Day 7 marked another beautiful day in Alicante. We headed to the botanical gardens in Elche.
Situated in the middle of a busy city of busy streets, buzzing voices and grey shutters is this tropical paradise of cacti, palm trees, pink and red petals, succulents and terrapins bathing next to pools and chattering strands of bamboo. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site the Huerto del Cura gardens have a collection of nearly one thousand palm trees from all over the globe with a hugely diverse range of both tropical and botanical Mediterranean plants. Such vast variety creates a wonderful environment of both scale and beauty.
At the very centre of the garden is this huge palm which has branched out into multiple palm trees all from one trunk. Being slightly on the large size it is held together by steel girders which I can only presume are the control pants of the plant world.
The ponds, pools and promenades are influenced by Arab architecture and styles which are still prominent in this part of Spain.
And of course not forgetting the sweet gift shop selling things slightly more stylish than the usual postcards and fanta…
After our horticultural trip it was time to head to Alicante itself where a night’s stay in a beach-side hotel awaited. Whilst parts of Alicante around the beach boast tourist shops, sun-loungers to hire and fish-pedicures, the old part of the town still retains its historic charm and atmospheric winding streets.
We found a lovely traditional restaurant in the old part of the town and had the last item on our Spanish ‘to-eat’ list…paella! After enjoying our starters of seafood the waiter told us our paella was on its way and it was so large that we had to move to a larger table in order to accommodate it! Paella is a food to share so you each get a spoon and all that is left to do is dig in. The flavours are incredible and much richer than any paella I have ever attempted in the past. Perhaps it really is best to leave it to the Spaniards…
We finished dinner but had to stay put for a while until our food-babies had gone down but soon headed to the seafront where we found the best heladeria of the trip! Borgonesse had a queue out the front door so we knew the ice-cream was going to be good but didn’t quite realise just how good! I didn’t manage to get a good photo of all the flavours of offer due to the hoards of people crowding around the counter but you can take my word that there were a fair few to choose from.
Being another fiesta, the waterfront was in party mode! With fairground rides, food vans offering sizzling delights and mojito stalls there was something for everyone. African musicians attracted swarms of dancing crowds with their bongo-playing as people headed to the beach. It was gone eleven o’clock at night yet small children were still up running and playing in the sand whilst adults ate their picnics. Everyone had gathered in anticipation of the huge fireworks display which went off at midnight to celebrate my birthday (or so I like to think). Alicante had proven itself…it had great paella, great ice-cream and it really did know how to throw a great party.