Alicante

The heat of summer arrives and people flee the big cities and concrete jungles to head to the beach. In Europe, most people take a holiday in the month of August, since everyone gets at least a month of paid vacation, and enjoy a few weeks away from work. Alicante is a city and a province that really comes alive in the summer, being known for its beaches and nightlife. From Madrid there are buses or trains that you can take directly to the city’s downtown. When I got off the train, I was struck with a wave of heat and humidity that reminded me of Florida. Madrid is very arid so my body was not used to the humidity. It was close to 90 degrees everyday so I was relieved when we went shopping and there was air conditioning in the stores.

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We arrived at different times, my friend and I, but we were able to meet up at our hostel that was conveniently located near the boardwalk. We unpacked our bags, set up our room and headed out to explore the city. Along the beach are plenty of restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat before you head to the beach. On the beach, there are people who will come around, selling drinks shouting “Sangria fresca! Sangria very good!”

On Friday night, we walked around the town to see what there was to do. We saw in the distance a lot of lights and people heading out on a pier. When we went over there we saw there was a casino and a bunch of bars and clubs. The club promoters were very pushing and would chase after you with free drink coupons, which always sounded too good to be true. This was fine to do for our first night but we knew we needed to find something more exciting for Saturday night.

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The next day we walked around and did some shopping, mainly to get a break from the heat. We walked along the boardwalk and into the city center. After spending a few hours walking we decided that for dinner we wanted to have Mexican food, since we had both been out of the US for about a month and were missing it. Now, for those of you that don’t know, Spanish food and Mexican food have absolutely nothing in common. And no greater proof would be the dinner that we had.

We were seated at a table and the waiter brought over a plate of chips and salsa. The salsa was probably the closest to anything Mexican that we had. The spices were off but best of all they brought us 6 chips. That’s right, six. I could count them and so we each had our share. My friend read through the menu and really wanted a plate of tacos but couldn’t find tacos on the menu. When she asked the waiter, he looked at her like he had never even heard of that. What?! I thought the US was better at exporting its culture. Anyway, she ended up settling for something else and I picked fajitas, which I figured they couldn’t screw up since it is just sauteed vegetables and grilled meat. We did order guacamole for the table. It was obvious they tried but it was a miss. They used red onion, which can be an okay variation but then there was no cilantro or lime juice added so it was completely missing the flavor. Note to self, don’t bother with Mexican food in Spain.

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After dinner we headed back to our hostel to rest and get ready for the night. Or at least we tried to rest but all of a sudden there was a symphonic orchestra that was set up in a plaza two blocks away from our hostel. We decided to check it out. Sure enough, there were over 60 performers set up on stage in the middle of a neighborhood performing for about an hour. Only in Spain, or in storybooks, would this happen.

Later, there was a pub crawl that we joined so we could have locals take us around the town and show us a good time. We met up with the rest of the group at around 10pm. There were about 5 Italians, 5 Norwegians, 5 guys from France, and 2 girls from Germany in our group and we were all ready to let loose and have fun. Meeting people from all different countries is always exciting. They asked us where in the States we were from. My friend was from New York with which they were all familiar, but when I said Wisconsin most people looked puzzled. That was until I explained what we have there; beer, cheese and the Green Bay Packers. I kid you not that when I said that, one of the guys from Italy pulls out his phone, flips to a picture of him wearing an Aaron Rodgers jersey and tells me he loves the Packers. Packers fans are international. Enough said. I also thought it was interesting that here we all were, in Spain, and the language that we talked to each other in was English. I think out of the group my friend and I were the only ones that knew any Spanish. I just found that ironic.

We stopped at a few different bars and ended up at a club and were dancing until 4:30 in the morning, until we literally couldn’t stand anymore. As we walked back to our hostel, we found a crepe stand and both got crepes filled with Nutella, which was the best and messiest way to end the night, or start the morning, whichever way you look at it.

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In the morning, we woke up, packed our bags and headed to the beach until we had to depart. Nothing is better than laying out, listening to the waves crash while being warmed by the Mediterranean sun. Now sunbathing in Europe is what they say it is. The sun is strong so if you burn easily you will need to apply sunscreen often. Also, yes, women go topless and no one is ashamed of it or shy. It is not something that is required and in all honestly, nobody cares. It isn’t taboo or strange, but rather it is just so that women don’t get tan lines. So when you go to Europe, do what you want because overall, no one else is judging you. In Alicante, what happens there, stays there.

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