On our first day in Spain, we planned to take a drive to view the scenery and to explore castles. We decided this when we arrived the previous day without half of our luggage, which unfortunately included our clothes.
We used the Lonely Planet book to try to find where the castles were. This is not the best option because we found the information to be incomplete. We later were able to purchase a Costa Blanca tourist map published by Everest (ISBN 84-241-4027-3). This map had many castles noted on the map which made our trip much easier.
We overestimated how much we could drive to in one day because the mountains and back roads were slow, but we still had a nice day.
On our way to Alacante via 332 from Calpe, we saw ruins on the left hand side of the road
just before we got to a sign saying "Entering Parisio". We pulled over the car and parked on
the side of the road. we took our lives into our hands and crossed the road and walked back to
a trail. This was not in our Lonely Planet as far as we know. it was not well preserved or
respected, but we were stunned to see that some of the original tiling on the floor remains.
St. Barbara's Castle in Alacante
We drove to Alacante hoping to see a sign for a castle. Wen we entered the town, it had a castle on the tourist information sign, but we could not find the tourist information booth. We were driving south very close to the shore when I saw a tunnel in a cliff to my right. I looked up and there was the castle above. We took our next right hand turn and found a place to park.
We walked back to where we saw the tunnel and walked in. There was a machine to buy tickets for 400 ptas. It required exact change. We used these tickets to ride the elevator to the top of the hill and ended up inside the castle. It was well kept, touristy, had may cats as well as strange art.
This is the castle that we actually did not visit. We did not get the hang of it yet, but there are no signs to get to these castles on top of the mountains. You have to find a small road shooting off the main way and then you have to drive until you get to the castle. If we ever go back, we will try to figure out how to get up to this one.
How to get there: After Benirrama in the direction of Pego, cross a tiny bridge and turn right on a dirt road just before a white mile marker. Go up this dirt road slowly. After you pass the water source (people come here to get buckets of water to bring home) take a sharp left up a steep dirt road. This road is very bad. If you do not want to drive up this, park back at the water source. Continue up the bad road until you see a gate branching off to the right. That is the entrance. We made the mistake of following a guy past this gate and up his driveway to his house. He was very nice about it, but we were very embarrassed. There is no visitors center. The surrounding land is olive orchards so try to stay in the boundaries of the castle. We think the gate closes at 6pm.
The Final Stretch
As the sun began to set, we continued our journey through the mountains. We reflected back on our first whole day in Spain: the Moorish Ruins and the cats at St. Barbara's Castle on the Mediterranean Coast; zig zagging up the high mountains and the "sailor's rice" dish at a local hangout that the waiter wanted us to have somewhere along the way; The woman who pumped our gas and tried to give Bill directions in Catalan; The man who understood my Spanish and sold us the maps with the castles on it; and the man who helped us find the Galinera Castle as well as his house behind it.
Then we looked forward at the view in front of us and found that the day's journey was still not over.