I’ve just returned from holiday: a week in Costa Blanca in Spain. Traditionally I have been a bit snobby about such holiday destinations, but I have to tell you we had a great time.
The problem with places such as the Spanish Costas is that in my mind I have a stereotype of the type of person who goes there: they are unnecessarily orange, read the red-tops and, although they like the sun, they don’t want to have anything to do with all that ‘foreign muck’.
When we go on holiday we like to see local culture and enjoy the local food. With the Costas, my prejudices suppose that all the ex-pats mean there is precious little local culture and the local food is egg and chips.
Given the above, you may wonder why we went. Well, the fact is that my wife has family out there. They are ex-pats, which makes my prejudices even more indefensible!
We went out to visit Andy and Jan before in 2008 and enjoyed it enormously, so were keen to return. The fact that they live out there means that, as well as being guaranteed good company, they also know the best places to visit.
Our apartment was next to theirs, a short drive from the town of Torrevieja. No sooner had we landed than one of my prejudices was dispelled as we went into town to see the Feria de Mayo – the May Fair, where the locals turn up in traditional costume, dance traditional dances and eat traditional food. This is not something that they do for the tourists, but a genuine local event. Brilliant.
During the course of the short week that we were there we visited the wonderful city of Alicante and its impressive castle (which, incidentally, was free to get into); Rojales and its cave houses; and, all too briefly, Cartagena, also with a castle; as well as Torrevieja. Andy, being the adventurous type, took us spider hunting in the Sucina Mountains and exploring derelict copper mines at Portman. We shopped at an excellent local market and even found time to lounge around the pool for a bit.
We enjoyed some of the ex-pat entertainment – we saw the local rock band, The Faith, twice: once in the sun on the beach, once in a bar called Mosquito’s – both occasions were loud and fun and the latter resulted in a bit of a hangover.
We also enjoyed the food and drink. Typical Spanish cuisine is by no means ubiquitous, but we found some very good tapas bars. For the rest of the time, there is a wide range of decent restaurant options of all types, as well as cocktail bars, in very nice, cosmopolitan settings: it’s certainly not all egg and chips.
Even the EasyJet flights from Bristol worked well for us. There were problems coming home when our flight was re-directed from Mercia to Alicante, giving us an unplanned coach trip and a two-hour delay, but that was a problem with the tower not EasyJet, and they handled it very well. The main problem for me was that a two hour delay meant the difference between getting a curry on the way home or not.
So all in all we had a great time: if you want some sun I’d recommend it.