Day seven – Ola Altea (Friday 26th August)

Already a week into my trip and I feel like I´ve hardly hit the tip of the iceberg as far as the Med is concerned.

Already a week into my trip and I feel like I´ve hardly hit the tip of the iceberg as far as the Med is concerned. And my favourite place changes almost daily.

Today´s favourite place was Altea, south from Javea and before the dreaded towers of Benidorm. The marina is big, but mostly home to smaller runarounds and fishing boats. There are quite a few bigger boats at one end though and the restaurants along the marina suggest quite an international boating clientele. I had some great tapas at Meson LÁltea, a little, unassuming place just back from the waterfront.

The new part of the town down at the seafront seems a good place to stock up, but it´s the old pueblo overlooking the new part that took my breath away. A blue-domed church sits amid little narrow streets flanked by whitewashed houses, tiny tapas bars and flower baskets. After being in such busy places for the last week, this was so refreshing – and in the middle of the siesta I had the whole little town virtually to myself. And the views from some of the terrace restaurants are astonishing. Do yourself a favour and spend some quality time there next time you´re passing.

I searched for British ensigns in Altea marina, but couldn´t find any and anyway it was too hot to go and search people out. So I can´t give you an expert´s opinion of the port I´m afraid, but I certainly liked it.

I was thinking about everything I´ve learned in Spain so far and all the stuff I´ve managed to leave out of my blog entries. Here are some of the things I remembered over a glass of San Miguel…

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1. All of the marinas on the Costa Blanca are due to be souped up in the run-up to the America´s Cup in Valencia in 2007. Denia is due to be extended, as is Altea, so it´s a fantastic time to think about finding a berth in the area.

2. Always check the possible noise levels in a Spanish marina before you move your boat there. Coming into Denia yesterday evening, the bars were already blaring out music at top volume and the Spanish like to party very, very late. And that´s not even mentioning the fireworks. I don´t know how anyone there gets any sleep at all.

3. Calpe, between Moraira and Altea, seems like a really nice marina, but the town is apparently a bit of a dump (or so the friendly Welshman I met at Javea marina this morning told me…)

4. The commute to the Balearics is feasible on a regular basis from many of the marinas around Javea. It takes between 2 and 3 hours for a cautious motorboater to get to Ibiza, and considering berths in the islands are rumoured to be sky high and getting higher, that might be a better bet.

5. Javea has some great restaurants along the El Arenal beach and along the promenade before the marina. Some of them look like Blackpoolesque eateries, but the food is fantastic and really good value. But eating on your own can be tricky if you want to eat Spanish, as paella is usually for two and tapas just isn´t the same if you´re not sharing it (sniff sniff!)

6. Still on the food front – even the top Spanish restaurants often have a super-value Menu of the Day at lunchtime. For around e12-13 you can get three courses and some wine. So if you can´t stretch to dinner at the restaurant that everyone is talking about, all is not lost.

7. Permanent berths at Moraira are incredibly rare. There is a rumoured 12-year waiting list at the moment, so you might have to make do with a visit.

8. Usually, once you have a berth at a Spanish marina, the marina office are obliged to renew your contract if you agree to their terms, rather than just offer it to someone else.

9. When approaching a marina for the night, the experts recommend just pitching up and sticking yourself on a pontoon, rather than calling ahead. Apparently, the marina office will often tell you a marina is full rather than make the effort to find you a slot.

Phew! I´m sure there´s loads more, but that is all I can think of at the mo. Now, must go as my Dad has got his hire car stuck on a pebble beach at Javea and might need some help getting it out….


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