In the spirit of recovery and a change of scenery, Jeff arranged an excursion to Alicante. It’s a medium sized city south of Valencia just two hours by the slow train. It’s a great way to travel. The towns in between are sleepy and the ride is smooth enough that if a nap is in order, then a nap one shall have.
We got to Alicante on the early train and were able to check into a hotel before lunch. They put us on the 24th floor overlooking the castle and the sea, so the views were spectacular. The harbor was at our feet and Santa Barbara Castle was right off the balcony.
We got some breakfast and then I promptly fell asleep until 5pm. I’m fully embracing the Spanish Siesta in my convalescence. Jeff went out for provisions for a make shift dinner and allowed me to rest for the rest of the evening. The views from the window were enough to keep me happy. The sky, the castle and the sea. Sublime.
The next morning we awoke to a spectacular sunrise coming over the horizon. On my Camino last year, I saw one nearly every morning as I would leave the Albergues when it was still dark. This is one of the first Spanish sunrises I’ve seen since then and it didn’t disappoint. We sat on the balcony and had some coffee and just stared at the sea.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I’m living here. It can be easy to focus on the things that are more difficult. But sitting there looking out at the sea, I thought how much I wanted to enjoy that one moment. Yesterday is gone – tomorrow is unknown. That moment was perfect and I’ll never forget how beautiful the light was.
Jeff wanted to take a look at the Volvo Ocean Race museum in the harbor. It’s the largest round the world ocean race under sail, and it starts in Alicante every 3 years and the head quarters is there too. We learned a lot about the history of the race in the UK and it’s eventual move to Spain. Very impressive and we’re already making plans to ensure we’re in one of the ports when they come in. Brutal conditions but what competitors! Inspiring.
We had decided to tour the castle before heading back to Valencia on the train. Looking up at it, I thought two things. ‘How the hell am I going to get up there?’ and ‘If I get up there, how the hell am I ever going to get down?’ Well, like most things here – it was well thought out and organized. Honestly, the Spanish do not want for serious structural or civil engineering and creative problem solving.
Seriously, though, there is an elevator bored in the mountain, upon which the castle sits. You buy your tickets at the bottom and walk through a very long tunnel. They’ll take you right up into the castle keep in a scary elevator, where you walk through another tunnel to see the spectacular views of the bluest sea.
Or – you can walk up the side of the mountain like a mountain goat. Or on a causeway that is reminiscent of the Great Wall of China. You’ll save 2,70 Euros but you’ll get a work out and sunstroke. Always an upside. The elevator will take you back down onto the main street when you’re done.
At the top, there is a cafe. We stopped to have lunch and enjoy the views. The contrast between the yellow stone walls and the deep blues of the Mediterranean Sea were well worth it. The palm trees blowing in the breeze. Lovely. And, of course, it wouldn’t have been complete without a lady in traditional garb posing for photos. We have no idea what this was about but her clothes were reminiscent of the Fallas dresses we saw back in March in Valencia.
There were languages from all over the world spoken at every turn. I had never heard of Santa Barbara Castle before, but apparently, it’s quite famous far and wide. Hand rails were thin on the ground, and at several points it was easy to see how rambunctious kids, or adults not paying attention, could go over the edge. There were signs prohibiting selfie sticks – and then people standing next to said signs with their selfie sticks, doing what? Oh yeah, taking photos right at the edge with them. Duh.
Jeff has dubbed this country as ‘Spain – a place where you just have to use your common sense or you’ll die.’ I think he likes the idea of natural selection taking those without it out of the gene pool. He’s kinder than he sounds, but we go to plenty of places full of tourists doing stupid things and he’s a little fed up. In the US they idiot proof nearly everything – and look where we are, so perhaps he has a point!
It was a beautiful day and the train back was great. The train stations here are very clean, compared to the US. And well organized. I’m so impressed. We sat on the other side of the train on the way home, so we got to see both sides. Jeff began to point out castle ruins on the hill tops above the town. I think he’s caught the bug. I’m so glad – because I’d like to become a castle aficionado while living in Europe. There are so many varying kinds, from so many different periods and styles. Some clearly built and rebuilt based on their stone wall strata – that I’m not sure we’ll ever get bored.
Anyway, it was a lovely quick trip. One filled with naps, views and history. Three of my favorite things.