We’ve enjoyed our second week in Calpe (or Calp as it’s know to the locals), going out and about every day. The weather has stayed warm and dry, which certainly helps.
Thursday was ‘Constitution Day’ which this year marked the 40th anniversary of the signing of the country’s constitution in 1978, a key milestone in Spain’s transition from Franco’s dictatorship to today’s constitutional monarchy. Being a public holiday most shops were closed, but the cafés and bars were open so we went and found a nice restaurant which had one of my favourite dishes on its lunchtime Menú del Día, rabo de toro – or stewed bull’s tail – which was absolutely delicious.
With the public holiday on a Thursday, many people took what’s known as a ‘puente’ – or bridge – and booked the Friday off work, giving them a four day weekend, so there were lots of young families along the seafront on Friday enjoying a day out.
Over the weekend there was a Christmas market in the old town, and we were expecting this to be like most other European Christmas markets so it was refreshing to find that this was very different. Instead of stalls selling Christmas gifts, fast food, beer and mulled wine, the stalls here were run by volunteers (including lots of youngsters) selling homemade food and handicrafts to raise funds for local clubs, charities and faith organisations, which is (to us) what Christmas should be all about.
It’s very refreshing to see that Christmas in Spain isn’t the big commercial event that it is back in the UK, though it helps that they celebrate it differently in this country (I’ll explain more in another blog post nearer to the time). Yes they have the street lights and a big tree in town, but it’s all very low key with little of the consumerism we have become accustomed to back home. For example, the Sunday papers here don’t have loads of articles telling you how to cook the perfect dinner or what clothes you should be wearing.
On Saturday we went out for the day over the other side of the Peñón de Ifach, to find many more bars, restaurants, hotels and apartments lining the sandy beaches. Calpe is a big resort!
Sunday was a big day football-wise in Spain, as the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final – South America’s equivalent of the Champions League – between River Plate and Boca Juniors had been moved to Madrid, following the postponement of the game in Buenos Aires due to crowd violence. We went along to the campsite bar to watch it, and the game went into extra time with River Plate winning 3-1 (5-3 on aggregate).
We spent another night in the campsite bar, this time for a music night with The Nomad. I had anticipated this to be a guitarist strumming a few classics, so was disappointed to find this was a bloke singing along to karaoke backing tracks, and playing the odd solo on his sax or harmonica. There were only ten or so punters in there, with an average age of about 70 (including us!), and it was pretty dire. Carol likened it to a music show in an old people’s home, which is very much how it felt, but at least we didn’t have to pay! I couldn’t help wishing I was with my brother Dave in Cardiff, watching my favourite band Black Stone Cherry.
Today’s our last day in Calpe and we’ve had a great time here. Tomorrow we will be moving on to Benidorm, where we’ll be staying for 10 nights. Should be interesting!