The day I left the last campsite, I decided to have a bit of a tour of the area before moving north. I headed into one of the natural parks that was close to La Manga, and found that La Manga golf resort is actually built there and not on La Manga at all. As these areas are meant to be protected, I wondered how many back handers were needed to get permission to build, or maybe it was built without permission, which also happens here a lot I am told!
Some of the views were lovely, I stopped at a small village called Portman (no building society that I could see!) where the weekly market was in full swing. I bought a few things and carried on my journey. I'm not sure at what point I stopped driving through a valued natural park and entered the dumping ground for Cartagena, but there was no discernible change in the scenery, I just rounded a bend and found myself driving through the centre of a landfill site which STANK, followed by an oil depot, some sort of nasty refinery/ factory and then the biggest building materials extraction site I have seen - ouch. Moving away from there, I headed north to the top of La Manga, where there is a large area of salinas. Having missed the flamingos at their breeding ground in the north, I hoped to catch some at one of their stop over points on the way to Africa - and I was in luck. They weren't pink, there weren't hundreds of them, but they were so elegant and it was lovely to see them in a natural environment - one they had chosen for themselves - instead of in a zoo. I stopped overnight at a local campsite, hence the two stops close to each other on my map. This was in fact next to the airport that serves La Manga, but I was able to park on the beach, watched a sunset over the reed beds, a sunrise and enjoyed one of the more peaceful nights of this trip!!
Next morning, which was clear and very warm, I sunbathed on the beach for a while before setting off. That day, I needed to get further north, so not too much sightseeing before I headed for a campsite north of Alicante. '450m from the beach' it said 'but seperated by the railway line that is 5m from the site' it didnt say. I dodnt like it there much, strange atmosphere and two blokes with the definite look of ageing alcoholic dropout - you know grey/white ponytail, wandering round drink in hand talking loudly to anyone and everyone. The one in the tent next to me was trying too hard to be friendly, so I spent a lot of the evening sitting inside Ducky and went to bed early, though the hacking smokers cough of the man in the tent woke me up a few times - yeuk. I was up and away early next morning, at least partly to get to the small town of Guadalest before the coach trips. The advice from Lonely Planet to go early or late was spot on - I had 40 minutes of peace looking at this pretty place before six coachloads descended and changed the atmosphere completely. After that nice visit I headed to Jijona that is the heart of the Turron industry, which is a sweet that often looks like peanut brittle or fudge but which is nicer! I was aiming to take a tour of the Turron museum there, guided tours on the hour according to the guide. But it was the most ugly place I have visited, with nothing else of interest that I could see and a 2 hour wait for the next tour - I gave up on that and just bought three bars which, amazingly, I havent touched yet. So I decided to go to the shoe museum in Elda which competes for the title of the one producing most shoes per year. But that turned out to be closed on Mondays, and of course the shoe shops were shut for the siesta, which is observed just about everywhere down here! SOo two almost wasted visits and I went to my campsite, nothing special but it put me in line for the next day's sightseeing. This campsite moved me from Murcia province into Valencia province, which is much bigger than Murcia and promises more to see
First day I looked at another lagoon, La Albufera, which is freshwater and has a bigger strip of land sperating it form the sea than La Manga - this is also a haven for wildlife and an important stopover point formigrating birds. I'm sure I saw a stork - does anyone have any news to tell me!! This was a truly lovely area, with reed beds, rice fields, very nice unspoiled villages and wonderful dunes that led to almost empty beaches. I found one, tore a hunk of bread off that day's barra (baguette), put some cheese and butter, a knife, bottleopener and a bottle of beer in my bag and went off for a lovely laze on the beach - it was such a nice few hours. I can still swim in the sea, though there is always a sharp intake of breath or two til I get in properly! After that I took a drive inland, saw a village called Navajas which is very unlike any other I had seen, full of elegant villas in walled gardens which were built by wealthy people from the city of Valenncia as their weekend homes. I skirted Valencia city itseef on the way north, it looks lovely but is too big for this trip. I'm now at the seaside again, staying in Alcossebre where my uncle and aunt live. This site offers wifi - at a price, and I have wasted a lot of time trying to load photos, the connection just breaks down any time it is asked to do any serious work, and I've even lost it loading text on here - very frustrating.
And the cranes in the title, well I haven't seen any of the feathered variety but Spain must have more building sites with cranes in use than anywhere else in the world. There are autovias going up everywhere, even in places where the existing roads are quiet and on some stretches of coast all you can see from the distance is a row of cranes where the latest touristtacky town is being erected. I'm beginning to think there will be no unspoilt Spain in five years time :-(
But the weather is terrific, I've boosted the tan, caught up with my relatives and tomorrow I will move again. As Phil Collins would say 'Just another day, you and me, in paradise...' ooh but you're not here are you but I am LOL LOL LOL