Torrevieja’s beautiful. Located right along the Mediterranean, there’s a reason why thousands of tourists flock here every year. We live about 10 minutes by foot from the beach (in fact, when you exit our building, you can see the sea in the distance), a beautiful promenade provides the perfect setting for a midnight stroll (it’s the only time of day where it’s cool enough to actually enjoy walking), and two main beaches lure beach goers with a luring span of sand and water.
While it’s great to be a short walk from the water, I found myself looking for something more. Perhaps I thought that Torrevieja would have it all: beach, sun, and European charm. I was expecting small, winding streets reserved only for pedestrians, I was envisioning little shops and cafes each offering a unique experience, I dreamed of beautiful, thoughtful architecture that demands admiration. Torrevieja does have charm but it’s concentrated around the coast. Once inland, the stores and bars all look the same and the buildings are a mixture of old and new but the old buildings lack character and the new construction simply just looks mass produced. It also doesn’t help that the economy has hit Torrevieja hard and everything – businesses and apartments – seems to have a For Sale sign.
But the truth of the matter is that while Torrevieja is one of the larger cities, it’s just one of many hugging the Mediterranean. So David and I set out in search of charm and hopped on a bus to Alicante. (We also had to go there to apply for my residency card at the police station.) Though we had both seen Alicante’s airport, neither of us had ever explored the actual city. About three times the size of Torrevieja, it was sure to have everything that Torrevieja has plus more. And it was that “more” that I was anxious to see.
In Alicante’s old section, I found what I was looking for. Small streets with beautiful restaurants and terraces, a performer setting the mood for diners, charming houses perched high above the Mediterranean, large squares that make it feel like a meeting point of many. But it was in a peaceful park right in the center that we found something more than we ever could have anticipated.
After much walking under intense heat, we decided to enter this park for a brief reprieve. We didn’t even have the time to find a place to sit when an older woman called us over and promptly showed us a tiny kitten huddled in the nook of a tree. I have been skittish of kittens when they’re so young ever since Bijoux, an 8-week-old kitten that we adopted in NYC in 2005, got unexpectedly sick and had to be put to sleep. They seem frighteningly fragile, but it was obvious that this one needed help so when David asked me if we should take it, I couldn’t say no. I was also feeling bad for Sushi who has seemed a bit more complacent ever since moving to Spain (this heat will make anyone complacent). A little companion for him might be a very welcome addition.
So we put the kitten in a bag and took him on the bus with us home. We introduced him to Sushi (we didn’t quite do it the recommended way – separating them in two different rooms until they got used to each other – instead, we just threw them together). And even though Sushi looks like a lion next to him, Gizmo is the mischievous kitten biting his tail. They spent the whole first night chasing each other around the apartment but they’ve become fast friends and Sushi is being a good older brother to Gizmo (named Gizmo because he looks like a Gremlin). So we have added to our little family and now have a Spanish cat in addition to our American one. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law still waits for our little family to grow in a slightly different way.