One of the nicest aspects of the old town centre of Calpe is how relaxed it all is. These lovely stair streets (well, what else could you call them?) with plants in huge pots to both sides, the remnant of the old city wall, the lovely wall paintings that cover the three-storey high side wall of quite a few houses, the impressive town houses themselves and the picturesque squares are almost unknown to the people who think Calp is just a beach, a promenade, some very big shops and all those high-rise flats.
Even in summer it is fairly quiet and peaceful. Stroll along these shady streets and say ¡Hola! to the people sitting in their chairs on the pavement – this is the old Spain, the old fishing village that still exists. Easily find an unoccupied table for a drink or a meal in one of the many bars and restaurants – there is plenty of choice.
So when you’ve baked all day on the beach, been to look at how the fish gets sold in the harbour, and had one meal too many in one of the restaurants along the promenade, spend the evening getting to know old Calpe. Walk along the main drag (the Gabriel Miró, named after a famous painter) with all the shops, and when you get to the top, turn left and start exploring the old town. Or take the tourist train (starts at the Plaza Colón right next to the beach) which will save you a long walk and deposit you gently at the edge of the old town. Saves shoe leather and you can always walk down hill to get some exercise.
Have a look at the Torreó de la Peça (the part of the old city wall that’s been left) and through a huge arch you come to the square in front of a rather modern church, with the old church cleverly hidden behind the new. That’s also where you can admire the old town hall, now a museum for modern art. Talking of art: here and there you’ll see the side walls of houses decorated with enormous paintings as if there were real balconies and windows – it’s all what is called tromp d’oeuil – and none of it is real. But it is fun. Then explore those narrow alley ways between the houses, where Calpe’s fisher folk used to live. The fishing is mostly gone, but the people still are there.
In this small and old part of Calpe there are more than a dozen opportunities to eat and drink, with a variety to suit all tastes and pockets. After seven the streets are shut to traffic, and tables, complete with cloth, flatware, cutlery and glasses are set out in the street along which cars purred a few minutes earlier – and the tables stay there till midnight. Everywhere you can sit and drink or eat – next to the Torreón, in the square in front of the church, the narrow Campanario street, on the Plaza de España, in the Calle Mayor and Calle Libertad in which besides two or three restaurants there is a small craft market.
The craft market is set up every evening, all week long, from 7 till midnight with ceramics, macramé, recycled furniture, hand made soap and other bits and pieces. Not large, but rather fun – and every evening one of the people on the stalls runs a workshop. Completely free, and suitable for young people from 8 to 80 – starts at 8pm. Take part, and if you don’t understand Spanish, watch and learn. Participants in the market change from week to week, so don’t come now meaning to buy that piece next week – it might no longer be there. Of course, there’s always something else, just as nice.
Information (showing the sort of stuff sold) on http://www.amata.es/CalpSum16.html or you can ring 639 979 678 (Elvira speaks English).