Finally allowed out, well kind of!
We have been on many beach walks as the de-escalation of the lockdown has happened. The first phase of de-escalation (phase 0) allowed walks within a 1km radius of home, within certain time slots. The beach was one of the first places Olivia could go after 6 weeks of not being allowed out.
We were so grateful and lucky to be able to get out to the beach, to allow Olivia to run off some energy. Although it was quite stressful to start with, trying to ensure we stuck to our designated time slots for walks and exercise of 12noon – 7 pm, that we were only out for an hour and ventured no more than 1km from the site. Only one adult was allowed out with a child at a time meaning George and I varied who took her out, plus all the worry about what Olivia was touching and my constant need to clean her hands and move her away from anyone we saw.
The beach here is a beautiful, sandy, large and clean blue flag beach just 10 minutes from the campsite. If you go there, you will find plenty of seagrass balls, although it is cleaned every morning. There are foot washes and lifeguards in the summer. Being the Mediterranean the tide does not move so you can sit close to the sea in full knowledge your stuff shouldn’t get wet.
There is a lovely promenade you can walk along, next to the tram line which is lined with wonderful palm trees.
There are many play areas for children but they are taped off, making for such a sad sight.
El Salt Jijona/Xixona
The 18th of May marked our first day of phase 1 of Spain’s release from lockdown. Our region lagged behind the rest of Valencia for a week, but now all of Valencia was finally united in the same phase, so we were able to get out and about a lot more.
There was some confusion in the rules, but we interpreted them in a way that allowed us to get out of El Campello for a while.
Having been taunted by a nearby mountain for most of our stay, we headed in that direction and soon found El Salt. A little oasis in the middle of mountains and canyons that wouldn’t be out of place in Colorado.
A stream flows down from the mountain and across the road here. It then forms some pools before cascading down into a little swimming area. We couldn’t get close as there were still barriers. Once we’d seen the waterfall, Olivia played in the stream crossing the road, and the pools next to it, while Karen explored further upstream.
Getting back in the car, we carried on along the road, which soon became a gravel track before finally linking us up with a major road again. We headed back to El Campello via Busot where there are caves and shapes in the rock that we can see from our pitch. Again, the caves were still closed.
Tapas finally! El Campello
As phase 2 approached, we finally took ourselves out into the town of El Campello, and grabbed ourselves some genuine tapas for lunch!
I was a little nervous about going out, as it was our first restaurant meal since lockdown, but it was great. The tables and chairs were all wiped down between customers, each customer was asked to use sanitiser before sitting down and the waiting staff wore masks and gloves. Tapas was brought out in bowls and individual pinchos were placed on your plate with tongs.
While we did leave it a bit late, as it was a much longer walk than expected, we really enjoyed sitting out on the terrace while little dishes were brought out and devoured by the waiting customers.
The walk down was long but nice, with a breeze keeping us cool, and some interesting local wildlife. Though that breeze became a hurricane on the way back causing the temporary loss of several hats!
Embalse de Amadorio
With phase 2 in full effect from 1 June, and the subsequent ability to go hiking anywhere in Alicante, we took a morning drive to the Amadorio reservoir in hopes of experiencing some countryside walking.
Embalse de Amadorio is a beautiful reservoir that was created in 1957, by building a 318m long, 63m high dam on the Amadorio river. The reservoir provides irrigation and drinking water for Benidorm and Villajoyosa.
The waters can be difficult to get down to, but are crystal clear and filled with fish. There is a path that goes around the entire reservoir, though we limited ourselves to the area around the dam because of the heat. After a nice walk around, enjoying our new found freedom and the (mostly) quiet, we drove around the lake to get more views, eventually following a single track road through the hills before it snaked back down towards El Campello.
Discount Outlet Shopping Trip
As we started phase 3 we headed to the local discount outlet for some much-needed summer clothes and shoes. We hadn’t packed for this much heat (and neither had many of our neighbours). With non-essential shops now open, we had to go.
I was a bit nervous about going, worried it would be really busy. I had no need to fear, it was not very busy and those in the store kept their distance. Everyone was required to wear masks and before entering the centre use sanitiser. Once inside the use of masks was compulsory throughout as well as ensuring you kept two metres apart.
On entering each store you were required to sanitise your hands, sometimes put on fresh gloves provided by the store and even at times had our temperature taken.
The toilets had an attendant who was washing the toilets, doors and sinks in between each person using them.
Baths of the Queen
The Illeta dels Banyets is an archaeological dig site next to the marina in El Campello with a history.
This small peninsula has been occupied since the third millennium BC. That’s 5,000 years of on/off usage! The majority of the findings there date back to the Bronze Age and follow through Iberian, Roman and finally Islamic occupation ending around the 11th century.
The website for the dig site had shown ‘temporarily closed’ throughout the pandemic, but the banner was removed so we headed down to check it out. Where it turned out to still be very much closed! The security guard informing us that they had no idea when it would reopen.
Thankfully, as well as the pretty marina we could see, there’s also a 17th-century lookout tower to climb and see, and you can clamber around the perimeter of the dig site, which is what we decided to do. The waters were calm, with little wind and some shelter in the natural bays. The incredibly clear sea allowed us to see deep to the sand and rock floor. It was disconcerting enough that when we saw someone diving in from a nearby rock we thought they would surely hurt themselves! But there were several metres of water for him to dive into, and others soon followed in other spots.
Karen and Olivia explored some of the shallows and got their feet wet. The small rock pools tapping small fish and other sea life. The remains of ancient fish traps carved into the rock are still obvious, their sharp lines, though now eroding, contrast too much with the natural shape of the surrounding rocks.
As you make your way around, you can see into some of the dig sites too, which was a little disappointing in person, but at least we saw some of what we came for.
We followed up our trip with a visit to some local statues and monuments, and a little lunch at a local cafe. The peninsula is in constant use, several people visited by foot and by the sea while we were there. Photos show plenty of sunbathers and divers from busier times too. It feels like this 5 millennia old spit into the warm sea will continue for a few more years yet.
Learning to Socialise in a Different Way
One of the hardest parts which i am sure everyone has struggled with during lockdown has been socalising. Thank goodness we have internet!
We have been able to stay in touch with people via text, messenger, phone and video chat. This has helped us all I am sure, but on top of that, one of the biggest things we have done is let Olivia play games online with her friends back home most afternoons. I was unsure about it to start with and wow has she spent a lot of time online, but to hear her laugh, get excited and make up wonderful stories with her friends has been wonderful. Although at times she gets so excited and loud we end up with headaches.
In the end I said to myself, I do not let terrorism stop me going places, I am not going to let this stop me going out. Plus the numbers in Spain are back down to what they were before the outbreak and we were happy to go out then, but places are much cleaner and people are being much more careful now so I feel safer to go out.
We are very much still taking precautions, wearing masks when we feel too close to people, sanitising our hands regularly when out and washing them once back home. But it is nice to be back out in the world doing things we love.
For us as adults as lockdown started easing we were able to sit out with newly made friends on the site with our own drinks and food and chat. Even play Yahtzee where each family used their own dice. We’ve made some lovely lockdown buddies.
New Normal – Travelling in Spain during Covid19
As borders reopened on 21 June and people have started to come to Spain, we are officially in the New Normality.
Throughout ALL of Spain, face masks continue to be obligatory for all persons over the age of 6 years old, in open and closed spaces where it’s not possible to maintain 1.5m of social distance. If you are in a bar consuming drinks or food, you may remove the mask. If you’re on the beach too, as long as the 1.5-metre distance is being maintained. Fines can be given out to those not wearing masks when they should be.
The maximum capacity in closed spaces (shops, restaurants, cinemas etc) is 75%.
Removable walkways have been installed on the beaches, some for entry and some for exiting the beach. Only the exits have foot showers.
Hopefully, the new normal and the larger capacity of businesses means more of the local places will open and we will be able to explore more.
Anxious About Going Out
I was very anxious about going out and about. I have asthma and know that although it is well controlled I am at slightly higher risk of complications should I get Coronavirus. George has done all the shopping and during the last three months I have only been out to walk Pepper and take Olivia out. So venturing further afield, going to shops, restaurants and anywhere there would be people was very concerning and I was happy staying in my bubble. But something I needed to overcome mentally for everyone.
I think being in Spain with the gradual unlock has made it easier for me. We had time slots to walk in, which meant fewer people were generally around when we went out. Then only outdoor tables could be used at restaurants and they are well spaced out. Also seeing everyone using masks and using hand sanitiser helps you feel like everyone is taking it seriously and being careful.
What we have Learnt From Covid19 Lockdown in Spain
We really like Spain!
When we arrived here at El Campello I was not sure about Spain and certainly we not keen on the wasteland and tall flats. Even the mostly flat drive from Aranjuez had left me feeling quite down about the place.
Now I have lived here (albeit with restrictions) I have fallen in love with this town and its way of life. There are loads of playgrounds for kids dotted around, the beach is just a 10-minute walk away, mountains a 20-minute drive and the people are so friendly.
What can I say about the weather? I have not worn shorts for so many days in a row in my entire life! Although it is starting to get a tad hot. If it does rain its heavy and over with quickly. Who could not love this place?
There are drawbacks of course. Insects are annoying, and we keep having to spray our pitch with chemicals which we don’t like doing. The fresh food in supermarkets isn’t as high quality as that in Britain and of course, we can’t get some of our favourite things.
I needed to find things to do for myself when Olivia and George are busy, I was finding myself getting frustrated that I had nothing to do. So I have done the odd bit of drawing, reading, watching TV, playing Xbox for myself, taking Pepper on walks and even yoga. I have not settled on one thing as yet but it has been nice to occasionally do something for me.