Gorgeous Guadalest – oasis amidst the high rise

Gorgeous Guadalest – oasis amidst the high rise

We’re not great fans of cities and built up areas – and in truth we already knew this about ourselves before we embarked on our nomadic journey.  Although nothing reminded us more of our appreciation of the natural world versus suburbia than Spain’s Costa Blanca.  Although we chose to by-pass the area completely last year, we have come to embrace the fact that everything should be experienced just once – allowing you to make your own mind up as you travel amidst the maze of reviews from fellow journeymen.

So when my mum came to stay in Albir in between Altea and Benidorm for two weeks, it was an ideal opportunity to check out whether these areas had a piece of magic that would send us away with our tails between our legs.  Keep open minded to the possibilities, I kept telling myself.

Alas, as we drove from Dénia to pick her up, my fears had been realised.  Tower block hotels, wall to wall shops and buildings, main roads, motorways and traffic.  All the things we hate most about urban life’s suffocating energy.  Still, perhaps there would be something around the corner to change our minds.  After tauntingly missing our junction for Albir, as if to prove a point, the N332 took us all the way to Benidorm – ‘That’ll teach you’ it whispered in tune with Scoobie’s tyre tracks. The high rises that took charge of the horizon, creating their own concrete landscape reached out to us like monsters in a nightmare and we struggled for twenty minutes to get out of the area and back on track to Albir.

Now Albir certainly wasn’t quite as bad as its partying neighbour, although there was just something about the whole coastline that made us feel hemmed in and breathless.  We saw the same landmarks in Calpe, that we thought would be a quaint fishing village.  Disappointment certainly visited us that day.  So you can imagine our relief when we took refuge for the night in the mountains a short drive from the tawdry coastline.  As we moved mile by mile towards the mountain metropolis we knew our souls would be reset very soon.

The higher we climbed, the more Mother Nature’s high rises drew us into her raw magnetism.  Our destination was El Castell de Guadalest, not more than 30 minutes away on the CV70, that had been recommended by a friend.  My mum had also been there the week before on an excursion with the hotel and had enjoyed it, so it was a must for us.  We were not disappointed, aided by the fact that we arrived after the crowds had long since gone.


We found a Motorhome dedicated parking spot, that for €4 for the night, gave us a peaceful and beautiful spot to rest our heads.  And the views were to die for!  Now this was far more ‘us’ and we felt like we’d come home.

Because of the area’s historical popularity, coaches arrive in their droves, winding up the mountain roadway to reach this little oasis of gorgeousness.  So having been there overnight, we had a head start and, pretty much the place to ourselves.  Whilst there are the expected tourist shops and photo-capturing entrepreneurs looking to sell you unwelcome images as you enter the castle walls, beyond these there is a real authentic air to the place.

Perched up high in what looks like a sanctuary protected by three different mountain ranges, bizarrely Guadalest shows plenty of military scars from Moorish battles dating back to 700AD, the earthquake of 1644 and a mine explosion.  Yet this small mountain settlement stands firm and resilient against human and natural tragedies.  It is a testimony to how people work together to keep their communities in tact.

Today the ‘Grand House’ built after the earthquake, the castle remnants, the clock tower and white-washed village of quaint homes, all offer the visitor a welcome sense of reality, history and substance.  The views down to the coast are the only reminder of the concrete seaside conurbation, as this Eagle’s Nest spectacular gives you a taste of real Spain and the struggles that gave the country its character and charm.

The Guadalest Reservoir nestled far below the village’s lofty strong-hold is an emerald green gem that has every form of photographic tool clicking away to capture the artist palette of colours.

The reservoir is worthy of the short drive, so you can take in the scene from a completely different perspective.  Looking up towards the village you get a real sense of its dominant position whilst feeling in the heart of a haven of beauty.  The mountains tower above you and the chalky curves of the lake’s edges entice you to wander its perimeter and share lunch on its shores. And here there are no tourists; certainly out of season you will have this place to yourselves, capturing your heart as you try to imagine the history that has been carved here.

Guadalest is such an incredible oasis of beauty that must be seen.  Don’t drive past on the motorway in pursuit of quieter shores without stopping to marvel at its magic. It cries out to be loved, admired and valued and, in return you will be treated to a natural piece of heaven away from the vibrations of Europe’s party capital.

Scoobie’s Blog – Week 1

Scoobie’s Blog – Week 1


Scoobie's Blog - wk1

Scoobie’s Blog
Star date 12 March 2016

Where has the last week gone? Who stole it? We don’t want it back, as there’s great fun to be had ahead, although just like to know who’s nabbed it. It’s just flown by. Who would have thought that in one week we would have locked up our furniture, said goodbye to our temporary home, said ‘au revoir’ to our friends, been to Cornwall for a meal at Rick’s place and sailed over to Spain. We’re now sitting about half way down the country, in Monfrague National Park, Entremadura Region.

Now, for those of you who are familiar with my blogs from our NZ Road-Trip, you will know how much I love my superlatives. For those of you new to my colourful and poetic travel summaries, let’s see if I can inspire, inform and entertain – just a little.

As I reflect on what we’ve achieved in the last six months, let alone the last week, I am amazed and proud of all that we have navigated. We’ve said good bye to the Matrix and set off on an adventure which we hope will be not so much life-changing, as life-enhancing.

So let’s begin….

The week, as I reflect back has been a cultural invasion for us country folk. Although we must admit to being just a little bit surprised by the weather. Now I know that the weather is unpredictable at the best of times in UK, although we had this preconceived idea that Spain would be sunny. Well what a baptism of fire that has been. Thunder storms, gale-force winds, hail, snow and piercingly cold temperatures have all been in the mix and apparently that’s normal for this part of the country. We made a conscious decision not to chase the sun as the weather is not a major driver for our experiences – although Myles does love the heat. Yet the idea of by-passing some of Spain’s most incredible cities was just too preposterous to imagine. So wrapped in our traditional English finery; thick coats, hats and gloves, we ventured towards the culture that we knew would expand our minds if not tan our bodies.

Research showed me, that Castile y Leon offered a huge amount of history and architecture, and yet one thing we learnt in NZ was that you can’t see everything, even with the freedom that we’re blessed with on this trip. So we selected a route – please enter; Burgos, Segovia and Salamanca. We so want to leave more than tyre tracks and leave behind just a little bit of our hearts in the places we visit, although perhaps that will be a little easier to do when it’s warmer, as sitting in one of the many Plaza’s with a beer, people-watching is great when you have 18 degrees of sunshine.

All three cities we’ve been privileged to explore, have blown our minds and it’s really difficult to set them apart, so I’m not even going to try, as to compare would be disrespectful. Each one is a UNESCO site and unique in its style, vibe and layout. Burgos was our first visit and wow, even as non-Church goers, that Cathedral was something else. And the river cycle ride was quite gorgeous on their purpose-built bicycle tracks – even if a tad chilly. Now Segovia, was in another class altogether. Romanesque aqueducts, Princess castles straight out of a Disney film and a Cathedral with a network of crooked Spanish streets offering the visitor delights of everyday Spanish living. We felt incredibly humbled to be part of this city and could have spent so much more time winding around its imposing city walls. And then came Salamanca; we worried that we’d be a bit overdone with churches and imposing religious artefacts. Although how could you not be impressed by the towering giants of intricate edifices, gargoyles and padres. Salamanca blew our minds as in one square mile, there were more churches, cathedrals and religious structures than the previous two cities we’d visited. We kept walking around in complete awe and we don’t do cities.

In amongst all of our exploring, we have also had to balance our work. It’s been tricky because the travelling and magnetic draw to see these incredible sights has, quite honestly, distracted us. With beautiful, road-less-travelled routes offering so much secret beauty with richly coloured houses of gold, greens and aubergines, snow capped mountains, Black Vultures, Storks nesting on electricity pylons, red Squirrels and Red Kites, who could blame us for not engaging with our work. What lovely distractions they are too. Although engage we must. So we’ve settled into a routine that allows us to travel, work, rest and explore, although having a couple of days to park up and just be, feels like the right thing to do as we enter the next Spanish region, Entremadura. Now out in the countryside, amidst the mountains, swallows, oh and a little bit of ‘need to put our shorts on’ weather, will provide an ample base for a bit of catch up.

We’ve adjusted to our new way of life, quite nicely, although it has to be said, yesterday’s domestic duties did not inspire me.  I had to give myself a reality check though, as of course, this is life and chores need doing whether in four walls or in a motorhome.  So I soon got over myself.  We do, if I’m honest, still feel like we’re on holiday and I had a poignant moment this morning when asked, ‘where do you come from?’  I didn’t quite know how to answer this very simple of questions.  I came to the conclusion, after spluttering out a half-baked response, that my home is where I plant my feet and where Scoobie parks up his tyres.  How blessed are we to be living this reality.

So until next week – adios!


Archos Santa Maria – Burgos

Burgos Cathedral

Burgos Cathedral









Segovia’s Disney Castle




Salamanca’s Cathedral


Salamanca’s many beauties


Segovia’s hidden street gems


Our over nighter at Segovia’s Bullring!