Saturday, November 18, 2006

Espana - Alicante - November 18, 2006

The area of Alicante has been inhabited for about 7000 years, first by early tribes and later by Greeks, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors.

We had quite a nice day in Alicante today first going to an open air market in the downtown area, then going to the top of the fortress that looks over Alicante and at one time protected the bay area, then we went to an exposition on the faces of Jesus. Finally, that evening we went to Julie's host family's home for the evening dinner.

The open air market is quite an eye opener with 100+ booths selling anything from shoes to scarves to clothing in one long lane and then two parallel lanes selling foods, spices, chocolates, fruits and vegetables. Many of the locals use this market to stock up on fresh produce twice per week.

After the market it was a short walk to the base of the Castillo de Santa Barbara a centuries old castle built on the summit of mount Benacantil at 166m above sea level. It was quite a hike to get to the summit but we made it to the top and were treated with a beautiful panaramic view of the entire region and took several beautiful pictures.

The exposition on the faces of Jesus was actually in three locations but we chose to go to only one in the Concatedral de San Nicolas. The Cathedral was recently renovated and sits in the heart of downtown accessible only on foot as the streets are very narrow and appear to be shut off from normal car access. Inside the cathedral is a series of paintings, statues, and ornamental pieces all devoted to the Christian faith and mass. The exposition attempts to answer why so many cultures and peoples represent Jesus differently in appearance from blue haired blond to dark and swarthy in complexion. Pretty church and what must be priceless memorabilia but maybe because so much was in Spanish (there were a few English subtitles) I missed the point of the exposition.

Leaving the exposition we went to the seafront promenade (Paseo de la Explanada) an absolutely stunning walkway along the harbor frontage built in 1957 with more than six and a half million small tiles. After that we went back to the Hotel MIO CID to rest up until time for dinner and Julie went back to her room to rest as well. I ended up going for a run on the Alicante beach. Wow! Totally gorgeous and it just goes on for miles. True to form I did not try to return the way I came and ended up getting lost for a while and what should have been a 45 minute run turned into 90 minutes! But ... were those beaches nice or what!