Penyal d’Ifac, Calpe, Altea Vella, Tarbena

December 2015,

Via the N-332 or the tollway A7, it is easy to reach Calpe, a city hidden behind the mountains and right on the coast. I didn’t expect to see such a big city, after driving out of the mountains onto the coast. The Natural Park of Penyal d’Ifac is stretched on an enormous limestone rock into the sea, from where you have impressive views over the town and the back country. In the Park, there are numerous rare plants and over 300 species of animals. It is also a nesting site for colonies of seabirds and other birds. The rock rises to 332 metres high.


It was not possible to walk the trail all the way to the end, maybe due to safety reasons at this time of the year. The path gets very narrow and the ropes, which are used for support on the trails, were taken away. I didn’t mind too much, as I wasn’t too keen in walking on those small rocky pathways, high above the sea………


From Calpe, it is a short drive to Altea and Altea Vella. I always wondered, why so many foreigners wanted to retire in Altea. I also thought it was a fairly small community. Well , it isn’t. Altea is a thriving town, with as main attraction the promenade, where you can go for some extensive “terrace hopping”, if that is your choice…….I could never live there, but for a couple of hours, it is a nice outing. Probably, it is very enjoyable to spend a summer evening there, sipping your cava or sangria, while watching people passing by.


Altea Vella is a short drive into the countryside and it is one of those very small white villages, but even here it is expanding, through the arrival of all the foreigners, who made it their home. The backcountry is nice, with the rough mountains framing it as a picture.

Later that week, I make a tour into the backcountry, behind Pedreguer and drive via the CV 720 to Llosa de Camacho. Then to Parcent and Benigembla. There you have to zig zag, as suddenly the signs towards Castell de Castells are gone. The road is very quiet and beautiful. In Castell de Castells you can find a few hotels and eateries. It is way colder here in the mountains and pretty windy too! After, the road goes higher up in the mountain and gets very curvy and narrow. A challenge for me to drive, but there is no turning back!!! So happy there is no Spanish driver behind me, as they are always in a hurry. There is even barely any traffic from the opposite way…….


Finally, Tarbena is reached and what a beautiful location for a town. High up in the mountains with an sceneric view over the valley and the skyrisers from Benidorm in the far distance, on the coast. A visit to the local bakery is a must, as time has stood still here. I buy some bread and very tasty, but awfully sweet almond cookies, made according to a recipe from Mallorca. According to the talkative baker, people from Mallorca invaded this small village, after the Moors were gone. Until today, their influences are still present.


There is also a famous cute small restaurant “Casa Pinet” in Tarbena, which speciality is headcheese. Too bad that it was crowded with people on this sunny Saturday, otherwise I would have loved to taste it! Of course I have to visit the cemetery, as always wherever I am and from here the view is the best! It seems that nearly everybody on the cemetery has the same name;  Molines…….


I leave Tarbena behind and drive the scenic road down to Callosa d’en Sarria, where the landscape is occupied with Medlar plantations (Nispero in Spanish or Mispel in Dutch).

Finally, the road brings me back in Altea Vella again, from where it is an easy drive back to Pedreguer, over the toll way.