By Veronica

From the car window

We went for what seemed like an innocuous little drive down to the coast today. First stop was Calahonda, where after inspecting the local geometry, we had a coffee at a beach bar, enjoying the sunshine, and a little snack from a bakery. Continuing along the coast after consulting the map we decided to follow a scenic road a bit inland before heading back down to Albuñol to rejoin the motorway.

Up and up went the road, higher and higher and more and more remote. Living in the Languedoc we are pretty sanguine about wind, but this started getting rather hairy. Because the road was so sinuous sometimes you would be sheltered by a slope, and then as you turned a corner you'd be hit by a sudden blast of wind. At one point I actually shrieked aloud, as on a particularly exposed stretch a volley of mingled dust, twigs, tumbleweed, and small stones rattled against the car.

Compared to mountain roads in the Pyrenees, the roads here are pretty good -- mostly wide enough for two cars to pass (in any case there was no other traffic), and with barriers on most of the sheer drops. Nevertheless, when we got to the remote village of Polopos (altitude about 1200m) with no sign of the road ceasing to climb, the wind strengthening, and 20 snaking km still to go to Albuñol, we had to stop for a little pause and a swap of drivers. I think it's just more scary when you don't know the road. In any case, I took this from the window while S was driving, after we had finally conquered the highest point and were on our way down. There are thousands of almond trees on these steep slopes, as well as a surprising number of vines. They must be a real pain to cultivate since there is no chance of getting a tractor onto any of these.

I'm sure it would be a lovely drive on a day with no wind, but while we did enjoy the views, we were heartily relieved to get back down to the valley. We parked in Albuñol and decided we needed a beer and something to eat. Noticing a couple just ahead of us striding very purposefully down the street, we decided to follow them. When they went into a bar, so did we. It was heaving with rowdy locals; we managed to get the one free table. If we'd arrived any later, we'd have been queuing to grab one the minute someone left.

After a beer and a free tapa, we decided to order some fried fish, but made the mistake of accepting the waiter's suggestion of a mixed platter for two. Instead of the small plates of squid or tiny deep-fried red mullet that others were eating, we got a massive platter of admittedly delicious, beautifully fresh, and perfectly cooked fish (see extra). We thoroughly enjoyed it and I would happily recommend the Bar Fernando to anyone, were it not for the fact that the platter turned out to cost 30 euros (more than the 3-course lunch with wine we had yesterday). I think they saw us coming.

Anyway, after all this excitement S drove home via the motorway and we are now sheltering from the wind at home. 

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