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Altea The Dome Of The Mediterranean

As you approach Altea, Alicante either from the south coming from Benidorm or from the north from Calpe or Denia, the blue mosaic domes of the church are its landmark telling you that you have arrived at one of the most beautifully landscaped tourist areas on the Costa Blanca, Spain. Altea seems to have it all; the year round mild climate, cute little corners, its whitewashed houses, the marvellous views of the sea and the tranquil atmosphere that you breath when you are here is everything that anyone could ever dream of. It is a perfect example of how you can make privileged tourist area without hurting the natural surroundings and grace of the original town. Even with the massive construction and expansion of hotels and restaurantes, it has been respected and has not endangered its enchantment.

If you have come in a an economical flight to the Alicante Airport, the car hire offers are abundant and you can take a nice drive to Altea in about an hour on either the National freeway N-332 or on the pay highway AP-7. Or from the airport there are buses from the company called Ubesa which connects Alicante, Valencia and Benidorm. Just ask the driver to tell you when you get to the bar called Granada which is opposite the newly renovated train station. Or if trains seem more appealing, you go from the airport to the train station in Alicante and then on to one of the three stops made in Altea. The tourist that you will usually find in Altea are quite different than what you think. Many of the Spanish painters, writers and show business people take shelter there because of its tranquility.

These usually stay in the old neighbourhood near the church, the typical restaurants with either international cuisine or good home cooking and the quite sinnuous streets. There is a more modern part to the town at the foot of the hill, but still respecting the architecture of old. A spin around Altea The best way to get a close up look is to go on foot. Start at the Mestre La Musica Street, which looks like a long stone stairway leading you past small stone homes at uneven levels through a doorway into the walled town. From there upwards to the Mayor Street where you will lay your eyes on the simple church, centre of all cultural activities. The bohemian feeling and setting of the crafts market set up from Easter time to September by the local group of craftsmen characterizes this square.

The most outstanding monument is the church called the Church of the Virgen of the Consolation, constructed in 1910 on top of a very old and primitive parish. The interior is very ornately decorated and the blue tiles on its dome make it very mediterranean: each one of the tiles were hand painted. There used to be a castle next to it but there are hardly any remains left. If you want to see an entertaining and colourful show without paying or reserving a seat, go down to the docks to the public fish exchange market around six in the afternoon.

That is when the typical fishing boats come in with their capture and the bargaining begins for the restaurants and bars. But the most curious aspect is that it is done in Valencian, the local language and " at high speed"! What's to eat in Altea Thanks to the fantastic weather, every meal almost all year round can be had on the terraces overlooking the sea in the modern part along the Altea promenade. Do not miss the Bodegon de Pepe, originally decorated and serving great portions of mussels. For a nice dinner, the old area is quaint and relaxing, having menus for everyone's budget. And if you are looking for more excitement, then move onto Torrevieja for watersports or to Benidorm for a moving nightlife and shopping galore.

But first come into contact with your inner self at Altea. .

By: Ciara McNamara

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