A Pleasant Surprise In La Villajoyosa
After our big day out in Benidorm we battened down the hatches for some rain and stormy winds for a couple of days at the campsite but no snow thank goodness.
Our early days in Villajoyosa were spent finding the supermarket for supplies, banks for cash machines and other such mundane tasks. We had driven through Villajoyosa once before several years earlier and were unimpressed.
The first few days in the main town left us with the same feeling. The town is not cycle friendly and in fact in places not even pedestrian friendly, and with a lot of traffic about it is even verging on the dangerous around the main commercial parts. The footpath on the bridge which crosses the Río Amadorio doesn’t even have space for 2 people to pass without having to step on to the road with traffic racing past.
Villajoyosa (La Vila Joiosa in Valencian, or as it is known locally “La Villa”) was originally founded in the area between the banks of the Río Amadorio and the sea.
I had seen a picture before of Villajoyosa with brightly painted buildings but had been unable to find these on our early ventures into the town. Once the weather picked up we decided to take the bikes back down into the town to see if we could find the tourist attractions.
We weren’t disappointed. Once we came down the hill to the seafront, the whole promenade opened up in front of us. We walked/cycled along a mostly deserted sea-front which seemed to stretch for miles. Although this is a holiday town, its not your usual touristy shops and restaurants, its more Spanish, quiet and a bit more relaxed.
Walking along the promenade, we spotted members of the Russian national rugby union team who were in town to play a friendly match with the rugby team of the British Army.
All the houses along the seafront were painted different bright colours, something Villajoyosa is famous for. They were designed that way so that sailors could see them from their ships and be guided back to port.
In behind the promenade lies the Casco Historico, a small area of the original town which stretches down from the main road to the sea front. It has the narrowest of streets with the houses still painted bright colours and it seemed that no matter how narrow the streets were, there was always traffic up and down them, sometime with centimeters to spare at each side.
Just up from the seafront, we could see the fortifications of the old walled town inside which is the Church of Nuestra Señora de Asunción built in the 16th century. It seems that many of the christian churches along this coastline were built for the dual purpose of a place of worship and a place of refuge against north African pirate attacks from the sea.
This is one of three fortress churches in the Alicante region. It has impressive fortifications and is built in the Gothic style. Unfortunately the doors were firmly closed so we could not see inside.
As we walked deeper into the old town we turned a corner and came into the church square with a row of trees all wearing brightly crocheted scarfs around their trunks.
I assume its to brighten up the town in the winter but the effect was so cheerful and uplifting – I loved it. We could do with some of these at home. One of the traffic bollards even had a crocheted hat which was my absolute favourite of all.
Back on the sea-front we felt the need for the obligatory coffee and found Central Perk, which has been designed and decorated as an homage to the cafe in the TV series Friends. The inside was such a contrast to the beach and palm trees outside. It was like stepping through the looking glass into the New York coffee shop. As usual I just sat and gaped around me – I loved it (almost as much as the crocheted hat).
Back at the campsite we discovered that the hot water was off as it would be off for almost a week. So cold showers all round it is then. To give them their dues the Spanish workmen lost no time in digging up the area around the toilet block no less than three times in the following week in an attempt to find the problem. To no avail, the water was still cold when we left the site to move on. In saying that, we loved the site, it was quiet, close enough to the town and transport links to Alicante and Benidorm, and the facilities were modern and very clean. So I’m putting the problem with the hot water down to teething troubles at a new site which hopefully will be sorted out soon.
We returned again to the old town the following day for another look around the old quarter and to treat ourselves to a Menu del Día overlooking the Mediterranean.We had a starter of mussels followed by the most delicious paella I have ever tasted, with a little alioli on the side – followed by a bowl of locally made rum & raisin ice cream and coffees. A very pleasant afternoon.
One thing I would say to anyone planning to stay at Camping Imperium Alicante, make a note of the electric reading at your pitch when you arrive and again when you leave. We didn’t do this and when the bill was presented it seemed extremely high – but since we had not noted the meter reading when we arrived, we couldn’t really argue. In saying that we had a very pleasant stay and would definitely return if we are in the area again.