My parents sometimes vacation in this tourist-like complex in a little town called San Juan de Alicante in the east of Spain (the “Levante”). My father uses it as a base for diving trips, and sometimes I tag along to keep my mother company. When we arrived this year we found out that there was a new resident family in the garden – a family of squirrels that had apparently shown up travelling in trees that were going to be planted. The complex management decided to make squirrel-nurturing the local sport. Guests were encouraged to watch out for them, and leave them nuts. Also, there were educational signs about what was safe or unsafe to feed the little critters. I caught sight of them at some point or another.
One of the selling points of the complex – aside, of course, from the swimming pool and the great room service – are the big gardens, with lots of trees and plants, and the rescue bunnies. Now the squirrels came over to complete the scene.
31st July 2018: Chocolate & Lobster. Not together.
A meagre 20-minute-drive away from this little town stands the village of Villajoyosa, which translates into something akin to “The joyous village”. If you’ve never heard of it, I’ll just have you known that it has a chocolate factory, the Fábrica de Chocolates Valor, and the chocolate museum (and of course the shop). As it is a working factory, the visit is of course guided. We were told that there was usually a long queue, so we were there before 9:30 for the 10:00 visit, and we were quite literally the first to arrive. Once inside, you get to see what they call the museum, with a short video about how they used to and still make the chocolate, and you visit some of the old equipment. Then, there is a short trip around the factory using some hanging planks – when we were there, the production was halted due to pre-Christmas-campaign holidays. So FYI Christmas chocolate is made in August. The visit was done in one hour, and then we splurged in the shop.
After the visit we went back to the complex, where we had booked a made-to-order lobster “paella” (traditional rice dish) for lunch, and boy was it awesome. I totally sinned with the apple pie afterwards, too.
1st August 2018: Alicante
The day started awesomely with coffee and pancakes, and that alone worked to make me happy.
Besides, twenty minutes in the opposite direction from Villajoyosa we had Alicante. And we could also be lazy and not take the car out, we could just take the bus. We wanted to see the archaeological museum, Museo Arqueológico Provincial MARQ de Alicante, and that was out first stop. However, for some reason a bunch of pictures got lost – and I can only show you this of the library, where pictures were not allowed anyway. It was a… photography accident.
After the museum, we walked around the base of Monte Benacantil, the mount in the middle of Alicante – again, literally – until we were exactly on the opposite side to find the entrance to the Castillo de Santa Bárbara, Santa Bárbara’s castle. The castle is of Arab origin, it may have been built the 8th century. However, there are archaeological remains in the mount dating from prehistoric times. The castle gave the city of Alicante a vantage point towards any kind of threat, whether it originated on land or the ocean. The castle was reconstructed in the 16th century, and later, in the 18th century, it played a part in the war against the French.
After this we walked over to have lunch at a restaurant we had read over in the tourist complex magazine, a prime Japanese restaurant called Nigo, which has the best sushi I’ve ever tried outside Japan.
After that we headed back to the complex and planned our next move.
2nd August 2018: Valencia Diversion
My father was unable to go on his two planned diving outings, so we decided to head home early. However, he was feeling a little disappointed over the cancellation, and I suggested that maybe we could take a detour somewhere else instead. In the end, we decided to book a hotel in Valencia and use the time to visit the Oceanogràfic over there. This is a large aquarium complex. We also reserved a table at the “Submarine Restaurant” and had lunch there.
The aquarium opened in 2003 as part of a big project called “the city of art and science” in Valencia. It has a double layout, over- and underground. The underground area is the big aquariums are built, while the upper enclosures hold most the mammals and the birds.
Once we were done, we said goodbye to the sharks and hi to the nice sunset. Next morning we drove back home.