Cruise Flashback; Galveston to Dubai 2013
Alicante, Spain; May 5, 2013
FEB. 1, 2021, DALLAS — Somehow my innate sense of direction failed me in Alicante. I could see the Santa Bárbara castle above me, but where was that darned elevator that would spare me the long climb to the top of Mount Benacantil?
Much too late I learned that my mistake had come just after getting off the pier. Instead of going right, I went left.
Alicante, Spain, was the only port on the first half of this cruise that I hadn’t visited before. My modest research had indicated that I could explore on my own, so that’s how I got into my predicament. Given that I hadn’t budgeted for this last-minute cruise, I remember being frugal in the early ports. Cairo, Luxor and Petra would get the bulk of my tour spending.
The port’s expansive promenade is considered one of the most lovely in Spain, featuring colorful waves formed by 6.5 million marble tiles. By early Sunday afternoon families were gathered under the palm trees, many apparently bringing chairs to enjoy the afternoon spring warmth.
Regardless of being somewhat lost all day, I enjoyed exploring the streets of the Barrio de la Santa Cruz, the old quarter of the city below the castle. I wandered the colorful narrow streets, decorated with painted tubs of flowers and bright flags and banners, while fruitlessly seeking a route to the castle that didn’t require an hour of uphill trekking.
During my walk I came across a couple I had met earlier on the ship. They were using this 15-day transatlantic crossing as a cheap way to get to Europe to begin a three-year journey across three continents. It was my first but not last conversation with travelers who had given up their homes, sold most of their belongings and set out to explore the world.
At the time I had no idea that just a year later I would sell what at one time was my dream house and most of its furnishings. I initially moved in with our mother whose memory loss was making it impossible for her to continue living alone. Almost a decade later I am still bouncing between sisters’ guest rooms, temporary lodging and cruise ship staterooms.
Not only was this 2013 cruise a welcome break and opportunity to see new places, but it also served as an introduction into traveling alone for extended periods of time. A cruise is a good way to ease into independent travel, as you have a readymade environment and social life surrounding you.