Two thousand and twenty passed by and I couldn’t travel as much as I wanted. I spent my year between Portugal and Spain – not bad, hey! – but I had other plans for my vacations. Nevertheless, I got the chance to visit some places I wouldn’t have visited if it wasn’t for this pandemic. One of those places was Calpe. Exactly! Where on Earth is Calpe? – I asked my boyfriend when he suggested we could go there for some days. Well, I just wanted to escape anywhere for a couple of days so I would have said yes to pretty much anything.

I had never heard about this town before – excuse my ignorance! – but it was a lovely surprise. Calpe is a Spanish town in the Costa Blanca region, in the province of Alicante, Valencian Community. It is usually a very touristic place, specially among British and German tourists, but when we were there – in the beginning of October – it was very empty and peaceful.

Calpe is a town surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea so it’s all about beach, beach, beach! But also nature and history and food – always the Spanish food! As soon as you arrive it’s impossible not to see that big rock emerging from the sea. It’s the Peñón de Ifach. From anywhere you look you’ll see the 332 meters high rock and you cannot leave the town without climbing it.

You will leave there your sweat, blood and tears and don’t believe anyone who tells you it’s a piece of cake! It was one of the physically hardest things I have ever done in my life. I wanted to give up a million times while I was seeing older people climbing it and children doing it like they were monkeys. At the end, I reached the top and the view is absolutely stunning and very worth it.

We stayed at the Hotel Bahía Calpe by Pierre & Vacances with the Arenal-Bol beach right in front of us and a lot of restaurants along the promenade. And of course, the Peñón de Ifach always in the horizon, specially at the sunset when it starts to get dark and the only thing that’s illuminated is the rock tip. The hotel has an amazing pool and a bar on the rooftop with a great view over the sea.

If you walk from Arenal-Bol beach in the direction of the Peñón de Ifach National Park you will be able to see the Baños de la Reina, ruined structures used in Roman times for farming fish, salt production, and salting fish, and the Salinas (salt flats), where you can see beautiful and elegant pink flamingos. Along the way, there are also plenty of little calas and close to the port you can find very good restaurants with fresh fish and seafood. We tried the Restaurante Andalucía and totally recommend it.

But the biggest surprise for me was the old town which is situated at the top of a hill. To reach the old town, follow the main shopping street and turn left at Plaza de la Constitución. Originally a fishing village, Calpe’s old town used to be walled to protect the residents against attacks of North-African pirates. Nowadays, you can stroll around the historic centre and explore the small picturesque cobbled streets, the decorated stairs and enjoy local food in one of the many local restaurants. We tried the giant burger at Lapsus Bistro and it was delicious, we couldn’t move after.

I often get good surprises from the most unexpected places and 2020 was such a bad year in terms of traveling (and pretty much everything else!) that visiting Calpe was definitely a fresh breeze and one of my favourite moments of the past year.