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Travelling to the Costa Blanca independently

February 16, 2013

This is the first time I’ve travelled to Spain’s Costa Blanca with my bicycle on a trip I’d booked independently using a combination of EasyJet, TravelRepublic and the regular service buses and taxis to and from the airports. While it’s cheaper than the package options it’s not without its drawbacks.

From my home in London I hailed a black cab to take myself with a rucksack and my bicycle in its flight case to the coach stop near the Allsop Arms at Gloucester Place. From here I caught GreenLine‘s 757 to Luton Airport where I checked in. I’d pre-booked the EasyJet flight and pre-paid for the one piece of hold baggage and also the bicycle. The flight took off and landed on time.

On arrival at Alicante’s El Altet airport I had to look for the Alsa service bus that would take me to Benidorm. I’d been told by my journalist friend in Polop that the Benidorm bus takes bicycles. The bus runs every two hours and takes less than an hour to get to Benidorm. From there I would have to get another taxi. This is where my trip took a bit of a detour, so to speak…

The new terminal at Alicante has three floors. On arrival you come out on the middle of these levels and as the tourist information was shut I had to discover for myself where the Alsa bus departs. The signs directed me to the lower level for coaches. But after lugging my cases down the escalators I discovered that it was only the charter and package holiday coaches that berth here. One of the drivers directed me back upstairs.

It wasn’t until a while later that I realised that it was up two flights of escalators to the top level that I should have gone. Eventually I was directed to the correct level and the actual bus stop. Easy when you know.

While waiting at the bus stop a woman slightly the worse for drink caught my attention. She wandered about before sitting down next to a man who appeared to be equally soaked. At 21.00 the bus arrives and the passengers load the luggage before getting on. I have to make a space for my bicycle in its flight case but there’s plenty of room beneath the passenger deck of this large single-decker coach.

As we are all seated waiting to depart I hear down the front of the bus an argument ensuing between the driver and a couple of passengers. This eventually becomes an argument involving more passengers. The drunk couple it turned out did not have enough cash to pay for the journey to Benidorm and the driver was refusing to depart until they had either paid or got off. The boozers weren’t budging and my fellow passengers were getting a little impatient.

Eventually the couple get off after the driver said he was calling for the police. Round of applause as the two drunks get off. Then the couple have to get their luggage off. Of course they can’t find their bags because in the process of getting my very large bicycle flight case on board I’d moved lots of the luggage about. So half the passengers get off in case the drunks take the wrong bags or perhaps a few extra bags. Anyway we finally get the bags sorted and back on to the bus we all get.

Then the drunk woman decides to get back on the bus to argue with someone who’s thrown some abuse at her. More shouting from other passengers. Tempers fly and one man pushes the drunk woman off the bus onto the pavement. At this point the drunk man takes exception to his other half being man-handled and starts to throw drunken punches. The three of them end up on the ground. The driver walks off and calls the police leaving the passengers shouting at each other.

The airport police arrive just as everyone’s calmed down and the driver who is now running 25 minutes late is keen to get away.

Forty-five minutes later we are in Avenida de Europa in Benidorm. I grab a taxi waiting nearby which takes me to the Albir Garden hotel about 10 minutes drive away at Albir. At 23.15 I’m checked in, turned on the heating on in my apartment and looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

14 nights half board at Albir Gardens £485; return travel from Luton Airport to Alicante including luggage and bicycle £200; return transfer between London and Luton airport £16.50 (coach) plus £20 (taxi); return transfer between Alicante airport and Albir £15 (coach) plus £20 (taxi). Travelling out 9 February and return 23 February 2013.

Update 14 February 2014. Greenline´s 757 bus no longer goes direct to Luton Airport but drop off at Luton Airport Parkway where there is a free transfer bus to the airport (they are in dispute with Luton Airport about this and the situation may change. Please check before travelling). The alternative is to take the National Express service but they now charge for taking large luggage which may include bicycles, so please check. Also Alsa buses from Alicante airport now charge about 10 euros for taking a bike.

Update 8 March 2014: Greenline 757 is again going direct to Luton Airport after a ruling in their favour. A statement on their website says: “Arriva the Shires, responsible for the Green Line services operating from Herts, Beds and Bucks are pleased to announce the recommencement of their flagship service, Green Line 757, operating between London Luton Airport and London Victoria. The recommencement follows a high court judgement and absence from the Airport for 10 months.” Arriva The Shires Ltd -v- London Luton Airport Operations Limited [2014] EWHC 64 (Ch).

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