I knew something wasn’t quite right when I reached the palm-lined promenade. In front of me was a glittering blue sea but around me was a sea of grey – hundreds of grey-haired people.
Some shuffled down the sea front in slow motion on their daily constitutional; others, squeezed into fluorescent Lycra, peddled down the street (those in the less-fit category letting motorised bicycles propel them along); and in the many bars and restaurants lining the strip, sat elderly men in golf hats, drinking from oversized wine glasses, their Zimmer frames neatly parked beside them.
I felt oddly out of place. I scanned the scene again. Had I just walked onto the TV set of One Foot in the Grave meets Laguna Beach?
|Parc Natural de la Serra Gelada|
I don’t believe it, the delightful and sparklingly clean resort of Albir on the Costa Blanca, east coast of Spain, was practically a retirement village. Great! I was here for three days, clearly the token 30-something year old, standing out like a clown at a funeral.
I sat on the beach and ate my cheese bun, trying to ignore the orange, half-naked, pot-bellied gentleman lounging on a deck chair down by the water’s edge. Pity I wasn’t in the market for a sugar daddy, I briefly thought.
Of course, the party-town Benidorm, with its glitzy high-rises and drink-fuelled nightlife, was just mere miles down the road. But fake tan and crop tops didn’t appeal right then. I turned, instead, towards the Parc Natural de la Serra Gelada, a lump of mountain to the south of the beach. I set out on a brisk walk, overtaking the grey-haired dog walkers.
As I strolled around the park towards the lighthouse, I passed super-fit pensioners in Nike trainers and weathered skin on show walking in the opposite direction. They were kitted out for activity but there I was in shoes not fit for walking. Again I felt awkward and out of place.
To prove my mettle I decided to take on the 438m peak of Alt del Governador. 438 meters – it should be a piece of cake (said the girl who completed the 60km Kepler Track in New Zealandin two days). How wrong I was. The flimsy plimsolls had no grip, the rocks I walked over punching into the bottom of my
feet, each stab of pain a reminder of how stupendously stupid this idea was but too proud to give up.
And still I could not escape the over 60s. Many claimed the mountain as their own; one man walking his mountain bike down from the top. As I stood, hands on hips, heaving in lungfuls of air, letting the man and bike pass, I pondered his skills in getting the bike to the top in the first place. If I was half that fit when I got to his age I’d be happy.
That night I sat in a restaurant on my lonesome, listening to the excited babble of Spanish and German and English coming from the other tables. I declined dessert, instead walking back to my room in my broken plimsolls, leaving the elders to enjoy the night.
|A panoramic view of Albir|