Our visit to one of the city’s chocolate factories had a sweet ending, but the genuine star of our visit to Villajoyosa was the seaside town itself. The adventure begins at the top of the old town, where the remnants of ancient castle walls merge into narrow three and four-story row houses that line winding cobblestone streets all the way down to the shore.

What makes these fishermen’s houses unique is their bright rainbow colors – royal blue, purple, brick red, gold, green and more. Equally colorful laundry clipped to balcony clotheslines snaps in the breeze.

It’s easy to get lost in the meandering streets, but as long as you go down, you’ll eventually wind up at the beach, where more of the same bold row houses stretch along the boardwalk and broad sandy beach as far as you can see. These oceanfront houses were the first to be painted with bright colors. According to local lore, fishermen returning from the sea with their catch could spot their homes even in through fog and rain.

Dozens of restaurants are scattered along the boardwalk. It was about one in the afternoon and early-bird lunch customers were beginning to fill the umbrella-shaded patios. We luckily snagged the last available table at an Asian/fusion restaurant called T-Class. It had excellent reviews on TripAdvisor, and they were spot on.

We enjoyed a splendid meal that began with perfect gyoza, better than we had in Japan. The traditional tapas dish of batatas brava was delicious and artfully plated. The wok-fried tuna and prawns with noodles highlighted the fresh seafood. The service was as good as the meal, making this one of our favorite seaside culinary experiences.

Villajoyosa means happy place. It certainly proved to be just that for us.

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