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Published: September 30th 2017
Waiting for my towel to dry as we waited for the bus - the curse of the backpacker!
Geo: 38.346, -0.484756
Another bad sleep - this is becoming a pattern, isn't it? It was the creaky bunk bed - even my breathing caused it to shake. And every time Mary moved on the bottom bunk, my top bunk shook uncontrollably. That Mary is a wild one - she almost broke my bed!
After hearing a less than stellar review of the hostel breakfast from our bunkmates last night, we decided to skip it and head out to the train station. Everything to Alicante was sold out! I can't ever remember a time where I couldn't get a train ticket in Europe just before the departure time. Unfortunately, the next train to Alicante wasn't until 17:00!
So the amazing race begins! I always plan like crazy before trips for all contingencies and this was one of those times where it paid off. I knew there were tons of bus connections but didn't know which bus station to leave from. Due to a comedy of errors, we couldn't find the train station TI to get any info. We wasted 10 minutes looking for it.
We arrived at the correct bus station but took the wrong exit from the metro station, resulting in an
I usually try to make a stupid face in my pictures but invariably, it actually looks worse than I intended.
And you can just catch a glimpse of a senorita behind us - she was part of our "Who we would rather sit with on this bus" conversation. Didn't get a shot of the "flexible" guy that Mary wanted to sit with. But you're not missing out on much because he was no Fernando.
extra 10 minute walk. D'oh! Had a granola bar and a café con leche at the bus station before departing.
A decent bus - there were TVs and we were supplied with headphones. Of course, we also sat right next to the toilet, making this an audio/visual AND olfactory experience! I discovered an old live version of "Winds of Change" on my iPod, performed by the Scorpions and the Berlin philharmonic. I will forever associate this song with the fall of the Berlin wall, with the energy, the emotion, and as the song so aptly puts it "the magic of the moment". I will be listening to it when I get to see the wall in person at the end of this trip!
Mary noticed a Spanish guy sitting all alone, and noticing how he had his legs crossed asked me if I could sit like that. I told her yes, but it would be extremely uncomfortable and I probably would remain forever stuck in that position because of my inflexibility. Mary-ism #3: "So Spanish guys are more flexible, eh?" Mary asked, as she smiled, nodded in approval, raised her right eyebrow, and winked with a twinkle in her eye.
Funny what kids do - a few started gathering up the seagrass on the beach and the next thing you know, a dozen kids join in and there's this huge pile.
Alicante has an OK, but crowded beach. The seagrass kind of ruins it.
She told me that maybe she should go over and sit with him instead. I told her that was cool, because I'd rather sit with the Spanish girl behind us!
I read the Spanish language newspapers on-board to practice my comprehension. I didn't realize the extent of the Greek forest fires - it truly is the curse of Maria when she travels! Two years ago there was Hurricane Katrina, and now Greece is engulfed in flames! It's terrible that so many ancient Greek ruins may forever be lost.
The classifieds section was particularly entertaining because it contained EXTREMELY explicit escort ads. Despite my limited Spanish, there was no doubting the meaning! Unlike North American ads that merely hint at things (uh ... I only know this because I once did a school project on it. Yes ... school ... project ...), these were blatant. Anyway, it provided us with several laughs as I translated them for Mary.
This led us to the subject of escort names. Mary Moment #7: Mary told me that her escort name was "Fortune Cookie". Maybe what Tri says is true, and E&Y doesn't actually stand for Ernst & Young?
We had lunch at a typical
View from the outside of the castle.
European bus stop. I think most of them are part of the same chain. I made a mistake - we were given vouchers for a free sandwich, drink, or dessert. I thought it was valid for only one, but it was for two of the above.
Anyway, the juice and the Serrano ham and cheese sandwich I had were nothing special. I seem to say that a lot about Spanish food, don't I? The peach juice was actually kind of crappy.
Heard an old "Rasmus" song playing at the rest stop - ahhh ... memories of my trip to Spain two years ago! For some strange reason, these small little things that remind me of previous travels always seem to put a smile on my face.
Back on the bus - I cracked open some almond dark chocolate. There were these weird, stringy bits - almost like spider webs? Though I was still tempted to eat it, I decided to toss it out. This was not an easy task ... for me, throwing away chocolate is like cutting off an appendage.
We arrived in Alicante - it's hot here! And there were Spanish hotties out and about! It finally feels
Yes Mary, the castle is over there. Now how the hell do we get over there???
like we're in Spain! Alicante looks like a neat town. I don't think it's that big of a tourist destination for North Americans, more for Spaniards and Europeans.
The hotel wasn't so great - the pictures definitely looked WAY better. I did have a cheaper hotel booked (and it probably would have been nicer) but I had to cancel because they had a 1 week cancellation policy. Because we couldn't definitively say that we would be in Alicante until Toledo was out of the way ... I had to cancel it before leaving Canada.
We walked to the beach down "La Rambla", a main street sharing the same name as Barcelona's most famous drag. It definitely wasn't as nice as Barcelona's, but was still a nice place to stroll. The beach was very crowded with grainy sand. The water felt great ... aside from Valencia, we may not have any chances to swim in the sea as the Baltics will be a little chilly by the time we get there.
We dried off and hiked to the castle ... or so we thought. There is an escalator you can take most of the way up, but it was broken. And
Me, doing my best "John grabbing a cactus with his bare hand" impersonation.
the access from the beach was also closed, so it took us a while to find access from the old town. We also received conflicting directions from different people.
We finally managed to find a path and hiked ... and hiked ... we followed a path to nowhere that took us to the base of the castle walls, with no safe way of entering. Still, we had a great view of the town and ocean below. It was a difficult hike for Mary since she was wearing only flip flops. Making the most of the situation (remember the Spanish word - aprovechar?), we sat and enjoyed the view, while drinking water and munching on some dried mango.
Some crazy trail runner hopped up to us, said "Hola", then dropped off what appeared to be a very steep and dangerous section. I jumped up maybe 3 seconds after to see where he went - but he was nowhere to be found! Either he is extremely quick and agile or he plummeted to his death. Mary Moment #8: While I was concerned for his safety, Mary was only concerned with how "Fit, sweaty, and flexible" he was.
Back to the hotel for a
Outdoor dining in Spain - kind of reminded us of two years ago, when we had our last meal of the trip together in Lisbon. Also kind of reminded me of Trapani in Sicily.
quick shower and we were off to dinner. Alicante's old town is very atmospheric, with countless outdoor cafes. It kind of reminded us of Lisbon ... but much livelier. A North American couple saw us checking out various menus and recommended a place - they had gone there last night and liked it so much that they were going again tonight. It was a Galician-style restaurant renowned for its seafood and was actually in my guidebook, but we didn't even bother looking for it because it should have been closed tonight (according to said guidebook).
The menu looked intriguing but another restaurant with a set menu had caught our eye earlier, so we went there instead. An accordion player further added to the atmosphere as we enjoyed the appetizers. The house wine was crappy, but this was made up for by the lightly-toasted bread (usually it isn't served toasted, it's served stale!). The appetizers were a nice simple start to the meal. Definitely a good value here, even though the food wasn't anything special.
I had the house special pork, a couple of chops smothered in a chunky and rather ugly-looking sauce. Not too bad - it tasted a lot
"Tam Tam" - must be some kind of Vietnamese brothel, eh Tam?
better than it looked. The pork was a bit tough and dry. The roasted potatoes were nothing memorable. Mary opted for the mixed fried fish - pretty dry and served with bland potatoes.
After dinner ... gelato time! I opted for cheesecake and Ferrero Rocher (somebody needs to make a Ferrero Rocher cheesecake - it could revolutionize the dessert world!). Yesterday's was definitely better.
Despite Alicante's reputation for crazy nightlife, we opted for a quiet evening. Apparently Benidorm, a nearby town, has even crazier nightlife. There is even a train running from midnight until 5:00 specifically for partygoers running between the two towns! Those crazy Spaniards!
We strolled down the promenade - a neat place with elements reminding me of Nice, Split, and other areas in Spain. We browsed at some of the vendors on the promenade, and a few along the pier. Saw some "Isabel" dolls - creepy-looking things, similar to the one that Mary, John, and Yvonne got for me in the Algarve two years ago. We also strolled through the old town - lots of people out tonight. Mary Moment #9: As we walked back to the hotel Mary stopped, arched her back, put her hands on
Mmmm ... serrano ham, cheese, and almonds. Seeing this now reminds me that we forgot to have the tastier Iberico ham while we were in Spain. D'oh!
her hips, looked to the sky and in what can only be described as a half moan/half sqeal of delight, said "Aaaahhhh!!! I can't put anything else inside my body!" Uhh ... Mary ... it would sound less dirty if you just said "Whew! I'm so full I can't eat another bite!" But of course, that would have made it a less memorable night.
Spain is awesome - even without partaking in the nightlife, simply having dinner and going for a stroll still means returning to the hotel at 1 AM!
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