I have no idea what Spanish food I consumed when I first visited Spain back in 1976. I would likely be embarrassed or ashamed to find out.

My first holiday in Spain was spent along the Costa Blanca. A coastline that has been used to an influx of tourists for many a decade. When I made my next visit some thirty years later, the appearance of the Costa Blanca had changed enormously. And yet it pleased me to discover that places such as the big and brilliant city of Alicante had improved enormously.

I am a big fan of Alicante, not least because it is home to my friend Esteban. He has beautiful beaches on his doorstep. But Alicante has much more to offer.

For me the places too often overlooked by visitors to Spain are the very destinations they see first. Namely the cities in which they land. Off the aircraft people step and, by one means or another, off they go to their holiday accommodation somewhere outside of the city. But why? Is it just habit?

I will have done that back in the seventies. But I have learned that Spanish cities by the sea offer the visitor the best of both worlds. I shall be writing about a few of them. Valencia, the third biggest city in Spain, and Cadiz on the Costa de la Luz to name just two.

So often holidaymakers take an excursion for a few hours to see the nearest city. I still see those holidaying in Benidorm do that. They arrive in Alicante, spend a couple of hours there and no more. I think I would opt to do the journey the other way around.

Alicante is a terrific city. It is now a mature and smart place. With excellent restaurants serving traditional Spanish food.

When it comes to relaxing, there is plenty of sand in Alicante. Even at the height of summer, you don't have to go to the nearest and busiest beach. Walk away from the city a few minutes, in the direction of Elche, and you'll find much quieter beaches. Across the road from the sea there is a beautiful park worth visiting. The sort of place holidaymakers rarely see.

There is so much to see in and around the city of Alicante and further along the Costa Blanca. If you don't want to walk then hop on and off the regular tram service.

For a long time it hugs the coastline and you could go up to Denia and enjoy a nice lunch in this charming town, home to colourful houses and funky shops.

Or go to Altea, a place long accustomed to serving international visitors at its restaurants.

Benidorm, last seen by me as a teenager, does stand out in my memory for delivering the most amazing of the many amazing sunset skies I have seen in my travels all over Spain these past ten years.

Whether it is the famous ones, such as Barcelona, or the ones that do not immediately spring to mind, like Alicante; I would suggest you consider using one of the Spanish cities by the sea as a base for your next holiday.