Calpe has been inhabited on and off since the Bronze age. It occupies an area of strategic importance on a route through the mountains and so merited fortification by its various inhabitants, Roman, Moorish and Spanish. Being close to the coast raids by Barbary Pirates were common and apparently in 1687 290 residents were taken to Algeria by said pirates and held for ransom for 5 years! Fishing took off in the 19th century and tourism in the 20th. There are still traces of old Calpe in the town but not much.
The area around Calpe is heavily built up but still quite picturesque. On Friday we had a leisurely morning on board then went for a walk. Our first port of call was a salt lake close by which is the home to flamingos; not so many now as the town has surrounded the area completely but it was cool to see flamingos in such and urban setting.
From there we walked 3 or so miles north along the coast to Les Bassetes, you may remember us sailing south passed this place the week before. We walked along to the Reial Club Nautico de Les Bassetes, a grand title for a minute ‘harbour’. It is the base for a couple of small sail and motor boats and a local Diving Centre and having seen the waters from above I can see the attraction of diving here.
We had tapas and a beer in the Club Nautico, with an audience, before walking back along the costal path which runs for almost the entire distance and it is very pretty.
On Saturday we walked the opposite direction, west towards the centre of Calpe making for the reconstructed remains of the fort at the top of the town. Another 3 miles or so, and a lot of it up hill.
You may be surprised to hear that we found a Tapas Bar for some light refreshments before heading back, down hill, to the sea front before walking back along the promenade to the marina. We spent the rest of the afternoon on board chillin’, reading, blogging etc before getting a cab to Benissa, a town in the hills about 15 km above Calpe, for a religious festival, another flower offering.
Benissa is a modern town centred around the church in the town square, and it is a very impressive church to, apparently relatively modern. The festival was another parade of folks in local costume bringing flowers to the church for a picture of the saint to be decorated. We had a bite to eat and watched the processions and then the decorating but decided not to wait until 12.30 for the fireworks. Unfortunately we’d been well and truly spoiled by the ‘Valencia Experience’! All the same it was really good to see people of all ages so immersed in their local culture. We got a cab back and waited up until the fireworks began as we would have had a ring side seat from the back of the boat. Unfortunately the clouds had come down and it even rained slightly so although we heard them we couldn’t see the fireworks.