Alicante is one of the better known destinations on the Costa Blanca. It's home to one of the most used airports in the country and plays host to thousands of tourists every year. The city is an hour's drive, roughly, from our Spanish abode and I was determined to visit on this trip.
My main purpose was to hike up to the stunning castle that sits high above the city but first, food! We arrived at lunch time, my belly rumbling, and went in search of somewhere to eat. After a little wonder through the busy streets we came across El Colmado.
A sophisticated stylish bistro and wine bar specialising in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. As you can see we chose the least Spanish dishes on the menu! A hamburger in toasted bun for him, and a delicious chargrilled chicken dish with rice, almonds, raisins and a korma sauce for myself..
And then we made our way towards the castle. It is a bit of a hike up to it, but there are a few routes you can take, you can drive or even catch the elevator by the beach! We entered via Ereta Park and walked along the walls, up the huge steep steps looking over El Barrio de Santa Cruz - Alicante's old quarter. While it is steep, and the heat makes it feel harder, it's a pretty direct route so doesn't take too long.
Castillo de Santa Barbara covers the entire summit of Mount Benacantil, which towers high above the city itself, and can be seen from every direction. Likewise, the view from up there is impressive. The castle walls overlook the entire bay and we spotted a few landmarks down below as well - namely the Plaza de Toros, or bullring, which now plays host to concerts and sporting events!
Entry to the castle is free, although the lift costs a few euros I believe, and you'll find a restaurant and toilet facilities within the Moorish fortress.
The history of the castle is told in the museum, and there are various signs to guide you. Although most of them are purely in Spanish so they weren't very useful to us!
The view from the highest point of Castillo de Santa Barbara was beautiful. Just look at that turquoise water of the Med below! We spent an hour or so wondering, exploring, and even stopped to enjoy an ice cream with the view.
Making our way back down the hill, we found ourselves at the back of the gothic style Basilica de Santa Maria. I wish we'd investigated more and seen the front of the extravagant church, but the beach was calling and we headed towards the waterfront instead.
A walk along the promenade in Alicante is a must! Palm trees line the wavy path, made up of 6.5 million marble tiles(!) which is a bit trippy to walk on - try staying in a straight line while looking down at the ground!
Heading from the promenade towards the marina, we strolled along the port of Alicante. Bright white yachts gleam from the water and we picked out our favourites along the way (the one big enough for a cocktail bar on deck of course) and peered into the water at the fish swimming just below the surface. If you look closely you might just spot some swimming around the statue above!
Eventually we reached the beach and, deciding I didn't want sand in my trainers (which I'd worn for walking up to the castle - I'm getting sensible in my old age!) we headed for the nearest seaside bar instead! As designated driver, Gordon ordered an embarrassingly flamboyant tropical smoothie, while I sipped on my ice cool strawberry daiquiri. Life doesn't get much better than this!
Hasta luego, Alicante - See you soon!