Road Trip: Costa Blanca Moraira-Wine Country-Villajoyosa-Benidorm- Campgrounds-Restaurants-Bodegas and Picnics
Sometimes you just have to get out of town. We have lived in Torrevieja for a year and a half without a car. Torrevieja has over 700 restaurants, some of the cheapest prices in the country and almost every type of ethnic food products I need. There really is very little reason to leave. But sometimes you just have to get out of town. And besides, we love exploring and seeing new places and of course we want to explore different parts of the country we now call home.
Road trips are the best! Bisque Kitt loves them. Synchronistic journeys with no plans, no destinations and no reservations. Just waking up everyday and allowing life, and the people we encounter to show us the direction to travel.
We found that renting a car at the Alicante airport is dirt cheap, literally a few Euros per day. So we took the bus for the 50 minute drive to the airport, got our car that is large enough to sleep in, returned to Torrevieja to pack up and get Bisque Kitt and we were on our way.
We didn’t make it far. We left at 3pm and the campgrounds here book solid so we pulled into the first one (that was only 15 minutes from home) and by chance they had one spot left. It was at the La Marina Resort. Campgrounds in Spain are over the top. They are almost like a cruise ship and the bathrooms and showers are nicer then we have at home.
The next day we explored the surrounding area. Nearby are the salt lagoons. Torrevieja is one of the oldest and largest salt producing towns in Europe. Also in the lagoons are large colonies of pink flamingos that are visible from the road. Unfortunately they tend to be just far enough away to not be able to get a good picture with a standard phone camera.
We then made our way to Guardamar, a small town just up the coast. It has the typical promenade lined with restaurants and is a very nice place for a stroll or to grab a drink.
It was time for lunch. We stopped at a Bodega but it was almost 2pm so of course they were about to close for siesta but we were able to pick up a 1.5 liter bottle of wine.
We went up the road to the small village of La Marina and made what would be a great choice for lunch, Pizzeria San Francisco. Terri-Lynn ordered Lasagna and I had the Cannelloni Carne. We probably should have shared, the lasagna was bigger then Terri-Lynns head. They were both absolutely delicious and surprising very different in taste from each other. The cost for the bottle of house wine was only $5.50 Euro and was excellent. The dishes were $6.50 Euro each so it was an $18.50 Euro lunch and very satisfying.
Lasagna, Cannelloni and attempting eat the whole thing. (We did)
After lunch we decided to drive to Elche, a city nearby we had not been to. It was, a city. Decided there was nothing in particular to stop and look at but there was a small town en route that had a nice church.
That night we self catered back at the campground and had another lovely sleep in the back of the car.
It was time to head up the coast to do some more exploring. We drove about an hour and stopped off in Benidorm. We have heard much about this town and the photos we have seen look like Las Vegas. That pretty much sums it up. But I liked it. We will make plans to come back and spend a few days to do the town proper. It will not be cheap. Tapas here are not free, in fact they average $2.50 for just a tapa and no drink. But they were like a work of art, very creative beautiful and fun so we will have to come back. It was very crowded, even at this time of year and the restaurant touts were overly aggressive. Which I find quite annoying and to me is counter productive. Rather then actually looking at a menu I found myself running by them as fast as possible. But, the town does look like fun so we just walked around for two hours and decided to find somewhere else more casual to have lunch. We can party out the next time we are here.
Benidorm has two beaches and promenades. The above is just one of them. The small streets connecting the two are lined with Tapa’s bars. The promenades themselves are full of “live” music venues. “Live music” is a hybrid of pre-recorded music with a singer and maybe a musician on the Costa Blanca. Some are better then others but it does feel like Karaoke. But we are not here for a thriving music scene.
We continued up the coast and stopped off in Calpe. There was a Mercadona (a regional grocery store) that had hot food so we picked up a Pollo Asado (roasted chicken) and found a lagoon with, guess what? Pink Flamingos! It was an ideal lunch spot and much cheaper then eating in Benidorm.
The small specs in the water are the pink flamingos. We travel with chairs, small table, wine and supplies so basically anywhere beautiful is a lunch spot.
After lunch we continued up the coast to Moraira and found a campground. This part of the coast was completely unexpected. Cliffs plunging into the Mediterranean sea with small villages hanging precariously over the turquoise waters. It is amazing!
Our camp site for the night is $24.50 Euro and has a great view. Bathrooms are fine but no where close to the last campground. We will be here for two nights.
For dinner that night we ordered some Indian food from Kathmandu, a Nepali-Indian restaurant just down the road from the campground. It was legit. I always order my Indian and Thai food extra extra extra extra hot. Usually it is never hot enough. This was one of those very rare times when, it was excruciatingly painful. They did a good job, and I would take it down a notch next time, maybe just extra hot. The taste was good, heavy on the ginger. My only complaint is that the root aromatics (ginger, garlic, onion etc) where very present texture wise, not pureed and very much present on the tongue, so a “chunky” sauce. The taste was excellent, the texture a bit disturbing.
The next morning Terri-Lynn was in the shower and I was lounging enjoying the view and a pineapple juice when a neighbor came up and said “were you cold last night”? His name is Dave, from the UK and has been coming here for years. A chatty guy and full of information. He suggests a day drive up into the mountains through the wine region and visiting various Bodegas. This is part of the synchronicity of a road trip. You never know what a day will bring. You never know what information you will receive from people you encounter. We took his advice.
The first town we came to, Benissa. Cute, walked around for a few minutes and continued on.
Then we came upon Xalo, a small wine growing village with Bodegas.
Wine tasting here is super chill. Taste on your own, as much as you want, make a decision and then purchase or not.
One goal for the day was the summit of the Coll de Rates. It is a spectacular drive up the mountain where at the top there is a restaurant. We had our food and wine so we just picnicked in the car.
We returned to the campground in Moraira after a very satisfying day. Dave was there. We thanked him for the information. He asked about our dinner plans and then suggested a British restaurant in town that he always ate at when in the area. So far his ideas were good so we decided to walk into town and give it a try.
Moraira is a beautiful small village. We plan on sailing here very soon.
We arrived at the restaurant, it is called Monroe’s and is full of Marilyn Monroe memorabilia. It is exactly what we expected. Simple, good quality British food. In Torrevieja the British bars always serve a “Sunday Roast” We have never tried it so this was a great opportunity. This is not our typical type of food but we certainly enjoyed the experience. It reminded me of Sunday night dinner at my Grandmothers house. The walk there and back was definitely part of the total experience.
Our starters. Deep fried pork and Tomato bisque
The next morning we started our day with a walk. We will be revisiting this town again very soon on our sailboat. Have I mentioned that Bisque Kitt is having a really good Dogcation? He Loves road trips and I think misses having a car.,
We set off for our final night back towards home and to the town of Calpe. Terri-Lynn is now all about Bodegas so we found one. It was only 9:30am, but vacation knows no time.
Jacinto Avargues Pastor Winery in Calpe
Time to insert more travel advise from Dave. He recommended the village of VillaJoyosa known for its narrow streets lined with fishing houses all painted different colors. That is 3 for 3 Dave!
This small village reminded me of the Cinque Terre on the Liguarian coast of Italy. Just beautiful and another place we will plan on sailing to very soon.
The promenade of Villajoyosa is also lined with restaurants, maybe next time.
It was time to check into our final campground. This… was a weird one. Not really a campground, more of a parking lot where the RV’s are literally in a parking spot with barely any room for a chair. We are happy we are here for only 1 night.
That evening we went looking for food, we were going to eat out in a restaurant. Bad choice. This town is empty at this time of year, no food. We returned to the campground and realized we forgot the code to get in. So Terri-Lynn climbed the fence. She was quite happy with herself about that. I wish I had a picture.
And that is the end of another successful road trip in Spain. The next morning we got an early start as the rental car had to be back at the airport by noon. We made our way home, unloaded all the gear, and the dog and managed to get the car back to the Alicante airport in time. Then it was just another 1 hour bus trip back to Torrevieja and the adventure was complete.
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