Sanctuario de Santa Maria Magdalena

[Ed: And if that isn’t a mouthful, nothing is!]

Rental cars in Spain have one great advantage over those that I have had to rent previously in America: they come with comprehensive insurance. In the States, an apparently reasonable rental rate is usually more than doubled by the time you’ve added three different additional insurances to protect you from over zealous dead American pedestrians suing you having killed them. Most unreasonable! The Spanish rental cars also have one slight disadvantage: you are charged for a full tank of fuel when you collect the car and have to return it empty. This, of course, means as near to empty as you dare to get it without coughing and spluttering to an embarrassing standstill on the motorway almost within sight of the airport.

Because we spent our first week here largely stuck indoors with rain falling outdoors, we were approaching the end of our stay with most of a tank of fuel to use up. We chose to use a goodly chunk of it by going on a typically touristy driving route down to Novelda, inland from Alicante, to visit the Gaudiesque Sanctuario de Santa Maria Magdalena. It wasn’t actually designed by Gaudi but followed his style.

IMG_4487_Sanctuario_de_Santa_Maria_Magdalena IMG_4484_Sanctuario_de_Santa_Maria_Magdalena The journey down was straightforward enough and after about an hour we spotted the church standing above and just outside of the town of Novelda. Never having seen the famous Gaudi-designed cathedral in Barcelona, my first impression was that the Sanctuario was fancifully ornate. My second impression was that it was much smaller than I had expected it to be. It may look like a cathedral but it definitely isn’t cathedral sized.  My third impression is that this seemed to be a particularly strange place to build such an ornate edifice. The valley above which it stands sentinel is no more than an industrial, almost lunar landscape covered in industrial scars. Check these pictures out and I think you’ll see what I mean.

IMG_5469_Sanctuario_de_Santa_Maria_MagdalenaIMG_4507_Sanctuario_landscapeThe church was actually finished after 28 years of effort in 1946 and, doubtless, the quarrying and industrial activities were originally not present. It’s a shame that the Spanish have allowed it’s surroundings to deteriorate to this extent, though. Some vineyards would have looked good.

We continued on our circuit through largely industrial landscapes and, after finding some lunch, drove up into hills on constant hairpin bends. Travelling such uphill, constantly twisting roads, certainly was achieving our goal of using up significant amounts of fuel. We finally returned through Guadalest with superb light but everyone was tiring, especially the driver (yours truly) so there was no more stopping as the fuel gauge continued to plummet.

Back “at home” at about 6:00 PM, the pink went down well. We’ll have to buy some more fuel now to get to Alicante airport on Sunday. 🙂

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