Excuse the title of this post, it really is the best thing I AliCAN come up with. I just AliCAN’T seem to find any other punny phrases and now I’m just making it worse, aren’t I? Forgive me – I just want to tell you about my weekend trip to ALICANTE in Spain… please keep reading!
My soul sister, gemini twin and better-half, Sarah, and I decided that life in Madrid was becoming a little bit too ‘routine‘ for our liking – how to solve this? ROAD TRIP, obviously. Well okay, not exactly a road trip by definition. Neither of us can drive, neither of us have friends with cars and so, what we actually mean is BUS TRIP. Not quite as glamorous but beggars can’t be choosers!
The next question was where to go… One thing was for sure: we wanted a beach break. We thought about Malaga but the state of our bank accounts meant that the celebrity beach resorts of Marbella were a bit our of reach. Then, San Sebastian came up in conversation but I’d already visited back in March and we both agreed that there was no chance of us leaving Spain. So, that left us with the following criteria: a beach, cheap and close to Madrid… The winning city? Alicante!
The bus was tolerable but it didn’t stop once (that’s what you get when you spend 30 euros on a return journey). Luckily it didn’t bother us as much as it bothered other passengers, so after a nice 4 hour nap we were rejuvenated and ready to explore.
Sarah booked the hostel and decided to spoil us by choosing a private room for two instead of a shared dorm room. Normally, I hate private rooms because I think it isolates you from other travellers and you don’t get to meet as many people. However, at this point on my year abroad journey, I was kind of exhausted – making small talk with strangers, being kept up all night by snorers and having to constantly climb up and down from a top bunk eventually starts to take it’s toll. So, yeah, this was a very welcome luxury.
At one point I found myself in an awkward situation when there was a big party going on outside our room but we had the door open to get better wifi signal (how sad). Sarah said ‘Wow, I’m so glad that we got a 2 person room so we don’t have to socialise‘, when an American girl popped her head round the door and said ‘Sorry, I heard you say something; so you don’t have to… what?‘ and Sarah replied ‘SOCIALISE‘ before shutting the door in her face. It may sound rude, and it definitely was, but it’s so funny how I can go from being a lively, talkative traveller with stories to tell to an introverted recluse who would rather stay in and listen to One Direction with her best friend (Ironically our room number was 1D, so it actually would have been rude not to).
Don’t get me wrong, we didn’t come all that way and just sit inside a hostel room. No way, José! We spent as much time out and about as physically possible, including hiking up to the Santa Barbara castle within about 10 minutes of arriving into the centre. Of course, we didn’t hike un-equipped. We stopped at the supermarket to buy chocolate and Voss water. The water was purely because it looked pretty and we thought it might make for a good Instagram (yes, we are those girls) but the chocolate was really because we hate exercise and behind all of those filtered pictures of us in sports gear, we’re actually just two girls gasping for air and shoving chocolate down our throats.
The walk up to the castle was really cool because we got to see Alicante from a completely different perspective. The city looks kind of Eastern European in parts and Sarah even said she felt like she was in Istanbul, which I nodded in agreement to. It was only then that we realised – neither of us had ever been to Istanbul… That said, I am still convinced that it’s a legit statement and accurately describes the vibe of Alicante’s suburbs but maybe I should wait until I’ve actually visited these places before I make these statements…
Once you’re at the top of the castle you are then presented with views of the other side of Alicante and these look super Spanish (a claim I can actually make) – sea, beaches, marinas, low-rise city buildings and of course, tons of red and yellow flags. There’s a café and lots of little jewellery stores, there’s even a museum you can pay to enter but if, like us, you don’t want to spend any money then it’s easy to pass an entire afternoon just relaxing and enjoying the scenery.
We also made sure to make the most of our proximity to the ocean and spent a lot of time sleeping on the beach. Sarah’s precious, white skin gave up after a few hours, leaving me and my Indian genes alone for a while. It’s hard to be totally relaxed when there’s salespeople all around you screaming ‘TUTTI FRUTI, FRUTA FRESCA’ and ‘MELON, RICO MELON’ so, eventually, I gave up and ended up making some friends (they had a volleyball too, bonus!) – way more fun than sunbathing. In the evening I skipped back to the hostel, McDonalds in hand, sandy toes with a salty birds nest in my hair and I couldn’t help but think of this quote:
‘At the end of the day your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling’
About 10 seconds after I stepped into our room there was a huge thunderstorm outside. The 4 year age-gap between Sarah became apparent when I found myself begging her to run outside and play with me. At first, all I could hear was an endless string of ‘no’s’ but before I knew it, we were soaking wet, frolicking on children’s play areas and singing Hilary Duff songs at the top of our voices much to the amusement of Spanish onlookers.
That night will forever be remembered as one of my favourites – there is nothing quite as liberating as dancing in the rain. We even got hit on and invited back to a house party (yes, even though we looked like drowned rats). In fact, Alicante in general was great for our self esteem… plenty of propositions, free drinks offers, lollipops and balloons galore – it’s a shame that we were too involved with which Disney song to sing next to pay any attention to the opposite sex.
In terms of the city itself, I wouldn’t say it’s that exciting! I mean, I’m biased because I’ve been living in Madrid but there really isn’t a lot to do there other than hang out at the beach and the castle. So, if a chilled out break by the sea is what you’re looking for in a very affordable city then Alicante is totally the place for you. That said, if you’re looking for culture and interesting activities then this probably isn’t the right choice… Either way, we loved it! Good food, good company and good vibes – I look for nothing else in this world!
Back to Madrid we go…. more adventures soon though, no doubt!