27 Oct 2011

Keep the Oceans Clean! starting with Alicante's Postiguet Beach

For the past month or so I've been helping out as a local contact to organise a beach clean here on Alicante's main beach, the Postiguet, and yesterday was the big day! The event was part of an initiative called Keep The Oceans Clean!, a global environmental campaign organised by the Volvo Ocean Race and a group of artists (who happen to be surfers) called Skeleton Sea. The purpose of this programme is to raise awareness of the problems posed by the long-life trash floating around in our oceans, piling up on our beaches...  A beach clean will be organised in each of the 10 stop-overs of this incredible round-the-world race, hoping to get as much local participation as possible, starting here in Alicante!

25 Oct 2011

Join me in a few laughs...

... at my own expense! ;o)

We all need a few laughs from time to time, so I thought I'd provide a few for my blogging friends. I don't know anyone (including myself) who hasn't laughed while watching this:

Trust me: NOT easy staying up in that thing! And the more time goes by the more tired you are and the harder it gets! But it's so much FUN!!! I was laughing my a$$ off, and breathing heavily, when I got out of there! Oh, and the chuckling you hear in the background of the video? My dad making fun of me!

24 Oct 2011

Colourful hiking in the Font Roja

I had to get up at a shockingly early 6h30 yesterday morning, for my third hike of the season. What's that? THIRD hike? I only remember you telling us about ONE (Cumbre Reconco), did you invent the second? Nope. Second was a stunning hike along cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, but have been too busy to write! I wanted to start with this one while it's fresh in my mind and will take a step back in time for hike #2 soon. ;o)

So, back to business. 8 a.m. rendez-vous with the Centro Excursionista de Alicante at the bull ring, wait around for people (including myself, oops!), and then pile in the 12 cars (yikes!) and head inland to the Parque Natural del Carrascal de la Font Roja. About an hour north (inland) from the city of Alicante, it's one of the province's hidden treasures, which doesn't get as much attention as the beaches do. Covering about 2500 acres (of which 1300 are private property), it's got one of the best preserved Mediterranean forests in the region (albeit a relatively young one since a forest fire destroyed most of it in 1840), dominated by the eponimous Carrasca (a.k.a. Quercus rotundifolia), accompanied by other members of the oak family. Its Northeast-Southwest alignment (along a mountain ridge) results in distinct climates on the Northern (shady, quite a bit of rain, rich forest vegetation) and Southern (more sun, much drier, vegetation dominated y shrubs/bushes) slopes.

We got to the park around 9 a.m., and found it to be a very chilly 14ºC! Thank heavens for layers! But the early hour, the chilly air and the threatening rain clouds from the night before all combined to give us some gorgeous skies as we started our hike down below the Sanctuary:

20 Oct 2011

España vs Scotland - the World Champions come to Alicante!

October 11th, 2011...
So, where were we? Ah yes! Dudes in skirts invaded Alicante!!! And why? All to see a beautiful trophy in a glass case? I don't think even the most ardent fans would fly all the way down here just for that (although the added incentive of the local beaches and sunny weather might help). Nope, they were all here to witness their teams' final qualifying match for the 2012 European Football Championship! What were the stakes? Well for Spain a matter of pride, hoping to win all their matches in a qualifying phase for the first time (something very few countries have done) and maintain their winning streak in Alicante (they've never lost here!), but for Scotland the stakes were much higher: a loss would mean farewell to their dreams of playing in Poland and the Ukraine next summer.

Now, although it might seem otherwise from the number of posts on the subject, I am NOT a big football fan! Except when the national team is involved... then I go kind of crazy... particularly if it's a World Cup year (see last year's football madness, lol!). ;o)  In fact, I've only been once to see a live football match, and that was a big final in Mexico D.F. 16 years ago with a friend who insisted I had to see a live match (and we had a blast!). Although I've often thought it would be fun to go see another match with a group of friends, I haven't really done anything about it. The best time would have been last year when Alicante's local team - the Hercules - was in 1st Division and the best teams in the country all came to play here at some point, but I was out quite frequently so nada. But the Selección comes to Alicante for the first time in 10 years?!?!?! There's NO WAY I was going to miss out on joining in in that fiesta with the reining World Champions! Add to that the fact that my dad had never been to a live football match (American football I'm guessing yes), and we were all set to make a father-daughter adventure out of it! :o)

He looks excited doesn't he?

We walked into the Rico Perez (the Hercules' stadium) barely 5' before the match started and of course the place was packed and the ambiance fantastic!

12 Oct 2011

More dudes with skirts! Football fiesta in Alicante...

So, no guesses on the reason for the Scottish invasion? *sniffles* I'd hope at least someone on this side of the Atlantic would have chimed in... after all, similar events were taking place in a dozen or so cities around the continent!

I'll give you a few more clues and let's see if you can't figure it out before the end of the post...

Number one, although lots of them were turning crispy red on the beach or downing bears on one of Alicante's many terraces,

many more were to be seen hanging around this place:

Ok, yeah... that's in Spanish and it translates as "World Champions - Welcome to the Club Selección", Selección as in Spain's national football team (soccer for those on the other side of the pond). So why were Scots hanging around a place dedicated to Spain's current darlings? Well, among the many tents set up on this Esplanade on the harbour, most people (including lots of Spaniards) came to line up and go in here:

Yes dear, that man is wearing a sheep on his head! lol!

10 Oct 2011

Invasion of dudes in skirts!

Check this out:

Saw quite a few guys decked out in skirts wandering around town this morning! (and yes I know they're called kilts, but I'm just giving you an Alicante reaction... that of most people 'round here!)

Let's see if anyone can guess the reason for this Scottish invasion? ;o)

3 Oct 2011

Movie Madness: The Three Musketeers

I don't think there's any other way to classify this one than under Movie Madness, because the latest outing of my all-time favourite swashbucklers is definitely more than a bit mad!!!

I've been seeing this poster hanging up in my local movie theatre for almost a year now:

(warning: some spoilers ahead)

2 Oct 2011

Favourite Summer Moments 2011

One thing leads to another... in this case reading a post over at Snug Harbor Bay which led me to the Outdoor Blogger Network and their Goodbye Summer photo prompt, which got me to thinking about my wonderfully busy summer this year! I was way too absent from the blog this summer thanks to / because of "real" life keeping me busy and away from my computer screen! Which resulted in a lot of photos and a lot of adventures I wanted to blog about but haven't had the time... So consider this a summertime "greatest hits" and preview to one or the other future posts. ;o)

Summer in Alicante started off as usual with the Hogueras de San Juan

"Official" Hoguera 2011 (more here)

and I got to enjoy a couple of mascletàs from real close! ;o)

Then there was the travelling...

crossing the Atlas mountains in July

fun with henna tattoos for a Berber wedding

Cumbre Reconoco: first hike among Alicante's mountains

So I've finally started hiking again! If it hadn't been for that damn cycling accident I would have been doing this all Spring, and wouldn't have been so apprehensive of starting up again now... nothing like a bum knee (added to an iffy ankle from last year's incident) to make you think twice about hitting some rough terrain and climbs...

When I got back from Belgium / New Zealand last January, I immediately started looking for groups of people based out of Alicante who go hiking together, hoping to find some like-minded people I could discover our backcountry with. Not an easy task! Sadly, I think for most people in this city the mountains are just there to decorate the landscape inland, and go play in the snow whenever that happens... Otherwise they're mostly city and beach folk! Fortunately I did find the Centro Excursionista de Alicante (basically a group of people who enjoy mountain-related activities i.e. hiking, mountain climbing, spelunking, mountain biking...). Unfortunately for me they only do one hike per month! (they organise 1 activity per weekend, so the other weekends are mountain climbing or biking or spelunking). There were only 2 hikes I could have gone on before my accident, and I was out of town for both of them! So I ended up bookmarking their website and waiting for the leg to get better and then summer to be over to try again (almost no one goes hiking here in the summer, the heat and sun make it suicidal!).

Last weekend was it! First hike of the season , so a relatively "easy" one to allow people to get those muscles going again... I found their "local" (offices/meeting rooms) and went in to get some info, and then showed up last Sunday bright and early (ugh!) at the Bull Ring to meet everyone and hop in a car and head into the mountains.

We may not have the Pyrenees in Alicante, or any of the other major Spanish mountain ranges, but I did learn that Alicante is the 5th most mountainous province in Spain! Never go to bed without learning something new, right? ;o)

So we piled into the cars, and headed inland, straight for Biar, a small town about an hour west of Alicante. We started the hike walking into the morning sun, headed towards the Cumbre del Reconco, height 1210 m above sea level (you can just make out the antennas marking our destination if you click this photo bigger, just off-centre):

Usually I'm a shutterbug, can't keep my itchy shutter finger still! But because of the knee I was trying out my parents' walking sticks for the first time, and having your hands full isn't conducive to photography! By the time I took my first photo we'd been walking for almost half an hour... and as you can see we're already pretty high up... it was pure climbing!

My face was its usual bright red after half an hour of non-stop climbing... I guess that's what happens when you're off your legs for over 6 months! :p