Pieces of Costa Blanca
I suddenly decided to use my last free day for doing something I like: visiting the area. I took the train-tram up the coast that offered me a nice view of mixture between beach-sea places and mountain villages.
My first destination is Altea, a small coast-mountain place. Costa Blanca is known for its white sandy beaches with turquoise water and here’s not an exception of this. The view of the sea with the green mountains on the background is spectacular, I tell you.
I said goodbye to the sea and started exploring the old town which is absolutely beautiful. Small, narrow cobbled streets with little white houses on either sides, with blue sunshades, orange-pink brick-alike roofs and stains of colourful flowers here and there are twining up the hill.
The labyrinth of stairs and alleys takes you on top to Mirador de los Cronistas from where the sea is sparkling its blues in the distance. Not very far is Portall Vell that leads you to the Calle Mayor, a street full of artisans, handcrafts and restaurants. And there we get to Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Consuelo, a beautiful New-Baroque church with blue domes dominating the sky views with its Levantine modern details.
This village might not have a lot of places to discover but is a treasure itself. You’ll like wandering around and getting carried away by its streets, discovering every corner of it. Wandered by many tourists it still keeps the calm and silence typical for a village.
It is time now to leave Altea behind and return to Benidorm, once a fishing town. I must say that the way it was presented online sounded like a great place to visit, however I ended up being a bit disappointed of it as there’s not much to see in terms of history and buildings. Indeed the beach and the sea opening are amazing. With little bays and open areas, bathing here has its charm and the views from the high points worth the trouble.
Benidorm is well known for the hotel industry and along its coast you can see many high-towered buildings that, in my opinion are ruining a lot the area’s Greenland fairytale, but which seem to attract a lot of foreigners.
I’m not a very big fan of themed parks, but perhaps you’d like it so here we go. Mundomar is a quite modern wildlife park that offers the possibility to see a large enclosure of sea animals and birds. You can get closer to the animals, meet face-to-face with dolphins or swim with sea lions if you fancy that. Aqualandia is one of Spain’s oldest and best water parks, with water slides, pools and Jacuzzis. The other park is Terra Mítica, among the largest themed parks in Spain, inspired by ancient civilisations like Roman, Egyptian and Greek ones. Despite being an amusement park, you could learn a bit more about the history too.
The old town keeps the spirit of the Alicantese towns. A great point of interest is Balcón del Mediterráneo, in Plaça del Castell, a stone garden witch chessboard tiles, dividing the beach of Poniente and Levant, up on a cliff. In its good times, this is the place where Benidorm’s castle was guarding over the sea for centuries. The plaza still guards some of the ancient walls that were once one with the hill of Canfali. Nearby is the blue-domed 18th century church of Sant Jaume I who strikes imposingly the sky with its high bell tower.
Parc L’Aigüera almost separates the town in two and I can say it’s a green oasis. As you go up the hill, you see the city hall and Plaza de los Reyes de España, an open air amphitheatre and Plaza de Toros.
As I still have time, I decide to stop in Villajoyosa as well, which means the joyful town. It is said that it was built in such way to attract people to move here so to get it populated, reason why the colourful houses started to appear. Dating from the 6th century it passed under Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Moors and the Kingdom of Aragon which all left a trace here. Needless to say the beach and the sea views are spectacular.
The main attraction point for me and the reason why I ended it up having it on my list was the Chocolate Museum of the Valor chocolate brand, which ironically or not, I didn’t get to see as it was fully booked. However, I plan to come back to see it not only because it’s the museum of the factory and gets you through the history of producing the chocolate, but also because it’s free, you have guidance and you get to the shop at its end. The company was started in the 19th century and it has been led so far by 5 generations continuously, slowly but firmly expanding its size. Needless to say that in the beginning the trade connections made it easy for the owner to import cocoa from Ecuador and Venezuela.
I do not regret my decision though as I found here an amazingly colourful old city, very suitable for the name. The old town is a joy itself as the colours of the walls blend with each other and at every corner of the narrow streets you discover more of it. Uphill are the walls and although they were partially destroyed during the Succession War, they served well the Old Town from the 16th Century when they were built.
La Casa Museo La Barbera dels Aragonés has an important collection of graffiti, clothes, crockery, furniture and everyday decorative objects from 17th to 20th Century. The building itself was constructed at the end of the 16th Century with adding the front bay in the 18th century. The ground floor was used by the Aragonés family for estate business, while the first floor had the role of a home. The second floor though had more storage role.
Besides its history, Villa, as shortly named by the locals, has the Moros i Cristians Festival at the end of July, where there are commemorated battles, combats and fights between the Moors and Christians during the period of Reconquista (8th-15th Centuries). The attraction point are the costumes inspired by the medieval clothes and are accompanied by fur, metallic helmets, armour, fire loud arquebuses and horse riding by the Christian side and scimitars or camel riding from the Moors side.
All in all the day has been fantastic, despite the long walks and at a certain point high temperatures. I enjoyed it a lot and would definitely recommend anyone to take some time to visit Costa Blanca’s places in details. It totally worth.