Features » People and Places
ALCALA DEL JUCAR
Staff Reporter / 2010-07-20 14:27:34
If you want to meet real Spanish people in a real Spanish environment, then you should seriously consider a visit to the delightful cave village of Alcala del Jucar. A tongue twister of a name, bur what a pleasure to visit. A morning departure from to Torrevieja takes us along the coast as far as the city of Elche. From this point we will see no more of the Spain of the Costas until we return in the early evening. At first the landscape looks a little dry and dusty. But it is not long until lush green vines fill the fields.
These fields surrounding workmanlike towns , which despite their appearance , often hide a myriad of hidden treasures, Spice factories, marble producers, long lost treasures, wine producers, ancient battle sites, medieval churches, walls and castles. At this point we are thankful for a well informed courier who is able to explain to us what we are seeing and how it got there. In little more than an hour we have seen half a dozen castles. Passing as many town of varying sizes. We pull into one of these towns. Almansa. Dominated by it’s own medieval castle.
From the lower reaches of the castle walls, we can survey the town below. An 18th Century church steeple climbs from amongst the unruly tangle of ancient orange tiled roofs which adorn the irregular whitewashed walls of houses which look as though they have been there forever. Old men in cloth caps sit by the fountain, walking sticks in hand, talking loudly at each other. No one seems to listen. But everyone seems satisfied that his opinion is being heard. A peculiarly Spanish way of having a conversation. Beside the fountain an ancient palace, now serving as the town hall, takes pride of place in the tiny town square. Even popping in to one of the many bars is an experience. It seems that the entire population all try to enter the same bar at the same time. Yet service is not long in coming.
With the “Almansa” experience setting our day off to a really exhilarating start, we rejoin the coach and set of on the next leg of our adventure. The scenery changes now. Flat well kept fields producing corn, barley, grapes and olives, give way to pine forests. These in turn give way to mountains and finally we descend into a gorge. As we drop into the gorge we are surrounded by blindingly white limestone walls. Reaching the bottom of the gorge and crossing a bridge, we see for the first time the little cave town of Alcala del Jucar. The only word for this first sighting is “wow”.
Row upon row of cave houses tumble haphahazardly down the rock face. At the topof the rock is the well preserved remains of the medieval castle built to protect the inhabitants of the town during more turbulent times. At the foot of the rock swirls the trout filled, green waters of the rive Jucar. The waters of the river which in earlier times cut out this enormous gorge, now a valuable resource for the inhabitants of the village. Now we stop of in the village to have a short visit to the small Sunday market. Rows of stalls with everything from fresh fruit to walking sticks. Market traders with smiling wrinkled brown faces adorned with straw hats, exchange opinions with any one who cares to listen.
On the curve of the river families with small children gather on the small beach or swim in the water. Back on board we climb out of the gorge to be greeted with the most fabulous view of the village and the gorge surrounding it. Lunch is typical and traditional fare of the area. Then later your courier leads those who want on a walk down through the houses on the rock face to the Roman bridge below. The less able can stay on the coach and be whisked back to the pleasant surroundings of the lower village. How on earth “Coachtrips SL” can offer all this including a substantial meal with wine for only 27€ we don’t know. But what a fabulous day out it is.
It is hard to imagine a better spot for Sunday Lunch. Even if it is not roast beef and potatoes. To reserve your place simply call “Coachtrips SL” on (0034) 966785910. www.coachtripsonline.com
Tags: Coachtrips, Alcala Del Jucar