us and subsequently invited us to lunch. He lived very simply in one room. We ate bread, cheese and olives together washed down by communion wine which he told us to make free with because there was lots more in the church. It very soon became clear that he had taken a fancy to Mini and was suggesting further visits between us. She too was plied with wine and when she said he had better not have any more because she wouldn't be able to walk home, he pointed to his double bed (he was a widower) and said she could have a lie down there. As the holiday progressed, he seemed to realise that Mini wasn't able or willing to return his affection, he turned this attentions on me. Well you could do worse than live on Cyprus. His bijou house was easy to maintain. The food was simple and delicious and communion wine always available from the church.

Uncle Bulgaria did not seem to be surprised to see us wandering through the countryside. In Ceski there is a tradition especially among young people to go off during the summer months. They are called tramps but are actually students enjoying an outdoor life while the weather is good. If this tradition also exists in Bulgaria, he may have thought we wee a bit old for it but why not. Did I mention that Neil got out his whostle the other day because he didn't know whether I was behind or in front. I had gone ahead to pee while Neil packed his mustang. When I had finished, I carried on until I got to a parting of the ways. It could even have been today this happened. Since then we have coined the expression. I know your behind.

The walk continued through lovely gardens and woods until we came to an estate. To avoid going on the fierce, Neil had plotted route round the back of it which would bring us up to the approach to Cap del Nau. Unfortunately a house had been built across the access. We weren't too bothered. We would go round and pick up our track on the other side. No luck. We see the track ahead of us but cannot get on to it because of a great big fence. This is a Fort Knox type gated new development and ever time we try to get out we have to turn back. As the development is on the side of a hill this involves multiple ascents and descents and no progress towards our goal. It is also very hot and airless in there. This is Millionaire's row at its worst. Letter boxes showed that the majority of houses were owned by English or German people. It was a ghetto of people with surplus or hot money. No attempt was made to integrate with the local community. It was Puerto Banus all over again but inland. In the end we did get out and back on not the main road which we had been trying to avoid in the first place. Time was getting on and we were exhausted.

We get the maps out and decide that the Cap de Nau is yet another new housing estate no doubt also fenced and we can't face another estate like that today even if it means bypassing the extreme end of the point. We decide to go to El Pinet (check name) instead as this is wild. The sad thing is that we have been forced to come far further north than we had intended and are now already on the outskirts of Xabia. We have to use the road we would have used to come back to Xabia to get out to the point. The houses are big here too but somehow not in an offensive way. Neil says that is because they were built with old money rather than new - probably from the slave trade. We pass the Jávea International, School Secondary and Primary sections and carry on until we get to a high section of road above the point. There is no obvious way down so we decide this will have to do. We can see the Cap de Nau which is the most south easterly sticky out bit of Spain.

On our way up we passed a house where a netball team was warming up in the garden. Then on our way back we saw them getting into a minibus. They are probably a school team going to play against a neighbouring school. I hope they win. Their shirts were a lovely shade of blue. They were nice people, constructively employed and enjoying themselves. For contrast, earlier in the stinken we heard a slanging match between a couple which rivalled an East Enders script. She was strident about something he had or hadn't done and their voices carried a long way so we got the full benefit of it. I believe the current term is a domestic.

After 27 km we eventually arrive at Xabia (Jávea) once again. The approach to the town is along a lovely beach and there is a real holiday atmosphere. Very few T shirts with pictures and words on them as at Burnham Overy Staithe. There are no amusements, just a lot of cafes and restaurantes heaving with people enjoying something to have. As it was 4.15 we aren't sure what meal it was, maybe late lunch or afternoon tea. The people in the restaurantes all had mounds - a credit to the food and service offered. So the walk ended as well as it had started. At the far end of the beach, we circumvented a harbour and marina made in the river estuary. Then we fund a left turn to get to the old inland town of Jávea. This was again a lovely wild road which took us across the Gato de Gorgos river and up into the Poble Antic. Here we ask some men propping themselves up on a barriacade where the bus station is and they point us downhill to it.

Our timetable says there is a bus a 6.15 and this is confirmed by the timetable on the bus stop. What is more a crowed of boys, two ladies and a man are also waiting. 6.15 comes and goes and we are still waiting. The boys wander off and one of the ladies is taken off by car. We put on first our legs, then our hellies and finally our cagoules. I'm glad I didn't downgrade to a thin layer. I was even glad of the gloves in the cagoule pocket, mainly there for the return journey. I was glad the weather forecast had been dubious - in fact the day was perfect but it did mean I didn't down grade my equipment.

Every 15 minutes or so I try to ring Mini to tell her we will be late but get no answer. I keep getting switched over to voicemail which is a waste of time. Still if the phone has been ringing she knows we're retrased.

We are joined by a drunk man who veers all over the place. He was unpleasantly drunk, staggering, retching and spitting. Neil says he must have had ever such a lot to be in that state. He has only been in that state once. When he was on teaching practice, after moderate alcohol consumption at a staff party, he was offered a lethal homebrew night-cap by the chemistry teacher. Even then he staggered home quietly without waking the locals. These incidents brought to mind another incident in Crete. In the early hours we herad shouts for help. Embros Embros. It was Stacey who was stuck in a ditch only a few inches deep but she was far gone. Although she could not walk without support, she had not lost all her wits. "Ther'sh shumfing rong 'ere. You shouldn't be wiv 'im and she shouldn't be wiv you." Half the residents at our accommodation had turned out to see what the problem was and we were incorreclty paired up. A nice German guest says she didn't know I could speak German and I say "Nur um vier Uhr Morgens."

Eventually I ask the ladies on the next seat if they are waiting for the Alicante bus and one of them says there is one at 19.40. This is probably the 19.15 but local people have a better E.T.A. for it than the timetable. The tourist office simply gave us times off the internet which were not up to date. The paper at the bus stop with the 6.15 bus on it was the worse for wear and obviously the correct times were on the new parper in the bus stop.

We got back at 8.45 and Mini swore blind she had pressed the right nerb to answer the phone. Did she put it on her ear as well? We have a practice run and it works perfectly. Any way we should be back early from Denia and we now know we shall be back at 8.45 from Oliva and Gandía.