Alicante, Spain

Alicante, Spain. Playa De San Juan Fuji XPRO-2, Tom Rice-Smyth

Alicante, Spain

Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been on my annual vacation with the family. Every year we flee this sodden town of London for blue sky and warm sunshine and our fill of vitamin D and when we got back to London I was gripped around the throat by laziness! It was probably a reaction to the cold and monsoon rain here.

Alicante, Spain, was this years’ destination. We have always gone to Spain for our summer holidays mainly because of cost, it’s cheap and the guarantee of sunshine. This year was no exception; we basked in 36-degree weather with a beach that just couldn’t be beaten it was a paradise.

There were a few things about Alicante that took me by surprise. I was expecting to see a traditional Spanish town and I was quite looking forward to photographing it over my holidays, but it isn’t. I have to mention this is the first time we haven’t rented a car for the duration so we were stuck in the city. Although I have to say there is practically no street parking so that was the upside. On first inspection it looked like the whole place had sprung up since 1950, mostly ugly multistory apartments rarely a house and a few squares that did have old trees in them. Why? I’ll answer that soon, it was nothing I had ever thought. However, after reviewing my photos when we got home I did find a few that were interesting.

Anyway, lets get on to the good parts of Alicante. There were more good restaurants than one could ever want for (it’s a Spanish holiday destination), at least 20 within a 5-minute walk from our apartment. The apartment was in the old town. My wife soon found a restaurant with fresh mussels, which she loves almost as much as oysters and it was approximately 3 minutes from our front door, bonus! And my daughter found an ice cream shop that sells artisan ice cream called Laneu, which was just below our apartment.

Then there was the main city beach that was 10 minutes walking from our flat, although it was very crowded as it was at the bottom of the city. We went there twice and then found another beach that was 15 to 20 minutes by tram (Note: the trams are air-conditioned) and the beach was paradise on earth.

Playa De San Juan is an amazing beach. The journey started at the Mercado tram station and we got there via Tram line; L3: Luceros-El Campello. It cost approximately €4.35 one-way for 3 of us and we got off at the Les Llances stop. You pay for your return journey on the tram from a machine that takes coins, paper and cards. The beach was right there only feet from the tramline. We rented 3 lounge chairs and 1 umbrella for €16 per day, which is cheaper than we have ever paid in the past. We were no more than 20 feet from the water and by about noon we had the beach practically to ourselves it was marvellous. I’ll post a pic or two of the beach.

Restaurants as I mentioned earlier were plentiful and here I come to some favs;

First up was Alma Del Sur, a small hole in the wall, it seats about 7-8 people in a pinch but the fries and the seafood are amazing especially the calamari and the proprietor is extremely helpful, she even left her restaurant to give us directions.

Second up was Bodhigreen. It’s a vegetarian menu but is so worth a try as an island of green from the majority of fried Spanish food, reservations are necessary and they are quite busy so book a few days ahead.

Why is Alicante just 1950’s apartments and newer even in the old town? This riddle was solved by chance. My daughter spotted a coffee shop called Canada Coffee . So of course I had to try it (I’m sort of Canadian but living in London, a long story), anyway, I started talking to the Barista who turned out to be from Kamloops BC, Canada. His name was Shawn, again someone who was immensely helpful, solved the mystery. He had been living and working here for 5 years and it turns out he went on a small tour recently. It seems that Alicante was the very last holdout against Franco during the revolution and he asked Hitler to carpet bomb the city. Of course he obliged and they turned the entire city into dust! Now the city is plagued with poorly built buildings from the 1950’s, which are slowly being pulled down and replaced with well built but modern apartments. Unfortunately the apartments are international in style so the Spanish character is slowly disappearing.

This was somewhat of a disappointment for my wife and I as we do enjoy looking at architecture and galleries. The only gallery was the Museum of Modern Art but when we went there the current exhibition turned out to be very good especially for me. Just before leaving for Spain I had ordered a book by Gabriele Basilico, ‘Bord de mer

Lately, I have been collecting books by Luigi Ghirri and his contemporaries that he collaborated with in Italy in 1970’s-1980’s. Anyway, their current exhibition included the Berlin photographs of Gabriele Basilico and someone I hadn’t heard of Horatio Coppola (HC). HC had some wonderful B&W that were done in 1933 Argentina.

Just before leaving for Alicante I decided to start a project in B&W. I purchased a Nikon F3 and a Nikon 28mm f2.8 and a brick of TRI-X and decided to have another go at Rodinal. I have never had much luck with this combination but Rodinal has some charachteristics that I really love so I have decided to give it another try. I took the F3 and TRI-X with me to Alicante so that I could shoot of some test rolls. I’ll report on my progress and the F3 on my next post. I would like to mention that this is the first time in my life that I have bought used gear so will report on my success or lack thereof in my next post.

Enjoy the photos and see you next time. All images taken with XPRO-2 and a combination of 23mm f2 and 35mm f2.