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Guardamar

Take a tour of Guardamar del Segura

Welcome to Guardamar! No doubt you are arriving at the bus station. It might not look like much, but it’s your gateway to a fascinating and exhausting day out.

First, let’s get an overview of the place. Make your way away from the town and climb the hill to the medieval castle. It’s not a difficult climb and entry to this 9th Century ruin is free so you don’t even need to get your wallet out yet. At the top, gaze out past the cannons over the town to the Mediterranean. See those miles and miles of beaches? You’ll be walking along there later so take it easy for now. Look the other way and you’ll see the magnificent Vega Baja stretching out before you, filled with fruit orchards and vegetable fields.

After taking a few photos of the wonderful panorama, head into town aiming for the church tower which stands above everything else. The Parroquie San Jaime Apostol  is an interesting place to begin your exploration of the town. The four faces of the tower host a different bell, each with its own story. Tucked away on one corner of Plaza Constitucion is the Tourist Information office and in there you can find a leaflet to tell you more about these stories. On the opposite side of the plaza is the unusual shape of the Ayuntamiento with its bridge out onto the square shading the ground floor from the harsh sunlight.

If you’ve arrived on a Wednesday, the market won’t have escaped your attention. It fills several of the streets between the bus station and San Jaime so don’t be afraid to pick up some fresh fruit or a new shirt. There will be tasting opportunities too, so don’t be shy!

Feeling thirsty already? You have many options for a coffee. The Pensionista which occupies a corner of the town hall welcomes customers of all ages inside. Their tortilla is always a firm favourite. Alternatively you could walk a short way down the newly widened Calle Major to Café Central  which seems to serve the strongest coffee in town. A little further down and you can sit outside Café La Plaza and lounge in the sun sipping your cortado.

Venture a couple of streets down towards the sea and you’ll find the Casa de Cultura. Inside pay a visit to Guardamar’s Archaeological Museum . For the next few months there’s a special exhibit about the restoration plans for the Via Augusta, a Roman road which ran from the Pyrenees to Cadiz passing the entire length of the Valencian Comunidad. The permanent collection will prepare you well for when you venture into the dunes later.

It’s going to be a grazy day when it comes to food so find Café Bar Hernandez  on the corner with Avda de las Dunas. Pop in for some light refreshment a lovely fishy tapa. There’s plenty to choose from, but don’t stop chatting for too long as there’s so much more to do today.

Cut down past the Masymas  supermarket. Call in if you must but you’ll have plenty to eat and drink as we explore the town more. Across the waste ground (unless the circus is in town) you’ll see the River Segura. Admire the birdlife and the fishermen as you walk all the way down to the marina. There you can sit outside and enjoy a drink and another tapa at Restaurante Club Nautico

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Feeling rested after the walk down to the marina, continue round the boats and out towards the very mouth of the river. Don’t be put off by the cats. Some people come out here and feed them every evening but the council are trying to control the situation. The views along the coast from here are amazing, but if the waves are high, be careful you don’t get splashed, or worse!

Now you have two options. You can kick off those shoes and walk along the sands for a while but the better option is probably to make use of the paths through the dunes. It’s a lovely walk and you’ll get the chance to say hola to many others out for a stroll. Make sure you stop to look at the sea from one of the boardwalks, and pay attention to the maps if you want a short diversion to try to find the Rabita. This relic of Spain’s Islamic past is unique in the country. Perhaps the Tourist Information Office will have found a guide to take you round otherwise you can only look on from the mesh fence. This was once an Islamic school at the height of the Moorish period. During the Reconquista, all such places were destroyed. Not this one though, it was hidden underneath the sand dunes for centuries until its discovery in the 20th Century!

You need to head back to the beach though. Walking along the sands from Playa Babilonia towards Playa Central you’ll go past the long row of colourful fishermen’s cottages. They are beautiful when viewed from the water’s edge. At the end of the cottages retreat into one of the restaurants along the Esplenade. If you happen to call in to the café of the same name, say hello to Luis for me! Perhaps you’d like a bit of local culture. Go back towards Hotel Europa. Inside you’ll be able to see a new photography exhibition by a group of Guardamarrenco photographers known as AFAG . They will have you looking at the dunes and the pine forest in an entirely different light.

Don’t flag – you are far from finished yet! Go back towards the park you see on your left, away from the sea. The main street along there leads back up into town and is named after an engineer called Mira. As you walk up the hill, make sure you look at the story unfolding on the tiles on the right. Ideally you should be walking downhill to read them in order, but even in reverse they tell the interesting story of how Mira discovered a way to protect the town of Guardamar from the advancing sand dunes. His solution was to plant trees and so it is he who we have to thank for the wonderful pine forest you can see in Parc Alfonso XIII. Venture in and have a stroll around if you wish, or cross the road and try to find the peacocks in The Reina Sofia Park.

Turn left at the wooden waterwheel you see turning on the corner. There, along Avda dels Pins, you will find a whole host of international cuisine. Personally, I’d head into Papas  for some Argentine empenadas and some great meat dishes. If you just want a few tapas, they do that well too, but so do La Nora . It may be too early for a proper meal though, so head into El Patio de Mi Casa for a drink. Try the comfy chairs in their hidden patio at the back.

Your cultural tour of Guardamar is over, so relax and enjoy the evening. You could have a nice glass of wine from the bar in the Eden Mar Hotel  but there are so many to choose from! Just along the road is the Alone , a bar which bears the ancient name of this town. Their food is great, but to finish the day, I thought we could go to the super cheap Pension Jaen . The good thing about this place is not just the plentiful food and free flowing wine for €9, but that you can often find it quite full of people and atmosphere as early as 6.30pm. Try the roasted pork knuckle. You’ll not need to eat again for days!!

I hope you have enjoyed your whistlestop tour of Guardamar. You can read more of my musings about my life here in Spain at www.rrruss.com/mifotomundo and explore some of the lesser known sites of this wonderful country at www.anythingbutpaella.com.

Oh, you want to carry on? Well there are a number of nightclubs down on the industrial estate, but I’m afraid I don’t know anything about them!!!

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