Monday, 21 April 2008

Valencia looks much better in daylight. The sun is shining, and the profusion of white buildings makes the whole place look rather regal. We overdose on pastries and then set about getting a lift. We make the long trek to the city limits where, lo and behold, we espy another hitch couple, looking hot and frustrated. We form a queue. A car stops and, what do you know? They have space for two more! A four-way hitch! Luckily, the driver is a laidback guy in blue and white Bermuda shirt, who chuckles to himself whilst these four crazies talk at each other in dizzying patterns.

We disembark at a tollbooth, surrounded by stunning mountainous terrain. I could quite happily stand and soak up the scenery for hours, but my sightseeing hopes are dashed when Libby and Will snag a lift and, once again, there's room for four. The more the merrier! The driver is a vivacious black Brit called Pamela, who expresses parental concern for us. Virtually the second we slam the door, she asks if any of us had any Premier League contacts as her son, living in Hackney, London, wanted to be a Premier League footballer. Don't we all son, don't we all. The glorious Pamela gives us a lift to the tollbooths outside of Alicante where, whilst decamping from her car, we manage to accidentally filch her red fleece, both groups presuming that it belongs to the other party.

As Pamela disappears into the distance, we start signing and soon attract the attention of a startlingly handsome gendarme. After some flirtation, it becomes clear that he is only trying to usher us to an area where we are not going to get run over. Bless. No matter where we stand, no-one appears to want to stop, and we waste a futile two hours hawking ourselves to no avail. By seven o' clock we are weary and decide to head into Alicante for the night. We pen a big "CENTRO" sign and make the short hop to Alicante town centre.

Once installed in our hotels rooms, Sofia and I take our two friends out to try and procure some paella and initiate them in the ways of grog. The paella is procured and eaten (it is only at this stage that I find out that I don't like paella) and the bottle of dessert wine is polished off. Our appetites sated, we hit Alicante in search of the thinking pirate's favourite tipple, grog. After a catalogue of confused glances, we find an Irish bar where a glamourpuss barmaid is happy to whip us up some grogs once we provide her with the recipe. Deal. Grogs all round! We stagger back to our hotel slightly tipsy and fall into a blank and unthinking sleep.

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