(As ever I hear a lot of you shout!) In the very beautiful mountains of Sierra Nevada and its just lovely to wake up to sun and glorious snow-capped mountains, which for me is as close as I want the snow, not being a ski bunny.
Sat 12/3/16: The plan being to do a long mountain walk but we as ever were slow to start and the paths on the maps not clear in reality as to where they start, and so we came across a river bed walk which followed an old tram line as well. It was a lovely flat walk with a coffee con leche to kick start us and near the end, or for us our end a lovely country restaurant on the small spring where we had a sit down and some refreshment which came with a lovely pork stew tapa. The waitress gave us a menu which had some local country food on it like rabbit, goat etc but we had already decided that we were going to eat in our own on site restaurant that evening and so we headed back into town where there was a local ‘ladies day ‘festival on. We had in the morning seen many ladies running around the town and it seemed much like our own Run for Life charity events at home, but unlike our events later in the day there was a fiesta in the main square with paella. By the time we had completed our walk the run was done and dusted and the partying had begun, and we were welcomed to have some of the paella. Which, not wishing to be rude we of course shared a plate of it. Now not wishing to complain and look a gift horse in the mouth but the paella was a little bit stodgy in our humble opinion but certainly plentiful and great to sit and watch the locals all enjoying themselves. We did indeed eat in the restaurant at camp which is in fact a restaurant that just happens to be attached to the camp as well. The bar area is very rustic with a lovely open log fire to take the chill out of the evening air and we had a lovely menu of the dia which is served up to 10pm. David had the most loveliness courgette soup to start and for me Persian spinach followed by a huge tuna steak with the usual arroz con leche as my choice for postre. Three courses and a drink all for €15, so slightly more expensive than some we have had but still excellent value especially on a Saturday evening as well.
Sun 13/3/16: The day of our longest walk and in parts climb thus far. It was a marked route graded as medium to difficult on the map and was some 20kms. We managed to find the start of it and followed the little green marked posts up hill. We walked and walked and started to get higher and higher up the mountain and in parts it really was a scramble come climb and as we eventually got nearer the top we started to see more and more patches of snow and when out of the sun it became decidedly chilly. For once we were sensible and did have some water with us which was welcomed as we climbed and watched our village become smaller and smaller. We were both quite puffed by the time we reached the top and were both quite worried as to the route down. For me with very dodgy knees the descent always has more effect on my knees and I certainly didn’t want a downhill scramble and had visions of sliding bum down if that was the safer option. But the path back was a very windy road which although much longer was easier in the long run and just as pretty too. We were very lucky at the top in the ski resort having a most welcome free tapa of paella yet again, which was far superior to yesterdays. The second drink brought essentially what was a pea and ham stew and it really was yummy. We both think it was ham but weren’t entirely sure as it left a wonderful ‘stickiness’ around your lips, so we did think it could have been something else more ‘countrified’ but we didn’t care as it tasted lovely whatever it was!. Having made it back to the start point of our local village we decided to eat there rather than going back to camp and then out again as neither of us was sure our legs would do much more. David had a lovely homemade burger, but my choice of a falafel salad was a bit disappointing as it was slightly bland given it was made by a Moroccan- I had higher hopes. Still that’s the luck of the drawer isn’t it?
Mon 14/3/16: back on the road again even though both of us would have liked to have stayed longer we need to start heading towards Murcia. We had a lovely drive through the Alpujarras (Driving over Lemons country) up down, round and round the scenery being just stunning all the way, but very dry and remote in parts. We had decided to stay on the coast again at Cabo de Gata another area of extreme beauty with lots of small coves rather than vast coastlines like Tarifa and more recently Motril. After visiting a couple of pay for aires we actually decided to park nearer
the town of San Jose in a no pay aire that we had passed. The location was great just at the back of the small seafront and the car park vast with quite a few motorhomes already parked up for the night whereas the campsites were a way out of the town, so no restaurants or bars nearby and we weren’t quite ready just to park up for the night. After the usual greetings to our neighbours we did the short walk to the sea front and the small pretty harbour where there was a small line of restaurants all offering a lovely tempting array of seafood and fish. But frugal we were and in fact had the left over keema peas from the other night and as ever with curry it tasted even better second time around. So in fact for that day other than coffee, drinks etc we had a very good budget day!!
Tues 15/3/16: A trip in the past was decided upon as we were very close and so we headed off along the coast to Mojacar where we had holidayed many years ago and in fact was the first place in Spain I had ever been to. We had stayed not actually in Mojacar but on a small golf resort just outside that even at that point was struggling a bit. Unfortunately it lost the struggle and the golf course now closed and left to ruin making the whole little estate look very sad and tired which left us quite saddened as well and we opted to carry on driving further up the coast and find a site nearer Murcia. As ever Snoopy took us a very weird and wonderful way to our chosen spot and gave us some cause for concern as we were again on a small mountainous back road when the petrol warning light came on!. Thankfully we found a small petrol station and refilled before finding our little aire a few hundred yards from a remote small Spanish seaside town. There were a few local bars that did food but we had both opted for lunch that day and had had small locally caught red mullet with chips. The red mullet here are small so you generally get 5 or 6 grilled in a light batter and are lovely to eat as bite sized portions almost-even Mr Meat man was taken with them!
Wed 16/3/16: Home comforts beckoned as we headed to David’s Aunt and Uncle who live in a small seaside village just outside the city of Murcia. Having visited them before in previous years we knew we were going to be spoilt as both are wonderful generous hosts and Auntie F an excellent cook. Arriving mid-afternoon and crashing the end of a ladies lunch we had what was left over for that evening dinner and as ever there was an outstanding amount of food, starting with a light seafood salad and then chicken wings with roasted vegetables. The evening disappeared with a few bottles of wine and catching up on family news and our travels.
Thurs 17/3/16: St Patricks Day and it started with a round of calls, texts etc wishing everyone well for the day. Again a treat for us as we ate in and had lovely locally caught sole that come from the Mar Menor. Mine was big enough for me to have on its own with just some lemon but as ever there were lots of other tip bits before and after and the chocolate took a bit hit that evening as well from my side!
Fri 18/3/16: A lovely day was had taking in the local sites and sorting out some admin issues on our side with some lovely tapas for lunch by the beach. But for evening a delight for us both but especially David as we had fillet steak and chips- the steak from a local shop really was knife through butter tender and excellently cooked being medium rare for me and slightly less for David. Again there was an excellent choice of starters to be had all round-salads, meats, artichokes and more besides!
Sat 19/3/16: After a busy day at the market we headed to the local golf club for a drink and along with the usual golf club selection of food there was a sushi menu, which is a great delight of mine. A selection was made including my favourite of salmon sashimi and it really was lovely and something just a bit different again from tapas. Thus far we really haven’t seen many sushi bars or options even in the bigger towns like Seville so really a good addition I would guess for a heavily European clientele. The decision for evening food had already been made and we headed off into town to have the ever popular rabo de torro, or for David certainly. My choice was prawns and in fact the offer was 12 for €15 and they were local red prawns so excellent quality and really are red as opposed to the usual pinky colour and again are literally pulled from the sea outside. As well as the colour they were soft and sweet almost and I really didn’t want anything else with them that might compromise the flavour. A lovely evening was had as ever, but made all the better by England winning the 6 Nations- Well done you boys!
Despite the chance of lunch at one of our favourite local fish restaurants we decided that before we got too used to being looked after and our waistlines expanding it was time to get back on the road.
So bye bye and thanks for looking after us so well Auntie and Uncle – but we’ll be back you can count on that