Our next stop on our journey was a bit of an unexpected one and, like most things that are unexpected in life, a beautiful one. We woke last Saturday morning and got ready to go to our local fruit and veg market, both to pass the time and stock up on supplies for the week. Once we had stocked up and were ready to return home P suggested that we go somewhere for the day. Having been stuck indoors all week he was fed up of staring at the walls and eager to get out and see some life! Undecided on a destination, we headed down the road until we met our first sign: Orihuela. So off we went. I love trips like this, spontaneous and exciting, not knowing if the town that awaits you is fantastic or tragic ( very unlikely here in Spain!).
Orihuela is a far cry from being tragic. It´s a fantastic City located at the foot of the Sierra de Orihuela, between Elche and Murcia. I sense a trend starting. I´ve a feeling I might just have a thing for mountains, every mountain area I visit; I instantly fall in love with! Anyway; back to Orihuela. Orihuela is an ideal location with the perfect blend of culture, history and beauty. The streets are filled with ambience, the walls oozing with stories from the past and the old derelict buildings exude such wistfulness that it pulls on your heart-strings, they just seem so melancholic.
What I loved about the city was not only how they have manage to preserve the olden world feel through the textures, style and colours of the buildings, but also how they have given each building a touch of modernity. It´s a city that, instead of clinging onto the past, has moved with the times and incorporated an architectonic mix of each society that has graced this city with its presence. The city centre itself is a modern hub of commerce, providing Orihuela with everyday amenities such as banks, restaurants, shops and businesses. While the surrounding area is filled with ancient buildings contrasted against the austere backdrop of the sierra.
P, J and I turned into little children as we nonchalantly made our way from the city centre, through the labyrinth of narrow streets, to the old quarter of the city. Each corner we turned unfolding even more beauty than the last. We were filled with wonderment, how could such beauty exist just twenty minutes from our doorstep without our knowledge?
P was taken by the area, he was so engaged as we wandered through the streets, he even said: ” Cartagena has nothing on this place, while it had the beauty, it didn´t have the charm”. Out of all the places we have visited Orihuela seems to be the one that P liked the most. Unlike the other cities Orihuela is wheelchair friendly, meaning that P didn´t miss out on any part of the city. He got to explore everything. The only disappoint was: there was no ice-cream, all the parlours were closed for the afternoon!
Unlike Cartagena, which seemed to have it all, Orihuela really does have it all; character, beauty, mountains and sea. Orihuela is the capital city in the area known as the “Vega Baja del Segura” which includes eleven municipalities: Benejúzar, Benferri, Beniel, Bigastro, Callosa de Segura, Cox, Jacarilla, Rafal, Redován and Santomera. Each of these are unique in their own right offering either mountain, sea or in some cases both. Each of these areas are located within close proximity of each other and, it´s recommended, to take in all eleven municipalities on the same route. We didn´t, we were so taken by Orihuela that we didn´t have time, but we did drive through them and they seem just as breathtaking as Orihuela itself.
For me, Orihuela offered something that Cartagena couldn´t; a traditional lifestyle. I think that´s what was missing for me in Cartagena, it had all the physical attributes I love about a place but lacked tradition. Orihuela was seeping in tradition, it was Spanish through and through, not a hint of tourism; even through it´s a popular tourist destination. The streets were filled with children playing, elderly people chatting on doorsteps, locals gathered in the parks watching the world go by, business people carrying on with their daily routines and cafés emitting the most powerful aroma of coffee beans. It was full of life, full of community, full of pride and custom.
Okay, enough of my blathering, time for the pictures. It´s funny; my blog originally started off centred around my writing now that focus has shifted. I´ve come to realise that nothing I could ever say, no matter how much my writing ability might improve with time, could capture the beauty I´m trying to convey better than photographs. So; as you´ve probably noticed, I´ve begun to allow the pictures do the talking for me; I hope you don´t mind! So without further dawdling here is Orihuela through the eyes of my camera; I do hope the opulent nostalgia and beauty of this city comes across. Enjoy!
Have you ever been to Orihuela? What did you think?
As always, thank you for reading,
Until the next time,