After the previous day’s high temperatures, it felt much cooler as we set off from the hotel and headed towards the Mercado tram/train station near the central market hall. Our planned destination for the morning was to the small town of El Campello which lies in Zone 1 with adult single tickets costing €1.45 (£1.30) each.
Passengers can either board the Red line 1 or Yellow line 3 service to El Campello, with the Red express line being the quicker option. By chance, a faster tram arrived on the platform first and whizzed us along to the small resort in only twenty minutes. As with travelling along this line to Benidorm, do try and sit on the right hand side of the tram as the coastal views are really beautiful. The tram veers inland just before El Campello and it was about a 10-15 minute walk to its seafront and resort centre. The town itself seemed quite nondescript with modern apartment blocks but is worth visiting for its attractive promenade and marina.
Facing the sea, we headed north towards the marina. Overlooking the small harbour stands the El Campello watchtower which was constructed in the 16th century as a lookout for marauding Berber pirates who carried out surprise attacks along the Alicante coast. Each tower had four men, two on horseback and two in the fort and if a pirate boat was spotted, the horsemen would gallop off to inform the authorities while the footmen would send smoke signals to let others know of the imminent threat,
The marina can cater for up to 400 boats and is also home to the town’s fishing port and adjacent market where the daily catch is auctioned and sold to the local restaurants each weekday. After strolling along the quayside admiring some of the boats, we retraced our steps in search of a suitable cafe for our morning coffees. Unlike Alicante and Benidorm, two thirds of El Campello’s seafront cafes and bars appeared to be closed for the winter but as we had visited on a Tuesday morning, some of them might possibly be open at weekends. El Campello’s attractive promenade stretches for 1.5 km and has been in existence since 1964. In addition to the usual bars and cafes, there are numerous interesting small private houses some of which feature ornate balconies and stained glass windows.
Continuing to the southern end of the seafront furthest from the marina we found the perfect spot for a light lunch. Business appeared brisk at one of the smart cafes, with its outdoor tables bathed in sunshine. Here, we lazed awhile, seated at a table overlooking the beach soaking up the idyllic views of the wide, sweeping bay with its fine, golden sand. We ordered mugs of coffee and nibbled small bocadillos (Spanish sandwiches), my choice of brie and tomato were delicious and just the right size for a midday snack.
An hour later we returned to the tram stop just in time to catch a tram back into Alicante but instead of alighting at Mercado we continued on as far as Luceros at the end of the Red Line. The terminus was still included in Zone 1 and it was necessary to purchase our tickets from a machine on board the tram as there were no facilities to do so at the El Campello tram stop.
The escalator at Luceros station brought us out directly into Plaza de los Luceros Square. This emblematic square is the venue for annual firework displays and other festivals. It boasts a large, fountain based monument and despite it being turned off at the time of our visit, was nonetheless impressive.
A kilometre long, wide tree lined avenue leads from Plaza de los Luceros to Alicante’s seafront, along which we strolled back to our hotel. After a short rest we set off once again, this time back to the Playa del Mar 2 shopping mall for another look around and a few more purchases followed by tea and cakes on its upper floor.
We wandered back down the steep hill towards the sea taking a slightly different route which took us along Calle San Francisco and known locally as the ‘mushroom’ street. This narrow street is noted for its tree mushroom decorations, transforming the thoroughfare into a fantasy world. The installation of these mushrooms started in 2013 as an initiative by the local council to give new life to an area which had begun to decline and where many businesses had closed.
Since turning the street into a pedestrianised zone and painting the road surface yellow and green, the street has gained popularity for its unique atmosphere and quirky cafes, restaurants and shops. The changes appeared to be working as Calle San Francisco was indeed busier than the neighbouring roads on which we walked on our return to the hotel.
Back at the hotel we made ourselves refreshing cups of tea and caught up on the news for awhile before eating dinner in one of the attractive restaurants along the seafront. Our dishes of roast chicken were very nicely presented and tasted delicious.
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