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Spanish Secrets: On The Road To Javea

As summer draws to a close in Galicia, Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie travel south, bound for a holiday where the clear, blue Mediterranean Sea laps gently onto sandy beaches.

For more of Craig's colourful descriptions of life in Spain please click on Spanish Secrets in the menu on this page.

With summer in Canabal drawing to a close, we decided to organise a trip to Javea on Spain’s Costa Blanca coastline. Prior to our move to Spain, Javea had been one of our annual holiday destinations. It was also one of three areas we’d short-listed for our eventual move to Spain. It’s over five years since we’d last visited the area and we were curious to find out how it had changed.

Our trip began with a six o’clock alarm call. This once familiar six days-a-week routine, is now reserved for special occasions and early morning visits with family and friends to the airport. Nevertheless, I still find it a thoroughly unsatisfactory way to greet the arrival of a new day.

The dark morning was surprisingly warm but damp and misty. Within three quarters of an hour we were washed, dressed and trundling through our deathly quiet village and onto the main highway. As we climbed out of the village the mist thickened into a dense fog. Visibility was reduced to 10 metres; our only guide was the white reflective glare from the central road markings.

As we snaked our way down the steep Mino valley, the murkiness cleared. High on the valley sides clusters of village lights floated on the ethereal mist like heavenly bodies.

By eight o’clock the dark shroud began to lift. Within an hour the sun had begun its ascent. Sandwiched between the distant plains and a thick band of grey cloud, this bright globe appeared on the horizon like the blazing eye of a tiger, staring into a new day.

Cruising down the A6 we pass signed exits for Zamora and Salamanca. Later we crossed the river Duero whose fertile banks produce some of Spain’s best wines. Further downstream this great river enters Portugal where its soils produce Port wines.

Before long we’re on the outskirts of Madrid, climbing steadily towards the summit of its mountainous shield. The weather so far had been overcast and cloudy; occasional showers were followed by brief breaks in the cloud and warm sunlight. The climbing road shaves the mountain’s summit with a 2 km long tunnel.

Exiting the tunnel was like travelling into a different world. The clouds had broken and the sun was shining through a deep-blue sky. The new road which skirts around Madrid was busy but free-flowing. Before mid-day we were heading away from Madrid, along the A3 towards Valencia and the Mediterranean Sea.

With Madrid behind us it was time for lunch. Tuna-mayonnaise sandwiches, a packet of potato-crisps and a bar of chocolate were washed down with a bottle of Nature's vintage – water; all devoured on the hoof at over 80 mph.

The wilderness here provided a stark contrast to the green, rocky and mountainous areas North of Madrid; mile after mile of rusty-brown plains, a dry landscape of barren earth. Curvaceous hills flow like the ripples on a pond. The fierce sun has baked the landscape; scouring smooth, craggy outcrops. Wind and sun have shot-blasted the plains like a giant pumice stone. Scattered amongst this stark vista are uniformed rows of olive groves; a silent army of trees who’s ancient stories will forever remain a secret.

As we approach Valencia the scenery changes again. Lush orchards of oranges, lemons and limes cover the fields and valleys. Deep-green waxy leaves contrast against the browning foliage of the provinces numerous vineyards. The region is famous for its young, refreshingly-bright and crisp white wines.

Our journey along the A3 ended in spectacular fashion. An over-eager lorry driver entered the tight slip-road too quickly. A melee of dark-blue plastic packing cases and a mountain of freshly picked apples had blocked one of the carriageways. We slipped past, onto the A7, southbound.

Within an hour we’d exited the motorway and headed into Javea. We’d driven from West coast to East, a distance of over 1000km; travelled along four major highways in eight hours forty-five minutes.

We’d arrived in plenty of time to enjoy an ice-cold beer, accompanied by the rhythmic melody of a clear, blue Mediterranean Sea, lapping gently onto a sandy beach.

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Copyright © 2006 Craig Briggs


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