I’ll get to the naughty nuns later, but last year we flew to Alicante for a visit to Benidorm. As we drove from the airport, I wondered; what’s Alicante like? It has a reputation for being a holiday resort city and that reminded me of Malaga. It is also a stepping stone to elsewhere but, is it more? Consequently, we booked an apartment, facing Postiguet beach, with sea views and near the old town. It was late February, early March, so obviously there were bargains to be had, leaving lashings of cash to be squandered on dissolute behaviour.
Our apartment ‘Little Sunny House 2’ was spot on. It slept six, was very spacious, had a large balcony, and was very well appointed. I won’t list all the ingredients, but the attention to detail was evident; beer and wine in the fridge, tea, coffee and milk provided, free Wi-Fi, the list goes on. There were beach towels and even two foldable beach chairs. It was clean etc. There’s noise at the front from the beach and road etc but the bedrooms are set well back. It’s a ‘deep’ apartment, so you don’t hear a thing at night. Seagulls might wake you up in the morning, which is rather nice. I recommend this place!
Obviously, the sandy beach is at hand, but it was only a five-minute stroll into the old town. This is where Alicante differs from Malaga. I got the feeling that the old town is in bigger in the latter. That opinion might be nonsense as we were only there three nights, and I’ve been to Malaga twice and explored it more. Alicante has everything you’d expect, stuff to do, lots of bars and restaurants etc. There’s plenty that is authentically Spanish and there’s a cosmopolitan flavour too so, lots of choice food wise. Our host, Justin, had a left a card for a traditional Italian eatery called ‘Spiga’ and it was superb. We went twice. We also ate at another place called ‘Bigoli’, Italian again but more modern in style. The food was good, and the free appetiser was ‘different’, a bag of ripped up, scorched bread. It tasted and smelled like burnt toast, because that’s what it was.
It’s a great city to stroll around. The promenade is spacious and lined with cafés, ice cream parlours. We had nice tapas every lunchtime. Even if you want to eat junk food, there’s the usual unmentionables. Little green spaces are dotted here and there around the centre, often flanked by cosy bars with outdoor seating. There’s quite a number of massive trees to ogle at if that’s your bag, very Fangorn Forest. Treebeard would be at home here. I’ll put some photos in the attached video. The impressive town hall faces a square called Ajuntamant d’Alacant and there are a few reasonably priced around, patronised by locals, we called in there every day for a beer. It’s a large city centre and I wish I’d seen more of it.
On top of the hill overlooking the city is Santa Barbara Castle. It looks quite high up (it’s actually 166 metres) but it is only a twenty minute, admittedly steep, stroll. The queues for the lift could take longer than that. It’s a smooth, wide path up and there’s a restaurant at the top to quench your thirst. It was free to get the lift down, or we just didn’t pay, hmm… Anyway, the views are outstanding. I had to wait awhile to pan the horizon for my video clip. Two narcissists took several takes to get their perfect shot, adjusting their hair, messing with their make-up, gurning at the iPhone. Then they spent ten minutes simpering over the results without moving. I do hope I spoiled their footage by tapping my feet and tutting loudly.
Alicante covers a large area of coastline and we decided to walk to the northern beach; ‘San Juan’. At nearly two miles long, its impressive, the sand is lovely and soft, and the sea isn’t too moist. But it was a dastardly walk! It’s about six miles from the old town and the promenade peters out after a mile or so, leaving you on rough paths and a disused rail track (which was quite atmospheric). We were knackered when we got to San Juan and aching for a cool drink or five. This liquid lunch was accompanied by tapas and a snooze on the beach. It was a surprisingly long trek. To grasp the shape of Alicante’s big urban sprawl, try to imagine the city as an amoeba undergoing asexual reproductive binary fission. There are two blobs at either end, with a thin bit in the middle connecting them.
Things I didn’t do. Call me crazy, but I didn’t go to the Water Museum. Don’t get me wrong, I like dihydrogen monoxide, but I just couldn’t see how it could justify its own museum. Did ancient water taste other than todays? Did it freeze or boil at a different temperature in the late Hellenistic period? Will we have powdered water in the future? Who knows? Who cares? If you click on the link above, you’ll be taken to a dull video about the Water Museum, which explains why I was right not to visit (the children in it must be brilliant actors btw). But it’s not only Alicante that has made this mistake of pointless exhibitions. In 1981, the good folk of Keswick decided there was nothing for the kids to do on a rainy day, so they opened the Derwent Pencil Museum. If there’s anyone reading this that hates me, I do recommend you go and visit it.
With regard to the nuns mentioned at the start, on the last day of our visit, Alicante had a carnival day. On the last Saturday before Ash Wednesday, they celebrate Sábado Ramblero. The roots of the festival are undoubtedly religious, though it did come across as a massive fancy-dress party for the whole community. Costumes ranged from Marvel comics, to Ninja Turtles, to Disney characters to… things that defied description. The theme seemed to be ‘have a good time’ so everyone, young and old, did. My friend and I did bump into a group of young ladies dressed in nun’s habits. They duly lined up for a photo, so I lay on the floor in front of them, big grin, thumbs up. Like you do. At this point, much to my surprise, they raised their vestments and revealed concealed genital ‘attachments’. Turns out they weren’t real nuns! The resulting photograph is certainly a striking one. I had harboured a dream of a late career in politics. That dream is now in shreds.
Should you go?
Like Malaga, Alicante is more than just an airport and it’s more than just a resort. It’s got everything the Spanish seaside is famous for, with the added ingredient of Spanish culture. Beware of the nuns.
If you liked my blog, there’s every possibility that you’ll like the comic novel I’ve recently published. As much as I enjoyed teaching, and respect those who do the job, there’s plenty to laugh at. I spent 30 years giggling 😊. It’s a bargain at £2.21 for the Kindle! Click on the image for the Amazon link.