Emma Jeffs, Specialist Business Manager Alicante & Cartagena
What makes you a local?
Although I’m originally from a small town called Rugby in England, Spain has been my adopted home since I spent my Erasmus year in Murcia during University. I completely fell in love with the area and in 2005 I moved here for good.
Today I am seen as one of the locals; with shopkeepers and business owners greeting me as I walk through Cartagena & Alicante – the people here are so friendly that they greet you everytime you meet them, even if they have only met you once. A phrase you will repeatedly hear is “estás en tu casa,” which translates to “make yourself at home”. It is hard to walk through the city centre without someone stopping me to have a chat!
What are your first memories of Cartagena and Alicante?
I visited both Cartagena and Alicante during my Erasmus year. I remember that Alicante seemed to be such a lively city bathed in light with amazing views from its castle. I also visited Cartagena and it seemed a very old city with lots of history. I am delighted to report that Alicante is still a breathtaking city and Cartagena has undergone an amazing transformation – it is now into a thriving modern city that preserves its rich heritage with interactive state-of-the-art museums.
Why are you an expert on this destination?
I have made lots of friends and contacts in both Alicante and Cartagena within the tourism industry, and have a plethora of contacts within the local transportation companies, museums, shops, local police and even hospital staff! They always keen to inform me of any new venues to visit and any upcoming events. I’ve even married a local “Alicantino”, whose family and friends have told me about all the lesser known local hideouts and traditions.
Describe how Cartagena & Alicante affect your senses?
I am sure you have all seen many palm trees spread throughout Spain. However, in the Alicante region, it is a pure spectacle of Mother Nature’s beauty. In the town of Elche, there is a concentration of approximately 300,000 palm trees, a pretty awesome sight to behold. In June, Alicante city comes alive with the scent of gunpowder and the sight of bonfires, during the festival of San Juan. The region of Alicante is also home to the Spanish sweet “Turron”, which fills the air with a wonderful nougat smell at Christmas.
In Cartagena, your senses will come alive with the heady aromas of citric fruits found in the locally made and internationally renowned liqueur, “Licor 43.” Even the factory itself is a sight to behold. The architecture of the Licor 43 factory, has reflected the Spanish Passion for life in its cheerful facade. In Cartagena city, you can try the “Asiatico” drink, which combines coffee with Licor 43, cinnamon and condensed milk.
Any recommendations for Alicante & Cartagena?
In Alicante, I would definitely recommend a visit to the castle “Santa Barbara” for its superb views over the city and harbour. Another very local and popular thing to do in Alicante is “Tardeo”, which means to pass the afternoon moving from tapas bar to tapas bar in the old quarter.
Cartagena is a city full of history and archaeologists continue to expose long-buried Roman and Carthaginian heritage. As its city centre is beautifully paved and completely pedestrianised it invites visitors to gently stroll around the city centre and soak up the sights, which includes the superb museum that was designed by top Spanish architect Rafael Moneo. The museum transports visitors from the initial museum in the town hall square, via escalators and an underground passage beneath the ruined cathedral, to the magnificent, recently restored Roman Theatre (circa 1st century BC).
Do you know any local “characters”?
I have met many special characters over the years with Intercruises. In particular, Nacho the local horse breeder and Manolo, our local oenologist in Cartagena. Both of whom are devoted to their jobs, so much so that a chat with them makes you want to take up the profession yourself as their enthusiasm is so contagious.
Another famous local “character” is “El Zulo”…. a 4.8m high, two-ton bronze sculpture that dominates the esplanade in Cartagena. El Zulo was chosen as a homage to victims of terrorism by the local City Council.
What do you enjoy about your Intercruises role?
I love meeting so many different people from different cultures and backgrounds. Not one ship or call is the same. There is always something new to learn each year. There is a real teamwork environment within Intercruises and it makes you feel like being part of a huge family. Something which you don’t see in many companies today.
What does the future hold?
In Cartagena, they are continually excavating new sites where they have found Roman ruins. In the next few years they will open up the Roman amphitheater to visitors and I am sure the port will continue to be renovated and enlarged for its growing cruise market.
Alicante is becoming a more cosmopolitan city with an increasing number of renowned restaurants. I think Alicante will continue to specialize in this area, while its wines will be seen as serious competitors for the traditional wine regions, such as La Rioja or the Basque country.