18 February 2011
I took the 10am train from Barcelona Sants station to Alicante and I was looking forward to some sunshine after a rainy past two days in Barcelona. Alicante is a small seaside town with a population of just over 300,000 and it’s about 4.5 hours by train south of Barcelona. It’s name has Arabic origins and means “city of lights”. I finally arrived at 14h48 and with map in hand, I proceeded to take bus 22 towards Plaça el Mar (wherever that was). Luckily I was shown the way by a friendly old man who was sitting next to me (probably after seeing that I was trying in vain to read all the street names whilst trying to locate them on the map). With my limited Spanish and his limited English, we resorted to German since he’d worked in Germany for 35 years and I had studied a bit of German during my undergrad days. We got off at my stop and he proceeded to walk me to the street I was supposed to go to. I was told that the further south I go, the warmer the climate and the people get and so far, this has been the case. Alicante is so far my new favourite city. With the Castle of Santa Barbara in the back and the sea to the front, it makes for a beautiful setting in which to spend a relaxed weekend away. The city is small enough to walk around and I’m happy to say, I found not just one but two jogging routes. The first one is most obvious, right on the beachfront and just 5 minutes away from my place, the Pension Milagrosa.
After stopping by at a tapas bar by the main beachfront, I decided to take a walk along the Explanada de España and found out that if you like people watching, this is the place to be. The avenue is dotted with chairs on which you can sit and enjoy the afternoon sun and watch as the people walk by – along with an ice-cream of course. Then it was time to test out the jogging route and I’m happy to say that it is one super fantastico route for an easy jog by the sea.
19 February 2011
Today was partly cloudy at first so I thought it was just the right time to take a walk up to the Castello de Santa Barbara. There is a quick way up using the lifts from the beach but then that would mean you’d miss out on the fun of winding up the 20 degree paths. The views at every turn make it worth the climb. Near the bottom of the route is a small shaded square where I saw some people doing Tai-chi, a rather healthy start to the day. As I got to the middle, the sun started to come out through the clouds and it got progressively warmer. I started to tire and I wondered when I’d reach the top (if ever) and just like that, a cool breeze wafted through and it brought with it the smell of jasmine flowers from the garden below. It was just the pick me up I needed to continue my walk up to the castle. From the top, I could see the city of Alicante below me stretching out towards the sea. Beyond that, it was nothing but the open see all the way to the horizon, and somewhere further south was the coastline of Algeria and of course, Africa. Standing there atop the castle looking out into the sea with the sun on my skin and again with the wind blowing through my hair, I couldn’t help but think about the Alchemist and wondered whether this was the Levanter, the wind from Africa that brought the dreams of men, the desert and adventure.
“At the highest point in Tarifa there is an old fort, built by the Moors. From atop its walls, one can catch a glimpse of Africa. Melchizedek, the king of Salem, sat on the wall of the fort that afternoon, and felt the Levanter blowing in his face.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
20 February 2011
Today it was time to hit the beach. But not after having a lazy stroll up the castle where there is a small shaded rest area midway up the route where there are benches from where you can see the city and the harbour. Armed with my book, my ipod and my water bottle, I decided to take a nap in the sun and get some colour back on my skin. One good thing about being a solo traveler is you somehow manage to meet more people and locals are always happy to show you around or just come chat to you. I was once told that it’s these moments and small connections that make life interesting and worth living. Well, that and the food. I had the best paella I’ve had so far here in Alicante. I wish I had taken a picture of it because it was magnificent but by the time I had sat down to lunch, I was so hungry I finished the entire thing even before I had time to think. OK to be honest, I wasn’t even thinking apart from thinking how great the food was here.
Later on, there was more walking along the beach to work off that paella and as the sun started to set, the wind picked up again. And at the end of the day, I guess everyone is waiting for that wind, the Levanter that will bring with it the things that we all want and desire.
“It was the Levanter, the wind that came from Africa. It didn’t bring with it the smell of the desert, nor the threat of Moorish invasion. Instead, it brought the scent of a perfume he knew well, and the touch of a kiss that came from far away, slowly, slowly, until it rested on his lips. The boy smiled. It was the first time she had done that. ‘I’m coming, Fatima,’ he said.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.
Hasta la proxima vez!
more photos here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=621663&id=765290033&l=d4ed082d56