Happy Easter to all my lovely readers near and far! I hope you’re all making the best of things and planning on tucking into chocolate eggs and feasting on traditional roast lamb dinners and hot cross buns. I certainly will be! We’ve been blessed with some warm, sunny days here enabling us to relax in the garden and even light the barbecue. I can’t ever remember using it in April before but I’m not complaining – it’s so much nicer than being indoors. How’s your Easter break coming along? It would be so nice to find out what you’re up to and you never know, we might even get some ideas from each other of new activities to try. Over the last few weeks I’ve rekindled by love of cryptic crosswords in the daily newspaper and dusted down the scrabble box for weekend games over a glass or two of wine and some crisps. Until next time, sending virtual hugs, Marion.
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After the previous night’s lack of sleep, we woke refreshed at 8.00 a.m. and headed downstairs for breakfast. The hotel’s restaurant was surprisingly quiet for a Sunday morning so we had our pick of seating options and enjoyed a selection of cured ham, cheese, fruit and yoghurt. After a couple of large cappuccinos and some sweet treats we felt ready to go out and start exploring.
It was a warm, sunny winter morning so we left our coats behind and wandered along the seafront the short distance to the Castillo de Santa Barbara. Adult tickets to ascend the lift cost €2.85 (£2.37) each and can be purchased from a machine in the entrance. It was then quite a lengthy walk through a well-lit tunnel carved out of rock to the lift which transports 8 passengers at any one time up to the castle ramparts. As there were only a few people waiting we were able to take the first lift to arrive.
The castle is located at the top of Benacantil Mountain, 166m above sea level from where we enjoyed some stunning views of the marina and surrounding areas. Large cannons poking through the thick castle walls are timely reminders of the fortress defences demonstrating how the city was defended by its fortress.
Entrance to the castle buildings is free of charge. On the lower (top of lift) level there is an exhibition hall containing archaeological artefacts found in the city and a dungeon to explore. Steep slopes lead to the upper areas not served by the lift and flat shoes are advisable as the surface is quite uneven in places. On the mid-level are some of the castle’s most important buildings dating from the 16th century. Here, we were able to explore the ruins of the Santa Barbara church, the guardhouse, barracks and parade ground.
It was another short, steep climb to the uppermost level La Torreta, which was well worth the climb for the far reaching views across Postiguet beach, the city and its nearby mountains. Up there we took a look in the keep, turrets and viewed the oldest remaining parts of the fortress. Instead of returning to the seafront by way of the lift, we decided instead to walk down the steep hill along the road. This didn’t take very long and gave us some good views along the way.
Consulting our map, we then decided to head to the Plaza Mar 2 mall which is Alicante’s largest shopping centre. It took around 20 minutes to walk there from the foot of the castle and we enjoyed an hour or so looking around the various shops and then having a coffee on its upper floor. Whilst there, we were tempted into buying yet more suitcases. I know we travel a lot, but our attic is starting to resemble an airport baggage hall with umpteen cases for every purpose imaginable.
After our dose of retail therapy our plan had been to return to the city centre by tram but as we approached the stop we saw one pass by and as we couldn’t be bothered waiting 20 minutes for the next one, we walked back instead. This saved us a few Euros and wasn’t actually that far as our stroll took us back along the promenade where we paused to watch a large yachting regatta.
After returning to our hotel to drop off our shopping, we set off once again, this time to the Museum of Contemporary Arts which was conveniently located around the corner. Admission is free of charge and we spent 30 minutes viewing the three permanent collections containing around 800 various installations before the museum closed at 2.00 p.m.
Across the square from the museum stands Alicante Cathedral, the Basilica de Santa Maria. This Catholic church is the oldest in Alicante and was built on the remains of an Islamic mosque in the 14th century. and has two imposing towers adorned with gargoyles. As it was a Sunday, a service was taking place so we were unable to look inside.
We then found a cosy bar along one of the main shopping streets where we rested awhile with glasses of beer and a selection of tapas. A wander along the promenade followed, strolling alongside Postiguet beach where lots of people were sunbathing and enjoying the winter sunshine. Continuing further, we reached the yacht club where more than a hundred Optimist dinghies were waiting their turn to come up the slipway after several hours of racing. These were the same boats that we had seen from the castle turrets earlier in the day.
It was then back to our hotel for a cup of tea, a rest and a spot of planning for the next day’s activities. We ate dinner in a restaurant near to the hotel then enjoyed a late evening stroll by the marina and along to the casino. Walking back, we had a lovely view of the castle which makes a stunning backdrop to the city when it is illuminated at night.
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