Spain was an awesome experience.
I arrived at about 10:00 on Saturday morning. My cousin, Julie, picked me up from the Alicante Airport. I hadn’t seen her for 15 years so we had plenty of catching up to do. We went to the area of the city where her daughter, Alicia, goes to college (she’s a freshman). We stopped at a cafe and had wine and olives under the palm trees while we waited for Alicia to be ready. After picking her up, we headed for the beach. We walked along the water and had lunch at a really nice place where I was able to look out at the ocean throughout the meal. Believe it or not, I tried octopus. I’m nearly a vegetarian so I’m usually not open to trying new animals (even fish) but I’ve learned the importance of having an open mind while traveling. It wasn’t too bad, there was no distinct flavor to it. I just couldn’t eat the pieces that were clearly suckers. After lunch, we headed for their house where I got to meet their poodle named Daddy. They live at the bottom of the mountains, about 20 minutes from the city. It was a beautiful, scenic drive. The ocean is also visible from their yard so that was amazing to walk out to all weekend. When we arrived I hopped in their pool and took the pup for a walk around the base of the mountains.
That evening, I was completely immersed in the Spanish culture when I went out on the town with Alicia. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. We didn’t have dinner until nearly midnight and it’s very typical in Spain to stay out until eight in the morning. They dance for hours and hours. Even more so than in England, where I thought they did a lot. This was an awesome experience because I spent the night hanging out with her friends, some of whom didn’t speak much English. She was really good about translating but I even enjoyed just listening to them converse. There were tuna groups walking around the streets, wooing the girls with their instruments and smooth voices. Drinks were inexpensive, and there were many kind people that I was fortunate to meet.
The next morning we slept in. I jumped in the pool right away upon waking and spent some time in the sun until we went to lunch at a Japanese place. There I tried many things I never had before either including fresh tuna sushi, fried seaweed, and duck wrapped in a tortilla. After lunch we went for a drive along the coast to a neighboring town called Benidorm. We walked along the water there as well and had a Spanish beer near the beach before heading back for an early night. I was able to look at some pictures of my cousin when she did her study abroad experience in Madrid, resulting in her permanent residence in Spain when she fell in love with the country.
The following day was my last and my favorite day in beautiful Spain. Alicia and I woke up very early and rode in with Julie on her way to work. She dropped us off at the beach where we watched the sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea. Even after the sun was bright, it was hard for me to look away. It was such a perfect way to start a day. We then had warm, fresh croissants and cappuccinos on the beach. We walked the streets as the stores began to open up and stopped by a couple magnificent churches. The Concatedral de San Nicolás first and then the Santa María Basilica. Spanish churches are very attractive, consisting of a lot of gold accents and many statues. After exploring the city center, we headed up to the Santa Bárbara Castle. It was built in the 10th century and is situated on top of Benacantil Mountain. The castle provides many interesting facts and history about the city of Alicante. This is the main attraction in Alicante (besides the beach). It provided us with a breathtaking view of the coast and the city. We explored the history of the castle until we got so warm that we headed down to the beach. Nothing compares to submerging into cool, salty water. I floated and swam for a while, enjoying the soft sand and clear water, before heading up to the beach and lying in the sun beneath the palms. We stayed there until hunger got the best of us and we headed to a restaurant for some paellas; a very typical Spanish dish consisting of rice and vegetables, seafood, or meat. After a late lunch, I spent the remainder of my time in Spain swimming and dozing on the sunny shores of the sea, until reality set in and I had to board the bus to catch my flight back to England.
Exploring a foreign city with a local is a completely different experience than exploring with other travelers. I feel like I really got a taste of everyday life in Spain, instead of only seeing the sights. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know my cousins better, as I don’t know the next time I will have the chance to be in Spain and see them again.
As I stare out the window of my plane at the city lights lining the coast, I still can’t believe I’m living this dream. Thanks for reading!
“There’s nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you’ve been missing the whole point of the ocean.”