What a delightful city on the east coast of Spain – Even the larger ships dock quite close to town. We were in the furthest berth aboard the Crown Princess and walked about one mile along a wall overlooking the sea on one side and a harbor filled with yachts on the other, to the edge of town and the wide sandy beach. Follow along for our own walking tour.
One of Alicante’s attraction is its 9th century impressive Moorish Castle and medieval fortress on Mount Benacantil. We took a short rest on benches overlooking the beach and perused a map to get our bearings. Make a right and stroll along the boulevard overlooking the beach. Just behind the Melia hotel there is a bus/metro/trolley stop that gives you access to other towns along the coast. If you take the pedestrian overpass across the highway, you’ll reach a tunnel leading you to an elevator that takes you to the Santa Barbara Castle atop Mt. Benacantil. Try to beat the crowds – the elevator only holds a dozen or so passengers. The ticket machine was "out of order" so this was a freebie on this particular day. Great views of the city…..
Once you exit the tunnel after your visit to the castle, the Old Town is to your right – Explore the narrow streets, the many squares with shaded benches, fountains, tended gardens, children’s playgrounds and pedestrian ways lined with outdoor cafes.
One spot that we especially enjoyed was Museo de Belenes ( Nativity Scene Museum) – I had read about the display of Christmas cribs from around the world. Watch carefully for it – we missed it the first time that we went by and had to ask for directions. It is a non-descript storefront – almost looks like the entrance to an apartment building. As we entered, a craftsman/artist was creating a clay figurine. There are a few rooms, so do allow some time to properly enjoy the experience – a good 45 minutes to an hour. Some smaller nativity scenes are on shelves while the larger displays of villages and the daily life of years ago are behind glass. All are so lifelike that you feel transported in time. Children would also enjoy it. There is no admission fee, the rooms are air conditioned and restrooms are a great convenience.
We continued on an uphill direction and climbed many steps through a more upscale residential area where we saw school children in a playground, residents walking their dogs and watering plants. We also visited a local church at the top of the hill before beginning our descent on the opposite side. This led us to the very large "Central Market"– a lively two floor market that displayed meat and fish on the first floor and flowers and vegetables on the next. Lots of locals – benches to sit on to enjoy the sounds and smell of local foods and fresh flowers. These are always interesting to wander around.
Heading on back to the port, we stopped to buy jewelry and shoes and then found "Plaza Nueva" - a cool spot with bars and a café to linger for lunch and wine. Interestingly this square has a small aquarium. We were surprisingly treated to a "fashion shoot" for an upcoming magazine issue – fun to watch models and see new fashion.
Meandering toward the port, we spent another hour or so walking along "Explanada de Espana" - the pedestrian boulevard lining the port. This is a long and wide marbled mosaic tiled pedestrian promenade lined with towering palms and lovely harbor views. Lots of kiosks with art work, jewelry, clothing, leather good and more outdoor cafes. A short$5 cab ride will take you back to your ship after a wonderful day in a very special port. Definitely a return to spot…..this area would certainly be great to explore for a week….Looking forward to a return trip.