Alicante During Semana Santa – Bank Holiday Getaway

the perfect rocky beach, villajoyosa

This past Easter Bank Holiday weekend was a whirlwind of activities. It was not only going to be a reunion with a good friend from High School and Uni, but also a relaxing 4 days for me whilst visiting my boyfriend, for whom I was also, incidentally, planning a surprise birthday party for. Additionally, the most important Semana Santa (or Holy Week) activities were to take place whilst we were to be there, making for an interesting, yet populated weekend away. While the aim was to do lots of fun activities, I was hoping to have a moment to just take in the sun…

We wanted to maximize the time we were going to be there so we had decided to fly out from London at 6 am, making it a 9:30 am arrival time for Alicante. For me, that meant I needed to catch the train on the Thursday and make the 2.5 hr journey down south, from Hull to London. I arrived at around 11 pm. My friend lives in the Notting Hill area, and we needed to be at the airport at 4 am to check in. That meant that we had to catch the 3 am bus from her neighborhood. There was no point in sleeping for a measly few hours, so we opened a bottle of wine, and caught up on all the life events that had happened to us since we last really saw each other. Before we knew it, it was time to leave. Of course, no adventure is complete with out a few things not going according to plan. We had a couple of mishaps (ie – a passport was left behind and we had to return for it) so we had to take an Über to Luton airport. But after we got through security, we felt a great sense of calm and excitement for the day ahead.

relaxing on the beach in villajoyosa

My boyfriend picked us up from the airport, and we went back to his place. I desperately wanted a shower, so my friend rested while I quickly showered and got ready. The first plan of the day was to hit the beach. There is a gorgeous, sandy beach right by D’s flat, but it’s usually over-crowded with tourists. We drove about 20 minutes to his friend’s new favorite beach hang out, El Xarco, in Villajoyosa. While it didn’t have any sandy parts, what it lacked in sand it made up in dogs. It’s perfectly dog friendly, and we had a fab time watching other people’s pups play around in the water, surrounded by some of my favorite people. We had wine (duh) and lots of yummy food that D’s friends brought for the picnic.

nap time in El Xarco Beach

The breeze was perfect and relaxing and the sounds of the waves and doggies running around soothed me. I think I had about an hour nap under the tent that was set up…

That night, we went into Alicante to watch the Semana Santa Processions. Although I’ve seen bits of it before when I studied abroad in 2009, it was still really interesting to see again.

Semana Santa Alicante Horn

This is a photo of a ceremonial Horn that is sounded on Good Friday. I’m not quite sure what it symbolized, but it was very interesting to witness. The crowds were very quiet at this time.

Semana Santa Alicante Las Manolas

These women dressed in black are called “Las Manolas”. They were formed as a sisterhood and would traditionally show the different advocacies of the Virgin Mary, and ultimately demonstrate devotion to the Holy Mother during Semana Santa.

The Crucified Christ was then carried through the city and there was an air of respect. It was all very symbolical and very different to what I’m used to, whilst celebrating Good Friday with my family back home.

Semana Santa Alicante Cruz

This last portion of Good Friday’s Procession was where they marched into the cathedral and Christ was then placed ‘in his tomb’ in preparation for Resurrection Sunday. If you guys have been following me on Snapchat or Instagram, I’m sure you have seen some of the images/snaps of the “Nazarenes“. These people (traditionally men) would dress up in a robe and pointy hat (appearing very similar to the garb the KKK wear in the US) and would carry the cross and the religious relics to the cathedral. I just wanted to point out that these people have NOTHING to do with those degenerate red necks in the US; the KKK corrupt every good and innocent thing that they touch, including this beautiful Semana Santa tradition from Spain. Their robes and hoods are an ancient traditional garb symbolizing penitence and raising everyone’s focus upwards towards the heavens, not symbolizing hate and violence.

This beautiful ceremony, demonstrating some of the oldest and most important cultural traditions of this region, came to a close. And we were starting to get very hungry! After walking around Alicante City Centre for a bit, we finally decided on the restaurant El Colmado for a late, Spanish Style dinner.

el colmado menu alicante

This restaurant had some delicious tapas to choose from and obviously, wine. One of my favorites, apart from the jamón that we practically inhaled, was the fried eggplants with alliolí and the ensaladilla rusa.

tacos de berenjena con allioli de soja y miel de caña, el colmado, alicante

The following day, we finally had a chance to catch up on our sleep, so we woke up late. We had a breakfast at D’s house, full of (gluten free) toast and all sorts of toppings. I don’t know what it is, but coffee just tastes better in Spain. We decided that rather than going into Alicante first, we would go to Cabo de Huertas, a nearby cove that had some really scenic views (and I’m not talking about just the nudists… I’ll spare you those details).

Cabo de Huertas, San Juan

Honestly, the atmosphere was so relaxing, and we just sat on the rocks for about an hour, just taking in the sun, and me trying to stretch a little.

{Here, I’m doing some mediocre yoga moves. But also, love my Colorado Threads}

After our mini trip around the cove, we needed to come back home and take showers to get ready for the day, because we had a lunch reservation at 2:30 pm at Casa Julio (I will post about this delicious restaurant another day). This is the perfect place for some fresh seafood, paella, sangria, wine or any of their amazing tapas, along with a gorgeous view of the Mediterranean.

After eating loads of delicious food, we went up to the castle to explore a bit. It was so fun to be able to show my old stomping grounds to someone who knew me throughout high school. I have loved showing the Castle to my work friends in the past, and to my younger brother… It never gets old to me, because of how special a place it is.

{Us, pausing for a selfie, on the castle grounds}

We walked and walked, snapping photos, as we do, whilst admiring the stunning view of the city from up top. After we had our fill of snaps and instastories, we headed down to the old Barrio for some more exploring and taking in the picturesque streets (and taking more snaps, obviously).

alicante barrio

Casa en el Barrio de Alicante

el castillo de santa barbara

{The view of the Castle from the Barrio}

doors in alicante

picturesque plants, alicante

When you finally reach the highest point of the barrio, you will find the tiny, charming, Spanish-style Chapel of the Holy Cross. I’ve been up here so many times, yet I’ve never been lucky enough to enter. It plays an important role in the Processions of Semana Santa, because that is where they begin.

After the tour of the oldest part of the city, we went back down to the Con-cathedral of San Nicolas. We did not go in, but we took a few snaps of the square directly in front of it. I had forgotten how colorful the façades were. This is a lively area, with lots of cafes, restaurants and bars.

Plaza del Abad Penalva

All this playing tourist made for achy feet and for thirsty people. Taberna Alioli is right next to the cathedral, and while we weren’t hungry after our late afternoon lunch, we were definitely ready for some wine!

After all the walking around and visiting of Alicante, we drove back to San Juan and just had a relaxing evening. We went to a local bar for some food and drinks. My friend was leaving the following day, so it was her last night to take in the Spanish language and food. We had so much fun chatting and enjoying the company, that we didn’t even notice the time fly by.

The following morning, we had some time to explore a little bit of Campello, a neighboring village, and get a lunch there before she took off. There are some ruins of an Iberian/Roman settlement there, so we walked around that for a bit, prior to going to the restaurant. After food, we came back to D’s flat, and she packed her things. We dropped her at the airport and headed to D’s brother’s house.

What D didn’t know was that there was a surprise birthday party waiting for him there, with a lot of his closest friends! It was so exciting to see his reaction and the last surprise of the evening was his mountain-themed, birthday cake.

birthday cake, mountain theme

It was double chocolate on the insides, because he is a chocoholic, naturally. I mean, could I date someone who didn’t love chocolate as much as I did? Probably not.

The next day, we slept in again, had lunch with D’s parents and my trip ended where it started… On that peaceful, rocky beach in Villajoyosa…

Villajoyosa, Spain

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