July 8th to August 5th 2016
I hadn’t actually done a lot of research on Alicante, although, growing up in England, Alicante was always known, you knew it was popular amongst the English, you always knew one friend or family member who had been there.
Looking through AirBNB apartments sometimes determines where we actually stay and this time is was Alicante, I must admit when we arrived we were a little worried as we had the Benidorm TV show in our heads and that’s what we were imagining…after a day trip to Benidorm, I can very happily say that Alicante is not like the Benidorm we saw.
Day trip to Benidorm
We were big fans of the first few seasons of ‘Benidorm’ the TV show, so had to do a day trip to the one and only Benidorm…we picked up the tram (light rail) from just up the road from where we are staying, it was around 4 Euros each return…was a bit of a draggy journey to be honest, we had read that it was a really great trip but we just couldn’t wait to get off as it felt like we were never going to get there.
We looked up on google maps where the Sol Pelicanos Hotel (The Solana in the Benidorm TV show) was and headed in that direction, I actually couldn’t wipe the smile off my face…the whole place was so funny….Hen do’s, Stag Do’s…very over-weight people and the young on Madge Mobility Scooters….every cafe selling the good old English breakfast of everything with baked beans, like you couldn’t have one or two weeks away from it. I can see why you would come here though, the entertainment looks like it doesn’t stop, Hen do’s singing loudly from Karaoke bars ‘I’m going to the chapel’ in the early afternoon, Jake and I were in tacky heaven..
We found out that the actors had finished filming the last season the night before, so that was a bit disappointing although most of the actors that we liked were probably not in it anymore…would have loved to have seen Mateo, Les or Liam…
We found the hotel and were allowed 10 mins to have a look around and take photos, really they don’t officially allow it as it’s for guests only, I’m sure the day before we wouldn’t have been allowed in if they were filming, but again it was funny..we had a few photos taken around Mateo and Les’s pool bar, after messing around there for a bit we found Morgan’s Tavern where they filmed the Neptunes Bar scenes.
Once we had seen all the Benidorm TV highlights, we went and had a look at the beach. The beach is huge with lovely soft sand (obviously the reason the town became such a tourist mecca) but it is of course filled with sun loungers for hire and people, and has the ‘lovely’ Benidorm skyline as a backdrop.
Having seen Benidorm we returned to Alicante with new eyes and saw just how charming the old town is and how few drunks are here 🙂
Alicante has a nice old town and in fact Alicante has some real hidden treasures, if you go up into what looks like the dead part of the old town, you will be surprised to find a bustling square with lots of cafe’s and lots of people….there are tiny little streets even further up begging to be explored, you will find colourful old Spanish streets that look more like alleyways, with the prettiest character houses decorated with plant pots that are filled with flowers and greenery…there are little restaurants that do Paella or Tortilla cooking classes for a minimum of 4 people for 18 Euros a person, we were very tempted and will one day do a cooking course, but this month we are on a budget so trying to stick with that…
All through the old streets there are poems in Spanish for you to try your pequeña español out on.
The walk from our apartment to the beach takes about 10 mins if that and it’s a nice but, in July, a hot walk down the hill and over the beachside road via pedestrian bridge right down onto the tiled promenade with it’s mind bending 3D cube pattern and onto the soft sand beach, this beach has all the amenities that you could need, cafe’s, changing rooms, showers and toilets. There are little kid’s playgrounds, that the muscle building men seem to use more often to do their pull ups, with first aid & life guards that are always at hand if need be.
This is a blue flag beach, the sand is beautiful, it’s really soft, the ocean is shallow and pretty clear, great for little kids, some days there are a few waves but nothing too big at all…everyone squishes together close to the ocean edge actually leaving large spaces behind the crowd. Its a really great beach, just wish everyone would take their rubbish with them once they leave, this is the only downside, it’s one of my biggest pet hates..
Santa Bárbara Castle
You can’t miss a trip to Santa Bárbara Castle, you can grab the lift along the main road that runs adjacent to the beach all the way to the top it’s only €2.70 to go up and the downward trip is free, on a hot day, which is all we have had since arriving is a great option as once up there the views are great. There was also a lovely breeze up there the day we visited.
Thai Corner Restaurant
One night we went out for a date night, we were intending to have Tapas but happened upon a Thai restaurant, the menu looked great and after continuing to wander around for another 20 minutes we decided we just had to go there.
We had a mixed starter all of which was great but the star was the main, a Massaman curry, this is a dish that not many Thai places do well, but when you get a good one you’ll crave it forever more. The Massaman curry here was on a par with the best we’ve ever had (that title still held by the Siam Kitchen in Martinborough NZ, not least of all because they do Roti’s!).
The Massaman curry was so good that the night before we left we got the Massaman curry as a takeaway for the whole family the boys loved it too.
A fun aspect of our night at the Thai Corner was a dance group a few metres up the street who promote themselves by dancing in the street, after which they run a dance lesson in their street side building, so basically we had dinner and a show, also plenty of atmosphere and people watching in this bustling bit of town.
The staff and service are great too, we had one slight misunderstanding when we asked for a Jack Daniels, the lovely waitress poured the drink in front of us, we watched wondering what sort of measure they would serve only to realise, when it was halfway up the glass, that she was waiting for us to say when 😛 luckily the generous amount of ice meant it wasn’t quite as big a quantity as it looked and when topped with coke it was perfect.
Out and about in Alicante
Day trip to Altea
This day trip was inspired by an episode of the Benidorm TV show, basically one of the characters in the show was a little snooty and posh and had booked into Altea rather than Benidorm as they had hated that the year before, Altea was portrayed as a beautiful peaceful spot with real Spanish culture and a classier mix of tourists.
The difference portrayed in the TV show between Altea and Benidorm was not in anyway exaggerated, Altea is beautiful and the hill top location gives sudden and quite breathtaking vistas of the surrounding country and ocean (the view from our restaurant topped all the rest, see next section). The contrast to the tack and drunken masses of Benidorm is mindblowing.
Note Altea definitely embraces siesta and comes alive again in the evening. 9pm was far busier and the sun had just gone behind the hills (this was late July) so into the golden hour where the temperature and light are perfect, you can push your sunglasses up onto your head and no longer have to seek shade or avoid the glare. We unfortunately had to leave to get a train, we suggest getting a nights accommodation in Altea and enjoying a long evening in one of Spain’s prettiest little towns. (We hope to be back one day)
The Crown Indian Restaurant Altea
Great Indian food at normal prices but with one of the best, if not the very best, view we’ve had at a restaurant table that we can recall. Thoroughly recommend, and the service was great too, fun and friendly staff!
An overnight Trip to Valencia
A Special side trip to celebrate two birthdays, in the beautiful Valencia.
To see more photos and to read more click on the photo….
Phases of the Moon Video
Lightning Shot taken from our Balcony during the night
Air BnB Apartment
Airbnb Alicante – We enjoyed staying in this 3 bedroom apartment, it had lots of space, good size living room and kitchen, awesome internet, location was brilliant, we had a 5 min walk to the tram station, 10 mins if that to the shopping mall, 10 mins to the beach and 15 to the old town…we had everything on our door step.
Cost $1397 NZD for 28 nights