Summer In SpainPosted on: 01 July 2009 by Gareth Hargreaves
Summer is well and truly here in Spain, with temperatures rising and an influx of holidaymakers.
Summer is well and truly here in Spain, with temperatures rising and an influx of holidaymakers. For those of us who live here permanently, it’s a time to keep out of the sun, and if we have them, to enjoy our swimming pools.
Sadly, despite all the warnings, we still see many people on holiday toasting themselves on the beaches, but as I was once a culprit I can hardly criticise them. When on holiday I too used to go all out to get a tan, but must admit I now regret it as my skin is a testimony to too much exposure that no amount of face creams can put right.
So ladies – and gents too – if you are yearning to get a tan, at least shield your face from strong sunshine. Wear a hat with a brim and believe me, it will pay dividends.
Summer also brings fun, fiestas, fireworks, leisurely outdoor lunches, and of course if you like it, plentiful, inexpensive wine. The exchange rate is creeping up again which is good for us pensioners, and for those coming here on holiday. It has a long way to go before it hits the rate we enjoyed when we first moved here, but when it’s as wonderfully warm as this it’s easy to find and enjoy inexpensive activities.
No doubt it is down to the weather, but when the sky is blue and the sun is shining, people seem to smile more, and it’s lovely to see so many senior citizens active and enjoying life.
If you are looking forward to a holiday here, or are coming to live on the Costa Blanca, there many places you might like to visit, along with the glorious beaches. So for the coming months, I’ll be writing about some of them, and letting you in on a few local secrets along the way.
One of my favourite places is Gaudalest, a small village perched on the pinnacle of a granite mountain, giving stunning views across a valley carved out by the river from which the village gets its name.
The drive there is lovely, climbing ever upwards, and on reaching Guadalest you can see why the Moors, who constructed castles to defend the area, considered this place a site of strategic importance. Once there and parked, you will find lots of interesting little shops, along with places to eat and drink.
Though popular with tourists, the prices are reasonable, with something to suit every pocket; china, linen, carved wood, and a myriad of ornaments, from the inexpensive to Lladro, Swarovski and more.
Once you have explored the lower part of the village you go on upwards until you reach a tunnel carved out of rock. On the other side you will find a small museum, a tiny church, more shops and places to eat, and of course, the castle. For us it’s a time to sit, to get the camera out, and to take in the wonderful views, along with having a leisurely bite to eat.
In the same area, about 300 metres along the road, is El Arca, a wonderful animal sanctuary set up by a man named Serafin who has a tremendous love of animals, and rescues those that have been mistreated or abandoned from many different countries.
You will find a variety of animals, from tigers, lions, and bears, to chimpanzees and small animals. On some enclosures you will find a placard with the sad tale of why these animals were rescued, for instance a tiger who was made to dance on hot coals, and a lion kept confined in a dark cellar which caused him to go blind.
You will soon see that El Arca (also known as Noah’s Arc) is not a money-making venture, and that along with his small band of helpers, Serafin’s only concern is for the animals. It is nothing like a posh zoo with well laid out paths, and space is limited to small, sometimes uneven tracks, but all that is asked of you is that you donate a €5 entrance fee towards the huge costs that it takes to run the rescue centre.
There is nobody offering to sell you souvenirs or ice creams, and though there is a cafe close by, nothing is on sale inside El Arca. Though the enclosures aren’t ideal (they are formed of earth and natural habitat, rather than concrete), remember that these animals have been rescued from dreadful conditions, and they are now incredibly well looked after. There are guided tours, or you can just ramble freely, but in the summer I would recommend that you avoid visiting during the hottest time of day as most of the animals will be asleep.
With an early start, both Gaudalest Village and El Arca can be combined into one trip, and I am sure you will find this beautiful area of Spain well worth a visit.
That’s it for this month, so until next time, love and rainbows to you all,
Addendum: Since writing this article I have been to El Arca, and found that it is currently closed. It seems there is a dispute as to its status because although it’s an animal sanctuary, the authorities now want to classify it as a zoo. The wonderful man who runs it does not have the necessary finances to comply with all the regulations involved with this change of status, so until this matter is resolved, El Arca is sadly closed to visitors.
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