A little backstory before I get in too much further:
Elissa and I grew up together, our families were extremely close while we were growing up, her immediate family moved to Spain when I was 10 (she was 13) and we did our best to keep in touch through mail and basic email since this was way way before facebook and the like. Our families grew apart and as we got older, we lost touch, just because of life and school and whatnot. I'd missed her a ton, we were like cousins, if not sisters growing up and losing touch made it seem like something was missing. A few years ago, I was sitting in my dorm room and I thought about her and looked her up on facebook (now that we had it, and we were older, I figured why not). Well, low and behold there she was in the search results. After the friend request was sent I immediately got a message back and we were back on track and in touch again. No matter that we lived a continent apart, it seemed like nothing had changed and we chatted for quite a while making sure that siblings and parents reconnected again as well. Overall, it was a good day! As soon as I found out she was engaged, I started saving for this trip and a year and a half later, here I was, super excited.
I caught the bus to the hotel from the airport and made my way to the hotel. The bus from the airport went along the beach and up toward the center of Alicante. I got to the drop off point and found my hotel, a less than 5 minute walk away from the beach and the other hotel where other people were staying. Checking in was super easy and upon doing so, the receptionist said "oh, you're going to have a great view!" I got up to my room, and WOW!!!!!
No big deal, right? Just the view of the ayunimiento (city hall kinda thing) and Castillo Santa Barbara. Just a castle outside my window. SERIOUSLY!? This can't be real life.
I skyped home with my mom while getting ready to go out. Here's where the crazy begins. I had to get to the train station, catch a train to Elche and follow all these steps to get where I was supposed to go in a country I had never been to. Long story short, I ran across downtown Alicante to the train station, missed the train and had a small melt down calling my mom and texting/calling the girls I was meeting up with. One of the girls (Lorena) called me back and asked if I could take a taxi because they really wanted me to be there. Well, I did and it was the best thing I could have done, even after the melt down.
I got to the house where we were meeting and Melani (who I had been making plans and talking to over facebook messages the past month or so) greeted me with huge open arms and I heard Elissa trying to figure out what was going on. As we walked back into the apartment, Elissa and I made eye contact and her mouth dropped and I laughed when she said "what are you doing here!?" in complete surprise. Hugs and tears were aplenty and it was amazing to be part of such a great intercontinental surprise. From there, champagne and stories were shared while I got introduced to the other girls there. We had a great time that night, walking along the riverbed to dinner and then having an amazing dinner that was course after course of delicious food.
The night was awesome. After dinner we walked through downtown Elche, heading toward a bar that they new would be a good time and not too crowded. The drinks were delicious, the company was even better. Those of us that didn't know each other prior to that night were already becoming fast friends and it was just exciting to be in Spain with brand new friends. I got back to my hotel around 4am, passed out for the night, excited to see Elissa's family and meet her fiancé the next night.
I woke up the next morning and unpacked a little, got my bearings and then slept some more. Jetlag was finally starting to catch up with me and I had to nip it in the bud, I still had a week left of adventuring! I took a taxi out to Elche Friday night. Elissa and Simon's friends and families were getting together for a big dinner and I was invited, another thing I wasn't going to miss - I hadn't seen Alicia and David (Elissa's mom and brother) in years! I was so excited to see them and some other family members that were in town. The taxi driver was so nice and got me there as quickly as possible (about 30-45 minutes normally) and when we got to downtown Elche, we got turned around and he couldn't get to the restaurant because the maps and GPS were telling him one thing and the street directions were saying another. Eventually he found a local Elche taxi driver and asked him how to get there. This is also when he stopped charging me because we were going in circles and he didn't see it fair. We finally got to the city center and I got to the restaurant... Now, to figure out where we were sitting/ask people if they were with the wedding.
I walked around the restaurant and their patio and happened to over hear a conversation by some Brits and figured they were part of Simon's family or friends of the bride and groom.. I took a chance and low and behold, it was Simon's extended family and I was definitely in the right place! I set my stuff down, introduced myself and we started talking, laughing and waiting for everyone else to get there. We had a great dinner, I got to catch up with Elissa's aunts who live in Texas during dinner and on the taxi ride back to Alicante as well as her mom, brother and cousin who was there. It was a good time reconnecting with long lost "family." It was a good night, the weather PERFECT and warm, the food AMAZING and the company even better.