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LIVE from the Camino On the Camino del Alba

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Having unexpectedly got a couple of weeks available now, I thought I would start my autumn Camino early this year.

So this morning saw me swimming out of the sunrise on the little beach at Xàbia, starting point of the Camino del Alba, a feeder for the Levante and or the Lana. The plan this year is to do another mix 'n match camino, starting with the 150km of the Alba, a day or two on the Levante, a couple of weeks on the Lana to Santo Domingo de Silos, then the Camino de Sant Olav to Burgos, a week or so on the Olvidado and arrive in Santiago via the Invierno and the last two days of the Sanabrés. With a day or two on the Francés after Burgos, that will make parts of eight different caminos. With the time available now I should get to somewhere about half way between Almansa and Cuenca, before starting again in October.

Day 1: Xàbia to Jesús Pobre.

An idle morning in laid back Xàbia, where you hear more German, French and English than Spanish. The tourist office by the old port sells credencials and the efficient person there provides an excellent paper guide to the route. According to her figures I'm about the 30th pilgrim to set off from here this year, more than I expected. Then hat on and sticks out for a leisurely 11km first day to the village of Jesús Pobre. The path is very well signposted, and is mostly on ag tracks winding through the endless villas that dot the countryside here. The delicious smells of rosemary, flowering oranges and jasmine cheered me up after a long hard winter (still had some lingering drifts at home, obstinately not melting a month after the last serious snow). The path winds steadily uphill round the side of the forbidding cliffs of Montgó.

Jesús Pobre is a nice little village with three bars. I had a tasty lunch in the Rosita, 10€ for a very decent mdd. I'm staying in the Hostal Tres Molins, 25€ for a simple but comfy en suite. The hostal is run by the people at the Bar Casa Pedro. According to the Camino del Alba website, you can stay at the Casa Abadía, but I got no response to the telephone number given, and am very happy where I am.
 

AZgirl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2012 , via de la Plata 2014
Madrid/frances Sept/Oct 2017
Next : Levante Sept 2019
Looking forward to following your journey!
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
It is always a pleasure to read your posts Alan. May you have another wonderful two-part journey!
Buen camino and, in the truest sense, Ultreia!.
 

Kiwi-family

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Past: (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018)-Frances, Baztan, San Salvador, Primitivo, Fisterra,VdlP, Madrid
This almost sounds like a “normal” camino in comparison to last year’s jaunt! May you enjoy each stage.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Alan, you are throwing me off with this unexpected Camino. I am going to be walking from Almería while you are walking. Too bad we aren't going to be closer. And you realize that this spring walk means you will be depriving me of some of the enormous pleasure I get every fall from reading your wonderful posts while I am far from the Camino. :)

Wishing you a terrific first half to your camino, the Lana is definitely on my list. I will repeat this warning next fall when you get closer to the San Olav, but do NOT under any circumstances miss the stunning visigothic church in Quintanillas de la Viñas! Buen camino to you, Laurie
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Many thanks for all the good wishes. It seemed, reading this forum and others, and watching the TVE weather reports, that I appeared to be about the only dry warm pilgrim in Spain. It probably won't last, but my first spring camino has been a real pleasure so far, hearing a hoopoe for the first time in 30 years, seeing fresh young leaves on the vines,rather than withered dying ones I'm used to, enjoying cistus in flower, and being surrounded for two whole days with the delicious scent of orange blossom.

Jesús Pobre to Pego

A very unmemorable day, almost entirely on tarmac. The bars in Jesús Pobre were shut when I left at 8, so no coffee until El Verger, 2-3 hours on. The advertising signs were revealing - most in English and or German as well as Spanish, some not even in Spanish. The last 5-6km to Pego were especially dull, on a tarmac bike track beside a dead straight (busy) road with Pego in the distance, and not seeming to get any closer for ages.

It did, of course, eventually, and by 3pm I was enjoying a really delicious fish soup in the CooPego on the edge of town, surrounded by locals and hearing only Spanish for the first time since leaving the coast. Pego is a pleasant bustling town with a fine old centre. I stayed in the Hotel Reig, 1 star, very central perfectly ok, 32€ en suite (quite a lot more if you book online). The nice receptionist/barmaid at the hotel had walked the Norte from Irun and was keen to swap experiences.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Pego to L'Orxa

After all the road work of the previous day, this stage was a great relief. A serious climb (almost 300m up in under 2km) up from the pretty village of Fonda takes you over a high pass with wonderful views down onto the coast and inland over the sierras. From Villalonga, the camino follows a vía verde along the Serpis river. It is just beautiful, with high hills on both sides and only the swift flowing river for company.

Just outside the village of L'Orxa is the albergue del Serpis. On Thursday there were only three of us in the 28 (bunk) beds (in 6 rooms), but it was apparently fully booked for the weekend. Maeba, the excellent manager, rustled up a decent meal and was pleased to learn that she shares her name with a semi-mythical warrior queen of Connaught.


L'Orxa to Otos

A very beautiful day, but quite a strenuous one. Maeba kindly got me breakfast at 8am, and then the first couple of hours continued on the vía verde, reaching the picturesque hill village of Beniarrés. Along the way were many cherry trees, some almonds, a few olives and a few jacarandas, covered in their almost decadent purple blossom. From Beniarrés the trail goes steeply up round the side of the imposing 1100m high peak of Benicadell. It's quite a slog up to the pass from Beniarrés, rising 400m in about 5km. At some point I crossed the provincial boundary and made my first ever camino footsteps in Valencia province. The views forward and back from Benicadell were utterly spectacular, especially on a clear cool spring day, with water refilled in Beniarrés. Probably not fun in the wet or in high summer. The Alba people suggest walking from L'Orxa to Albaida, but I saw there was a casa rural in Otos, and booked to stay there. I'm very glad I did as it was 8km less on an already strenuous days, and Otos was lovely, with a surprising number of artistic sundials on the facades of the south facing houses. The casa rural, Ca Les Senyoretes, was excellent, in a handsome 18th century house, and with a bathroom bigger than my bedroom in Pego. A very reasonable 45€ b&b, much more if booked online.
 

alansykes

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Except the Francés
Otos to Ontinyent

Back down in the valley, through mixed olives, vines and fruit. About halfway is Albaida, which seemed entirely unmemorable, until I was propositioned by a young man in a bar, the first time that's ever happened to me in Spain - the first time it's happened anywhere for more years than I care to remember. I think it may have owed more to the local fiesta and accompanying wine than to my fading charms. Ontinyent is a biggish town built on two sides of a steep river gorge. I stayed in a room above a bar on the way out of town for 22€ en suite, perfectly fine, and much less noisy, I suspect, than central town on a busy Saturday night. It also saved me a km for the longish next day.

Ontinyent to La Font de la Figuera

My bar was serving breakfast from 7am, always a bonus on a Sunday morning. There was quite a lot of tarmac over the next 30km, rising steadily through the countryside, with occasional patches through pleasant shady pine woods. Fontanars dels Aforins, after about 20km, is a friendly village built on a grid shape with several bustling bars and restaurants all filling up for Sunday lunch when I arrived. And then more of the same countryside until La Font de la Figuera, where the Camino del Alba flows into the mainstream of the Camino de Levante, and where I slept on the famous concrete bunk beds of its albergue.

And so ended my Camino del Alba: six pleasant days, two of them outstanding, no other pilgrims and not a drop of rain.
 

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