In May and June of 2010, Perry spent several weeks in Alicante, Spain on a University of Tennessee study abroad trip. While there, he took a Spanish class and lived with a Spanish host. He absolutely loved his time in Alicante where he was able to learn and practice his Spanish, spend his afternoons on the beach, and explore different parts of Spain and Europe with his classmates. Sounds like a pretty nice way to study abroad, right?

When planning this trip, we knew that we wanted to come to Spain and struggled with where we wanted to go. Spain is an amazing country with SO many places to see and explore. They have big cities, small villages, mountains, beaches, castles, cold weather, warm weather and everything in between. Figuring out where to go in a short period of time can be quite the conundrum. One place that we knew we wanted to visit though was Alicante. Perry has such fond memories of his time there, and to be able to return and show me around was something he has wanted to do for a while.

For those unfamiliar with Alicante, it is a small city located along the east coast of Spain, to the east of Madrid, north of Malaga, and south of Barcelona and Valencia. It sits on the beach with amazing mountains to the west of it. Alicante, in my opinion, is the perfect size city for a wonderful getaway to the beach where you can walk everywhere and find delicious food on every corner. Plus there’s a castle/fortress that sits almost in the middle of the city overlooking the water…I mean, what more could you want in a city?

When we arrived in Alicante earlier this week, we were greeted by the most beautiful sunset out the window of our AirBnB. Amazing sunsets seem to be a theme in this city because every night we were there, the sky would fill with beautiful oranges, pinks and purples as the sun tucked itself behind the mountains.

Most of our time was filled with views of the charming buildings and the water as we walked through the city and along La Rambla and La Esplanada next to the port. La Esplanada is paved with beautiful tile work and lined with palm trees- its one of the most picturesque places you can imagine. The port was filled with boats of all shapes and sizes. And La Rambla was lined with beautiful buildings and restaurants filled with people.

One day, we visited el Castillo de Santa Barbara (the Santa Barbara Castle). The castle sits above the city on top of the most interesting mountain/rock formation. It was first established in the 9th century as a Moor fortress and has undergone many transformations over the years into more of a castle, most recently in the 19th century. It was so interesting to explore, but even more so, it had amazing views overlooking the city on all sides. As you can imagine, it is quite windy on top of a mountain with nothing to block the wind, and we went on a day with wind gusts over 40 mph so please excuse all pictures with my crazy hair :)

We also spent quite a bit of time at the beach, soaking up the sun and walking along the water. It was so nice and relaxing.

Alicante has the most delightful Old Town area where homes are built into the hills. To see and explore them one evening was wonderful. And as we worked our way up through the winding streets, we eventually made it to another amazing sunset view at the top.

Similar to Madrid, we found plenty of delicious Spanish food. We ate lots of paella alicantina, croquetas and calamari to name a few dishes. Perry was even able to get me to try local mussels, and as a person who strongly dislikes most seafood, even I thought they were delicious. It was probably mostly the sauce that I liked, but Perry counts it as a win :)

As I mentioned before, while Perry was in Alicante, he stayed with a Spanish host. When we knew that we would be back there, Perry reached out to his sweet senora, Rosa, to see if we could meet her for lunch. Thankfully she was in town, and we were able to go out to lunch with her one day where we enjoyed several aperitivos (appetizers) at a couple different restaurants around Alicante. On top of this, in her kindness, she also had us over to her home for lunch the next day where she made us traditional Spanish pollo y patatas (chicken and potatoes). It was DELICIOUS to say the least. After eating out for almost every meal over the last 3+ months, to have a home-cooked meal was such a treat!

Rosa’s kindness and generosity is something that both of us will remember forever. For her to give up her time and open up her home to us meant so much. It was so nice to be able to talk and learn from her about her culture and to better understand Spain. It’s easy to spend time somewhere and think that you know a place, but you really don’t truly know it until you know the people and hear their stories. Rosa allowed us to have a little glimpse into life in Spain and for that, we are truly grateful.

In thinking about our time with Rosa, I’m reminded of a quote by Mother Teresa: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.” Many times while we were with Rosa, she would look at us and say, “Are you happy? I want you all to be happy and have a good time here.” It was so kind. It’s so easy to go through life only caring about our own happiness and maybe the happiness of our family and close friends. But to care for the happiness of everyone we meet is taking it one step further than we often want to go. But what a beautiful thought that no one should ever leave our presence without being better off and happier from being with us. And no, we can’t control how people feel and act. But I think we should make every effort to leave them better than we found them. And I must say, that each time we walked away from spending time with Rosa, we were happier and had smiles on our faces.

So for today, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be in this country and to now say that I have a friend in Spain. I’m reminded of the importance of hospitality and inviting people into our lives. And I’m trying to spread more joy and kindness wherever I go. May no one ever come to us “without leaving better and happier.”


Popular posts from this blog

“Welcome home.”