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Spanish Secrets: Ebb And Flow

Hartley’s blackcurrant jam, Paxo sage and onion stuffing, Bisto gravy granules, tomato puree and lean British bacon rashers… Not the things, if you’re a Brit, that you would buy and take home from a holiday on Spain’s Costa Blanca. That is unless you are Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie, true Brits through and through, who live in rural Galicia, where English titbits are unavailable.

For more of Craig’s columns about life in his rural corner of heaven please click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

Our holiday in Javea, on Spain’s Costa Blanca, ended with a shopping spree. Not a tour of tacky souvenir shops in search of tasteless Spanish trinkets but gastronomic grocery shopping for all things English. Delicious delicacies denied to us by our remote home location in northern Spain.

Mouth watering products, once taken for granted, have become exotic treats for special occasions. Such irresistible titbits as; Hartley’s blackcurrant jam, Paxo sage and onion stuffing, Bisto gravy granules, tomato puree and lean British bacon rashers, were all on our must-buy shopping list. To top it all we even brought home an Indian takeaway from a seaside tandoori restaurant.

Most holiday visitors to the area probably hope to sample a small taste of Spain. We on the other hand, lunched on English pork sausages, snacked on pork pies and dined on oriental Chinese cooking and authentic Indian cuisine.

Since our last visit to the resort, over five years ago, some of the changes have been quite startling. Javea is predominantly a low-rise resort. As a consequence the lateral expansion of new buildings threatens to engulf the entire valley. The new infrastructure is adequate and well planned, but the town’s rapid expansion has meant the old road system is stretched to its limits, and beyond.

The old town of Javea is set back about 2 km from the coastline. It has a slightly elevated position overlooking the port of Javea. Not that long ago these two areas were separate and distinct,. Not so now. An endless tide of concrete apartments has linked the two places in an uncomfortable marriage.

Some things however remain unchanged and should do for the foreseeable future.

The port is situated at one end of a sweeping bay. At the other is the town’s Paradore. Unlike the restored historic convent in our home town of Monforte de Lemos, this Paradore is a rather non-descript building. Its architectural character goes hand-in-hand with Spain’s recent history and the rise in tourism.

It’s a four-storey hotel built in the 1960’s at the start of Spain’s tourist boom and is typical of hotel construction of that era. Its location on the tip of a small outcrop means the mature gardens are fringed with white-crested breakers as the deep-blue Mediterranean Sea kisses the surrounding rocks. Throughout the gardens tall leafy palm trees sway gently in the warm sea breeze.

From here the bay sweeps southward once again. A golden sandy beach arcs to another headland. Following this natural contour is a wide promenade, fronted with bars, restaurants and the obligatory souvenir shops.

Towering above this changing landscape is Mount Montgo, Costa Blanca’s equivalent of the Swiss Matahorn.

The natural processes of erosion and deposition have sculptured this small and beautiful part of the Mediterranean coastline for thousands of millennia and are likely to continue to do so for thousands more. Whether natural or man-made, change is inevitable. The growth of a holiday resort changes lives and landscapes, but perhaps more people benefit by the changes than loose out to them?

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Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs


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