The power walkers were all out in force again when we set off for Alicante, we see them silhouetted against the early morning light and hear the murmur of their conversations. Our early start was planned to allow for a lunch stop. This is a regular routine on our Greek flotilla holidays and Lara was eager to instigate it on Lyra. John was keen to try out Lyra’s anchor, as we had yet to deploy it. Our route took us close to the shore, behind a small island, designated a nature reserve. Very little wind was forecast for the morning; so we planned to make our way to the bay, anchor, swim, eat lunch and then sail in the afternoon, when the wind was supposed to come up. As it turned out the bay was much more open than we expected with a huge area of shallow water. We could see the bottom from a long way offshore. The wind came up earlier than anticipated and was blowing straight into the anchorage, kicking up enough small waves to make swimming from the boat an unpleasant prospect. We decided to leave the experience for another day, having lunch underway, but turning the engine off and going forward slowly with just the jib for a bit of peace. Once we came out from behind the island and turned towards Alicante it was just too hot with the wind behind us, so we furled the sail and motored again, to generate our own breeze. Alicante is an impressive habour, with the old fort dominating the skyline from the top of a steep hill. The marina is huge and has finger pontoons, but tiny ones, so John still reversed in to allow us to climb on and off the side. The pontoons were the bouncy type too and I was very grateful to Lara for performing the balancing act with the marinera, while I stayed on board and passed lines. Then we walked round the marina and across to where an arc of golden sand started out around the bay, with an azure sea rolling in. The swell made for an bracing swim, climbing the crests, neck craned and sweeping down other side to start again. In the middle of the sea a guy sat alone on a huge blow up adventure playground, with climbing slopes and trampolines, tethered to the beach by a thick pipe. Vibrations from the pipe, which was also used to inflate the floating apparatus, aggravated both John and Lara, particularly Lara, who said it felt as if the noise was inside her head, a very unpleasant sensation There were no takers for the playground and I think they are inadvertently driving their intended customers away with the high frequency sound. It was all out of my hearing range, but I had no wish to scramble up the slopes or bounce around the surfaces.
That evening we sat on deck looking out over the lights of the town and listening to a live performance of pan pipes, which seemed endless and offered an eclectic selection of tunes, from Abba to light classical.
John had booked us into Alicante for two nights, so the next day we set off to explore the fort. This turned out to be much easier than it looked, as a lift bored right up through the centre of the hill, with exits at two levels inside the fort itself. We bought tickets at the entrance of a long metal tunnel leading from the street into the middle of the hill, showed them to the lift operator, who spirited us straight to the top. This was a proper castle, with thick stone walls, arrow slits and heraldic shields and banners. In the lower section stalls were set up selling snacks and souvenirs. After wandering around, with Lara taking over as our resident paparazzi, we sat and ate tapas looking out across it all. The strange juxtaposition of the ultramodern lift shafts and tunnels with the mediaeval fort walls would have made it a good location for an episode of Dr Who. It had been used in one of the Star Wars films, a banner with R2D2 fluttered amongst the heraldry. We took the lift back to street level and explored the old part of town and found a restaurant in an alley, which we returned to for dinner.