Written by Cantin2 on 08 Jul, 2011
ALICANTEWhat 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…Read More
ALICANTEWhat 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.Close
Written by Peter Reed on 17 Jan, 2005
As already mentioned, Alicante is an ideal hub for exploring the Costa Blanca. We took three trips. First, we went along the coast to the north. Setting off from Puerto del Mar by the marina, we boarded the modern Alicante Streetcar and went as far…Read More
As already mentioned, Alicante is an ideal hub for exploring the Costa Blanca. We took three trips. First, we went along the coast to the north. Setting off from Puerto del Mar by the marina, we boarded the modern Alicante Streetcar and went as far as El Campello (about half an hour). Then we had to change into a graffiti-covered carriage of the narrow-gauge train for the next leg. This actually goes as far as Denia, but we opted to alight at Altea.
This is a seaside resort with an attractive promenade and harbour, but on the other side of the tracks, a steep climb takes you up into the old town. The roads zigzag through streets lined with white-washed houses reminiscent of the white villages of Andalucia. If you prefer a more direct route to the top, you can zigzag by taking the steps that climb between some of the houses. At the top you are rewarded with magnificent views along the coastline.
The climb will certainly have brought on a thirst, so it is just as well that, in the pleasant Placa l'Iglesia Santa Barbara, there are a couple of bars. It was here that we had one of those "small world" moments. Seated in the sunlit square by the church with a beer, I glanced up to see a friend with whom I enjoy a drink and game of cards every Friday back home in a club in Preston. Not only that, but I also took his wedding photographs 20-something years ago.
We went back to the train and made a stop off at Benidorm. Fifteen minutes from the station and straight down the main road and we were in the old town, where we found a tiled balcony overlooking the sea and both sides of the resort. Looking inland to the right was the high-rise forest of the Levante beach, where the Brits congregate for their pubs, fish-and-chips, and bingo. To the left was the more Spanish Poniente Beach. I reckon when in Spain, do as the Spanish do - so we avoided the Levante and headed for Poniente, where time on the beach brought on a doze - these siestas are a good idea!
An hour later and we were back to the station for the return to Puerto del Mar and Les Monges Palace.
Cost of the train journey: €7.20 each
The following day we took a bus trip inland for under €2 to the town of Elche.
Thousands of palm trees accost the eyes in Elche. The trees were originally planted around 300 BC and are still watered by an irrigation system introduced in the 10th. century. The palms are renowned for their succulent dates, which are harvested in December.
An amble through the Parque Municipal brings you to the main square with the blue-domed Iglesia de Santa Barbara. Opposite is the Alcazar de la Senoria, a Moorish palace that once formed part of the city wall. Just beyond is a bridge over a gorge that is covered in more palm trees. It is well worth a trip, and it’s only about half an hour from Alicante.
The third trip took us by bus again along the coast to the south – again only €1.70 each – to the delightful town of Santa Pola. If you want Spanish seaside, this is for you.
As the bus pulled into the Estacion des Autobuses, there was a huge market there.
Stalls stocked everything from pots and pans to ceramics, clothes, and food, all to the constant chatter of the Spanish locals wandering around and meeting up with friends.
A short stroll through the town brought us to the harbour and marina. There was evidence here of the fishing, with nets stretched along the quayside drying in the sun. The fishermen were mending those that needed it or sifting through the day’s catch. As we sat with a beer and zumo de pina (pineapple juice), we watched as more boats brought in their catch. From here it is possible to catch a ferry to the Island of Tabarca. This has a curious history – it was once a refuge for Berber pirates, and in 1760, King Carlos III ordered a fortress to be built here.
Back in Santa Pola, a palm-fringed esplanade lines the beautiful, clean beach. Facing onto the beach are villas and detached houses – no high-rise blocks here except one or two blocks of flats of no more than three storeys a couple of blacks back.
The town has a surprisingly large number of restaurants for its size, with some of the best seafood on the coast. The walk along the esplanade worked up an appetite and thirst for a couple of bocadillos and beers before heading back to the bus.