Sunday, 24 January 2016

That time I went to a resort for pensioners

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.       
 
Benidorm
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 Zealand in two days). How wrong I was. The flimsy plimsolls had no grip, the rocks I walked over punching into the bottom of my
Albir 
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

2 comments:

  1. Don't give up. Consider this time in your life as your training. By the time you are over 60, you too, will be able to get your bike up and down Alt del Governador and then party well into the wee small hours in celebration. Meanwhile, think about improving your footwear!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Normally I would wear better footwear - I just hadn't expected the hike to be so vigorous. Don't they say life starts at 60?

      Delete