The allure of AlicantePosted on: 28 April 2016 by Michael Edwards
Michael Edwards flies off to the Costa Blanca and finds Alicante is just too good for a weekend break.
Too often Alicante is perceived as just a destination for a weekend break. Time and time again Travel Editors, who are rather partial to a weekend in the Costa Blanca’s shimmering and increasingly sophisticated capital, run their “48 hours in Alicante” piece. With numerous short and low-cost flights from British airports, followed by a quick 15 minute traffic free taxi trip from airport to the heart of Alicante, it is easy to see why this compact city is marketed as a perfect weekend break.
Others, quite mistakenly, dismiss Alicante as merely the airport that disgorges tourists for the more boisterous attractions of Benidorm or the thousands of holiday apartments and villas stretching out along the Costa Blanca’s Mediterranean coast.
The Melia Hotel, with every room either overlooking Postiget Beach to the North and the Marina to the South, is the place to stay. It is not just a case of location, location, location – the Melia with its renowned breakfast is a champagne brunch destination too. Locals who take their food very seriously enjoy a leisurely weekend brunch admiring the views of their elegant city reclining at the feet of the Cabo de Los Hurtas and Santa Pola peaks.
Turn left out of the Melia and a two minute stroll takes you to the Marina with its plethora of bars and restaurants; a fashionable and sophisticated hotspot for those taking a break from yachting in the Med. Turn right and soon you will be promenading on the Esplanada de Espana, the bustling heart of Alicante.
Six million black, white and red tiles create a wavy optical illusion along the Esplanada. Palm trees provide welcome shade from the heat as the senoritas talk, walk and talk some more, occasionally glancing at the stalls for a new handbag, scarf or dress for their next promenade along Alicante’s very public catwalk. Aromas of rice with cuttlefish and artichoke or pork stew with lentils drift on the warm evening breeze. This is authentic local gastronomy for those taking a break from Spain’s cities.
Alicante is the Spaniards’ Brighton. It just has better weather and a relaxed Mediterranean chic. Even humble roundabouts become a stylish plaza with grandiose statues, playing fountains and thriving palm trees. Take the lift to the ninth century Castillo de Santa Barbara for a 360 degree orientation exercise from 166 metres above sea-level.
Most of Alicante’s tourist sites – the Bull-Fighting Museum, the Chocolate Museum and the Archaeology Museum – undoubtedly celebrate the past, but the Volvo Ocean Race Museum has an eye on the future too as the 2017 Volvo Ocean Race will begin in Alicante. The free and highly interactive museum charts how what began as the Whitbread Round-the-World yacht race, for adventurous amateurs in the 1970s who brought along beer and guitars, has evolved into a high-tech all-consuming challenge for athletes. Today’s sailors survive on freeze-dried food and a rota of three hours of duties followed by three hours of sleep. Filmed testimonies from race survivors pay tribute to the five who lost their lives on the most gruelling of races.
The MACA , the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Alicante, with work from Picasso, Gargallo, Dali, Miró and many contemporary artists, sits in Alicante’s oldest civil building. With a history that includes time as a jail, gun-powder store, granary, school of commerce and temporary City Hall the MACA epitomises Alicante’s vibrant history.
Every month is a good time to visit Alicante. Winters are mild, autumn and spring are distinctly warm, whilst the summers are scorching. Check out the cultural calendar before you book your flights, as well as the jazz festival from June to August, most months offer a spectacular festival celebrating Alicante’s Christian and Moorish traditions.
A host of low-cost airlines fly to Alicante from many UK airports including Easy Jet, Flybe, Monarch, Nowegian and Ryanair. You can learn more about the Melia Hotel, Alicante by visiting www.melia.com
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