Last weekend I flew to Spain to meet up with a British girlfriend (we’ll call LH) who lives there, and it was so much fun! We were roommates during our respective study abroad programs in France in 1992-93. And I remember her fondly not just for being a great roommate and a wonderful friend but for also taking me around town on a pub crawl on my milestone 21st birthday while we visited her family in Cambridge over the Christmas holidays. She’d also popped over to see me once when I was living in Florida. And I’d popped over to visit her later when she was living in Manchester.

Now that we were on the same continent, we had to get together! We’d talked about trying to get my family down to meet her family…husbands and sons and all. But it looked like it was going to be a bit expensive and take a bit of logistical coordination. So in the end, we decided it would be much easier, cheaper and possibly more fun to just have a girls’ weekend somewhere in between. I was originally thinking Paris or Madrid, but we eventually settled on something quieter in the town of Alicante. And it turned out to be a perfect host city. Paris or Madrid wouldn’t have been nearly as relaxing.

I flew down on Friday from London and arrived around 4:00pm. It was a short €20 cab ride from the municipal airport to the Hotel Sercotel Spa Porta Maris, and we were right on a pier in the heart of the city with a lovely view along the harbor on one side and a Mediterranean beach on the other. After I checked in, I leisurely made my way down to the lounge for a glass of wine, a bite to eat and a view of the sea while I waited for my friend.

Flying into Alicante on a little prop plane from Madrid.

Flying into Alicante on a little prop plane from Madrid.

View of downtown from the hotel balcony.

View of downtown from the hotel balcony.

A little dinner on the Mediterranean.

A little dinner on the Mediterranean.

LH still had to work that day, so she drove up from Lorca a few hours later and arrived around 9:30pm armed with bottles of Spanish wine and cheese, olives, tomatoes, and a baguette. Needless to say, we stayed up until all hours of the night with the door to the balcony open wide eating, drinking and catching up on the last 15 years…and it was like no time had passed.

The next morning, we took advantage of the spa at our hotel and spent a good two hours soaking in the dry sauna, the steam room, the swimming pool, and three temperatures of Jacuzzi hot tub…although technically one of them was freezing cold. What a fantastic way to spend a morning!

As my official local tour guide, LH then gave me the choice of how we should spend our day…siteseeing at the local museums and the nearby ninth-century Santa Bárbara Castle, or sidewalk café-hopping in the sun. I chose option two, and we spent the rest of the day wandering along the wide Esplanada de España and through the narrow streets dotted with palm trees, tiled street signs and pastel buildings looking for suitable cafés, tapas restaurants and cervecerias.

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The lovely long esplanade with wavy marble design.

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Sidewalk cafe (behind the bus stop)…pastel buildings…and castle.

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Yours truly enjoying a “tinto de verano”…aka a “red wine of summer.”

LH as we wandered through the backstreets and alleys.

LH as we wandered through the backstreets and alleys.

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Pretty Soho cafe in the square Portal de Elche with four old Moreton Bay Fig Trees.

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Colorful tile street sign.

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Sunset at the harbor.

Eventually we made it back to the hotel for a rest, a little more wine and food to fortify us for the evening, and then we stepped across the street for some international karaoke. The place was relatively empty when we arrived at 10:30pm, but by the time we left at midnight, it was full. They also had a great selection of songs in English, Spanish and French (and probably German and Italian)…all of which we heard that night and made for a great European flair.

The next morning didn’t dawn quite so pleasantly. But we still managed to get a bit of a sleep in, and then I had to pack for the airport. It was a quick trip, but it was so wonderful to see my friend again and have a chance to catch up and relax and enjoy each other’s company in such a lovely setting. We should make it an annual event!! Here’s hoping that we will still be able to get the boys together someday before the little ones are off to college. 😉

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