I suppose in size and style the towns of Torrevieja in the southern Costa Blanca and Calpe in the northern Costa Blanca are similar. Both towns originally grew up around the salt industry, however unlike Torrevieja, Calpe’s lakes are no longer productive. Both towns are now developed way beyond their original boundaries, both have developed as tourist destinations, both have large expat populations from the northern European countries. I already knew Calpe well, Torrevieja was new to me. Calpe has much taller buildings and backs the mountains, Torrevieja has more urbanisations and backs onto the salt lakes and the Vega Baja – a large, flat, fertile agricultural plain, a vegetable basket for the Alicante region.
What has struck me is that when driving along the twisting coast road from Moraira to Calpe, passing through Benissa’s costal area, there is no break in the building, the roads are lined with villas snaking up the hillsides. The winding cliff road from Calpe to Altea has dramatic views but is still lined with villas creeping up the hillside and the odd commercial outlet. And it was the same from Altea to Albir. I realised, with sadness, that there was nowhere I knew in the northern Costa Blanca where I could just walk along a long beach without buildings around me, unless I had my back to a cliff! And few places anywhere near the coast without villas dotting the landscape, their lights at night looking like thousands of bright fire flies frozen onto the hillsides and cliff-tops. The building boom had started in the 80’s here, mainly individual villas with gardens set on the hills outside the towns. The northern Europeans, and Brits especially, had flocked to live in the picturesque sunshine to live the dream. In the process the hills had been carved up and changed beyond recognition. I am so glad that at last the town halls have finally started to restrict development along the coast. What is left must be preserved.
Dave and Bev Townsend have two homes, their main one in Norwich and a second home in Playa Flamenca in south Costa Blanca, Spain which they also let as a holiday rental www.house-by-the-pool.com They run a property finding business offering a free service for those seeking to buy a property in the Costa Blanca (Alicante) or the Mar Menor area of the Costa Calida (Murcia) www.SpanishDreamProperty.com Bev has family in Spain and they intend to move there full-time in a couple of years.