Travel: 48 Hours in Alicante; Fancy a Weekend in the Home of the Best Ice Creams in Spain? We've Got It Licked
Byline: Text by Gill Williams.
Friday, late afternoon I've left the rat race behind. While I imagine friends squeezing into packed, sweaty bars, I'm sitting in the sunshine with nothing but a jug of sangria between me and the Med, admiring men who bear a startling resemblance to Enrique Iglesias. I'm in Alicante on the Costa Blanca, and have been here exactly one hour - enough time to clear customs, take a EUR10 (pounds 6.60) taxi to the hotel, then stroll across to a harbourside bar.
Evening Stallholders set up tables along the Plaza del Puerto Viejo, an artificial harbour around the marina with an open-air market, restaurants and bars. I wander past stands to a table at the Puerto Nuevo restaurant, which overlooks the marina and Alicante's Old Town - the best vantage point to watch the sun setting over the roof tops and spires of the city. I order gazpacho andaluz, a yummy cold tomato soup accompanied by little dishes of fresh peppers and red onions. With a large salad, a glass of wine and coffee, the bill comes to just EUR12 (pounds 8).
Saturday morning Sip cafe con leche in the Hotel Meli breakfast room and watch early-morning bathers jump the waves at Postiguet beach. People have been coming to this resort since the 19th century, when it was a thriving health spa. Today, the hotel's Wellness spa still uses thalassotherapy water treatments in vogue more than a century ago. But today I'm planning to go shopping. Alongside regulars like Zara and Mango, one-off boutiques sell more expensive designs, but there's always something affordable. At Bole Bole, I pass on pricey frocks and tops by Spanish designers Roberto Cavalli and Moskada in favour of a locally made beaded belt for about pounds 25.
Afternoon I celebrate my new acquisition by hobnobbing with the millionaires at the Royal Yacht Club. The restaurant here is open to the public and the house speciality is paella - the baked, saffron-infused rice dish which is served all over Spain, but originated here. You can have paella with seafood, meat or verduras (vegetables). Mine comes heaped with broad beans, roasted peppers, tomatoes and a side dip of aioli, served with hot bread. Time for a siesta, I think...
Much later Wander through the Old Town - the old and new quarters are divided by a wide avenue called the Ramblas. Ten years ago, this was a slum area, but today it's the trendiest quarter of Alicante, as young people have moved in to renovate old houses. …