Altea: means ‘health to all’ (from the moorish name ‘Althaya’).
We have been trying to see what Altea looks like for a while now, but with no anchorage close by, we just never got to see it. The town has looked like a postcard from the boat as we sailed past – especially the church with its lovely blue roof surrounded by a hill packed with white houses. Today was the day I have put aside for Altea … a visit long overdue!
I took the train in from Denia – and hour trip there and an hour back for 4 Euro was a steal! The train has only two coaches – so it is pretty small and stops at a few towns – but literally for 2 min and you have to be quick to get on and off in time! I had a bit of a close shave there because I was not sure at which station to get off … the only language I could find to help my way out was with my rusted German! (With my still very limited Spanish and no English spoken by anyone around me!) That was quite a challenge (Amazing what you suddenly remember if you have to!)
Arriving in Altea I had to first visit the Markets while it is early and all the fresh produce and mainly fish will be in. Just to see once more all the beautiful fruit and veggies, cheeses, ham, seafood, olives and delicatessen shops with wonderful balsamic and olive oil variations and pastries (!) was on its own a treat! I could not withstand the figs – the most wonderful purple and green figs! So it was me and the four figs in the plaza with the early morning coffee seekers buzzing around the tables of on the square.
The most famous street in Altea must be the one where every tourist have his picture taken – so did I! You will always find a friendly tourist to do it for you! It is a very steep and very long cobbled stone street with big steps on either side leading you to the church. The old part of Altea is perched on top of a hill from where you have a splendid view to either side of the big bay in which Altea is situated. Here you can see the silhouettes of the Peñon de Ifach (Calpe) to the one side and Benidorm’s massive sky-scrapers to the other side on the horizon. The ascent, along steep slopes and steps of the paved and staggered streets, reveals a surprising view at every turn, of the sea over the top of the terracotta tiled roofs. Altea still gives you this kind of Spanish village look that you think of once you have seen pictures of old Spanish towns.
The mountains (reaches up to 1130 mt high hills) surrounding Altea forms a gorgeous backdrop for the picturesque town and on the way in the train I actually thought it could have been anywhere in the Stellenbosch area (near Cape Town in South Africa) … if it wasn’t for the Olive and Almond trees in amongst the vineyards and orange groves that gave it away!
Altea is a charming Mediterranean settlement that dates its origins back thousands of years. In the very modern marina white yachts are bobbing alongside brightly coloured fishing boats in a bay that traces the rounding of a coastline where Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Moors once sailed, and modern beachside boulevards with restaurant upon restaurant divided only by one street from the old town.
The most outstanding feature of Altea is the famous little Parochial church right at the very top of the hill, crowned with a blue and white ceramic tiled dome, typical of the region. Views of this icon of Altea, is exactly what made me go there! -The church of ‘Virgen del Consulo’ overlooks whitewashed buildings and a bustling square, filled with quality restaurants and cafes that encourage you to linger over lunch… And so I did!
The inside the church is flooded with light through the glorious stained glass windows with beautiful murals and sculptures on display on the sides.
These cobbled streets, filled with wrought iron balconies overflowing with flowers, has a refreshing surprise around every corner!… with stylish shops selling handmade pottery, jewellery and other artefacts and you can see the old walled town has a unique charm. The many small art galleries and art studios reflect that Altea was a haven for artists because of the fabulous light experienced here and along with the artisans, writers and musicians who has given it very much a bohemian charm.
After my visit at the “Hippy Happy” shop ( to buy two loose-fitting pants to wear in Italy) and a wonderful lunch – of garlic snails and plate of homemade Foie gras (which reminded me so much of a good friend Gerhard) with port sauce and toast , caramelised red onion, Jamón and fresh toast … and a glass of vino Rosado – it was time for me to grab a coffee on the way to the station to go back to Scolamanzi!!
I will always have fond memories of Altea … and I do want to go back … but next time with Johann …it is a very romantic little place and should not be visited without the love of your life!
I cycled to the station early this morning and was very happy but not surprised to see my liitle white bycicle still waiting there for me (although locked – my African experiences made me still wonder about the safety of my belongings!) The cycle back to the marina was a upwind struggle all the way! Back on the boat I found it amazing that I would only be away from the boat for a day or two and the sea-legs are gone!! The rocking of the strong wind and swells made me feeling slightly strange …just as well I had such a big and wonderful lunch in Altea – it would have been a crime anyway to follow it up with any of the scraps I have left on board and was quite happy to go to bed with my memories and a slightly empty stomach. 🙂
(Please note that I have taken some of the information directly from a tourist website due to the fact that I have had no information while I was visiting)
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