Some of the best village ramparts in France
We woke to bright sunshine or at least the promise of bright sunshine once the sun had climbed high enough. The plan for today was to spend the morning enjoying the sights of Guadalest. The view from the car park is just as stunning as it was last night. We looked up to the castle rock and wondered if that was going to a challenging climb. In the event it was an easy wander through the little village to the entrance to the citadel. This place is called a castle but in reality there is almost nothing of the old castle left apart from the ramparts. What there is a handful of houses and shops perched with the bounds of the old castle on top of this amazing rock. There is only one way in to the citadel and that is up the steps inside a tunnel through the rock. Once inside there is the main museum in the preserved house of the Oruña family who were the local big wigs in the C18. This house has been presented much as it was then with all the old furniture and laid out just as it was at that time. Actually really interesting although the amount of information in English was a bit limited. We spent a little while looking at the various rooms spread over four levels and then proceeded to the old castle which rises high above the little houses. Since there were so many opportunities to stop and look at the incredible views we did not really notice the climb. The castle itself was just two “rooms” both open to the sky and both looking the worse for wear. However the views from the very top of the monument made up for this.
We were back at Bertie shortly after midday and we did wonder about having a coffee and a snack before we left but I was concerned that we might get charged for another day if we stayed much longer so we decided to find another coffee stop along the way. The road on up the mountain was just as stunning as the road yesterday. Very smooth but not very wide and very twisty and quite steep in places. We climbed and climbed and climbed and then we dropped and dropped and dropped down the other side.
We noticed that the little towns and villages on the far side seemed much less polished and well to do – this must the unfashionable side of the hill. I also noticed what looked like a lot of dead trees in the olive groves. I think they are dead olive trees since they occur among perfectly healthy looking olive trees on the terraces. I have read about a disease decimating olive trees in Italy and Greece and I suspect that it having an effect here too. (Editor’s note: We later realised these strange trees are actually almond trees in amongst the olives)
Sadly we never did find a coffee stop – these minor roads are built for local people to get around and they do not cater tourists wanting to gaze at the magnificant views. It was only 40 miles to Castalla our destination for tonight and half of that journey was on these narrow winding moutain roads and the last half was a complete contrast on the A7 motorway. Anyway we were soon at Castalla and we quickly found the municipal motorhome park by the sports centre. This time it costs just €3 and it includes water and waste disposal. There is also free electric hook up but the sockets are rather strangely placed high on a wall on the otherside of the little access road. My cable is much too short for that and in any event I am not I sure I fancy leaving it where vans will have to drive over it.
There is parking here for 8 motorhomes in marked spaces and there were 5 vans already here (three are British). We had a chat to our neighbours in a newer Hymer who explained where to go to pay our parking fee and they also told us that the castle is closed for repair work to the access path. They walked most of the way up the hill yesterday only to get in to trouble with the builders who shooed them off again! The weather has changed too and it has clouded up and there is quite a strong wind. We do need some shopping and so we braved the wind and cold to visit the Mercadona supermarket a couple of streets away. It is always fun to browse around these supermarkets puzzling over all the goodies on sale and trying to work out what everything is. We spent a happy hour and filled our two rucksacks with bread, cheese, vegetables and other goodies including a 1 litre box of red wine at €1 (for cooking you understand!). Actually that red wine made a real difference to the vegetable ragu for supper this evening.
As I write this at 21:30 the temperature outside is 7c and Bertie is rocking in the gusts. Somehow I doubt we will stay here for a second night but will press on to our next stopover at Ricote in the hills to the west of Murcia.