Monday, November 21, 2011

And the Rains Came in Alicante, Spain

Alicante, Spain was our next port. It is the second largest city in Spain’s Valencia region, one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe. It is a historic port city with a population of approximately 350,000 and another 500,000 in the surrounding area. The city has been growing quickly over the past decades as the entire region expands with tourism and retirees locating to the area in search of warm weather.

Welcome to Alicante! We didn’t have a tour planned for today, but there was a Hop On, Hop Off bus, so we decided to do that. We have been so fortunate with wonderful weather, but it rained early in the morning and we waited until about 11:00 until we got off the ship.

This pretty fountain was right by the area where we got on the bus.

The castle on top of the mountain looked interesting. We decided we would do a complete trip around the city on the bus, and then get off at the castle on the next go around.

We passed by the beautiful beaches with the mosaic boardwalk.

So many choices!

The Marq is the home to the Provincial Archaeological Museum with artifacts ranging from the Bronze Age through the Roman period. It's a beautiful building.

Another very clean do the Europeans, with such dense populations in the cities, manage to keep them litter free?

We headed up the steep and winding road to the Castillo de Santa Barbara.

The view of the city as we climbed…

The castle was built atop Mount Benacantil. It is a well preserved fortress and one of the largest in Europe with a commanding view of the area. The museum has a large collection of artifacts that were found on the mountain dating from the Bronze Age.

This gate was obviously built for much smaller vehicles and the bus barely fit through.

Lovely views from the top…

When we met the second bus coming up the hill, we had to back up to find a place wide enough for the two buses to pass. Good drivers! We were also noticing very ominous skies in the distance.

The Mercado Central if you had any shopping to do…

Now, it was starting to rain. We could see clearer skies ahead, so we were hoping to get away from it. Nearly everyone was abandoning the top deck of the bus in favour of the shelter below, but we were hanging in there like good Canadians. We passed by this monument…

Before we finally had to give up! We weren’t getting too wet when the bus was moving, but when it stopped at the many red lights, we were getting soaked. We decided it was time to surrender.

We headed back to the ship, without really having a chance to experience Alicante. We’ll just have to save it for another time!

It did clear later in the afternoon, but we were happy to stay on board and view the castle from the distance as we sailed away. You can see the wall snaking up the side of the mountain on the left.

We decided to try the Tuscan Grille that night for dinner. There is an additional charge for dinner and the service was good, but I wouldn’t say the food was that much better. Jeff and Kathy are pretty much just meat eaters, and Jeff declared the steak tartare worth the price of admission. We liked the “alphabet man.” He reminded me of the one we saw in Cannes.

Jeff with his ever-present tea glass. He doesn’t drink…might I add, thank god. He gets in enough trouble without it. He looks like he’s sucking up to Kathy for something!

And to top the evening off (I still can’t believe we did this), Jeff decided to sing the Canadian national anthem at karaoke and somehow convinced us to join him. I am sure it wasn’t pretty but it was something to remember!

Tomorrow, Malaga, Spain…

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