|Barcelona and Alicante|
Steve's brother and sister-in-law Mick and Wendy, (relative) newlyweds Craig and Elissa and (relative) newborn Hunter were coming over from Canada, and particularly wanted to include a city break in Barcelona. So an apartment in the Gothic quarter was rented, not only for them, but (despite Phil's heart attack a few weeks earlier) also for us and Jacky and Bob. But we were looking for a longer break, and decided to make it a two-centre holiday by travelling on afterwards to Alicante.
We had visited Barcelona before, so suggested that a trip in the cable car across the port and up to the hill at Montjuic would be a good way to get an overview of the city. Unfortunately a lot of other people had the same idea, resulting in a long queue before we could embark. But the views were worth it, as they were from the restaurant where we took lunch.
The following day, in order to cram as much sightseeing in as possible, we decided to take an open-top tourist bus. Again we seemed to be with the crowds (Barcelona being a lot more touristy than we remembered), but eventually we climbed on board. Most of our focus was on spotting buildings by Gaudi and other deco architects (including lunch at Parc Guell), but when half the party got off the bus to explore the Barcelona FC stadium, we carried on back to the Sagrada Familia, together with Craig and Elissa.
We had of course visited before in 2001, but were surprised to see how much progress had been made. From still feeling like a building site thirteen years previously, much of the interior now felt close to being finished. The fittings and stunning artworks inside were as unique as the exterior. It is due to be finished in 2026, and that now appeared totally feasible.
Exploring Alicante and Around
We took the Euromed train from Barcelona Sants on a four hour trip south to Alicante. We had briefly stopped in that city on our motorhome tour of Europe six years previously, and had made a mental note to return one day. We had booked a self-catering apartment in the old town which was attached to a five-star hotel, and so this became our base to explore not only the city itself, but also the coastline known as the Costa Blanca.
Running northwards from the city was a newly-refurbished tram line which, on the map, seemed to hug the Mediterranean coast as it linked the resorts all the way along to (the infamous) Benidorm. We made this our first trip, and were pleased to find that the views from the tram were as good as we had hoped. Even Benidorm - despite the forests of high-rises - wasn't too bad, with most of it at least feeling Spanish (rather than an outpost of Stuttgart or Basildon).
But it was one of the smaller resorts nearer Alicante which had caught our attention and so, the following day we returned to El Campello for a look around. We particularly liked the scale of the place, as well as the easy access it afforded to the bustling centre of Alicante. Talking to a local estate agent, there seemed to be a lot of good-value property on the market, and so we had a look at a few - including a top-floor apartment near the tram station which we particularly liked.
The remainder of our free time was mostly spent in Alicante, including an afternoon on the central beach, and evenings strolling along the seafront Paseo. The last day before our return to the UK saw us on Santa Barbara, a castle on top of a mountain which afforded spectacular views over the city and coast.
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