|During my stay in Spain, I got bored with the cities of Alicante and Valenchia, not to speak of the tourist-machine Benidorm. So I headed for the inland. I visited small villages on my way to Madrid, and hit the capital Saturday night. Madrid is loaded with palaces and magnificent parks and plazas, but I found no peace at heart and moved along, to the North the very same night. I reached Zarazoga the next day. This place was boring too - so I looked at the map and found a place I've never heared about before, Alcoy, just outside Alicante. I headed for that place, and reached it sunday afternoon.
Alcoy is located in the mountains north-west of Alicante. 100 years ago, the place must have been a major factory town, as there are lots of remains of old factories, - especially alongside the rivers that moves into the town. There has been people in Alcoy alot longer. There have been found remains of human settles back to the stone-age. In the middle-ages the city was protected from a castle located in its centre. But when the castle lost its strategical inportance it was teared down, and today there are no remains of it - except for a reconstruction at the local museum.
The town consist of an exiting mix of old buildings, new buildings and rouins. The old working class quaters are abadoned, but lot's of the houses still stands there.
The place have no tourist industry at all - except for a tourist office that is open a few hours each day. The woman serving that office was very helpful, and delighted when she realized that she was serving a real, alive tourist ;) She told me about the places I should visit - a boulding here and another interesting building there. Things that showed how things were. I guess most tourists are interested in how things were - but I'm really more focused on how things are.
The working class has moved to a newly constructed part of the town that is absolutely brilliantly designed, especially for kids. There are parks and playgrounds everywhere, and also internet cafe's and computer-game places. On the remote end of the largest park, is the largest and most well-done free childrens playground I have ever seen. There are open places, corridors, bridges, halls, and a huge playground with houses and tunnels that would have made me very happy when I was 10! It's like the whole place is designed for children. There are also dark places hidden below huge trees in the park, and small summer-balcons ideal for late teenagers and lovebirds. Along the main avenu in the new part of the village is several small football places and a childrens outdoor swimming pool.
The really amazing thing about Alcoy was the children. They seemed so natural and happy, and appered as if they counted just as much as the adults. I've never sensed this any other place I have visited. They did not appear to be stressed or repressed at all. Of cource, they were still kids - some tough, others sensitive, some good in football, others just trying their best. But I saw no haressment of the weaker kids at all, and there was alot of hugging and love.
Where there was sex-shops in Benidorm, there where churches in Alcoy. Alot of them in fact! There was also a big cross on a mountain top above the village. So the christian influence is obviously strong.
There are however snakes in paradise. There are vandals in Alcoy, as there are everywhere else. And I found bad guys doing drugs and acting cool. It was not a big problem yet - but it will be, I guess. As Spain is adjusting it's laws to the rest of Eorope, it will get the problems as well.
As a tourist, I also had serve problems getting a hot meal! It appears that they only serve food at the cafes at certain times. I don't know when that is (since noone spoke english), but it most certanly was not whenever I was hungry! I don't know the reason for this nonsense, but it seems silly to refuse to sell food, when you can get all the alcohol and all the ice-cream and candy you would like. Because - there are bars and small cafes in Alcoy, as everywhere in Spain. Even more bars then there are churches.
It's a bit funny this bar-thing. The alcohol is cheap. You can get it everywhere. And still, you see no drunks. You don't even see people you can tell for sure is influenced by alcohol. In Norway we hardly have bars at all, and the price for a single bear (40 cl) in a cafe or bar is 6 - 10 Euros! If you want to buy a bottle of vine, you have to go to a special vine-shop owned by the government. All this to protect norwegians from the sinful alcohol. Does the regulations work? I think not. At night you will find drunk norwegians everywhere - and when I say drunk I mean insainly drunk - throwing up, yelling and trying to rape or kill each others as best they can. In Spain it's just the oposite. Alcohol is no issue. You can get it everywhere, and people just learn how to use it, in stead of abusing it.
Another feature with Alcoy is that they don't have paper at the toilets. I don't know if they use their hands or feets in stead, - but this tured out te be a major concern for me. Especially since I don't speak the language and therefore depended on the paper being there when I need it.
I mentioned earlier that they have no tourist industry. They do however have a Hotel - the three star Hotel Reconquista, which is buisness hotell. It's expensive - I payed 50 euros per day for a single room (well - I got a double room with a great view to the village). And fortunately, they do speak english at the reception. But be aware that they charge (alot!) extra for garage and brekfest.
Will I return to Alcoy? I don't know. The place is lovely, but it's a place to live - not a place to visit. There is not alot to do for tourists.