Alicante, Spain

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Alicante is on the south east coast of Spain. 

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The port is conveniently right in the middle of town and the city has great beaches running along it’s shores.

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The Castle of Santa Barbara sits above the city on Mount Benacantil.   We took a Hop on-Hop off bus up to the top.

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Great views!

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We spotted the bull ring.

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This castle is pretty barren except for the soldiers posted around the ramparts to defend against invaders.

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Here is a wall of pot shards found in excavations.

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We hopped off the bus downtown to see the Mercado Central.

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Then we stopped for lunch where we had a nice view of the Plaza de Luceros.

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Fried calamari, croquettes and potatas bravas.  This potatas bravas was home made potato chips with a tomato type sauce.  Different regions have there own styles.  My favorite was near Barcelona – fried cubed potatoes with more of an aioli sauce. 

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More pics of Plaza de Luceros.

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We walked past the Ayuntamiento (town hall).

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Inside there is a plaque showing how far from sea level different cities in Spain are.  Alicante, of course, is near “0”.

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The Basilica of Santa Maria was built between 1721 and 1728.

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We wrapped up our visit with a stroll along the lovely Paseo Explanada de Espana.  It is paved with 6.5 million marble tiles.

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This beautiful day called for gelato!

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Back in Barcelona

Barcelona might just be our favorite city in Europe.  Every time we visit we find something new to see.  (Click here to check out our prior visits to Barcelona.)

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Gaudi’s Casa Batllo was new for us.  We’d passed it often and taken pictures but this time I was determined to see inside.  Designed in 1904, it was actually a remodel of an existing classical house that Gaudi designed and built in 1877.  The second owner, Joseph Batllo, wanted something totally unique and gave Gaudi free rein. 

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Everything in this house is curvy and organic.

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This central atrium brings in lots of light.

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The rooftop is fantastical too!

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No, they are not on their phones.  The handsets are used for the tour – in many different languages.

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The neighboring houses have some great features too.  All these homes are on Passeig de Gracia … my favorite street  Smile

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Every trip to Barcelona includes at least a drive by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia to see how it’s coming along.   2028 is the estimated final completion date.  Gaudi began building the church in 1883.

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You can see the older construction on the left and the newer cleaner stone on the right.

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The last time we toured inside the church there was lots of scaffolding.  Now the central sanctuary is finished and they can hold services while the work outside continues.  Inside is awesome!

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It feels light and airy.  You can’t stop looking up.

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Just a few blocks from the Sagrada Familia is the Hospital de la Santa Creu  i Sant Pau.

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This UNESCO Art Nouveau site opened to the public in 2014 after four years of refurbishing work.  The Hospital dates back to 1401 when six Barcelona hospitals were merged.  In 1902 a legacy was left by a banker, Pau Gil, to build a new hospital.  It was designed by architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner, a contemporary of Gaudi.  Sant Pau officially opened in 1930 and served the city of Barcelona until June 2009.  The plan of the hospital included 27 separate pavilions, each assigned a specific medical specialty.  They are linked together by underground galleries. 

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This model shows the layout of the first dozen buildings.  Below is the complex in real life.

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The administration building and twelve of the pavilions were built in the Catalan Modernist style.  We were led on an excellent tour of the main building, the tunnels, two of the pavilions and the gardens.   

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This is what one of the pavilions looked like in the early days of the hospital.  Over the years the tiles were covered and walls were added.  Even floors were added to make two stories in the tall space.  Now the pavilions are being brought back to their original design.

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The story behind the lavish admin building is that so much of the original gift was spent on its construction that there was not enough money left to finish the pavilions.  The rest of the project was made possible by legacies from former patients and their families.

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Sant Pau continues to be a medical research center and home to many international organizations in the fields of healthcare and education. 

And it’s an extraordinary museum of Art Nouveau architecture. 

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