The last time I went to Barcelona it was on a school trip where I was one of the English teachers looking after the secondary school kids who were Italian.

My role was to teach them to converse and use English in every day discussions. I met with each year once a week and we had some great debates. I used to look forward to teaching them, even when we had to cover Virginia Woolf and James Joyce where I could see them visibly lose interest and switch off. It was quite a challenge to keep them on track at times.

Of course the best part about teaching a foreign language is that you get to accompany the kids on school trips and I was really excited the year we went to Barcelona as I hadn’t been before.

We had a fabulous time and saw a lot of things during that time but I would LOVE to go back and see them all again.

Where to stay in Barcelona

I think a central location is best as it allows you to walk out the door and be in the midst of Barcelona and all that it has to offer. HCC hotels look like the perfect answer as they have a chain of hotels dotted around the centre, each one offering comfortable rooms and dining in their restaurants. I like that they have special family packages and connecting rooms available plus the prices are affordable too.

Barcelona sights I would revisit

Bus tour of the city

We had our own coach and therefore we were taken for a drive around the city and dropped off here and there for the various attractions. A great way to get around the large city and cover more ground.

La Sagrada Familia

Last time I didn’t get to enter but I would really love to. I love that this cathedral has two entirely different styles of architecture at either end.

Montserrat

This is outside the city but well worth the visit to the abbey. I have a wonderful memory of this place and there’s a room where people leave prayers with gifts, there were lots of parents thanking the Lord for the gift of their dearly desired child and leaving a first babygrow as a gift.

Parc Guell

Just amazing, it’s like stepping into a fantasy world, the entire park has been decorated in a mosaic of colourful tiles. In fact the buildings in the centre of Barcelona by Gaudi are also well worth the visit.

Picasso Art museum

Mind blowing. I tend to forget these world known painters were children once and when I saw the fantastic oil paintings that Picasso made at the age of just 12 – 14 I was astounded. I came out of the Picasso museum even more passionate about art than before.

Las Ramblas

An amazingly wide street with a large central area dedicated to pedestrians where you can find kiosks and ‘human statues’ that are fascinating. Full of life and fun

Barcelona sights I have yet to discover

La Boqueria Food Market

I heard about this on Jennifer’s Little World blog when she linked up recently to the Time Traveller I love food both eating and preparing it so a trip to a food market would be heaven for me.

The Magic Fountain

How did I miss this? I would love to see this at night when it’s all lit up and colourful

Montjuic by cable car

The sights must be fabulous and the walk back down enables you to see lots of other parts of Barcelona too.

Dali and Miro

Next time I go back I want to discover more of these two famous artists which we didn’t have time to see.

More information

I took a look at the official Barcelona Tourism website and found lots of information on what to visit in Barcelona including themed routes and itineraries based on how many days you are in town. An invaluable resource

Los Alcazares Costa Calida Spain

After a couple of weeks reminiscing in the past I’ve decided for this week’s Time Traveller to continue with my coverage of our Easter break to the Costa Calida in Spain and this time I am taking you to two destinations on the Mar Menor, Los Alcazares and San Pedro del Pinatar.

los alcazares costa calida spain

Both are on the mainland side with Los Alcazares about half way along and San Pedro del Pinatar at the very top. Both are very popular destinations for very different reasons.

Los Alcazares

Los Alcazares costa Calida Spain

The perfect beach town offering long white sandy ‘Blue Flag’ beaches along the western side of Mar Menor. Running almost parallel to the beach is the main road which offers bars, restaurants and gift shops covering all of the items you may be in need of should you be passing through. A very popular destination for families from Murcia and Cartagena at weekends and holidays but lots and lots of room for everyone.

los alcazares restaurant in the sea

I am also seeing Los Alcazares pop up on property abroad programmes more frequently so can imagine a local expat community out there too.

los alcazares beach villas

There is lots of local history too, the Romans occupied Los Alcazares in 210 B.C. They spotted the salt properties of the Mar Menor and set up salt meat and fishing industries. They were the first to build thermal baths and spas too.

los alcazares beach

In the 6th century, the ruling Arabs chose this part of the country to build their palaces and places of rest because of the old Roman spas and their therapeutic qualities.

los alcazares menu

Sadly due to the bad weather we were unable to sit on the beach as planned so drove further up the coast to

San Pedro del Pinatar

This village is right at the top of Mar Menor and what I was looking for in particular were the mud baths I had read about. As mentioned above, the Romans first spotted the therapeutic and healing properties of the mud found in the Mar Menor thousands of years ago and still today people visit the area for treatments.

SAn pedro del pinatar costa calida surf beach

With a cocktail of negative and positive ions the mud mixed with fine sand makes a unique healing mud highly recommended for arthritis, broken bones, damaged skin and rheumatism, not to mention as a beauty product.

salt mine at San Pedro del Pinatar

Special bathing platforms have been constructed to make access to the water easier. You climb down into the water and cover your skin in the mud, you leave it to dry and then you wash it off.

san pedro del pinatar bathing platforms

According to local legend you should do this nine times for the full effect, or at least end on an uneven number.

If you don’t fancy the DIY option then you can book into one of the spas in the area.

San pedro del pinatar windy day

Needless to say I didn’t get my mud bath as the weather wouldn’t permit, so we took a stroll along the beaches, we drove out to the local salt mines and we treated ourselves to ice cream on the beach.

I spotted a lot of fabulous bars. I think there is a great nightlife here with live music and fiesta.

san pedro poster

Disclosure: This is part of a series of posts on the Costa Calida where we were kindly guests of James Villa Holidays. Find more local information here
La Manga Strip
La Manga Club Resort
Cabo de Palos
Cartagena

Time Traveller

If you have a travel post old or new that you’d like to share with #TimeTraveller this week please add it to the Linky below and I’ll be over for a good read.

TimeTravellers

I have put down a few rules to avoid this Linky becoming a dump and run which you can find here.



La Manga Strip - Spain

After lunch at Cabo de Palos, the weather was still looking gloomy so we decided to explore the Manga Strip in our hire car. The winds were howling around us as you can see in the photo above, the trees bending over in the 40mph gusts.

Costa Calida spain - Cabo de palos

As the aeroplane comes into land at Murcia airport you get an excellent overhead view of Mar Menor, the 170km square saltwater lagoon separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a 22km long stretch of sand, La Manga Strip. It’s a breathtaking shot so make sure you sit on the left of the plane looking towards the pilot on your way out.

La Manga Club Resort - view of the Strip

The strip has been heavily built up since the 1960’s resulting in a long line of high rise apartments and hotels running on both sides of the main road from top to tail. I am not a fan of built up resorts but it does look pretty impressive from the other side of Mar Menor or from up high as you can see the strip quite clearly ‘in the middle of the sea’.

La manga strip highrise apartments

The Manga Strip at the end of April was also desolate, the main season for holiday makers being July and August. So as we drove along the empty wide main roads with lots of traffic lights at regular intervals it felt like we were in a ghost town. Admittedly it was a bad weather day but all of the high rise buildings were closed down and locked up. The shops were shut and the few restaurants that were open were empty.

la manga strip park

I imagine this place is absolutely packed in the height of the season and speaking to the locals I understood the main road to be a nightmare during that period too.

La Manga Strip - door

We stopped off at a park to allow the girls to let off some steam and whilst they enjoyed the climbing frames I had a mooch down to the coast to see what I could find. I came across this building built on the beach; on the beach front it is a restaurant and swimming pool but on the road side I was impressed with this gorgeous door, I have a thing about doors.

la manga mimosa Spain

We got back in the car and drove right to the end as far as we could go, on the tip, the land looks quite desolate but there were hundreds of mimosa bushes in flower.

la manga strip bridge

There was also this really steep bridge to cross which was quite scary in our little car which took us to an area of low lying villas all beautifully cared for and we caught a group of windsurfers off the coast.

la manga strip high risebuildings

The weather calmed down a bit on our return journey so we stopped off on the Mar Menor side to take a look at the beach. A long sandy beach where the water was incredibly calm compared to the roaring Med just a few hundred feet over the other side.

la manga strip beach

The girls kicked off their shoes and waded in but a Spanish lady yelled at me she was making whipping movements on her arm and it was only when she showed me the hundreds of dead jellyfish lining the water did I realise the danger! How had I not spotted them I don’t know? Fortunately no one was stung and we learnt from this lovely lady that the local council dragged the waters frequently to remove the jellyfish but the rough seas had prevented them from working.

la manga strip jellyfish

I’ll leave you with one other image of La Manga Strip taken on our last day when the weather was warm and sunny and the jellyfish had gone back out to sea. This is on the Mediterranean side, if you look closely you can see buildings stretching out almost to the edge of the photo. It wasn’t the clearest day, it’s the best I could do.

la manga strip spain

Disclosure: This post is part of a collection of our recent trip to La Manga Club Resort with James Villa Holidays who kindly gave us a fabulous apartment for the week. Find more local information here

 

La Manga Club Resort

Cabo de Palos

Los Alcazares

San Pedro del Pinatar

Cartagena

cabo de palos marina fishermen

At the bottom of La Manga Strip there is a small stretch of land that juts out into the Mediterranean sea, this is Cabo de Palos. It was one of the first places we visited on our trip to La Manga Club Resort at Easter and also the last where we enjoyed a delicious paella della casa at Restaurante Miramar and you certainly do get a magical view of the sea along with excellent food.

cabo de palos sand beach

The first time we visited the weather was very grey and incredibly windy with gusts up to 40mph but we were too curious to stay inside so we jumped into our hire car and hit the road for about 15 minutes from our villa.

cabo de palos marina

There is a fabulous market at the beginning of the town on Sunday morning selling fruit, vegetables, clothes and shoes but we didn’t stop to see as our fridge was full from the superior welcome pack that James Villa Holidays had kindly given us. We turned into the village and parked up around the marina. Our walk led us towards the sea and along the row of cafes, bars, restaurants and souvenir shops in the ’embracing wind’. Our mission was to walk to the lighthouse on the tip but we soon realised we were taking the long way around.

Costa Calida spain - Cabo de palos

 

We crossed through the town to the other side of the mini peninsula and discovered a sandy beach stretching way into the distance as the Manga Strip disappeared on the horizon. I vowed to return on a clearer day for a better shot.

cabo de palos lighthouse

 

The walk to the lighthouse is a pleasant one, even if it’s a very windy day and we soon reached the building  after a short climb up.

cabo de palos view of La Manga strip

 

We were all disappointed that you can’t enter the lighthouse and climb to the top but even from the base there are spectacular views.

cabo de palos lighthouse

Love this close up of the front door with the cat :)

cabo de palos lighthouse

We walked back to the village and I must praise the girls for so much walking. As they started to get tired we found a small park and let them play for a while before moving on. It never ceases to amaze me that playing in a park will actually revive them. I was interested to see lots of property up for sale and checking online later there are some excellent bargains, Paul got quite excited during our stay out there choosing his ‘retirement home.’

cabo de palos marina

On our first visit we chose Restaurante El Faro for lunch, they have a wonderful menu but it was Sunday, our first day and we wanted tapas. We asked the waiter and left it to the kitchen to decide.

cabo de palos restaurante el faro

They brought out one dish at a time for us to share and it was great as the girls tried too deciding what they liked and what they didn’t. The 6th and final plate of calamari really was just too much but we all gave it our best shot. An excellent meal  in the closed porch whilst it rained outside.

cabo de palos restaurante El Faro

After lunch, as the weather was so bad, we decided to drive up La Manga Strip but I’ll tell you about that another time.

After a week of exploring the Costa Calida on our last day we decided to return to Cabo de Palos for our Last Supper.

cabo de palos restaurante miramar

This time we chose Restaurante Miramar on the corner of the marina. Our table was in the window as the sunset over the far side. It was hot and we had to ask the waiter to drop the sun blind outside, after such a bad week I didn’t dare shut the sun out completely!

family photo in Spain La Manga Club Resort

The menu was full of fresh fish which I love and other delicious dishes but Paul and I went for the paella de la casa and that was really, really good, so good the girls kept asking to taste more rather than eat their own choice of food!

And so our holiday started and ended in Cabo de Palos, I would definitely go back to this place and explore some more, lots of the shops, bars and restaurants were closed but I am told the place is buzzing in the summer, it must be a lot of fun.

Find out more on the Costa Calida and where we visited here

La Manga Strip

La Manga Club Resort

Los Alcazares and San Pedro del Pinatar

Cartagena

Time Traveller: The Travel Bloggers Linky

We’re on our 5th week now of the Time Traveller and I am really enjoying being transported all over the world with all the fabulous posts linking up, thank you. I have had a brand new badge made with code underneath by the lovely Stacey Corrin making it very easy to grab.

If you are new to Time Traveller it’s a Linky where you can share your travel posts, both old and new. If you have been somewhere recently, tell us about it and if you haven’t share an old post, a favourite from the archives. You could even write about places you visited before you started blogging, scan the photos, re write and relive the experience, tell us all about it.

The rules are very simple

  • Your post must be travel related.
  • It can be a day out, a weekend away or a longer break.
  • You can use posts from your archives or write something new.
  • This Linky is about sharing, please don’t dump a link and run. Read some posts, leave a comment on them. I aim to visit everyone who links up, be patient as I will fit my comments around my family and work.
  • Please leave a comment on this post and I would love you to display the Time Traveller badge but it’s not essential.
TimeTravellers



 

Costa Calida spain - Cabo de palos

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the Costa Calida before starting to prepare for our Easter holiday and judging by the lack of travel guides available I’d assume it is a well kept secret. Plus every time I mentioned La Manga Club resort my listener would say, ‘Ooohh, isn’t that where the footballers go to train?’ I didn’t know the answer but I was intrigued to find out.

La Manga Club Resort Spain

La Manga Club Resort is a small town with the difference of security gates at the entrance to check on who comes and who goes. There is a beautiful 5 star Hotel Principe Felipe with the golf course stretching out in front, there are villas of all shapes and sizes and apartments too. The resort has everything you will need during your stay, even a petrol station.

James Villa Holidays Las Higueras Spain

Our James Villa Holidays home for the week, situated in the community of Las Higueras, was just perfect, so beautiful it seemed as if it was ours with the right kitchen and the right beds and proper garden furniture. It really was a dream home and as I lay in bed reading on Monday morning I was amused to see the pool maintenance man pass by to turn the taps on to water the plants in the garden.

la manga club resort James villa holidays

In fact the garden was gorgeous and I took lots of photos, sharing them on my Instagram feed, in fact I shared LOTS on my instagram feed as everywhere I looked there was beauty, or something curious, or something very Spanish. Something that made me feel happy so I shared it.

la manga club resort James villa holidays

I will admit to ballsing up the packing as I had been expecting sunshine and warmth, so in to the suitcase went sandals, shorts, t shirts, flip flops, sun cream and summer dresses. I quickly discovered that 1 cardigan each and 1 pair of long trousers wouldn’t see us through the 50mph winds during our first few days. However it did calm down and we did get our dresses out as well.

la manga club resort james villa holidays

There was a lot to see in the area and on the windy days we jumped into our little hire car and explored…

Cabo de palos Spain James Villa holidays

Cabo de Palos, the nearby fishing town with a fabulous lighthouse that you can walk up to. We also had some wonderful meals in this town.

la manga strip Costa Calida spain

 

La Manga Strip which is a ‘sleeve’ of sand stretching out into the Mediterranean creating the lagoon of Mar Menor. It was massively built up in the 70’s and today is a strip of high rise apartment blocks and flats, at Easter as quiet and dead as a mouse but I hear in summertime a real traffic jam to get anywhere.

los alcazares Costa Calida

Los Alcazares and the long white beaches on the Mar Menor.

san pedro del pinatar

 

San Pedro del Pinatar famous for the salt marshes and the mud which has been used for thousands of years for the therapeutic and healing properties. I didn’t go in as it was so cold but I totally would have done.

Cartagena Spain

Cartagena the nearby port town stepped in Roman history. A fascinating place to visit but a good walk, we had moany girls by the end and bribed them with ice cream to get back to the car.

‘My legs won’t go an inch more mummy.’ – Alice aged 6.

Cartagena Spain

We found a park and they played for half an hour – no problem with the legs at all.

Last photo (for now) at a local town El Algar as it’s one of my favourites

Calle amor de Dios

I will be writing about the above in more detail as they were all so beautiful and I have so many photos but for now it’s time for Time Traveller, please link up one of your posts and join in the Travel Bloggers Linky. Please find all the Time Traveller details here

Disclosure: My family were kindly hosted at La Manga Club Resort in the villa mentioned by James Villa Holidays for the purpose of this post, all opinions are our own. See where we went exploring in the local area

La Manga Strip

Cabo de Palos

Los Alcazares and San Pedro del Pinatar

Cartagena

I leave you with a rare photo of me and the girls :)