Our New Home on the Costa Blanca

Our hosts, Esmeralda and Raul showed us this apartment in Villajoyosa, just south of Benidorm.  Too bad we could not afford it.

Our hosts, Esmeralda and Raul showed us this apartment in Villajoyosa overlooking the marina, just south of Benidorm. Too bad we could not afford it.

Our greatest experiences in the countries we have visited have been the people we have met.  Spain has been no exception.  We were fortunate to have found a room to rent for our first month in Alicante with a welcoming couple, Raul and Esmeralda, which served as our base to search for an apartment.  After a few days decompressing and learning the terrain, our apartment search began in earnest.

Benidorm is a lovely spot overrun by expats.  Most of the high rise buildings are apartments.

Benidorm is a lovely spot overrun by expats. Most of the high rise buildings are apartments.

Benidorm, about 30 miles north of Alicante, is one of the coast cities that has been taken over by the British, either on holidays or as expats.  We liked the city well enough, and there is just as much English spoken as there is Spanish.  However, we became disillusioned with the housing options.  They were either above our budget or just plain dumpy.   

Sensing our frustration, Esmeralda phoned her sister in Torrevieja, about 30 miles south of Alicante, who had an apartment to show us.  We knew the moment we saw the apartment and the neighborhood that we were home!  A city of 100,000, Torrevieja is also a favorite British landing spot.  They have an English language cinema, an English weekly newspaper and several British pubs and restaurants.  An expat city like Torrevieja would not be our typical move.  However, it is pretty with lots of areas to walk and shop, and there are lots of places in and around the city to explore.

The view of the sea from the Castle of Santa Barbara

The view of the sea from the Castle of Santa Barbara

Having found a place to live freed us up to explore a bit more.  We took the oceanfront elevator 500 feet up to the hilltop Castle of Santa Barbara, about the same height as the ride up Seattle’s Space Needle.  However, the elevator shaft was cut through solid rock, so there were no views until we got to the top.  Although artifacts pre-dating Roman times have been found on the slopes of Mount Benacantil, the fortress was established in the 9th century, a time of Arabic Muslim control.  The castle was taken by Castilian forces on December 4, 1248.  That was the feast day honoring Saint Barbara, patron saint of the military, and that is how the castle came to be known.

A 450 year old church, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas is picturesque and beautiful inside.

A 450 year old church, the Cathedral of St. Nicholas is picturesque and beautiful inside.

I visited the Museum of Archeology, an award-winning museum that captures the evolution of the Alicante area from pre-historic times up to the 20th century.  The ancient Roman city of Lucentum is only a mile or so from the museum, so there are plentiful artifacts depicting the Roman Era. 

Further exploration has taken us to The Explanade, the city’s colorful mosaic pedestrian walkway along the waterfront.  We explored the nearby suburb of San Vicente del Raspeig, Alicante’s university district.  We discovered the Mercado Central and the downtown walking and shopping areas.  We took in the Museo de Taurinos, the Bullfight Museum, which is operated by the City of Alicante and free to the public.  We visited the 17th century Cathedral of Saint Nicholas on the ABC tour (the Another Blessed Cathedral tour for newer readers).  We have also visited the Museum of Chocolate, shopped at the Open Market, and we have eaten tapas, empañadas and seafood paella.

Bullfighting still takes place in Alicante.  The city runs a bullfighter school for young aspiring bullfighters.

Bullfighting still takes place in Alicante. The city runs a bullfighter school for young aspiring bullfighters.

The Valor Chocolate Company is still family owned.  They produce a variety of chocolates including these designer goodies.  The ones in front use various liqueurs.  The quality compares with the best we have tasted.

The Valor Chocolate Company is still family owned. They produce a variety of chocolates including these designer goodies. The ones in front use various liqueurs. The quality compares with the best we have tasted.

There is much more we can see and do in and around Alicante.  Unfortunately, our sightseeing was cut short when Florence caught the flu.  Other than catching the flu, our first month in Spain has been pleasant by every account. 

All photos copyrighted by Florence Lince

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14 comments on “Our New Home on the Costa Blanca

  1. reocochran says:

    I had my hopes up for you to be inhabiting that grand apartment with the beautiful view! I love the fact you included the training of the bull fighters and chocolate candy company that is still family owned. I wish you to find a place that is ‘just right’ for the two of you, cozy and comfortable, too! Smiles, Robin

  2. nantubre says:

    My mouth is watering over the chocolates. Please tell Florence that someone in Louisiana is praying for her health.

    • Mike Lince says:

      I will pass your thoughtful message along, Nan. Your prayers must be working. She is feeling better today than she has all week. Still a cough, but no fever. Thank you. – Mike

  3. Oh my! SUCH a spectacular place to land! Each new post, I’m more amazed. It looks amazing, Mike. I have to admit, while I’ve always been intrigued by bull fighting, I’m not sure I could actually watch them kill a bull. I know they don’t do it as often now (kill), but it would still freak me out. You must watch this video. It’s one of my favorite songs and the bull fighting them is just incredible. I think it’s a stunning video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNYjOVo5IEw&feature=kp
    Can’t wait to see more of the Riviera Blanca!

    • Mike Lince says:

      Bullfighting is not something that would interest me. Nonetheless, it has played a big part of Spanish culture and we found the museum quite interesting. There was even a tribute poster to a matador the fans nicknamed ‘El Lince’, the Lynx.

      There are only a handful of provinces that regularly practice bullfighting. It is banned entirely in Barcelona and the rest of the Catalan region. It is still a big deal in the south of Spain. However, the animal protection movement is gaining support leading to non-lethal bullfighting and limits on the number of bullfights.

      February 20 is our moving day. I will have lots more from our new base in Torrevieja soon. BTW – Your video was cool – great song and graphics. Thank you for sharing. – Mike

  4. It looks like a wonderful place Mike – so beautiful! And I’m sure a month of decompressing and exploring your new “home turf” has been just what you both needed. So sorry that Florence caught the flu. Please give her our best – we’re sending some virtual chicken soup. 🙂

    Have you already moved into your new place, or is that coming up? And I know you said you took a slightly different approach this time – having a place to stay while you searched for an apartment. Sounds like a great approach. Would you recommend this to others? ~Terri

    • Mike Lince says:

      We move to Torrevieja on February 20. We were quite fortunate to have found a house-sharing couple to help us get established. There are advantages and disadvantages. On the plus-side is that we made new friends and the helped us immensely. That is never a guarantee. It has been economical in that we cook our own meals and we got a good deal on the rent. One the minus-side is that we never fully unpacked knowing the arrangement was temporary, so it still feels a little like camping out. For that reason we will be grateful to settle into our own place.

      Florence thanks you for the get-well wishes. She is definitely on the mend. – Mike

  5. quilterjo says:

    Oh, there are so many things I could comment on. Again your presentation is beautiful and portrays the things you have seen and experienced beautifully. I could almost picture myself there. The cathedral is gorgeous and makes me excited because my new parlour is going to have a lot of cream halfway up the room and onto the ceiling. (With beautiful woodworking designed and crafted by my husband, Craig). The scenery is beautiful and the your descriptions of the little shops etc. sound so delightful. I have such a desire to go to Europe; but I don’t think it is going to happen. I am glad you didn’t comment to much on the bullfighting — I think it is a terrible sport. But the information you did give was informative. Thanks again for a wonderful tour — so sorry the flu season hit,

    • Mike Lince says:

      I agree about the bullfighting. We are not into blood sports either. We were interested in the role it has played in Spanish culture like Flamenco dancing – something exclusively Spanish.

      I look forward to sharing much more once we are settled and we begin exploring in earnest once again. Good luck with your home designing, and thank you for the kind words and for following. – Mike

  6. spencercourt says:

    One of the things I enjoyed during three weeks in Spain were the long lunches – typically two hours in Madrid and Barcelona but three hours in Andalucia.

    I ate more than my share of Valor chocolates but bought them in department or grocery stores as we did not see any Valor stores.

    We had apartments when in the south and a typical breakfast was eggs and chorizo followed by churros and chocolate at a nearby churrascaria. Sure wish I could find chorizo where i live (North Florda).

    • Mike Lince says:

      The restaurants in our area are strictly breakfast and lunch. I will say they have serve us the freshest tasting restaurant food I have had in a long time. We are still adjusting to the long afternoon siesta-time, although we have not been here during the hot weather. We may come to appreciate the siesta-time more than at present. Thank you for sharing your comments. – Mike

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