The last two stops of our Trans-Atlantic Crossing were in the cities of Alicante and Valencia along the southern coast of Spain. They were little slices of paradise, each one beautiful and special in their own way. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours ashore in each city, which merely whetted my appetite to explore more of this amazing country.
After several weeks of rainy, overcast skies and sloshing, whitecapped seas, we were treated to a warm and sunny day in Alicante, a coastal city of about 300,000 people. From the moment I got off the boat I was in love. It was only a short walk from the port to the city, where we came across an ornate marbled promenade that tracked the coast for a mile or so. Just off the promenade were beachside restaurants where people sat enjoying paella, sangria, and sunshine. Nearby, an ancient castle stood on a hill overlooking the entire city.
While the cruise offered several tempting shore excursions, we chose to simply wander around and enjoy the beautiful weather. I loved all of the colorful, pedestrian walkways and the random art installations. Our walk included stops at a couple quirky shops, a grocery store to buy some wine to share with our table mates (you can bring up to two bottles on board), and an enjoyable visit to a local market.
I’ve already mentioned how much I like grocery stores, but markets are even better. There’s something about the craftsmanship on display that makes each booth special. However, my favorite part is watching the shoppers. Watching the locals visiting all their favorite stands, I like to pretend that the market is my market, too. What color shopping tote would I have? Which stall owners know my name? Do I get my usual, or ask for a recommendation for something new? It might be a bit silly, but it’s a fun way to feel a part of the community, if only for a little while.
The limited amount of time we had in Alicante wasn’t nearly enough. Due to our limited budget, we didn’t get the chance to try out any of the local delicacies, nor did we climb the hill to explore the castle. This is one of the downsides to cruising, that each stop isn’t enough time to really get to know a place. Thankfully, we’ve got the time to come back and visit.
Thankfully, our time in Spain wasn’t completely over. We had one more stop in the nearby city of Valencia. If our time in Alicante was too short, then it was way too short in Valencia. The city hosts a population of 2 million people and is packed with things to see, experience, and eat. Once again, the weather turned poor on us, cutting our exploration time down even further, so we didn’t even see a fraction of what Valencia has to offer.
Although we were dying to see the beautiful and modern City of Arts and Culture, we were limited to the port area due to rain and high transportation costs. However, it did clear up long enough to enjoy the feel of solid ground underfoot before our last day at sea. Needless to say, we are planning to return to Valencia as soon as we can so that we can see all this beautiful city has to offer.
After 14 days on the ocean, we finally landed at Rome’s nearest port, Civitavecchia. After all is said and done, I am still very happy that we took the cruise instead of an airplane. We met some amazing people, ate some great food, and got some much needed exercise, relaxation, and peace of mind. It was a little more expensive than flying, but for all we got to experience, it was definitely worth it. The boat pulled into port, and it was time to for our European adventure to begin.
And what a way to start! As soon as we landed, we hefted our backpacks and said goodbye to the ship, then hopped on a bus into town, hiked to the nearest train station, rode the train into Rome, then finally got on another bus, this one taking us overnight to Germany, all so that we could reach our next house sit THE FOLLOWING DAY. It was a hectic adventure, but more on that next time 😉