War of the Strategists at Alicante 2023
The Road to Alicante
The new year of 2023 saw a first trip overseas for the Central London ADLG Tourism Board arriving very early in the new year, and also very early in the morning as we all headed to Alicante for what had mushroomed into an enormous international event with well over 60 players in attendance
But, that tabletop challenge was still some way off as we started out from our various London locations to head to the airport and brave the chill, as we had (of course) elected to add some proper tourism to the gaming schedule and instead of flying into Alicante, go first to the nearby city of Valencia for a night on the razz (OK, we are old guys, lets just pretend huh..) and some sightseeing of the first order
Valencia, Spain is a popular tourist destination known for its rich history and culture. The Central Market is one of the largest food markets in Europe and so made it onto our gastronomic schedule, as did the Army Museum of Valencia, with its eclectic collection of artifacts and exhibitions related to Spain's land-based armed forces military operations. There is also rich history, stunning architecture and plenty of tapas bars and other bars too - something for everyone!
Heading off to the tube as dawn broke over London, a hard frost had settled on the cars, making the walk to the station something of a challenge when combined with packing for a hand-baggage trip somewhere that in theory should be quite warm. I mean, who needs a big coat when it's going to be 19 degrees or more most of the time?!
Prefacing perhaps the military operations that my rather worryingly cobbled together Berber army would be undertaking, the dawn blazed fiery read in the East as I waited for a tube on a damp and chilly station platform
Would the Arabized forces end up being also a fire from the east to set the Spanish wargame community aflame, or would they end up in the salt bin of history ?
Either way, the sky looked really cool so I took a couple more photos anyway. After all, there had to be come upside for being up so dammed early.
Changing to the Piccadilly line, another fellow traveller stumbled into the same carriage leaving us both in confusion at the challenge of engaging in social interaction at such an early hour
With my BA Gold card not expiring for another couple of months, as soon as we got to Heathrow I felt an overwhelming need to shovel in as much free breakfast in the First Class Lounge as possible, guesting Dave in but also shamefully ignoring the rest of the CLWC crew and condemning them to having to buy their own coffee at Nero.
At least there was somewhere in the lounge that I could safely leave Dave while I was scoffing the breakfast freebies
Valencia arrived, and we arrived in it - the dark and forbidding skies of London replaced by azure blue stretching over far off be-castled mountain tops.
And that same sunshine was still very much in evidence as we did a quick dropoff at our city-centre hotel and headed out to find the cultural heights of Valencia, or at least some of them that we could walk past and claim we had done some tourism before hitting a bar.
Just to prove we didn't just dive into a bar, here's a big castle-shaped thing, with crenellations, gargoyles and a big Valencian Spanish flag
It may or may not be a relatively modern faux medieval municipal building, but lets just pretend there is some cultural appreciation going on here shall we?
OK, that didn't last long. But, here's a photo of a table full of beer. After all that sightseeing you do need a rest, a sit down and some refreshment, so please don't begrudge us that!
Look - another bit of historic downtown Valencia. This may or may not have been a street we walked down looking for another cafe while things sort of closed in the afternoon for siesta
Valencia Tourism Video
The Cathedral in the middle of town!
Can you believe it, they literally grow on trees around here !!
One can't help feeling that the top half of this Cathedral thing has sort of been missed off. I mean, surely there should be a big spire and tower or something ?
The Cathedral had a ceiling that looked like it must have been done using some sort of religiously targeted LBMS concave transfer, as surely no-one could have painted that much detail?
Inspired by my choice of army my eye was immediately drawn to the Moorish looking dudes in this artwork, zooming in to see if they were being mightily smote by some Iberian Christian celebrities
The cloud blanket covers a lot, but it did seem that the guys in turban-style headgear were in fact getting along famously with the Christian folks, so maybe those Taifa lists are bang on the money after all and not just a random selection of really good troop types that Rafa had bribed Herve to include in the v4 lists by an offer of new ADLG playing cloths for life?
Look! An Octagonal tower!
Look! Jamon!! Tinto! And so the evening progressed...
The next day we had a full day to tour Valencia and drive down to Alicante, so of course we chose to go visit a Military Museum, the full experience of which you can enjoy in this video of our visit
Valencia Military Museum
After satiating ourselves on obscure Napoleonic artillery gun carriage design and a display of uniforms of the Puerto Rico War we then headed South toward the land of Castles.
More precisely, Xativa Castle about half way between Valencia and Alicante
The Castle of Xàtiva, also known as the Castle of Játiva, is a historic fortification located in the town of Xàtiva in the Valencian Community, Spain. The castle has a rich and varied history that spans several centuries, and overlooks the surrounding countryside with some style.
The castle spans across two adjacent hilltops, and is believed to have been built in the 9th century during the Muslim occupation of Spain, although there is evidence of a previous Roman settlement on the site.
During the Reconquista, the castle was conquered by the Christian forces led by King James I of Aragon in 1244.
Over the next few centuries, the castle was expanded and strengthened, becoming one of the most important fortifications in the region.
In the 16th century, the castle was involved in several wars, including the War of the Two Peters, in which it was captured and damaged by French forces.
Despite this, the castle remained an important military structure and was used as a prison during the Spanish Civil War
The "other" side of the hill opposite to the town itself looks over what seems to be a very nice (ie posh) suburb, with the defenders able to presumably lob cannonballs towards the residents swimming pools and extensive patio areas down in the valley below.
The next escarpment along might well have been too much of a challenge even for the most enthusiastic castle builder though
It is still unclear whether it was the Moorish forces in the 10th century who installed the modern communications infrastructure atop the castle walls, or whether the Christians did so in the Reconquista era as part of their campaign to subdue the south of the Iberian peninsula
Scholars agree however that the tech used is certainly not of Republican origin, so must pre-date the SCW by some years
Today, the Castle of Xàtiva is a popular tourist attraction and is open to the public, offering stunning views of the surrounding countryside and the town of Xàtiva. Visitors can explore the castle’s ruins, including the walls, towers, and gatehouses, as well as the remains of the old church, palaces, and prison.
That castle ticked off, we were immediately pitched into the more bizarre delights of night-time Alicante, and its famous connection to the world of Alice in Wonderland and giant toadstools
This photo proves it really happened - we did wonder for a while if we had stumbled into an Absinthe bar instead of one selling red wine by the bucket
But, enough of the outside world. What about this for top drawer food eh? A grilled squid to knock those frozen and battered rings from Iceland into a cocked hat!
The arrival of nice food magically conjured a newly minted Dave Allen up from the bowels of the international rail and budget airline network, attired for an Olly Murs Lookalike competition that sadly never transpired for the rest of the evening.
Later on, in the hotel lift, the full extent of the toll that the night's festivities had taken upon this veteran wargamers state of mind finally became fully apparent
And with that all over, finally it's time to move onto the first actual game in this competition!