I learned of Alicante from friends, whose family owns an apartment there, which we stayed. Upon arrival, we found ourselves staying in a beachfront area called Guardamar del Segura for a few nights. Little did I know on arrival that it would be a life changing trip.
Upon arrival we were half senile and starving. After an hour of trying to figure out how to get in the apartment, turn on lights and throw on some deodorant after 36 hours of travel we could not wait to eat some tapas. Patatas Bravas, Jamon, Paella, we couldn’t wait. We ended up in the worst restaurant around, it was the only one open. At 10! I’d share the name so others don’t make the same mistake but can’t recall, for good reason. I will never forget this meal. We knew it would be bad when we saw the place. Shabby Chic white wicker patio furniture, white doily table cloths, and napkins. It was a 90 year old Grandmother’s dream. We ordered the only 2 edible sounding things on the menu. Salmon with Dill Sauce & Tomato Soup. The Salmon was drowned in the dill sauce. It was as if an entire bottle of ranch dressing (or 2) was drowning an 8 Oz Salmon filet on a white plate. Tomato Soup sounds like a bad translation for Gazpacho. Nope. I’m pretty sure the restaurant owners took ketchup, added vinegar and or water, boiled it, added some BBQ Sauce and served it in a white French onion soup crock with a lid on it, added a doily and voila- dinner is served. You’ll know the place if you see it- steer clear.
Guardamar was a small area of larger complexes with pools, beach front. More fit for families, crowded beaches, so we did a bit more exploration into the town, rather than relaxing on the beach. Since laying on a beach next to a hundred strangers and screaming kids is neither a fun nor relaxing time, we hopped in the car to explore town.
The Boardwalk in Guardamar- Guardamar did have a really nice beachside boardwalk with lots of restaurants and places to have a drink, and Gelato. Many of them on the main ‘strip’ are pretty tourist with the ‘tourist’ lunch menu (all menu’s I suggest to avoid anywhere you go) but there was a sand castle building contest, and it was about 90 or 100 degrees out- gelato time. One of the best 2 Gelatos I have had my entire life- Crema Catalana Gelato. Homemade, rich, vanilla gelato with a hint of lemon had specs of burnt caramel swirl and pistachios mixed in, this was a gelato game changer. Still looking for the flavor back in the states now 4 years later. Other than the Gelato, wasn’t much to do in town, I’d recommend nearby Alicante.
There is a lot to do and see in Alicante proper. We only visited for a day, and felt it was enough to see the main sites.
Castillo de Santa Barbara– Many seem to take a bus or taxi/car service to the top and view the seaside landscape from the top. Surprisingly however, there is a fantastic park and well paved trail to take to the top. We only say 2 other people on the trail, and experiences the views unspoiled by tourists. The trail is really easy to find. There is also a Michelin Starred Restaurant off the trail with glass windows and brilliant views of the sea, I’d recommend grabbing a drink on the way down. The castle is a bit hilly on the inside, and the rocks have been weathered slippery by the sun and the rain. Don’t be like me and wear heels, and break the heels. (For the record I still have these shoes today!)
I have to admit, It was killing me the last few days that I couldn’t think of the name of the restaurant we went to for dinner, that we stumbled upon, and did not find in any guide book or recommendation. Facebook had some good timing for me today, 4 years ago mu husband uploaded photos from our trip on Facebook- a few of which were pics of the restaurant. And he put the name.
I don’t know about you but I can’t think of a bad meal I ever had anywhere with a chalkboard menu. While looking for a dinner place we found it- El Portal. Chalkboard Menu- Check, Bar top seating- check, Good Smells- Check, Jamon Legs hanging, Jamon Leg on counter- Check. Let’s eat here. Good thing we did. In looking up the address I also see they have won some awards now since too, and are listed as #10 restaurant in Tripadvisor (I know I said I’d avoid these types of places but I’m sticking with my guns on this one- they won awards in 14, and 15- 2 years after we were there!) Can’t remember what we ate but again the point is that we stumbled upon it.
After dinner, take a walk down Las Ramblas. Bustling with street vendors, live music, and an open air market, it’s the perfect way to unwind.
Castillo de Santa Barbara http://www.castillodesantabarbara.com/index_en.html
El Portal- http://elportaltaberna.com/english/
La Ereta- http://laereta.es/#_=_