Somehow it seems so long ago now, but in January, we were enjoying the fresh air and sunshine of Dénia, Spain.
Now, from the confines of hotel quarantine in Brisbane, Australia, (where we can’t step out of our room nor even open a window for a breath of fresh air) it’s a great time to re-live those memories.
What better than to recall a picnic lunch by the peaceful marina, teaming with fish, under the Spanish sun?
Or remember exploring the sprawling ruins of the 16th century Moorish fortress, Castell de Dénia; overlooking the city and the mountains and sea beyond. (Only managing a brief visit to the museum housed within, stumbling upon it just on lunchtime closing.)
And traversing the pedestrian tunnel underneath the castle which served as an air raid shelter during the Spanish Civil War.
In stark contrast, Dénia’s colourful tourist strip of international restaurants stands as a testament to the city’s reliance on tourism, where the population of around 40,000 normally swells to over 80,000 each summer.
A little sightseeing in the surrounding areas (and a missed turn) lead us on a scenic mountain drive around the Parc Natural del Montgó…
…to the town of Xàbia (aka Javea), where we found Playa del Arenal – a tourist hotspot we gathered, from the number of English accents. Such a pretty spot with palm trees on a wide sandy beach, and an expansive promenade with plenty of cafes and eateries. We enjoyed it so much we returned another day for a sumptuous meal of tapas and paella at Botanica, against a view of the sea and Montgó mountain. On a leisurely stroll to walk it off, we walked the length of sandy bay and beyond to discover the rocky coast of Badia de Xàbia.
And for more mesmerising views, we drove to the cliffs of Cap de la Nau (odd though, that the designated path lead only to a rough clearing with no advantageous viewing points – the best views by far were those from the lookout next to the clifftop restaurant – or perhaps from inside?)
Even the drive back to Dénia, via the shortest route, was breathtakingly memorable. One minute crossing the mountainous Montgó Nature Reserve, and the next, back on the coast!
Our visit to the beautiful native garden of L’Albarda in Pedreguer revealed a true delight. At 5ha, these gardens are not huge, but I could happily lose myself there for days, finding all the hidden seating nooks in this diverse Mediterranean garden which exhibits 700 species of indigenous plants. Some areas pristinely structured and formal; others rambling natural bushland – but everywhere pretty paving and pathways inviting further exploration. And we had the place to ourselves too – save for the volunteer workforce who happily showed us the theatre they are converting into a garden room where the sound of the water feature will reverberate. Magic in the making.
But the time had come for us to leave Dénia behind and head back home to France, just in time to beat the tightening COVID-19 travel restrictions.
We can only look forward to a time when we can freely travel the world again. After all, there is so much we have yet to discover.