Mario Castro Balsera teaches history and geography at the Instituto N LESS THAN 4 Secondary School in the resort of Torrevieja near Alicante, Spain
Favourite place when you have time off?
I love going for a stroll on San Juan beach, particularly at sunset or sunrise, when it is at its most quiet and beautiful. I also love climbing up to Santa B rbara castle - there are fantastic views of Alicante and the coastline from the top. El Palmeral park is also a good place to enjoy a picnic under the palm trees.
When's a good time to come?
If you want to see a different aspect of the city, visit during one of our festivals, particularly the Hogueras de San Juan in June. There is a great party atmosphere and the bonfires are every bit as spectacular as Las Fallas in Valencia.
My favourites are Nou Manolin and El Jumillano behind the seafront Explanada (although the latter is a bit more expensive, (40 to (50 - pound;27 to Pounds 35). For tapas or something a bit more informal and cheaper, good places are Tapelia and El Canto near Parque Canalejas and Meson de Labradores at the foot of the castle.
The city's main nightlife areas are the docks around the port and the streets around the cathedral. Don't expect things to kick off until midnight.
For the best perspective on the city, start at the top of the Santa Barbara castle. The archaeological museum MARQ (www.marqalicante.com) was voted European Museum of the Year in 2004. The MUBAG Gravina modern arts museum (www.mubag.com) is also interesting, and it will soon have an excellent collection of 20th-century paintings.
But don't bother with
The Ereta Park in the city centre. Despite all the initial efforts and investment when it opened, it is not being kept properly. Sadly, it is the same with the Tossal Park, which means that, right now, Alicante hasn't got a good park in the city centre.
Remember to buy or try
The area from Avenida Maissonnave to Rambla de Mendez Nu$ez is great for clothes shopping. For crafts, check the Central Market and the Calle Mayor.
For turr"n, the traditional Christmas nougat which originates from the Alicante province, I recommend the shop Turrones Espi Mario Castro Balsera was talking to Renata Rubnikowicz
FIND OUT MORE
www.comunitatvalenciana.com (and go to town drop-down menu for AlacantAlicante) or www.alicanteturismo.com
PRICE TO THE PLANET
Offset the climate cost of a return flight to Alicante from more than 20 British airports (see www.aena.es) for pound;5 per adult (www.climatecare.org)