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City Hopping -- Alicante, Spain

We've just returned from Alicante. I'd never really wanted to go there. You see, it is mentioned in a commercial for a low-cost airline that gives frequent flyer points at supermarkets. The TV spot shows a justifiably confused man at the check-out lane. Although he's buying groceries, he's also checking in to board a flight to, you got it, Alicante.

This makes the city of Alicante sound like a cheap tourist mecca for the British, and it is. The city is also a center of culture, though. Not that the British aren't cultured.

We spent our days cycling up and down the coast on roads that were not really meant for bikes, at least 30 miles each day. You'd think Abraham the Cartographer's Assistant and I would have lost a couple of pounds along the way, but we didn't. I'm obsessed with balance. You bike 30 miles; you drink an extra glass of wine. That's the deal. That's yin and yang.

There was also a festival going on while we were there. Of course we didn't know anything about it beforehand. We never know anything beforehand. That would ruin the explorer vibe we have going on our trips. I can only imagine this festival leads up to the San Juan fiesta on June 23. This is a big event, and of course we were too early for it because we didn't know anything about it. Explorers.

The signs in the city referred to "Foque Res 2013" and there was a cool parade with pop music playing the whole time. It looked like clubs and businesses and families all participated with crazy costumes and imaginative themes. The best, in my opinion, was the group who dressed as Barbies in their original packaging. There were all kinds of Barbies and Kens in boxes. And of course I forgot to take my camera along.

As I said, we spent our days cycling in the blazing sun. We ate ice cream but otherwise not much at all. We went to beaches, but sat under umbrellas far far away from the water. Still, we got sand in our shoes and peanuts and white wine in our bellies.

We ate 'Turkish' food mostly. I put 'Turkish' in ironic quotation marks because the 'Turkish' food we ate didn't taste very Turkish. In to slap irony with more irony, the restaurant where we ate had 'autentico' in its name. That was funny. Abraham the Cartographer's Assistant and I live in Munich, where Turkish food abounds, where Turkish food is spicy, where Turkish food is, well, Turkish.

We also ate at an Irish pub, only because I wanted to drink a cider. We ordered nachos with 'guacamole' and 'cheese'. I add the ironic quotations marks for very similar reason to the ones above, except that I would like to add 'oh my God, how incredibly awful and possibly life-endangering' this 'guacamole' and 'cheese' were. The tortilla chips were Doritos from the store. Wow, just awful. But what did you expect, Christopher? I hear you saying this. You were in Spain, so what were you doing at an Irish pub and a 'Turkish' restaurant? I hear you asking this too. Never say I don't listen.

The worst 'guacamole' and 'cheese' 'nachos' I've ever 'eaten'--a big yuck from me.
The following day, we ate near the church in Altea, an old town near Benidorm. I wanted to have a tortilla espana, but they were out; so I had jamon iberico, a traditional ham, and copious amounts of very good white wine (we had cycled copiously that day too). The food was good, and it was Spanish.

Later that evening in Benidorm, I had my tortilla espana, a potato and egg pie that should be gluten-free. But always ask. Have I told you my Benidorm story? It's embarrassing, so I'm sure you'll love it. See, I was with Abraham the Cartrographer's Assistant and a good friend from Nashville. We were out on the town in Benidorm, which means 'beautiful sleep' and is frenquented by large tourists from all over the world but mostly Great Britons.

Altea, SpainIt was a karaoke bar, and you know--or maybe you didn't know but now you do know--how fond I am of karaoke. The bartender was singing 'Wind Beneath my Wings' when we came in, and I guess I started singing with him. I might have grabbed the microphone from him. When the song finished, he asked me if I wanted to sing another song. Hurriedly, I chose 'Dust in the Wind' because I thought it was in keeping with the wind theme. I like themes. Well, the song is high, right? At the end the singer goes up into his falsetto and oohs for a few bars. I shouldn't have done it. I really didn't do it that well, but for goodness sakes it was just karaoke.

When I stopped oohing, a great Briton tourist woman turned to me and said, "Well, it's just too high for you." Then to make matters worse, the bartender said, "Yes, about two keys." This story will follow me until Abraham the Cartographer's Assitant and the good friend from Nashville are too old to remember their own names.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of Conversations with S. Teri O'Type (a Satire), an episodic adult cartoon about a man struggling with expectations. Allen's fiction and non-fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly's Best of the First Ten Years anthology, Prime Number Magazine and BootsAll Travel.

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