“Where shall we go this weekend?” he asks me, like he always does. No matter the distance, we go. Whether I say somewhere that’s an hour up the coast because I fancy a cocktail or a thirty minute drive in the mountain to find the rows of blossom trees that have long since departed. It’s never a no. Exploring is always on the table. I’m lucky Alex likes driving. It makes it possible.
Why is it always me choosing, you might wonder. It’s me who spends the time or some might say waste the time scrolling through social media. Finding pretty places on Instagram, googling different places, traipsing across the map to find different spots in the vicinity that people might not have written about. It’s just something I like doing. It’s all well and good following an Instagram map when you find a beautiful spot, until that location is completely wrong and you end up driving an hour in the wrong direction, but that’s a story for another day.
A few weekends ago, I set my sights on Calpe. I’ll be completely honest with you, the first time I visited Calpe, I wasn’t exactly enamoured. I’m not sure why, it just didn’t particularly strike me as revolutionary. It just looked the same as all the other places along the coast. It was, well, nice. But, there was something in Calpe that pulled me, the Spanish steps.
For those that don’t know, Calpe is a fairly well known town that lies on the Costa Blanca, renowned for its incredible landmark, the Penon de Ifach, the huge rock that juts out of the coast. The enormous Calpe rock can be seen from miles away, towering over the town at a whopping 600 metres high. Situated behind the high-rise apartment blocks and hotels are the Salinas de Saladar blue salt lakes. In many ways, it can be likened to Benidorm and Albir.
When we first went to Calpe a few years ago now, we stayed by the beach. Sitting in a bar and taking in the Spanish sun, I think once you start having that sun so often, you start to take it for granted. You just know that each day it will be sunny, so there’s less need to “make the most of it.”. Though, people do keep commenting on how tanned I am, so perhaps the adventures for my blog is my new way of making the most of it.
I was desperate to get a photo at the Calpe Spanish steps but there was a twinge of uncertainty when I wasn’t actually sure if the Spanish steps are still there. You see these things on Instagram and it’s not real life sometimes. Sometimes, it’s a temporary display or sometimes it’s been edited to the realms of unrecognisable. It’s like a game of chance.
I didn’t have much of a clue where you actually find the Spanish steps, which poses a problem from the get go. Nobody really gives the information. They tell you it’s in Calpe. Great, I’ve narrowed it down to 23.51 km², how long should we spend looking?
I had a feeling that if the Spanish steps were anywhere, it’d be the old town of Calpe. It definitely looked like it fit into that vibe. But, the next thing is finding the old town. To somebody who has visited many times, it probably seems ridiculous. How do you not know where the old town is? But, for newbies, it’s a whole new world.
The best option is heading towards the Forat de la Mar gateway, which itself is pretty impressive. There is parking on Avenida Valencia, which happened to be a perfect spot for finding the Spanish steps. You’ll want to head away from the sea.
The streets were filled with the sounds of a Valencian ball game in full swing. Wearing a glove with a wooden palette inside whilst throwing a solid small ball back and forth, I’m not really sure of the rules, but it’s highly popular. It was a case of dodging, mind your head!
The seemingly never-ending Spanish steps are spectacular. It’s bizarre to think that some painted steps in the design of the Spanish flag could feel so symbolic. It just felt almost surreal. The street was adorned with plant pots all decorated with Spanish flag and I know it sounds stereotypical and cliche, but you almost feel like you’ve headed in to a time warp, back in the days of Picasso and Dali wandering the streets of Spain. My mind wanders to how they felt so inspired, yet how couldn’t they when places like this exist around every corner?
I sauntered up the street in this slow, relaxed manner. Letting myself take it all in. I look back at Alex and he’s doing the same. Time seems to pass slowly and even though the howls from the Valencian game can be heard, it’s like the sounds of guitars and castanets are filling your ears instead. It’s uncanny that your mind can play tricks on you. Did I really smell paella whirling around the streets, or was it playing tricks on me? Did I hear a guitar that day? I’m sure I did. I danced about around half way up, it was a picture perfect spot, who am I to resist?
We continued up the street and the sun broke through the gaps. The shaded street of the Spanish steps had come to an end, but instead of a feeling of disillusionment, the grand gateway of the Forat de la Mar greets you with a warm welcome. Striking 15:00, the church bells boomed and bring you back to present day. There must have been a wedding or a communion as around a hundred people exited the church, dressed elegantly with smiling faces. It was almost as though it topped off the experience. Right place, right time.
Not too far away from the Spanish steps is the Instagram famous building, La Muralla Roja. If there is something to be disillusioned by on Instagram, it’s La Muralla Roja. La Muralla Roja is an exemplary example of why you can’t trust everything you see online.
In my opinion, the most important thing to remember before deciding to embark on a journey to La Muralla Roja is that it is an apartment complex. People live there, it’s their home. Judging from Instagram and all the photos of Instagram famous strangers wandering up and down the steps and taking a dip in the pools just for a photo, seems like it’s an easy thing to do. Do people not have the conscience to understand that this form of trespassing is just morally wrong? People clambering over gates, scraggling their way in to that famous supposedly remarkable architecture by Ricardo Bofill.
I don’t want to do a disservice to Bofill here, the building is impressive. It’s a fine building to look at, on a good light day, I know the pink has the potential to be “just what people want for Instagram photos”. It’s important to remember that this is home to some people. For you who might stumble across this blog wanting to know how to get into La Muralla Roja, you don’t. Unless, you’re okay with trespassing, which I hope you aren’t. Your other option, is looking on AirBnb where one person has their apartment listed for rent, if you’re lucky you’ll be able to stay. But, when I looked today, the minimum stay is five nights and it’s pretty costly!
La Muralla Roja is definitely a cool piece of architecture to take a look at if you’re interested in buildings. A unique piece of architecture that stands out as being such a contrast to other Spanish architecture, it’s worth taking a minute to admire it. If you do head to La Muralla Roja, you’ll be treated with a view of the Calpe rock, which I was charmed by much more than the pink house. People like different things.
Calpe has so much more to offer than I once believed. This won’t be the last time we’ll explore Calpe. We’ll be exploring Calpe many times in the future, I just know it.