Monday, 31 December 2018

Marjal Costa Blanca Post 5

Tuesday 25th - Monday 31st December 2018 🌞🌞🌞🌞⛅⛅⛅🌞 - it's been another lovely week but we had some chilly cloudy days (15 degrees 😂😂) in the middle of it
No Motorhome Miles but about 45 🚴🚴 miles
Parking Co-ordinates 38.18085, -0.8119

Santa Claus on Facebook 3.0Well, that's it!  The big Ho Ho Ho is all done and dusted for another year - but our 'Dinner Do' for the main event was lovely!   We were treated to what seemed like a never ending stream of food as seven sumptuous courses were presented to us, and ours was made all the better because a couple of the Rally Stewards were on our table and they added Yorkie's, roast potatoes and cheesy leeks to what was already a delicious feast.

And after that came coffee and brandy plus music and dancing so the whole afternoon passed by in a very festive mode.  Then  even after all that we weren't quite done because on our way home we joined some of our other new mates for merry evening drinks at a pitch party!  And while we were there they invited us back for Boxing Day Barbecued Prawns and Chicken Curry which was all washed down with copious amounts of wine and then our hosts curious liquor  of brandy and chocolate milk - maybe a bit like a cheap copy of Baileys!!

So as you might imagine by Thursday we were more than ready for a rest from an almost constant 3 day party that had started on Christmas Eve with a huge gathering in the club house for a festive Christmas Quiz which just happened to be about the 12 Days of Christmas (so we won), carol singing, mince pies and Gluhwein (German mulled wine), and of course, Secret Santa. And all that was polished off with a final loud rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas which went around the room like a big Mexican wave with each table singing one line but competing to see who could make the most noise!

On Friday we could have gone to another party but as there was another big 'Do' on Saturday night (for which we'd already brought tickets at the extortionate price of 2.50 euros each) we decided to give that one a miss, and instead we took ourselves off for some much needed exercise and cycled about 24 miles there and back to the city of Elche which is the third largest in the Valencian Community.   Our main aim for going there was to visit The Palmeral de Elche which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000, and which is an area of formally laid out groves of date palms that have an elaborate irrigation system that dates back to when the Muslim city of Elche was first erected towards the end of the tenth century AC when much of the Iberian peninsula was Arab.

The tree above is the sentinel - it soars 25 metres into the sky excluding it's crown.  

The tree above is the Pigeon's Palm and it's unique because of it's shape.
It starts to lean over at about 2 metres high, then it grows in a diagonal direction
until about 9 metres and then it regains it's more normal vertical presentation.
And the Pigeon bit - well that's because the many hundreds of pigeons from the nearby
dovecote like to sit in it!
We later learnt that this massive palm plantation is the only grove of it's kind in Europe, and also the largest outside of Asian countries being composed of 97 different orchards wherein over 70,000 date palms grow.  Additionally, this number of palms is exclusive of other large plantations within the city of Elche and if these were taken into account then that would bring the total number to 200,000 palms - so that was the obvious reason why palms dominated our views no matter in which direction we wandered!  Therefore, it seems that we only saw the tip of the ice berg - but not to worry - we now have a very good reason to go back and explore more.

The Oriental Style Visitors Centre which is nestled in the centre of the park. 

While we were in Elche we also explored a network of paths and footbridges that have transformed the bed of the River Vinalop into a linear park land that runs between the two halves of the city.

It seems that in times gone by the river became dry for many months of the year and this resulted in the area becoming derelict.  Therefore in 2009 the City Council set up a competition to turn the river bed into a three kilometre park which now provides a lovely oasis for leisure activities and also still provides a narrow channel through it's centre for the river to run through.  Additionally graceful bridges crisscross the area and when it was all complete it was named 'El Valle Trenzado' (The Braided Valley).

Our final visit in Elche was to the Basilica de Santa Maria which is located in the square where, during the Muslim era, the main Mosque was situated.  It seems the first Catholic church was built there in 1334, then replaced in 1556 - but that one collapsed following heavy rains. The one that is there today was started in 1672 and completed in 1784 but unfortunately we couldn't go inside because the door was locked!

So after our circumnavigation of the outside to admire the buildings grandeur we set our sights on our return journey and arrived home just in time to lap up the last rays of afternoon sunshine!

Saturday and Sunday were spent indulging in more walking and cycling activities with other ralliers, and then we had planned a grand event for New Year's Eve!  We should have been partying from about 7.30 and ringing in the New Year Twice - once for midnight here and then again an hour later for good old Blighty!  But alas, John's got his second dose of Man Flu and I seem to have lost my voice somewhere along the way😱😷.  At the mo my throat feels as if I've swallowed a razor blade and my voice isn't even making it to a whisper - so rather than our ears being blasted out with loud music we're just going to have a very quite evening in and if we manage to stay awake to the 1st Midnight we'll raise a glass and toast it with a very nice drop of Single Malt!

So all that remains is for us to wish all our family, friends and readers 

A Very Happy New Year that will be Bright, Beautiful, Healthy and Happy for everyone!

Take Care and Lots of Love 😗😗😗