Paella in Altea

I am in a town called Albir in Costa Blanca in Spain.  The commune is Alfaz del Pi.  This is a great place for a short break for Scandinavians. There are regular flights and the duration of the flight is only about 3.5 hours.  Doesn’t hurt either that it is by the beach. No matter which time of year you come, the weather is warm enough to soak in the sun. In the winter, it has shorter periods and it is too cold to take a swim, but still warm enough in the middle of the day to get a tan.

Altea, the nearby town, can be reached by foot, by car, or public transport. It is a very cosy and quaint town with very narrow streets.  Be patient when getting here by car. Vacant parking spaces are rare, but looking for one is part of the adventure.  If you do find one, you need ninja skills to park your car into the smallest parking spaces this side of Spain.

For now, our destination is the church in Altea.   Perhaps some of you have seen pictures of it.

 

The Our Lady of Solace Church is surrounded by the Plaza de la Iglesia which is lined by restaurants, bars and souvenir shops.
The Our Lady of Solace Church is surrounded by the Plaza de la Iglesia which is lined by restaurants, bars and souvenir shops.

 

Like any church in Spain, this is surrounded by a Plaza where you have restaurants, some stalls, and people go about.  There is a wonderful view of the sea here. Going to the church, there are small streets lined with some private residences, restaurants, ateliers, and different kinds of shops.  You will see decorated windows, old (and new) doors, works of art, and people everywhere.

 

 

Small shops line the Plaza de la Iglesia
Small shops line the Plaza de la Iglesia

 

Most of the souvenir shops sell handcrafts like these bags.
Most of the souvenir shops sell handcrafts like these bags.

I just used my iPhone to take pictures and it doesn’t do justice to the beautiful colours in the area.

Just go and take walks into the narrow streets. Your mark is the dome of the church so always go in that direction.  When you see this round manhole cover, then you are in the centre of the Plaza.

 

Manhole in the center of the Plaza
Manhole in the center of the Plaza

The place is teeming with lots of restaurants to satisfy every palate.  I craved for paella, the iconic Spanish dish loved by a lot of foreigners. While walking around the Plaza, a guy with an apron invited us to his restaurant. He said they have nice views of the sea and we obliged.

El Torreon de Paula
El Torreon de Paula

This is what met us on the rooftop. Breathtaking and they had paella!

They serve good paella here.
They serve good paella here.

 

Trust me when I say the view is awesome.  My iPhone can’t catch the beauty of it all. The sun was out and the place was not huge.  You don’t get noise which you get from eating in huge restaurants. This one was like being invited into somebody else’s big home.  I wanted Paella and that was what we ordered.

On the house, we were given the usual, almost obligatory, bread with aoli and some olives. Then our waiter came with Spanish omelettes for us, on the house. It was really good. It had a different taste to it so we asked if they fried it. They said all their food was cooked using an old stone oven.

 

Good service from the people who work here.
Good service from the people who work here.

They serve three kinds of paella. Meat, seafood and mixed (a combination of meat and seafood).  We opted for the mixed.  As we waited for our paella, we talked about how wonderful our view was, how laid-back life here is, how slow everything is and yet nobody cares. We are in Spain and we embraced the culture. Why rush when everybody else had time on their hands. I am not sure if there is any other European country that celebrates siesta time. It is that holy hour between 14.00 and 16.30 (time can vary) when stores close, business halts and they take a nap. During one of my first trips here, I did not understand why they had to take siestas at all. After several trips, I realised that they needed it because the time between 14.00-16.30 is the warmest time of day and the body just physiologically slows down.

We enjoyed our fresh naranja (orange) juice and eagerly anticipated our paella. So came our host with the paella pan. He was the one who served it and it was like a ceremony. What a sight to see.

We did order paella for two, but there was enough for three, or even four.   The price is easy on the budget, but this is not the place you eat for every meal, either.

 

Trust me. The view is fantastic and more beautiful in reality.
Trust me. The view is fantastic and more beautiful in reality

 

 

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