There is usually so much happening in Jumilla that we rarely go away for the day. However our friends Lesley and John had decided to visit Villajoyosa (also known as La Vila Joiosa) for the Moors and Christians fiestas and asked us if we would like to go along. Living inland we don’t see much of the sea, so we happily accepted their offer.
I think it was more by luck than good planning (sorry John!) that we managed to find a parking spot fairly close to the sea and, as we found out later on, very close to the processional route. The festivities were due to start at 1815 however, although we didn’t park the car until after that, we saw a whole load of pirates having a drink so knew we hadn’t missed anything.
Traditionally the assorted pirates, smugglers, fishermen and sailors arrive by boat, however on Wednesday the red flag was flying. I suspect that in past times this wouldn’t have mattered, but Spain is gradually becoming health and safety conscious, so a group of them gathered at the edge of the sea instead and then ran towards the castle.
We were slightly disappointed that there wasn’t any hand to hand fighting or swordplay, however there were lots of loud bangs, followed by even more loud bangs, and groups of people in various costumes running backwards and forwards. Eventually the Christians were evicted from the castle (though we heard a rumour that they were going to re-capture it the following night) and once all the ammunition had been used up by the victorious pirates and smugglers, people started leaving the Playa Centro.
We assumed that this was the end of the evening’s entertainment so headed back towards the car. The two men had decided that they needed a glass of wine until their ears recovered from the onslaught, so we were walking up the road to find a suitable bar when suddenly we heard music playing. We had somehow stumbled on a large, colourful procession. We managed to grab a table outside the bar on the corner and settled down with our wine and a plate of nuts to watch the Moors and Christians parade. We enjoyed the amazing costumes and the music provided by several bands that were marching in the procession.
Four hours later, having had a free night’s entertainment, we headed home. We had spent eighteen euros between the four of us for several large plates of delicious tapas plus drinks down at the seafront. At the bar where we watched the procession, a glass of wine cost 1.50€ plus we had free nuts with our drinks. It was a fantastic and cheap night out for pensioners and other people like us who are on a budget.
I would recommend visiting the town even if there aren’t any fiestas, as it is very picturesque. Traditionally all the houses facing the sea are painted different colours: this is so that the fishermen can spot their homes when they are out at sea. We also liked the fact that it wasn’t over-run with tourists and the prices for a bar overlooking the sea, in the middle of a fiesta, were extremely reasonable. Not only that, but entry to the two chocolate museums is free!