Hola, Costa Blanca

This last week at work was as meh as usual. On Thursday though, we had the day off, so I spent the day with Kitty and Paddy lazing around in the Englischer Garten and drinking wine. Friday was Pilar and Linh’s last day at work, so we tried to create a celebratory vibe, but not everyone was keen. We went out for drinks that night however, and it was nice to spend time with them outside work. The best part of the last few weeks came from Saturday morning onward, however…

Back in March, I booked a trip to Alicante to visit Emma and I’d literally been counting down the days. I flew out on Saturday and, after a terrifying landing, took the bus to meet Emma at our apartment for the next five days. I know I technically live on one continuous holiday, but going somewhere like this where the environment is SO different feels like a true holiday. Em had prepared a salad for dinner which we wolfed down. We then walked down the hill (Alicante is literally built on a huge hill) towards the old town where we wandered around, catching up on everything that had happened to us since we last saw each other at Christmas. Talk soon turned to what we should drink that evening and before we knew it, we were sat in a cute old square drinking a jug of sangria. After my day of travelling, I was pretty tired, so we headed back pretty early (by Spanish standards), ready for the next day.

Sunday dawned baking hot and sunny which could only mean one thing – beach day. Emma, being a veteran of these parts, needed only a few minutes to get herself beach ready, but I took a bit longer! We walked through the down, picking up some supplies on the way, to the city beach, Playa Postiguet. Caked in suncream, we lay in the baking sun, taking it in turns to cool off in the Med. After a while, we got peckish and scouted out a beautiful beach bar where we ordered day time cocktails and sat in hammock chairs overlooking the beach – it was perfect. Two drinks later and we were getting peckish, so we stopped by a self service frozen yogurt shop to fill ourselves with ice cold goodness! Then, we had a wander through some of the boutique shops in the city centre, before heading back to the apartment to get ready for the evening.

That evening, we went to a tapas place we’d seen earlier and Em used her impressive Spanish to order us a beautiful meal of salad, prawns, bread, patatas bravas, chorizo and croquettes accompanied by the local poison, agua de valencia. Stuffed, we took a walk through a part of the city we hadn’t been to yet, walking past the Santa Maria Basilica and through the Plaza Carmen before ending up in the Park Ereta. We then headed down to the empty beach and sat on the sand for a bit, all the while chatting and giggling. By now, it was late, and we headed back to the apartment, falling asleep immediately.

The next morning was slightly cooler, so we took this as a sign that it should be our sightseeing day. First, we went to the huge central Mercado and bought fruit, sweets and pastries for the day. Then, we climbed the hill to the Santa Barbara fortress which overlooks the city. Despite the cooler temperatures, it was still sweaty work! At the top, we explored the ancient castle and admired the views of the city, bay and distant mountains. After a few photos, we headed back down the hill, through the Park Ereta (where we sheltered for a minute as a brief rain shower passed over), then walked onwards to the magnificent Basilica. From here, we took a stroll down the promenade and marina, choosing our yachts, before heading back into the old town for a (very) late seafood paella lunch. Peeling the shrimps and lobsters was pretty weird, but nonetheless delicious!!! Truly stuffed (and a little bit drunk from the free sangria), we decided to try and walk off our bellies, so headed through the Centro district. We stopped for a while in a park to lie down and giggle like when we were children in Alsager, before heading to the Luceros fountain. Then, it was back to the apartment to shower and nap for the evening. No trip to Spain would be complete without a gelato or two, so that evening, we headed into the old town and made a beeline straight for an ice cream shop we’d seen earlier. The dulce de leche and almond and coconut oil ice cream was incredible! Then, we walked around for a while before sitting down for an agua de valencia. We tried to find some of Alicante’s nightlife, but it was unfortunately lacking, so we spent a while sat on the Explanada before heading back.

The next morning, we woke up late and went straight out for a brunch of churros con chocolate – probably one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten. Then, we stopped off at the fruit market before catching the local tram to the Playa San Juan, a wild, 7km long beach just north of the city. Here, we spent the afternoon sleeping, doing gymnastics, swimming and singing and it was only upon getting ready to leave that I noticed just how sunburned my legs were. With all the fun we’d had, it almost seemed worth it. On arriving back in the city, we stopped to pick up some fresh bread and headed back to prepare a salad for dinner. Then, we went out into the city for one last time, stopping to have another ice cream (salted caramel and coconut today), before heading to the beach where we drank homemade sangria and talked for hours, it was peaceful, beautiful and perfect.

All too soon, my early morning flight was looming, so we walked reluctantly back through the city to pack our suitcases. The morning came far too quickly and, after some prolonged goodbyes, it was time for me to leave. Emma was leaving too, but later that morning, so we hugged tightly before I left to catch the bus to the airport. It was a week of giggles, reminiscing and fun with one of my closest and oldest friends. It’s strange to think how far we’ve come- from our small hometown in the north of England to drinking cocktails on a beach in Alicante.

It has been a lovely five days, and even the sunburn was worth it. I’m so grateful that I’m able to do things like this. If you’d have told me a year ago that that was where I’d be, I’d never believe you, but here I am, living the dream.

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