We followed the coast south west heading inland after Valencia (the digital voice of our TomTom pronounces it Var Lens See Arr – last syllable rhyming with first – and, annoyingly, we find the pronunciation has crept into our vocabulary).
The temperature rose 10° as we travelled into the hinterland of Alicante, reaching 32° in the afternoon sun as we travelled towards Murcia. The road was long and winding and appeared to pass through miles and miles of dusty scrubland, rather like a Western film so we would not have been surprised to see gun toting cowboys galloping by, raising a dust trail. Our destination was Baños De Fortuna which was a thermal spa that miraculously appeared out of the barren landscape. As we turned into the site we were surprised to see everywhere packed with people, often in bath robes, enjoying the waters. The water temperature was recorded as 36°.
We were allocated a pitch backing on to a small toilet block containing four separate bathrooms, one if these was our own private facilities with shower, toilet and washbasin. Not a lot to recommend these facilities except it was very clean and, providing the hot water came out of the appropriate orifice when required, this lady would be content. The camp site was not pretty but very functional. The sun was relentless but by then it was 5 pm and the sun was losing its power – and it was almost time for a gin and tonic.
There were four hotels on the site so we set off with great hope to find something nice to eat. The first “restaurant” we tried was a dark and dingy glorified snack bar. It turned out that there was only one other restaurant open that evening, serving reheated frozen type food.
We had a mediocre meal and wondered where the other hotel guests were eating. The following morning we presented ourselves at the hotel reception and booked a 90 minute visit to the thermal spa, plus lunch and a visit to the thermal swimming pools. Nobody spoke any English and we found it very hard to explain what we wanted (hint: we were visiting a spa resort, it should not be hard to guess we would like to avail ourselves of whatever was on offer. We were sitting ducks for anything they might suggest). We enjoyed the spa visit, with its variety of thermal pools providing jacuzzi type experience, sauna and showers various.
Then it was time for lunch, and we were shown back to the previous night’s restaurant where we had a mixed salad and farmed salmon steak with chips and ratatouille – cost €8 each which included a small beer, a glass of wine, a bottle of water and excellent coffee. We could not complain but we wondered whether the resort missed a trick by not serving more upmarket food.
Buoyed with our morning success in the spa, we both booked a massage in the afternoon which was short but sweet. The thermal swimming would have to wait for the morning.