Lately I’ve been in a little bit of a slump. I know it’s really not fair for me to say that; I’m completely living the dream abroad. But, with classes kicking into full gear and having a difficult time adjusting to city life, I’ve felt a little bit down. I decided that I needed to fall in love Spain’s east coast again. And, there’s no better way to do so than spend a weekend in Alicante.
A two and a half hour bus ride down the coast from Valencia, Alicante is a smaller port city in the Comunidad Valenciana. Just so we’re all on the same page here, Spain is split up into autonomous communities. There are 17 of these that function similarly to states in the US. Valencia resides within Comunidad Valenciana. Within these autonomous communities, there are also 50 individual provinces. Alicante is the province that borders Valencia on the south. Our adventures took us to the capital city of Alicante– Alicante. Maybe you should just look at a map. The bus ride was beautiful. Staying in Valencia, I had almost (but not quite) forgotten how beautiful the mountainous countryside is. We rode the coast and were able to take in the Mediterranean on our left and the mountains to our right.
Alicante is precious. So much smaller than Valencia and right on the water, it was the perfect weekend excursion. From our hostel we had a great view of the castle and the Basilica de Santa Maria. For dinner we spent two hours at a terrace, making small talk over delicious paella, enjoying the live music, and finally relaxing.
Hoping to get as much exploration as we could out of our day, we woke up promptly and walked through the small side streets to Alicante’s archeological museum: MARQ. This small treasure provided contemporary and ancient history sections, as well as a special exhibition about the Romans: el barbaros. Almost all of the artifacts were from Spain, and mostly from Alicante. It began with the Paleolithic period, focused heavily on Roman influence, and offered a unique selection of artifacts. I was impressed. I actually learned last week that Paleolithic cave paintings were found in Alicante, so the region has a long, cultural history. More than that, the Greeks, Romans, Muslims and Visigoths all invaded Spain throughout her history. Each left a distinct impact on the art, architecture, and way of life. It’s difficult to comprehend a culture as rich as this in the United States. Our country was settled and began to modernize 500 years ago. Spain’s history has developed slowly for thousands of years. It’s an interesting contrast to make. I don’t think that. I’ll ever become accustomed to looking at pots from 2500 bc that are casually displayed in a small museum.
After having made our way all the way from the Paleolithic period, we decided to finish our time travel with the museum of contemporary art. I’m not even going to try to say that I understood anything in the museum. Modern art is way out of my scope of knowledge and interest. It was my first experience in a modern art museum, and it may have been my last.
Saving the absolute best for last, we hiked up to the castle of Santa Barbara. Constructed in the ninth century after the Islamic invasion, it was later conquered by Alfonson X’s Castilian forces and later reconstructed. It sits at the top of a small mountain in the middle of Alicante. Tying my hair up and admitting that I would be a completely sweaty mess for the next few hours, we began the hike. It was hot. Really hot. And it was steep. And it was completely worth it. From the castle there was a great view of the city and the pure blue water of the Mediterranean. I also felt like royalty, which, as you probably know, has long been my life’s goal. It was interesting to think about the battles won and lost and the ruling that occurred upon the same stones I was standing on.
Exhausted, and sweaty Haley and I took the bus home, with a new perspective and attitude in tow, ready for take on the week.