Cap de setmana de senderisme a Calp!

IMG_0011

Calp (Valencian)/Calpe (Spanish), population 29,667, is a town in the province of Alicante, located 67 kilometres from the province capital. I had been there once before for a morning on the way to Alicante, way back in 2011, and I have always wanted to climb the impressive rock formation Penyal d’Ifac. I didn’t that day because I had a bus to catch, but seven years later, I had my opportunity when Samarucs, the LGBT+ gay sports club of València, teamed up with the senderismo section of COGAM, the gay non-profit group of Madrid, for a weekend of hiking, nature and friendship in Calpe. Calp (valenciano)/Calpe (castellano), población 29.667, es un pueblo en la provincia de Alicante, ubicado a 67 kilómetros de la capital de la provincia. Había estado una vez antes por solo una mañana, una parada por el camino a Alicante, en 2011. Siempre he querido subir la formación de roca impresionante Penyal d’Ifac. No lo hice porque tenía que coger el autobús, pero siete años después, tenía mi oportunidad cuando Samarucs, el deportivo LGBT+ de València, hizo una excursión con la sección de senderismo de COGAM, el colectivo LGBT+ de Madrid, para un fin de semana de senderismo, naturaleza y amistad en Calpe. 

IMG_0212

While the group from COGAM arrived Wednesday evening (the autonomous communities of Madrid and València have different Semana Santa holidays) and went on a difficult route Thursday to Ponox-El León Dormido (The Sleeping Lion), us Valencianos arrived Thursday afternoon and checked into 4You Youth Hostel (for Camino peregrinos, it was one of the better albergues ;)). El grupo de COGAM llegó miércoles por la tarde (las comunidades autónomas de Madrid y València tienen vacaciones de Semana Santa distintas) y hicieron una ruta dura jueves a Ponox-El León Dormido, los valencianos llegamos jueves por la tarde y nos instalamos en el 4You Youth Hostal (albergue) (para los peregrinos del Camino, era uno de los mejores albergues ;)). 

IMG_0272

Dinner the first night was salad and chicken, the second night salad and pork, the third night gazpacho and lasagna (or the vegetarian option, of course). La primera noche, cenamos ensalada y pollo, la segunda noche ensalada y lomo, y la tercera noche gazpacho y lasaña (había otra opción para los vegetarianos, desde luego). 

IMG_0304

Friday morning, we had breakfast at 8:30 before heading to the point of departure for the day. We left from the car park of Cala Lleibeg and began our hike. The route took us between mountains and the sea. The rock formations were interesting, and the trail was pretty small. There were a lot of hikers out and about that day. El viernes por la mañana, desayunamos a las 8:30 antes de ir a la punta de salida por el día. Salimos del aparcamiento de Cala Lleibeg y empezamos la ruta. La ruta nos llevó entre el monte y el mar. Había formaciones de roca interesantes, y era un sendero pequeño. Había bastantes senderistas este día, viernes Santo. 

IMG_0028

After about an hour we arrived to another cove, Cala Moraig, where we had a snack and rested for a half hour. Después de una hora, llegamos a otra cala, la Cala Moraig, donde almorzamos y descansamos durante una media hora. 

IMG_0056

A few people stayed to enjoy the beautiful cove, but most of us hiked on up to the Torre de Cap d’Or, which took about an hour and a half. We had lunch there and admired the beautiful views before heading back. Algunos se quedaron en la cala para disfrutar y tomar el sol, pero la mayoría de nosotros subimos hasta el Torre de Cap d’Or, que nos tardó una hora y media. Comemos allí y disfrutamos de las vistas bonitas antes de volver. 

IMG_0083

Clouds were gathering, but we were in luck as the rain held off until we were having our post hike drink at the chiringuito at the cala near the parking lot. Los cielos estaban poniéndose gris, pero tuvimos suerte porque no empezó a llover hasta que estábamos tomando algo en el chiringuito en la cala cerca del aparcamiento.

IMG_0035

Saturday was Serra de Bèrnia, an 11-kilometre long mountain range between Calpe and Benidorm. A fort was built in the 16th century to protect the area from invaders. The highest peak is 1128 metres above sea level. El sábado fuimos a la Serra de Bèrnia, una sierra de 11 kilómetros entre Calpe y Benidorm. Hay unas ruinas de un fuerte que fue construido en el Siglo XVI para proteger la zona de invasores. El pico más alto es a 1128 metros sobre el nivel del mar. 

IMG_0103

After breakfast we headed off to the Bèrnia parking lot and set off on our hike. A few from Madrid stayed back to rest and have paella. This hike was a bit more demanding as it went up and down. At the Forat de Bèrnia, we had to crawl through a cave to be rewarded with amazing views of the Mediterranean Coast and Benidorm. Those skyscrapers seem so small. Después del desayuno, fuimos hasta el aparcamiento de Bèrnia para empezar la ruta. Algunos de Madrid se quedó en Calpe para comer paella y descansar. La ruta era más exigiente porque había más subida y bajada. En el Forat de Bèrnia, tuvimos que gatear por una cueva. Después, recibimos un regalo de vistas increíbles de la costa del Mediterráneo y Benidorm. Los rascacielos parecían pequeños. 

IMG_0136

We continued on to the Fort de Bèrnia, 803 metres above sea level.  after a snack break to recharge. The fort offered more spectacular views, and we had lunch there. It was a bit windy. The return to the parking lot went by extremely fast. It gave us time to explore more of the coves of Calpe and the bars with terraces too. Después de un descanso para almorzar, seguimos hasta el Fort de Bèrnia, a 803 metros sobre el nivel del mar. Había aún más vistas espectaculares desde el fuerte, y comemos allí. Había viento. La vuelta al parking nos pasó volando. Por eso, había más tiempo para explorar las calas de Calpe y también los bares con terrazas. 

IMG_0165

There was karaoke on Saturday night. Había karaoke el sábado por la noche. 

IMG_0152

Sunday we checked out. Some Madrid folks had to return earlier, but 23 of us ventured to the top of the Penyal d’Ifac (Peñón de Ifach in Spanish). The 332 meter high (1089 feet) limestone rock formation sticks out high above any hotel in Calpe or even Benidorm. The Phoenicians referred to it as the “Northern Rock” to distinguish it from the Rock of Gibraltar. Today it is a natural park and is home to various flora and fauna. Nos salimos del albergue el domingo. Algunos de Madrid tenían que volver antes, pero éramos 23 quien subimos hasta el cima del Penyal d’Ifac (Peñón de Ifach en castellano). La roca de caliza de 332 metros es más alto que cualquier hotel en Calpe o incluso Benidorm. Los fenicios lo llamaron “La Roca del Norte” para distinguirla de la Roca de Gibraltar. Hoy es un parque natural y hay varios tipos de flora y fauna. 

IMG_0220

As it was Easter Sunday, many people wanted to climb it. We arrived about 10, which was good because later they began to control the number of people allowed in. It was slow going after the tunnel to the summit of the rock. The summit was a bit more complicated than I expected. At some points, there was a chain rope to hold on to as you climbed. The views were magnificent, though. Como era el domingo de Pascua, había bastante gente con ganas de subirla. Llegamos sobre las 10, que era una buena hora porque después empezaron a controlar el número de gente que permitieron. Teníamos que ir despacio después del túnel hasta la cima de la roca. La cima era más complicada que esperaba. En algunos puntos, había una cadena para soportar durante la subida. Las vistas eran magnificentes y merecían la pena. 

IMG_0248

We arrived back to the car park around 13:00, and the Madrid folks had to return to the Spanish capital. The Valencianos, plus two more who had come with COGAM, sojourned on to Moraira, a fishing village that has converted into a resort area. The population is around 10,000 and explodes to 36,000 in the summer. We stayed at the Albergue Juvenil La Marina which had great accommodations but not-so-great food. In the afternoon we explored the village. Llegamos al aparcamiento sobre las 13:00, y los madrileños tenían que volver a la capital española. Los valencianos, más dos más quien habían venido con COGAM, viajamos hasta Moraira, un pueblo pescador que se convirtió a una zona túristica. La población es unos 10.000 habitantes y explota hasta 36.000 en el verano. Nos alojamos en el Albergue Juvenil La Marina, que estaba bien menos la comida, que no estaba tan bueno. Por la tarde exploramos el pueblo. 

IMG_0257

Monday was a short walk in the Cala de Portixol near Xàbia/Javea to Cap de Prim and a beautiful lookout near a small island. The actual walk was about 40 minutes roundtrip, but we took our time to enjoy the views and company. Lunes, hicimos un paseo por la Cala de Portixol cerca de Xàbia/Javea, hasta el Cap de Prim y un mirador precioso a lado de una isla pequeña. La ruta solo era unos 40 minutos en total, ida-vuelta, pero fuimos despacio para disfrutar las vistas y la buena compañía. 

IMG_0321

It was another great hiking weekend organised by Samarucs and COGAM. Era otro fin de semana de senderismo y naturaleza genial organizado por Samarucs y COGAM. 

IMG_0327

Hikes/Rutas #9, 10, 11, 12/30 of 2018
Date/Fecha: 30, 31 de marzo, 1 2 de abril de 2018
Kilometres hiked: Viernes: 14 Sábado: 12 Domingo: 6 Lunes: 4
Mountain/Route/Monte/Ruta: Benitatxell-Torre Cap d’Or, Serra de Bèrnia, Penyal d’Ifach, Cap de Prim
Difficulty: Media, media-alta, media, fácil.

IMG_0052

IMG_0241

IMG_0336

IMG_0094

 

Alicante…or Gran Alacant.

Alicante Parte Uno52

Just a quick note…this is my 75th entry at Setmeravelles! Xé que bo! With me resorting to valenciano, you can guess that it’s time I return to writing about la meua Comunitat Valenciana to write about their third province, Alicante (or Alacant).

I’ve been to Alicante three times now, and each time I have loved the city. My first time was on my farewell for the summer 2009 trip through the Comunidad Valenciana in early June. It was the first time I got to stay at a place that wasn’t a backpacker’s hostel, although the place I stayed at had a similar vibe. I fell in love with having a room to myself, and although it was only 6 years ago, looking back, I feel much younger than 27.  It was a quick overnight trip, and the first thing I did after checking in and applying sunscreen was to buy water and head up to the Castillo de Santa Bárbara which overlooks the city and the Mediterranean. After grabbing an unhealthy lunch, I’m sure, I walked around the beach and went swimming. The next night, I went to Santa Pola and stayed at a guest house ran by a great Irish guy living in Alicante. Santa Pola is a great beach, and I enjoyed swimming in a pool for a change.

Alicante Parte Tres21

My second time was in 2011, after I had to scrap around and change plans last minute for Semana Santa. I went to Calpe, which is a great village in Alicante on the sea, before spending the night in Alicante capital again.

My third time was in 2012, and I coincidentally booked at the same place I had stayed in 2009. The owner remembered me, but this time, I didn’t enjoy the stay as much. I was on my way to work a summer camp in Murcia, so I had that on my mind stressing me out. I had very little time to explore this time, but Alicante remains one a place I love exploring. There are quite a few places I want to visit in the future, of course.

One place I plan to skip, due to my own personal reasons (and not saying that other people should skip), is the Vegas of Spain, Benidorm. It has a ton of things to do for tourists of all types, but I prefer finding my tourism and travel plans in natural or historic places. At one time, Benidorm seemed SOOO cool, and I have seen it from the Valencia-Alicante bus. However, that time has passed. For those liking resort type holidays, this would be your dream vacation in Spain. For those wanting to get in touch with nature or seeing buildings from Roman or medieval times…there are better places.

Set Meravelles

Calpe y su Peñón de ifach

calpe

The city of Calpe, 30,000 habitants, is special not because of the city itself but the proximity to Peñón de Ifach, a massive limestone rock formation that is home to over 300 animal and plant species. The natural park is 332 metres (996 feet) high and can be seen for kilometres around. I didn’t get a chance to explore the formation, but it is without a doubt one of the coolest things you can find in Spain. On a clear day, you can see the Balearic Islands.

Castillo de Santa Bárbara

Alicante Parte Uno28

The capital city of Alicante has 334,000 people, and from the top of Mount Benacantil, which boasts the Santa Bárbara, you can see the entire city. The castle was built like so many of Spanish castles by the Muslims in the 9th century. In 1248, it was captured by forces led by Alfonso de Castilla who renamed it Santa Bárbara, but the Aragonese recaptured it 50-some years later. It was once owned by the English for 3 years, proving they have been anxious to colonize the Levante Coast for a long time. ( / sarcasm font) It was opened in 1963 to the public.

Las playas de Alicante

Alicante Parte Tres24

Alicante is famous for its beaches all along the coast of the province. On the night of San Juan, June 23rd, the beaches are alit with bonfires up and down the coast.

Elche (to be discovered)

Elche is the third largest city in la Comunitat Valenciana with some 230,000 odd residents. It’s home to over 1000 shoe factories. Every August 14th and 15th, the Misterio de Elche, which is said to be the oldest European theatre piece, is performed. It is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palmarel de Elche with its 200,000 palm trees. I did see this from the train from Alicante to Murcia, and it looked awesome.

Alcoy (to be discovered) y su festival de moros y cristianos

The city of Alcoy, 60,000 residents, is home to a castle, rock paintings and every April, a famous festival of Moors and Christians. While performed in several Spanish (especially Valencian) communities, the re-enactment of the Moorish capture and the Christian recapture in Alcoy is the most famous. In Alcoy, it’s around Sant Jordi (April 23), the 22nd-24th, when it is performed.

Xàbia/Jávea (to be discovered)

A coastal town of 34,000 habitants, Xàbia/Jávea is on a bay and located between two rocky headlands. It has several beaches and coves and some buildings left from the Roman times.

Altea (to be discovered)

Altea, 23,000 residents, has been on my list for quite some time. Their casco viejo (old town) is a labyrinth of white houses and cobblestone streets, and it’s right on the sea. I’m looking forward to my chance to visit Altea!