Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Day Trip to Alicante

Alicante is a city in Spain that is home to the Santa Bárbara Castle (Castillo de Santa Bárbara). The Santa Bárbara Castle sits on top of a mountain, high above the city, with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coast. Alicante is also known for their beaches, shopping and nightlife. I think Alicante is extremely underrated compared to Santorini, the Almalfi Coast, Paris, Barcelona, Dubai or London, to name a few. 
If you ever plan a trip to Spain, include Alicante on your itinerary & you can thank me later ;). If you are a student studying abroad in Valencia or just traveling there, I would HIGLY recommend taking a day trip to Alicante. It is only a little over an hour train ride from Valencia.
To give you an estimate of the distance from cities by train:
Alicante --> Barcelona: aprox. 5 hour train ride
Alicante --> Madrid: aprox. 2 hour train ride
Valencia --> Barcelona: aprox. 3.5 hour train ride
Valencia --> Madrid: aprox. 1.5 hour train ride
Train tickets are extremely inexpensive. We paid 16,10€ ($17.73) for our ticket, there and back. 
Before my trip to Spain, I went on Pinterest and searched "Spain." After many hours of looking through pins, I came across Alicante. There was a picture of white houses stacked on top of each other with pink and blue flowers and I thought it was Greece until the location said "Alicante, Spain." I googled how far it was from Valencia and immediately sent Abby the picture I found on Pinterest and told her we needed to go there. She thought it was gorgeous and was on board with my idea. I think Alicante was the thing I was most excited about when traveling to Spain.
CC booked the tickets online and she said the only thing we had to do was open our ticket on the Wallet app on our iPhone. Thankfully, CC was used to booking train tickets and catching trains because without her, I am not sure Abby and I would have made our way through the train station and to the castle. 
We chose an early departure time so we would have almost the whole day in Alicante. The train left Valencia at 7:17am and arrived in Alicante at 9:08am. Once we got there, we had to take the subway (metropolitano) to a different part of town that was closer to the castle. This was cool because we got to experience the underground transportation in Spain (the ticket was only 1,40€).
When we got to the castle, we found a sign saying, "Santa Bárbara Castle" so we assumed that was where we needed to start walking uphill. We weren't sure if we were at the right 'entrance' since the castle sat way up on a mountain and you weren't able to see it from the street we were on. Once we started walking uphill, we saw the castle way off in the distance but we were walking on a road with no sidewalk and no one else was around. We didn't think it was the right way but there were no signs saying not to walk on the road sooo we kept going. On our hike up, there was a platform overlooking the city so we stopped to take some pictures. All of us were in awe of what we were seeing. It was like nothing I have never seen before. You could see mountains off in the distance and the whole view of the city. 
We kept walking and finally we got a point where there was a sidewalk and we saw more people. The higher we kept walking, the prettier the views became. Every time we got a little further up, we stopped to take a picture. It took us 45 minutes to get to the entrance off the castle because of how many times we stopped for pictures (totally worth it, though)!
Once we got to the castle we could see the Mediterranean coast, so at this point our views were of the whole city, the mountains off in the distance and the Mediterranean coast. The three of us just kept snapping photos and drooling over the views. When we finally reached the top of the castle, all of us probably said "I cannot get over this" or "this is the most beautiful view I have ever seen" at least 300 times. The top of the castle was the BEST view, obviously.
When it was time to start heading back down, we started walking down a different way than the way we came up. There was a walking path so I think that was the path we were supposed to hike up rather than the road we hiked up, lol.. oops (they should have better signs and directions!!). Halfway through the hike down, we spotted the row of white houses! We stopped for a few minutes to wander the streets then we made our way to the bottom and walked across the street to the beach. We had to go in a beat-up restaurant to change into our bathing suits (soo gross). The beach was so pretty because you could see the whole castle behind you. It was lined with restaurants and shops which also made it super cute. We grabbed a drink at one of the restaurants before we headed back to the station and we also did some shopping on our way back.
On the train ride back to Valencia, CC said she was so happy we chose to do Alicante over Madrid!!

Our schedule
7:17-9:08am: train ride to Alicante
10:52am: purchased our metropolitano ticket 
11:11am-12:04pm: hiking up the mountain while stopping to take pictures
12:04pm: arrived at the entrance of the castle
12:04-1:04pm: kept walking towards the top of the castle 
1:04pm: made it to the top of the castle
1:45pm-2:15pm: walked back down
2:15-2:45pm: made our way to the beach
2:45-4:05pm: beach
4:05-5:00pm: ate
5:00-7:15pm: walk back to the station while doing some shopping on the way
7:15pm: at the train station waiting to board the train

Soooo, between the Santa Bárbara Castle, Mediterranean coast, Greece knock-off and good shopping,  Alicante is definitely worth a day trip!


^^^ the best beer I have ever had **highly recommend trying

Outfit details:
Target Active Long Sleeve (similar), F21 LeggingsNike SneakersRay-Ban Sunglasses, Swimsuit purchased from a boutique in Spain (similar pattern, similar style here & here), Francesca's Cover Up (similar here & here)
xo, brittany

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