So, although not officially listed in the rules, we decided that day 35 of the Amazing Race - Sixeyes edition was to be a day off, and we would attempt what normal people do when they’re on holiday: relax.
Albeit a bit of a strange concept to us, we did all manage to stay in bed until 9am. Kaspar of course had little say in the matter as he was firmly velcroed into his bed (Its OK, this is not some kind of cruel and unusual method of eastern european punishment for infants - it is to prevent him from rolling out of bed). We then indulged a lazy cooked brunch while contemplating the couches. Gabor nearly caved and agreed to spend the day “by the pool” but we did promise ourselves we would go to the beach the next fine day.
So off to Calpe we went!
Calpe is a town about 45Kms south east of Oliva (where we’re staying) and is home to one of Spain’s more unusual natural edifices - the Penon de Ifach…a huge lime (not sure about this - it tasted more like dirt to me) rock jutting out of the sea 332m
high and 1km long, joined to the mainland by a narrow isthmus (yes, that is a word I use, actually). Apparently it was formed by a landslide many squillions of years ago from nearby Sierra de Olta…50,000 cubic metres of rock? that is one mutha of a landslide!
Quick history lesson: around 700BC the Phoenecians settled in a stretch of land called Hercules, now known as El Penon de Gibraltar. The land was later known as “Calpe” the name given to objects of great height or natural fortifications. Once the Phoenecians got bored of Gibraltar (they were a fishing and trading civilisation, so this was common), they moved on and settled in El Penon de Ifach. And given the striking resemblance to their last abode (and notwithstanding it was of course another object of great height) they called this place Calpe, also. This confused the hell out of the mailman, so to differentiate between the two “Calpe’s” they added “Ifach” which meant “north”, ergo Calpe and Ifach = object of great height in the north. Pretty smart those Phoenecians - its no wonder they held a pretty firm grip on the region for a millennium or so prior to
So, other than this great big rock stuck to it, Calpe also has outstanding beaches…fine white sand, strategically placed palm trees for shade, numerous natural inlets and coves, and of course a few recently discovered roman ruins, including the queen’s bath which was a series of structures built in the water in the prime spot of the beach.
All this history on our day off was hard work, so we pulled up our own patch of sand away from the masses. We had an entire beach to ourselves - we think the English tourists were on the northern side of the rock - and made ourselves comfortable so Kaspar could get his first real taste of sand. And boy did he love it! Almost as much as we did.
We spent the afternoon enjoying doing much of nothing, looking out over the Med, watching the odd fishing boat come in to port, checking out the old topless biddies, getting sand in everything, and even trying a bit of Mediterranean aqua therapy for the back. We watched Kaspar destroy an entire banana (incredibly without getting any sand on it) and then strolled the touristy part of
the beach eating gelati and checking out the locals (who are all tourists), and some of their interesting art forms, including sand sculptures and tin dino/alien chariot racers.
All in all, a damn fine day - literally - and hopefully one of more to come, on tour.
Footnote - Apparently Calpe is crawling with tourists in summer (if the masses upon masses of apartment blocks that cramp the coast line is anything to go by) and not the place to go for a relaxing ‘day at the beach’ so consider it only if you are going off-peak, or if you are looking for some awful tourist action. A 100m2 apartment without seaviews (how the hell can this be?) will set you back $250k Euros.
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