Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day Trip to Guadalest

We awoke to a spectacularly clear day and decided to take a drive up to Guadalest, a very small pueblo up in the hills above Calpe that is built literally into the rock. Perched almost 600 metres above sea-level, the houses and Castell (castle) of Guadalest overlook a wide valley which is bordered by the mountains (sierras) of Aitana, Serrella and Xorta. The Castell and the original houses of the village were built by the Moors during the Arab occupation (8th to 13th Centuries) and were accessible (as they remain today), only by way of a 15 metre long tunnel, carved in solid rock. Guadalest developed as an agricultural area, aided by the terracing of the mountain slopes and by irrigation systems put in place by the Arabs. The Moors were able to take advantage of this rocky setting to fend off the Christian attacks far longer than in other Moorish strongholds. I felt both tired and queasy as we made our way up the winding, twisty road to the town. It didn't help that I was out until 3:30 am the previous night (dinner till ~1 am and off to the bars afterwards) with some Spaniards from my gym class - and I was one of the first to leave the bars! I later learned that the rest of the group stayed up until about 6:00 am. Every time I start thinking I can hang with the Spaniards, I am proven wrong! As much as I would have liked to use the excuse that I am an old man, the truth is that some of them were as old if not older than me! This kind of partying must take years and years of training/conditioning. When do these people sleep? Fortunately for all of us, Guadalest was small and surprisingly uncrowded, so we took a nice leisurely stroll through one of the original homes and through the castell before having a quick bocadillo lunch in the pueblo and heading back home. This is definitely an area that warrants further exploration!

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