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The Traveller

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									                      The Traveller




alicante
Tempted by the lure of a few days of sunshine this month we sent our travelling
duo to Alicante on Spain’s Costa Blanca…
How to get there                           Where to stay                            as opposed to the mainstream
Flying direct from Belfast, a mid-         Alicante and its airport are a           touristy feel of the bigger resorts.
week break or long weekend in              starting point for the many of the
Alicante could be just what the            thousands of tourists who visit the      Calpe is a quiet, mature resort,
doctor ordered! Our flight departed        Costa Blanca every year, destined        frequented by the Spanish
early on Saturday morning,                 for Benidorm, Denia, Altea, Calpe        themselves, which is always a good
arriving ahead of schedule (what           or other towns along the coast. With     sign as the Spanish do tend to know
an excellent start to a little holiday!)   average temperatures between             all the great places to go in their
allowing us ample time to drive to         32º C in summer and 16º C in             own country! The town is steeped
the resort of Calpe, book into our         winter, the Costa Blanca has a mild      in history and offers a wealth of
hotel and find our feet. Various           Mediterranean climate.                   culture, making it popular with
options for transfers are available                                                 well-informed tourists from further
– we chose to hire a car to allow us       We opted to stay in Calpe, which is      afield looking for a relaxing break
the freedom to travel around the           67 kms (around a 45 minute drive)        in a peaceful location. *
area without being tied to public          from Alicante airport. Although
transport. Car hire from Alicante          Benidorm is probably the most            The ancient fishing port of
airport with Europcar (booked via          famous resort on the Costa Blanca        Calpe has comfortably married
the easyJet website) costs in the          we really felt that it would not         its centuries old past with the
region of £30 per day.                     offer the kind of break that we          demands of modern day tourism
                                           were looking for, keen as we were        and for holidaymakers it
                                                        to experience the real      offers the full
                                                                            Spain




                                                                                                                           83
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    in association with
                 The Traveller

                range of accommodation -          day. Free Wi-Fi is also available in          surprisingly well-priced and offered    often with some special side dishes      Things to Do
                 big, modern hotels geared        most areas of the hotel.                      excellent customer service to enrich    of the house as surprises.               Calpe Old Town
                  to the needs of the 21st                                                      the shopping experience. We were
                                                                                                                                                                                 One of our best
                   century tourist, small         The standard of décor, cleanliness            also impressed by the number of         Los Pinos, Moraire                                                                 the higher you get. Wear sturdy
                                                                                                                                                                                 recommendations whilst staying
                    “hostals”, self catering      and customer service at Terra De              high quality children’s boutiques       Los Pinos is located on the left just                                              walking shoes!
                                                                                                                                                                                 in Calpe would be to enjoy a walk
                     apartments and villas        Mar were amongst the best we                  in the same area – excellent for        as you leave Calpe heading towards       around the old town’s charming,
                     with pools.                  have ever experienced in Spain. If            gifts!! Other good buys in this area    Moriara. It has a lovely swimming                                                  Some rare bird species can be
                                                                                                                                                                                 narrow medieval streets, which
                                                  you like a small and friendly place           of Spain include authentic local        pool, which you are welcome to                                                     spotted on the rock including
                                                                                                                                                                                 bear the hallmarks of a bygone
                     We chose the                 to stay then this hotel is perfect.           handicrafts, such as ceramics, rugs     use during the day as long as you                                                  Audouin’s gull, and the peregrine
                                                                                                                                                                                 age. Visit the church of Parroquia
                      beautiful ‘Terra            Its relaxing atmosphere and quiet             from Crevillente, embroidery,           purchase refreshments from the                                                     falcon. There are also many
                                                                                                                                                                                 Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (make
                       de Mar’, off Calle         location make for an idyllic place to         fashion jewellery and leather goods.    restaurant. The feel changes in                                                    species of wild flower
                                                                                                                                                                                 sure that you go into the old part of
                        Justicia, located         stay, though probably more suited                                                     the evening when you can get a                                                     including one orchid
                                                                                                                                                                                 the church which is breathtakingly
                         in Calpe’s old           to adults than children.                      Eating                                  fantastic meal whilst seated on                                                    species found only on
                                                                                                                                                                                 beautiful), examine the murals
                           town, set against                                                                                            the terrace. Excellent seafood and                                                 Penyal D’Ifac.
                                                                                                Mediterranean food is the                                                        depicting the history of the region
                             the ancient          * A Word to the Wise…                                                                 steaks, a little expensive, but well
                                                                                                trademark of the area’s cuisine                                                  (particularly at Placa de Espana)
                            ramparts and          Something of critical importance to                                                   worth it!                                                                          Guadalest Valley
                                                                                                characterised by tasty seafood                                                   and generally breathe in the history
                           located less than      note is that many of the streets in Calpe                                                                                                                                An absolute must
                                                                                                and fish, which are caught daily.                                                of the town… Stop for a coffee in
                           600 metres from        are currently being excavated as part                                                 Restaurante Los dos Canones,                                                       for anyone who is
                                                                                                Sardines, red mullet, tuna, whiting,                                             Piaceta Los Palmos, take it down a
                          El Arenal Beach.        of a huge project to replace the town’s                                               Carrer del Trinquet                                                                interested in history
                                                                                                squid and red prawn are all caught                                               gear and relax awhile.
                         The hotel is small       utilities and pedestrianise the roads.                                                                                                                                   or who enjoys a
                                                                                                locally off the coast of Alicante.      This is an ideal restaurant for
                        and charming and          This makes navigating around the                                                                                                                                         fantastic view
                                                                                                Cured meats, olives and capers          family dining, again with a friendly     Penyal D’Ifac Natural Park
                       offers a taste of the      narrow streets even more of a challenge                                                                                                                                  is a visit to the
                                                                                                are also produced locally in the        welcome and an excellent selection       Rising from the clear blue
                      real Spain.                 in a car, as streets are blocked at every                                                                                                                                mountain village of
                                                                                                province of Alicante. The region is     of Spanish dishes including superb       Mediterranean sea, the precipitous
                     Terra de Mar                 turn! When on foot, the uneven state                                                                                                                                     Guadalest, meaning
                                                                                                famous for its citrus fruits (oranges   tapas.                                   rock formation known as Penyal
                    is modern and                 of the make-shift walkways would be                                                                                                                                      ‘Eagle’s Nest’, which
                                                                                                and lemons), and also pomegranates                                               D’Ifac watches over the bay of
                    well appointed,               difficult for the elderly, disabled, and                                                                                                                                 is located about 25 km
                                                                                                and dates.                              Bar La Placeta, Calle Justica            Calpe. One of the most famous
                   offering 12 bedrooms           indeed for families with young children                                                                                                                                  inland from Altea.
     including twins and doubles. The             requiring buggies or pushchairs. Access                                               Located just a stone’s-throw from        sights along the Costa Blanca,            Take the CV755 from
                                                                                                We found no shortage of good            the hotel, this quiet little bar has a   Penyal D’Ifac is now a protected
     bedrooms themselves are themed               to the beach, harbour and many of the                                                                                                                                    Altea to Callosa
                                                                                                quality restaurants; from the           lovely terrace with fragrant jasmine     Natural Park. In former times the
     around different countries, such             larger hotels is unaffected, so these                                                                                                                                    then continue to
                                                                                                beachside eateries to the small,        blossoms and pretty mosaic tiles.        rock was used as a watchtower - a
     as India, Japan and Morocco and              might be a better choice for anyone who                                                                                                                                  Guadlaest.
                                                                                                quaint restaurants in the old town,     Although not so relaxing thanks          perfect vantage point to spot attacks
     all come with air conditioning,              is likely to find negotiating the streets a
                                                                                                Calpe offers an impressive range        to the ongoing noise from the            from Berber pirates and warn the
     hydromassage shower and plasma               challenge. The project is scheduled for                                                                                                                                  The drive
                                                                                                and selection of places to eat – had    roadworks, we found the bar to be        surrounding community.
     TV with DVD player. Many of the              completion in April 2013.                                                                                                                                                inland from
                                                                                                we been here for a fortnight we         an excellent (and very inexpensive)
     rooms also feature small balconies.                                                                                                                                                                                   Altea is fascinating
                                                                                                could easily have dined somewhere       spot for a beer, a snack or tapas.       Nowadays Penyal D’Ifac is a refuge
                                                  Shopping                                                                                                                                                                 as you follow the
                                                                                                different every night!                                                           for many plant and bird species
     Without doubt our favourite feature          Calpe, for its size, offers a fantastic                                                                                                                                  winding road ever
     of the hotel would have to be the                                                                                                  La Cantera, Av. Del Puerto               and though it is a popular spot for
                                                  selection of small boutiques, and             La Casa, Calle Del Mar                                                                                                     higher through miles
     attractive terrace on the second                                                                                                   This restaurant, located at the          tourists, there is a limit put on the
                                                  for many visitors shopping is an                                                                                                                                         upon miles of citrus
     floor, decorated in rich oriental                                                          La Casa boasts an excellent location,   yacht club of Calpe, boasts a prime      number of people allowed on the
                                                  important part of their stay. We                                                                                                                                         groves with ever
     style with tables and loungers, a                                                          just on the edge of the old town,       location at Calpe’s harbour, where       rock at any one time, so arrive early
                                                  found the best selection of boutiques                                                                                                                                    more spectacular and
     relaxing water feature and with                                                            and with a rooftop terrace. The         you can enjoy a glass or two of          during the busy months.There is a
                                                  (male and female) on Av Gabriel                                                                                                                                          breathtaking views as
     views to the old town ramparts and                                                         food is excellent, with a wide range    wine and dine at your leisure whilst     walking trail which takes you all
                                                  Miro and Av Ifach, offering a                                                                                                                                            you round every bend.
     church and further to the hills that                                                       of dishes, offering fish, meat and      watching the sunset. We found the        the way to the summit by way of a
                                                  selection of designer clothing as
     surround Calpe. An ample breakfast                                                         vegetarian options. The Menu del        restaurant a little pricey in relation   tunnel constructed in 1918 to make
                                                  well as very affordable selections                                                                                                                                       Guadalest enjoys one
     of pastries, fresh fruit, cereals, juices,                                                 Dia changes fortnightly, and offers     to the quality of the food, but the      the ascent easier, but be warned,
                                                  from Spanish and European names.                                                                                                                                         of the most spectacular
     tea and coffee is served on the                                                                  the same excellent choices,       selection of fresh fish and seafood      although the walking is fairly easy
                                                  Many of the boutiques                                                                                                                                                    locations of any village in Spain,
     terrace every morning, and what a                                                                                                  was impressive.                          on the lower slopes, it becomes
                                                  were                                                                                                                                                                     set high up on a pinnacle and
          pleasant and relaxing way to                                                                                                                                                        quite tricky
                                                                                                                                                                                                                           carved out of a mountain top in
                      start the                                                                                                                                                                                            the midst of truly stunning
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                scenery.




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                The Traveller

               It has a population of        down to the Bay of Altea. Be             Unfortunately, the best part about
                only 200 but is one of       prepared for some steep inclines         it (being free) is possibly the worst
                 the most popular tourist    and wear sturdy footwear to cope         thing as well. The government
                  attractions in Spain.      with the cobbled paths.                  doesn’t seem to have spent much by
                                                                                      way of good international signage
                  Of Islamic origin,         Whilst in Guadalest we also              (there’s lift access to the top, but
                  Guadalest was              recommend that you take time to          very little indication of where
                   a military stronghold     visit one of the many museums.           this is) and finding the entrance
                   of great strategic        We opted to visit the Museo              to ‘walk’ to the top is almost
                    importance and is        Microgigante where you can see           impossible! If you can persevere
                      the site of several    the amazing work of Manuel Ussa,         though you are well rewarded by
                       ancient castles,      whose painstaking miniatures will        the view.
                       the remains of        have you completely fascinated!
                           which can still   Amongst the works on display are a       Our Verdict?
                           be seen today     flea riding a bicycle, Ruben’s “Three    We would recommend Calpe
                          - although         Graces” carved on the point of a         without a moment’s hesitation for
                         earthquakes         pencil and a bullring constructed        a short, relaxing break, ideal for
                        and battles          on a pinhead. This contrasts with        couples. For those fond of a little
                       during the            his ‘gigantic’ work, a surrealist        exploration of the local area, history
                       War of Spanish        sculpture of the Tree of Life which      buffs or those who enjoy taking
                      Succession (early      is a stunning work of art.               great photographs in stunning and
                    18th Century)                                                     unique locations, Calpe is a must. If,
                    have reduced these       Guadalest has been declared a            on the other hand, you crave hustle
                   castles to little more    ‘Monument of Historical and              and bustle, nightlife and bar culture
                  than shells.               Artistic Value’ and is a must for        then perhaps the bigger resorts such
                                             any sightseeing visitors to the          as Benidorm and Alicante would be
                     The castle village,     Costa Blanca. However, while it          a better choice
                      which is reached       is wonderful for adults, children
                       through a tunnel,
                        is a delight, with
                                             and teens may bore easily as it is
                                             very ‘cultural’ and all about the
                                                                                                 HOSTAL
                         many little craft
                          and souvenir
                                             place and views. It’s not suitable
                                             for the very young as there are lots
                                                                                      TERRA DE MAR
                           shops, several    of steps and, as is to be expected       Calle Justicia nº 31
                            cafés and        of a traditional mountain village,
                                                                                      03710 CALPE (Alicante)
                             museums.        making it both dangerous and
                              You can        inaccessible to buggies or little        Tel: 96 587 59 28 / 629 665 124.
                              take a self-   explorers. The elderly should also       Fax: 965879696
                     guided tour around      be aware of the steps and walking        info@hostalterrademar.com
         the inside of the Casa Orduna       involved. With all this said, we can’t
     and then proceed outside to the         recommend this highly enough.
     ramparts and climb to the Peñon de
     La Alcalá tower rising high above       Castle of Santa Barbara                  During the summer months
     the village to watch over the valley    It’s completely free to climb this       easyJet operates daily
     below. It only costs a few euros and    huge castle (a fortress which            flights to Alicante from
     you will be rewarded with some          completely dominates Alicante
     simply breathtaking views of the                                                 Belfast International Airport.
                                             coast) and on a good day the sights
     surrounding valley and                  from the top are breathtaking -
                                                                                      Fares from £25.99 one way,
                                                    highly recommended!               including taxes. Book now
                                                                                      on www.easyJet.com




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