Arriving to our latest house and petsit in Calpe, we wound our way down switchbacks catching the most amazing views of the Peñón de Ifach and the Mediterranean beyond. Cliffside houses spilled down the hill and we marvelled again at the engineering of the roads and retaining walls that give rise to these places that must be stunning to live in. The huge rock that is the Peñon d’Ifach dominates the view from many directions – it seems thrust from the sea, as are many of the mountains around us. Chris was concerned that his bike rides would start with this steep hill we had just descended, but thankfully he can head down to the coast first and then “enjoy” the climb home.
Our charges, Attie and Dave, live a life of relative luxury but their mum was taken sick while on holiday abroad and what was meant to be a 6-week break for her turned into a 6 month plus journey (at least she is with family). These dogs have been through a number of different sitters and we are not their last minders yet. They are not your normal dog – every other dog we’ve cared for is food first, middle and last! Neither of them is at all anxious about their next meal, and breakfast often sits around until mid-afternoon before one or the other decides they need to finish their bowl off. They do however know when the treats come out! But going for walks, now that IS something to get excited about! Attie is a Podenco mix (I’m told it’s a Spanish hare hunting dog) and as such is always on the lookout for birds and rabbits to chase. Taking her for a walk means a good amount of arm strength holding her back – we use a harness for her otherwise she sounds like she’s choking, and even with the harness, she gasps as she tries to pull away faster than I can walk. It’s not fun heading downhill (they are pretty steep here) as I have to watch I’m not pulled off my feet. Dave, on the other hand, is a terrier bitser. Very cute and tries hard to keep up with Attie in everything she does. But his ears! They play hard together, often collecting their favourite rope toy and playing tug of war between them.
Our location is towards the top of the hill that is dotted with individual homes of varying age. We have more traditional round tower houses to brand new white and square structures clinging to the side of the hill. Where we are staying is a beautifully renovated and modernised house that gives us space and comfort as well as a lovely pool for the days when the beach is too crowded. There is lots of new construction going on around us and, as such, the dust that collects in our house is a daily menace. We marvel at the workers constructing the rock retaining walls by hand. They look very attractive when new but we are seeing older walls showing signs of wear and failure. All these houses have pools, of course, and many of them have the most amazing views to the sea beyond and the local landmark the Peñon d’Ifach.
We have very much made ourselves at home here, being our longest sit so far of almost 3 weeks, not venturing too far away but we have managed a bike ride from Denia to Javea (Xabia) and back. Sitting near the port area in Javea on our first visit there, as we ate lunch and I drank my first Sangria (it was awesome) we decided we would do the bike trail from Denia so we could enjoy this lunch experience again. So another day we headed to Denia where I hired an e-bike, Chris hopped on his trusty road bike and off we set. Unfortunately, in the rush to get ourselves here, Chris had forgotten his bike shoes so had to ride with regular shoes on the small clip pedals. Then, how to find the bike trail in reverse…? The map I had downloaded of the course started in Javea and was not a live navigation map, so it took quite some time including lifting our bikes over the train tracks at a dead end in the road before we finally saw the bike trail signage and were confident we were on our way. The roads were quiet back roads mostly sealed until we hit the unsealed country track that was very rough. I bounced and shook over the rocks and bumps and I feared for Chris on his thin road bike tyres. Luckily the seal took over after about 10 minutes and we felt safe again. It took us around 2 hours to reach our destination after 26km of cycling, getting lost and bumping around so we were very pleased to arrive back at the cafe we had enjoyed last time. Of course, I had another Sangria – I felt it was well earned. We enjoyed a restful view of the ocean over lunch until shocked out of our reverie by a huge gunshot sound of thunder overhead and a few large splats of rain hitting the ground around us. We stayed put until the sun came out again and decided we would head back to Denia using the main road this time. About 10 minutes on, the black clouds rolled in, the thunder roared again and rain started getting heavier. At first, I tried to take cover but, as we were already wet and it showed no signs of easing, we decided to press on – it wasn’t a cold rain. After about 15 minutes it did ease and as we approached Denia, the sun broke through so we started to dry off.
We’ve found a couple of good local coffee shops and some really bad ones too. It never ceases to surprise us the inconsistency of coffee making here – I think some places get a machine that makes all the right noises, but what comes out is not recognisable coffee. Chris has succumbed and started drinking instant coffee! Of course, we have to get our daily bread and Spain doesn’t disappoint us here either. We have two local shopping areas we can visit, Calpe with its tourist beach front and town and Moraira, a quieter area but with a lovely beach as well. We have spent time at both beaches but preferred Moraira as it was quieter (and slightly more modest, with less topless bathers of all ages).
We have taken our charges out for their twice-daily walks, mostly around the streets near home, but ventured out in the car a few times for walks in Calpe up to the visitors’ centre at the Peñon d’Ifach and on the beachfront footpath in Moraira. They love to go for these adventures, especially if there are new sights and smells.
We had a treat one day; I had applied for another housesit for the end of July and, as it was in Javea, I said we would be happy to meet up – immediately came a response that the homeowners would love to meet us. So back to Javea once again to have lunch with this delightful couple and then on to their home where we met their lovely cat Ollie – who we will enjoy getting to know better when we return at the end of July for a week. We are managing to fill in some of our gaps with touring and housesitting, and a special treat in September to look forward to.