Altea rises to the top

img_0211We spent the weekend in the small Costa Blanca village of Altea, about a hour up the coast from Alicante.

Altea has about 23,000 people, so it’s a lot smaller than Alicante. And it’s quite charming. This photo (right) was taken from the top of the hill that overlooks the newer part of the town. This is the waterfront area, with shops, restaurants, hotels and apartment buildings.

UnknownBut what’s fascinating about Altea is the old city. This is one of the prettiest places we have seen. In front of many of the white homes, there are flowering vines or bushes. Flowering in early December! And many of the front doors are painted bright colors, mostly blue.

It’s sort of what we’ve been looking for. In fact, Altea may very well be at the top of our retirement homes list.

The old city, or Cosco Antiguo, has very narrow streets. Steep, too. Some are just walkways, too narrow for even the smallest car. And all the homes are whitewashed, similar to the hillside villages you may have seen in the Andalusia region of Spain. Apparently it’s a leftover influence of the Moors from centuries ago. The old city is spread out over the side of the hill. At the top, where a castle once stood, is the iconic blue-domed church of Señora del Consuelo.

It’s a bit of a hike up the hill, as you can probably tell. We still think we could live here. We strolled past some homes in the old city that had rooftop terraces with views like the photo above. We gazed at those terraces and thought how nice it would be to sit on that terrace to watch the sunrise while enjoying that first cup of coffee. Or to sit up there in the evening with a nice glass of wine. That’s first-class retirement!

This little village is not on the radar for most travelers, particularly for most Americans. Lots of Brits come here, and lots of Scandinavians but very few from the U.S., and that’s too bad. We learned about Altea from our favorite magazine, International Living. We enjoyed reading about this little town and had to see it for ourselves. It did not disappoint.

Here we are, in the obligatory selfie, in the plaza surrounding the old church. Could this be our new home???

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