Expect the unexpected in Alicante…

Narrow cobbled streets, brightly painted buildings with Juliette balconies, Gothic churches and the Museum of Contemporary Art. This was not my expectation when I arrived in Alicante for a hen party. Call me narrow-minded but I was expecting Benidorm with its high-rise hotels and touristy beachfronts. This is, I guess where you would expect to go on a hen party, so finding the complete opposite I was very pleasantly surprised. We began by exploring the lovely old town of Alicante and found ourselves right in the hustle and bustle of the very traditional Easter celebrations that were going on. Crowds of people were lined up along the streets to watch the parades and processions. Being a Catholic community it was clear to see that a lot of time and effort had been put into the celebrations. A masked procession on Easter Friday included people in long red robes with pointed hats, to me this appeared quite sinister. I have since learnt that they represent the people of Nazareth and are masked to show mourning. Huge biblical figures carried on floats and marching bands also joined the procession. I felt really lucky to have seen these celebrations, it is interesting to discover how other countries celebrate certain events.
Leaving the parades behind we made our way through the cobbled streets and found our accommodation. It was an amazing two-storey apartment at the top of a lovely old building, full of character and charm; topped off by a fantastic roof terrace. The panoramic views of the old town, the ocean and Castle of Santa Barbara were incredible. Breakfast up on the terrace was just perfect; bread, cheese, cured meats, orange juice and the sounds of the church bells tolling as the town awoke. My daily visit to the tiny corner shop, to stock up on goods for our apartment was interesting, let down by my bad Spanish skills I had to mime an action to ask for toilet paper. Luckily the friendly shopkeeper saw the funny side of it and loved teaching me a few words, that day I learnt the Spanish word for ‘bottom’! All I can say is that I’m glad I was the only one in the shop at the time!
I’m a real food lover and eating out in Alicante was everything I wanted it to be, Tapas bars, Paella and fresh fish. Lovely squares with alfresco dining, topped off by very friendly locals, you couldn’t ask for more. I loved exploring and getting lost in the narrow streets, this led to some great discoveries such as a local market, beautiful churches and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
In contrast to the solemness of the parades during the day, the evenings are seen as a time for celebrating. As a result, all the bars stayed open until very late. This equalled lots of partying for the hens!
The trip was the total opposite of what I expected and ended up being a very cultural weekend, at the same time as being a lot of fun. It has opened up my eyes and taught me to think twice about visiting and exploring places that I might already have certain opinions about.  As this trip showed me those views can sometimes be very wrong!
Head over to Lonely Planet for more on this beautiful part of the world.

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