Kayak Round Trip From Las Rotas to Xabia, Costa Blanca, Spain.

At the end of these jottings there is a 4 minute video of this trip. It might be a perfect antidote to a grey winters day. Please watch it and enjoy this journey with us.

Here was one of those days. You know the sort of thing; mid twenties Celsius, still, blue, breathless.

The air stroked us warmly as we moved through it, easing our minds and muscles. What winter bliss; so rare. In such balmy conditions, us Northern Europeans actually let our goose bumps relax and smoothen, and dare to hope for the perfect, even, tan.

Our launch site, rocky and warm.

For us Wallys, this was a day to get away from all that beach side flesh. At least two people had taken up positions on their deck chairs, heads back, mouths lolling open, feet in the cooling water. That was our queue to go.

Meanwhile, back at our base, our poor kayaks had the look of abandoned dogs, lounging about the place, positioned so we were made to feel guilty every time we left our pitch. No matter how many times we told them that they would not enjoy cycling to the shops, or walking up to the Gerro Tower, they still hounded us with those doggy looks. Today was to be their day. Lucky boats and lucky us.

Xabiaa/Javea, our destination .

We had decided to head into the neighbouring town of Xavia, or Javea, pronounced Have-ee-a, a town in two parts. One area is set up hill from the sea and the other is a coastal strand of eateries, bars and apartments set along a Palm dotted, sweeping cove. Our plan was to get there; we would be happy with that, eat our snack, grab a cafe cuppa and come back. This would be a three hour, sweaty slog, on foot. Today it would be a gentle two hour glide, sitting down all the way.

As ever, once on the water, we spent the day scanning for wildlife. One of us sported shiny new binoculars. The old ones having fogged in one eyepiece, on the stroke of midnight, on new years eve. The moment was reminiscent of the tales of grandfather’s clock. You know, the one that stops ticking the moment it’s master dies. Never to tock again. We are pleased to say, that so far, both of us still have pulses, although none of us knows what little bomb is ticking away inside us, waiting to make the mist roll down. On that cheery note, we paddled on.

Tallada Caves, the biggest and best known in the area, but one of many caves along our route today.

The sea was oily smooth as we paddled. The shattered coast was strewn with gigantic boulders, and pockmarked with small coves and deep caves. Everywhere we looked, reefs lurked just on and under the surface. Very few places offered an easy landing. This is definitely no place to be shipwrecked.

After two hours and twenty minutes of bimbling about, cave mooching, bird watching, and very slow, lazy paddling, we arrived in Xavia. An hour later, we left, having eaten our sarnies and enjoyed cold drinks in the nearest bar.

Homeward bound. A part of Las Rotas from the sea.

You may wonder what we got up to on the return journey, you know, to liven it up and ring the changes. And our answer is, absolutely nothing. It was a hot day and what we did heading home, was exactly the same as we did coming out. It took us the same length of time to get back, which was a surprise, as we did not try for this result. For us the day was perfection. Why gild the lilly?

NB. In weather and sea conditions similar to the video, this is a very easy trip, which is perfectly suitable for beginners. Like any new activity, it can feel exposed and intimidating at times. If you fancy doing a trip of this kind, it is wise to go with at least two friends, one of whom should be an experienced kayaker. If planning a solo, or two person trip; those concerned need to be proficient paddlers. As a minimum, should you fall into the water, you should be able to hang onto your paddle, return your boats/sit-ons, to upright them and get yourselves going again. Apart from that little warning, jump on or into your craft and go. You will not be disappointed.

If you have enjoyed our day trip and have something you would like to say to us, please leave a comment in the ‘Reply’ box below. We enjoy hearing from our readers and always respond to communications from you. All the best The Wallys. 

The Day That The Rains Came Down

STORM GLORIA

For your delight and entertainment we have added a two minute video about Storm Gloria. It is at the end of this article.

Storm damaged seafront promenade.

What we said to our friends was, “You’ll love it here. The weather’s like a mild summer’s day in the UK. Above us, the heavens are usually crystal clear and brilliantly blue, with just enough clouds to make an artists sky. The sea is every shade of green and blue and so gin clear that, when standing on the rocky shore, fish can be seen swimming in it’s depths. Add to this the tropical palms and banana trees and the oranges dripping from their branches and you have a place that you must visit. Especially as we’re here and we miss you. We will welcome you with open arms. Take care.

The day before the storm hit and the clouds were gathering over a turbulent sea.

Thus it was that our friends organised themselves to visit. We booked them into a local hotel for a couple of days, followed by a week in a nearby apartment. It was going to be perfect. We could not wait for them to arrive and to welcome them with open arms.

The very lovely Les Rotes Hotel.

With our guests due on Thursday, we began to plan our itinerary for the week. The weather was about to break, which meant the Monday reconnoitre became a mega ride out on our KTM’s. We were on a mission, checking access, views, restaurants and anything else we could think of that would keep an 87 year old and his 60 year young buddy amused. We got back after dark, packed away anything that was not nailed down, and hunkered down in readiness for the storm that was about to hit us. Apparently, it was going to be a corker. They were flying high and it had been what felt like a long long time since we had seen them.

Font Salida, near Denia, Spain.

As we were skimming about the mountain tracks on our motorbikes, the campsite staff were asking some clients to move onto pitches that were clear of trees that might fall during the coming high winds. With everyone on the campsite safe and sound in their caravans and motorhomes, the wind strengthened, the clouds gathered and the night became coal black. We snuggled up under our duvet as the storm tried to pound it’s way into our coziness. We went to sleep; in fact we slept like logs.

No damage, simply a good soaking.

What a difference a night makes. We awoke to Armageddon. Trees uprooted, an awning blown down and one campervan brushed by a large branch as it fell. We had to take care as we struggled to walk side by side to the seafront. We were still in a howling gale. Then we were assailed by a vicious downpour. The water poured down our jeans and into our shoes. We sheltered behind a sturdy wall. The sea was angry, in filthy shades of grey and raging against the shore. Stones, rocks and boulders had been hurled across the promenade, during the night, with the ferocity of Finn McColl in full battle cry. The angry sea had slammed into concrete benches and litter bins, picking them up and strewing them along the promenade. A slight lull in the rain allowed us to squelch our way further along the blasted seafront. Demolished walls, banks of pebbles and access decking were all strewn asunder. Only the brave or foolhardy ventured out, I think we fell into the second category!

A very narrow escape for these folks. (Image: P Doust. copyright)

A member of the campsite decided to hold a movie afternoon, to calm the nerves and help keep up moral. Four of us headed out to find a restaurant that would offer us a lunch. Most places were shut; lack of utilities, storm damage, closed roads: all good reasons to not open up. We trawled the streets in the rain and eventually we found an eatery. They fed us in high style as we watched their TV with it’s wall to wall coverage of the torrential rain, strong winds, high seas and driving snow. The campsite had been lucky, it had come away with little damage, apart from jangling the nerves of some campers.

The morning after.

By the next day, Wednesday, the rain had stopped, the wind and sea had dropped to a mere ‘Strong Force 9‘. It is hard to gauge what it had been 30 hours before.

The statistics of this particular storm event makes for salutary reading:

  • Winds gusting up to 70MPH
  • 20000 homes without electricity
  • Waves up to 27ft
  • Air pressure at 1049.6 millibars, highest reading recorded in 300 years.
  • 13 fatalities.
Rocks and stones thrown through a gate by the sea.

Our visiting friends made contact with us, having seen a travel warning issued by the Foreign Office. We told them it was fine, assuring them that a little storm like that was no barrier to a nice holiday. And so it was that they arrived the following day, Thursday.

In one week our friends had experienced the aftermath of a freak storm; leaden skies, rough seas, challenging temperatures, followed by glorious sunshine and the heat of Spanish winter sun.

A week later, despite feeling, as our friend put it, that, “I may never pass this way again,” he was also insisting he might visit for a month next year.

From the first hello to the last goodbye, we had a ball; but that is a different story.

Beach debris

Please feel free to let us know what you think of Storm Gloria by popping your comment in the reply box below. You may have also noticed a few musical references; no reason, simply a bit of fun. The Wallys xx

A Brief Journey Through Time

A Walk Through Denia, Spain

On the face of things, Denia is an imposing town, with it’s castle atop a steep knoll of rock and it’s marina stuffed to the gunwales with extravagantly outsized gin palaces. Whether, to invade, or to trade, this is a destination that has always attracted the itinerant. These days, tourists like ourselves can be added to their list of invaders.

Like all invaders, we needed intelligence, something that we are woefully short of. We headed into the local Tourist Information Office in search of help. Guess what, there was no truly useful tourist map of the town. You know the sort of thing; you have up to half a day ‘to do the town’ and you need an easy to follow guide.

We returned the next year and discovered that there was an Old Town. It had little squares bounded by cafes with umbrella shaded tables to sit at. On sunny days, these beautiful little quads echo with the voices of customers, as they sit in the sun drinking coffees and beers and talking loudly with friends. We had no idea any of this existed. Somehow we had managed to bypass this gem.

This year is our third visit here. We have decided that if you want to see a job done, you must do it yourself. And so, without further ado, we bring to you, a map of Denia that you can copy into your phone, along with the information sheet. Armed and dangerous you can then set off to get yourself acquainted with this unique city.

If you are not planning to visit Denia, it does not matter, as we hope the maps and information will interest and delight you anyway. You can come along with us and get your pleasure vicariously.

The Maps

Especially for all you map-o-philes out there, we have two maps of the same walk.

The first Map has places of interest on it and some key street names.

The second map gives you all the street names. Handy if you get into a bit of a pickle.

And for map-o-phobes, we have a special offering, a pictorial route around the same walk.

*If viewing on your mobile phone, please turn your phone on it’s side, landscape format. Each of the first two maps can then be expanded to fit your phone’s screen.*

All the good things to see and do.
Map with the streets named.

We suggest copying both maps onto your phone and see how you get on.

Denia Old and New-A Pictorial Walking Guide.

Park your car in the Port carpark (1 on both maps), as near to the town as you can. Walk along the roadside promenade, with the port on your left and the town on your right. Cross the road when you can see this view.

Captain John Paul Jones, a Scotsman, was a famous hero during the American civil war. Click here to read more about his surprising life. In 1959, Hollywood captured his story, the filming took place in Denia.

Walk from Captain Jones towards the font and stone cross in the centre of the square, which is called Placeta De La Creu. Now walk towards the terracotta coloured building in the corner of the square, you can see it in the photo – left. You round a slight bend and enter a narrow street.

You are now in Carrer Bitibau a classic old town street; walk to it’s end and you will pop out into another square.

A stunning spot for a break from all this walking! This square is choc full of cafes and tables, and at the right time of day, glorious sunshine and people. Nothing better.

Find and walk past the red building; the word ‘Heaven’ has now been removed. Keep this building on your right; this is a very short street.

You will find yourself in Carrer Del Port. Part way along this street, on your right, is Magazinos, a chic and sophisticated street food style venue. With cocktail bars and terraces, tea and coffee and food offerings to please any pallet, this is a ‘must visit’ for foodies. At night it is magical, with illuminated palms and walls of fairy lights.

When you eventually waddle, full tummied, out of Magazinos, continue along Carrer Del Port until it ends. Look straight ahead, across the road junction and you will see this flight of steps. Make your way up those steps admiring the pretty houses you pass on your right. Look to your right for your next turning.

A rather shabby looking street with some very elderly homes and the massive lower ramparts of the castle walls awaits. It feels very much like a canyon

At the end of Carrer Del Triquet, bear right (follow the yellow line on the road) and you will pass a Solid, stone built, Moorish tower as you enter Carrer Hospital.

Keep an eye open for a set of steps on your right. This is the quick way up to the castle gate. There is a ramp to one side of the steps, if you prefer. As you trot up the steps, look out for the pretty blue house on your left and it’s cats.

You will emerge here; turn right to go to the castle, and left to continue the walk. We suggest that you walk through the castle entrance and take a look; the first 50m is free and quite interesting. You will exit the castle by the same door way used for entry; walk straight on to continue.

We highly recommend taking a tour of the castle. There is plenty to see including, a small and interesting museum entirely presented in Spanish, a cafe, the ancient castle remains and grounds, and fantastic views of the town and it’s marina. Allow one hour.

Scale of charges for entry to the castle.

Walk down the hill, looking to your left for your next turning. Also admire some of the best decorated and loved houses in town.

Take this turning on your left, it will be the final old street of your tour. At the bottom of this street live a closed order of Augustian Nuns. Their nunnery dates from 1599. If the door to the church is open, you may enter, there will almost certainly be a service in operation at these times.

Turn left onto Carrer Loreto and prepare to be overwhelmed at the choice of eateries and bars that line this street. It is a perfect place to grab a coffee and enjoy the street vibe. Better still, stay a little longer for a drink, tapas, or even a reasonably priced meal in this busy and relaxed street.

You tumble out of Carrer Loreto and into the Place De La Constitucio where you will see the Town Hall on your left, and nearby, a church and to your right, more cafes with outside tables and chairs. Turn right and look out for your next street.

You are now entering the modern shopping area of the town. Make your way to the bottom of this street, window shopping as you go.

At the end of Carrer Del Cop, walk across the road to the island with the trees on it, slightly to your right. Inside this island, bounded by a small road and parked cars, you will find a large, elegant, fountain, shady public seatings and some cafe tables. Sit at any of these bistro style tables and a server will appear and take your order; it is a perfect spot for a cooling drink on a hot day.

Walk out of the Glorieta Del Pais Valencia, heading towards the wide, tree enveloped shopping street. This street is regularly closed to traffic and is the main focus for festivals which seem to be held on a monthly basis. A good place to get to know what is fashionable in Spain.

Why not take a tiny detour off the Carrer Del Marques De Campo to seek out the Esglesia De Sant Antoni De Padua. Towards the end of this shopping street, take the left turning stroll along the Carrer Candida Carbonell for about 10 paces. You will see an open square on your right called Placa Del Convent. If the church is open, it is well worth your time. This is a 2 minute detour, without going inside the church.

At the end of Carrer Del Marques De Campo, Cross the road and walk to the yellow banner that reads ‘PANSETA’. This is a free ferry that will take you across the water to the vibrant, modern Marina, with it’s sophisticated restaurants.

Alternatively, turn left, walk with the marina on your right, and visit both the Port Denia Gallery, with it’s exhibition of the history of the the Port, and the fish market, ‘Posit’, where the town’s fishing fleet moor up and sell their catch each day. The fish market offers guided tours at 4pm most days of the week.

Once over the water using the Panseta, you will notice that many of the glamorous restaurants offer very reasonable set menus, all offer hot and cold drinks, simply find a place you would like to sit and a server will arrive.

Continue your walk along the waterfront and you will arrive at your start point.

Denia Castell from the Marina.

We had fun walking around Denia, getting to know it better. If you enjoyed this article, or even tried out the walk, please let us know what you think. Comments can be left in the reply box below. We will get back to you. Thank you. The Wallys. x

Prehistoric Cave Paintings

EASTERN SPAIN HOSTS A GIANT UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE.

Three winters ago, when we first crawled our sorry way into this small patch of Spain, it was with the sole aim of escaping a family bereavement. We felt a desperate need to focus on things new and to stare into the future. We were, frankly, too emotionally frazzled to make any detailed plans. We drove around the area, looking. No map, no focus, no joy. It felt better to be mentally and physically detached in a distant land, than at home with the confusion, hurt and unanswered questions that haunted all concerned.

There is something primeval about the ‘fight or flight’ reaction to life and death situations. We could not bring ourselves to fight over the causes of our horrible situation. We chose flight. Others did the same. Some like us took a break, others simply shut it all out, mentally. Luckily humans are blessed with a very old piece of brain, the amygdala, which drives our basic emotions. We had slipped into a primitive mental state, driven by how we felt, we drove as far away from what was harming us as possible.

We landed up in Spain, near a place called Denia and booked into a local campsite, this was to be our base for a few weeks.

As we drifted around this ruggedly handsome region, we kept passing a simple road sign to prehistoric cave paintings. After the third passing, we decided that we should allow some time and take a look. Somehow it felt right to spend time with the long dead, it might help to unscramble our minds. Perhaps we might gain a new perspective on our situation.

We turned off the main road and headed into a deep valley; olive terraces in the valley bottom and towering cliff faces above. We were completely alone. With no information to guide us, we pulled over into a shabby lay-by and pondered our next move.

At first all we could see was rock. Masses of rock. It was everywhere. Every crag had huge orange bowls scooped out, where the grey rock face had eroded away. We could see caves too, where these cliffs had weathered even more.

Where do you begin to look? Where is the cave art?

As we grew accustomed to this landscape, we noticed the anomalies: fences running parallel to the cliff face and what looked like information boards. Thank goodness for binoculars.

Off we raced, keen to see this ancient form of art; to meet kindred souls. The rock art awaited us, as it had generations of people before us, for seven millenia.

We made our way to the cliff face and found a good set of information boards. Then we set off along the path that runs along the cliff, near it’s rocky base, well above the farmland. But where were all these paintings?

Once again, we had to allow time to adjust to the melee of detail that is this cliff. Only then did we begin to see the squiggles and lines that are picked out in a deeper orange in these shallow ochre bowls.

1. Notice board image
2. Cave artist’s image
2. Notice board image
1. Cave artist’s image

We saw a lot of art that day. It was high up and a mobile phone is not the very best camera.

Those two images are side by side on the cliff face, as you can see, and some of this artwork is high up. Was there a path at the level of the paintings seven thousand years ago? I cannot imagine how folks would have accessed these places otherwise. So many questions are thrown up by this work. No matter how modern we think we are, we are no different to these people who lived here.

We continued to explore along the path finding big caves and stupendous overhangs.

None of the caves show any sign of habitation. They may have been used for shelter.

We know very little about the many generations of people who have lived, loved, worked and fought in this grand valley. The images are almost all they have left behind for us to dwell upon. Many of the paintings would grace homes today; our aesthetic is no different. Seven thousand years ago these people, whether deliberately or unwittingly, left something for future generations to enjoy, on the simplest level and to try and understand. Perhaps that is the legacy everyone of us should strive for; the gift of something simple and pleasurable and, perhaps an enjoyable puzzle that keeps those that follow on after us guessing, just a little bit. This way, perhaps, we can make those who mourn us smile, despite the loss.

Pla De Petracos is about 6km North of the town of Castell de Castells on the CV-720. It does not cost a penny to walk the path, admire the art and read the signs. What an absolute bargain.

For more information about the Neolithic Spanish Cave paintings and their UNESO World Heritage Site status, click here.

We hope this article peaked your curiosity. Please let us know what you think of it by leaving a comment in the ‘reply’ box at the bottom of this page. Thank you from us Wallys. x

HOW TO BUTCHER AN OCTOPUS

Watch our fascinating video for a glimpse into an ancient skill that is still used daily in Spain.

Strange Fruit

Rising stolidly out of the beach, with the waves often lapping at it’s walls, is the Restaurante Sendra. It is a Mecca for seafood lovers the world over, because it takes great care of it’s basic ingredient; seafood.

Restaurante Sendra rising out of the sea

You know this place is special before you walk in. In fact you would be amazed if it were anything but the best. The translucent Octopuses hanging to dry on the beach and swaying in the fresh, salty sea air, is all the clue needed.

Octopuses drying in the Mediterranean Sun

We wanted to know a little more about the place and asked a member of staff if he would demonstrate how he prepares octopuses for drying. The result is the very short video below:-

How to butcher an octopus, an age old Mediterranean tradition.

So there you have it; Restaraunte Sendra may look a bit dull from the Rotes beach path, but it is well worth lingering over.

It may be a dull brown colour, but this restaurant is truly vibrant.

For more about the lives of Octopuses click this link.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please let us know by dropping us a line using the reply box at the bottom of this page. Thank you from The Wallys.