Monday, 19 September 2016

South America via Spain – Days 1 to 6

The Bernia Ridge from Richard and Elizabeths garden

We’ve had an easy and comfortable start to our South American adventure, which isn’t in South America at all, but a week in Spain to see Jackie’s dad Richard and his wife Elizabeth! We actually fly to Cuzco in Peru on Wednesday 21st September, so came here for a bit of R&R and to see them before heading off for (hopefully) a year. 

Inside the Mughal-e-Azam restaurant with Abi
The night before leaving the UK we had a last Indian curry with Abi in the fabulous Mughal-e-Azam restaurant on the Hall Green/Sparkhill border and we can absolutely recommend it: a superbly converted big old church with excellent service, great food, very reasonable prices and BYO alcohol. We will definitely be going there again when we get back. This is their website: Mughal-e-Azam

Ready for the 'off' Outside Abi's
After a laid back breakfast on Wednesday morning we said bye-bye to Sooty and Abi drove us to Birmingham Airport for our flight to Alicante on the Costa Blanca in Spain on a plane loaded with ‘Brits Abroad’ heading for Benidorm that made us a bit embarrassed to be British, but so grateful we weren’t also going there; our destination was much more pleasant, not that far away, but fortunately far enough.

Richard, Jackie’s dad collected us from the airport and whisked us along the motorway, past the exit to Benidorm and off up into the hills of Altea and to their lovely house on the lower slopes of the fabulous Bernia Ridge.

So ‘adventure’ on the first week of our trip is perhaps a slight exaggeration but it is a great way to start! Daytime temperature around 30°C, a swimming pool to cool off in, a balcony to relax on with the most amazing mountain scenery in all directions, copious amounts of wine and good food and a hectic social calendar. R&E have arranged lots of social engagements with friends and we’ve had the most amazing time so far with still a day and a half to go before we head off to Peru on Wednesday.

Richard and Elizabeths lovely house on the Costa Blanca
Sunset over the mountains from the balcony
Although the rock climbing and mountain hiking and scrambling is superb around here, as we know so well from previous visits, none of that has been on our agenda this time as we just can’t carry around climbing gear for a year. The need to carry sufficient cold and hot climate clothing for all the countries we will be visiting, along with all the other ancillary things we’ll need for a year and yet keep our bags manageable enough to transport easily on aeroplanes and buses has meant some pretty tough choices!

Jackie having a dip in the pool
Walking down to Altea old town
Along with plenty of R&R by the pool, some strolls along the seafront at Altea, but also a few DIY jobs round the house and gardens, we’ve had some great al-fresco home cooked meals whilst sipping wine and watching the sun set behind the far mountains. The four of us caught up with Michael and Dagmar for a meal on Friday in Altea la Vella and we were able to grill Dagmar on her trip to South America a year or so back, which gave us a few extra ideas. Michael even wore his ‘Ushuaia – ville de la fin du monde’ T shirt especially and we’ve got their email address for en-trip advice.

Jackie and her dad walking through Altea old town
For Saturday evening the four of us met up with Jane, Elizabeth’s sister and Michael for a meal in Altea next to the beach and ultra-calm sea while the sun set (what was that big orange glow on the horizon in the black sea and sky about an hour after sunset that only lasted a couple of minutes and then disappeared?).  Easy conversation and relaxed company, how good is all this!

Dinner by the sea. LtoR: Richard, Jane, Michael, Elizabeth, Jackie
While we watched the sunset
Sunday lunch was at Carolyn and John’s house, with Jack the chocolate Lab, a little further up and round the hill from R&E’s, for a beautifully cooked meal, lots of nibbles and too much wine. It was another hot day so we were outside, fortunately out of the sun with sea views out over Altea and, in the distance, Benidorm. They are a lovely couple with such easy conversation, but the wine flowed a bit too much so Sunday evening was a quiet affair for the four of us and, by 10:00pm bed was calling!

At John and Carolyn's house for Sunday lunch. Here's john in his apron - nuff said!
LtoR: Jackie, Richard, Elizabeth, John & Carolyn
The only cloud on our horizon at the moment is a slight medical problem Jackie has that needed looking at, so Elizabeth and Jackie went to a medical specialist in Altea this morning. It’s not too serious and hopefully it won’t interfere with our trip too much, but it does mean she’s on drugs for a few weeks and will need a check-up in South America to check progress in 4 to 6 weeks. We’ll probably be in or around Santiago in Chile at that time so we’ve been checking out facilities there. Hopefully it’ll all be OK and we can carry on regardless, but it does remind us that we all, not just us but everyone, need to do as much as we can while we still can – who knows how long we’re here for!

That’s it for now, next stop: Peru!

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