Darlene Foster's Blog

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category


Our day trip to Villajoyosa ended with a stop at Santa Barbara Castle, overlooking the city of Alicante and the Mediterranean Sea. The very capable bus driver took us to the top of Mount Benecantil, 166 meters above the city, on a narrow, windy road. This was a large bus and we all held our breath as he barely made it through the castle entrance, built for horse and buggies.

The narrow entrance to the castle

The narrow entrance to the castle

Once there we had an hour to wander the castle and discover the history of Alicante on display in the museums throughout the castle. Archaeological remains from the Bronze Age, Iberian Age and Roman Times have been found on this site.



I enjoyed climbing around the many levels, checking out the dungeons, chapel, guardroom, bastions and turrets. I loved the wrought iron warriors and archers strategically placed around the castle.

The dungeons

The dungeons


The chapel ruins


Watch out for the archers!

Watch out for the archers!


Fascinating views of Alicante and the Mediterranean Sea

Fascinating views of Alicante and the Mediterranean Sea

This was fun for me as I visited this site a number of years ago and set a scene in Amanda in Spain in this very castle

kids posing with a warrior while dad takes a picture

Kids posing with a warrior while dad takes a picture

Another person posing for the camera.

Another person posing for the camera.

I can´t get enough of the rich history and fascinating castles around here.

I love chocolate! Studies have proven that chocolate, in moderation, makes you happy and is actually good for you. So, when we took a bus trip to the colourful town of Villejoyosa, famous for its chocolate industry, I wasn´t surprised to learn that Villejoyosa means “joyful town”.

The day began with a stop at Finestrat, a small community where we enjoyed a stroll through the market and a cafe con leche (descafeinado for me) on the lovely beach.

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Relaxing at Finestrat beach

Next stop, the Chocolate Museum!

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Villejoyosa was the first city in Spain to export chocolate. In the nineteenth century, chocolate manufacturing was the main industry in town, boasting 39 factories. Of the three factories left, Valor is the largest. It was established in 1881 by Don Valeriano López Lloret who imported the cocoa beans from Ecuador and began producing chocolate.  The factory is still operated by the fifth generation of the same family. Many of the old pieces of equipment are housed in the museum.



original chocolate molds

original chocolate moulds


After watching a video explaining the process of making chocolate, we were led through a glassed in walkway overlooking the modern, clean and efficient factory. Valor chocolate is extremely popular in Spain and shipped all over the world. No photography is allowed in the factory.

There was no escaping the tempting aroma of chocolate as it was being mixed, placed in moulds and wrapped for shipping. Like an alcoholic visiting a brewery, I raced to the chocolate shop where we were treated to generous mouth watering samples. Before you ask, of course I purchased some to take home!

yummy samples

yummy samples



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Two bags full!

We returned to the main part of of this happy town for a nice lunch overlooking the beach. After all that chocolate and food, we took a walk past the brightly painted houses along the beach and overlooking the river. The story is that many years ago the houses were painted different colours in order for each fisherman to be able to identify their house as they approached by sea.

Lively coloured houses hanging over the river

Mother and child sculpture by the old city walls

Mother and child sculpture by the old city walls

Street to the beach front

Street to the beach front


Colourful houses facing the sea

Whether the town is called “joyful village” because of the brightly painted houses or the connection to chocolate, I´m not sure. I did, however, leave very happy I visited this cheerful place.

We journeyed on to a castle in Alicante which I will tell you about in the next post.

What is your favourite type of chocolate?

Gabriola Island is a wonderful place to visit and since my daughter lives on a nearby island, I have had many opportunities to spend time on this peaceful paradise. On one occasion we visited an alpaca farm, much to my delight. I love camels and llamas; and alpacas are also part of the family of camelids. I was surprised to find that these creatures are so unique and loveable, with individual personalities. Here are a few pictures from my visit to these delightful creatures prized for their fine wool.



What´s not to love about this guy!


Getting a kiss from an alpaca

Getting a kiss from an alpaca





The wee ones




Daughter, her partner and his daughter. Love my family!

Daughter, her partner and his daughter at the alpaca farm . Love my family!

Children who love animals volunteer at the farm and are happy to show you around. You can purchase lovely alpaca hand made items in the shop.To learn more about Paradise Island Alpacas here is the website:


and here is a great video:


Have you been to a farm with unique animals?


There has been less than one hour of rain in the past four months here on the Costa Blanca. Temperatures soared to over forty degrees Celsius in July and August so we didn´t feel like venturing very far. Things are now back to comfortable temperatures so we decided to take a bus to Les Fonts de Algar and the charming village of Guadalest tucked in the mountains. The waterfalls were pretty and we enjoyed our leisurely walk around them. Some brave souls took a dip in the clear turquoise waters but we decided to stay on dry ground.

Les Fonts de L´Algar

Les Fonts de L´Algar



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Once back on the bus, the heavens opened and it poured rain. Not a pleasant little shower but a deluge. It rained all the way up the twisty mountain road to Guadalest. Not prepared, we got totally soaked running from the bus to a nearby restaurant.  After a nice meal, we purchased umbrellas and went exploring in the rain. To my delight, we discovered a Salt and Pepper Museum with over 20,000 salt and pepper shakers on display. A most pleasant way to spend a rainy afternoon. Here are a few for you.






Guadalest is home to six museums, all quite unique. Time did not permit me to visit all of them and a couple were closed. I stopped in at a miniature museum which was also very interesting and well put together. I didn´t however visit the Museum of Medieval Torture as I am a bit squeamish, but it looked cool. Maybe next time.

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Guadalest is a picturesque village with interesting streets and a castle overlooking it. Just as we were about to board the bus to return home, the sun came out!


Castell de Guadalest overlooking the town

The streets of Guadalest

The streets of Guadalest


Trust us to take this trip on one of the few rainy days. It was a good day in spite of it and we laughed all the way home.  Fortunately, we had visited this place a few years ago on a sunny day.


Guadalest on a sunny day

I love islands and enjoyed a day visit to a small island with a couple of friends recently. The pleasant boat ride, forty minutes from Torrevieja, took us to Isla de Tabarca. I fell in love with this place the minute we docked in front of the old church and stone walls. This charming island with a watch tower, a lighthouse and the remaining walls of the old fort, has a number of ocean view restaurants, a beach and shallow coves for swimming and snorkelling. We discovered a small museum, closed when we arrived but opened an hour before we were to return, giving us an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history of this island which is also a protected marine reserve.

Our transport to the island

Our transport to the island

Church and walls

The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul and walls of the fort greet us as we arrive.

The beach

The beach

Portal into the village

Portal into the village

Tabarca is the smallest permanently inhabited islet in Spain with approximately 68 inhabitants and was the refuge for Barbary pirates up to the end of the eighteenth century. It was settled in the mid 1700s when a group of shipwrecked Genoese sailors needed a home and protection. King Carlos III of Spain allowed them to live on the island where he built a church, fort, watchtower and lighthouse, in exchange for them to warn him of any threatening marauders.



The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, completed in 1775, was undergoing renovations so we were unable to go inside.

The houses were unique and colouful

Unique and colourful houses



Clear turquoise waters in the many coves

Clear turquoise waters in the many coves

Stunning scenery was everywhere we looked! The east end of the island is completely different from the west end. We walked along an arid path to the lighthouse at the end, passing through a graveyard of giant cactus.



Not only did the lighthouse provide protection to the sailors and fisherman from the island´s rocky coastline, it was also a school for lighthouse keepers.


Nou Collonet, the restaurant were we enjoyed a delicious lunch with a fabulous view. Note the wall made of scallop shells.


The island is 1,750 m (5,741 ft) long, 300 m (984 ft) at the widest part and absolutely flat. We managed to walk around the entire island and have a leisurely lunch in the five hours we were there. It was a perfect day.

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photo by Inke Piegsa

Everyone loves a pirate!!

I just returned from a trip home to Alberta, Canada, where I attended my grandson´s graduation and a large family reunion, visited many friends and relatives and spent quality time with mom, my son and his family. Needless to say I had a wonderful time. I´ll let the pictures tell the story.

Proud Grandma

Proud Grandma

A proud family!

Proud parents and brother

I did it!

I did it!

So glad I could be there for this important occasion.

Calgary friends

Long time Calgary buddies

A friend I haven´t seen for many years

Catching up with a childhood friend I haven´t seen for many years

We worked together 35 years ago.

We worked together 35 years ago. Where does the time go?

Dinner with the grandsons

Dinner with the grandsons

My sweet great granddaughter

My sweet great granddaughter

With my other sweet great granddaughter at the reunion

With my other sweet great granddaughter at the family reunion

my other sweet great granddaughter giving her great great grandmother a ride in the garden

Giving her great great grandmother a ride in the garden


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With Mom and her sister at the family reunion

I saw many relatives I hadn´t seen for some time, including my 91 year old great aunt and her husband in Calgary, my dad´s 90 year old brother and my 86 year old great uncle in Medicine Hat. Always good to see them and hear their wonderful stories, some of which I plan to share on this blog.

I´ll write more about the family reunion which deserves its own post.

I’ve been away from blogging for a bit as I took a quick trip back to Canada to visit friends and family in two provinces. I managed to see as many people as I could in a short time. There were many lunches, dinners and coffees/teas with good friends, including a fabulous Easter lunch at my former place of employment. I spent Easter weekend with family in Alberta and was treated to snow Easter morning, which I wasn’t prepared for. But watching my great granddaughter hunt for Easter eggs made up for the bad weather.

Here are a few pictures of my visit.

Spending time with Mom was precious

Spending time with Mom was precious

Easter bunny time

Easter bunny time with a cutie

Mom with a great great granddaughter

Mom with a great great granddaughter

Lunch with my son and rapidly growing up grandson

Lunch with my son and rapidly growing up grandson

Any day spent with my daughter is a special day

Any day spent with my daughter is a special day


The west coast was so beautiful with all the spring flowers and blossoms




Quite a contrast to my three days in Alberta.


Never mind, it was a good trip and I was so happy I went. I enjoy my new life but miss the special people from Canada.

I’m now over my jet lag and happy to be back in Spain with my hubby as we start moving into our own home. More about that later.

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