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

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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 :)

Roses beach

Our second day on the Costa Brava was spent in Roses up at the other end of the bay where L’Estartit sits at the bottom. It took a good hour on a minibus to get there but it was well worth the drive.

Roses sandcastle

We arrived at around 10 am and the lovely lady from Burricleta was waiting for us. The plan was to sightsee on a bicycle. An electric bike which I had never tried before.

Burricleta Roses Costa Brava

We were told that children had to be over 8 to ride alone and this caused a few tears from our mini cyclists to begin with BUT I am so pleased we managed to convince them to sit with us as they would have never made the long hour and a half round trip on their own.

Burricleta Roses national park

 

I must say once you get used to how to use the electric bike it is the most amazing experience and one we will most definitely repeat if we see it elsewhere. It is very simple to use and because it is electric you don’t exhaust yourself but are able to take in the surroundings and Roses is truly beautiful to see.

Our lovely guide took us along Roses seafront which you can see in the top photo, she cut through the town and then took us for a wonderful journey through the natural park that lays outside the town.

Bessie Costa brava Roses

 

It was beautiful. Quiet, calm with wonderful fresh air to fill your lungs with.

Roses - me and Bessie

Once we had completed the park tour we then rode through the elite part of Roses. An absolutely amazing area with huge colourful villas lining the canals that stretch in from the sea, each villa with it’s own swimming pool (obvs) plus landing stage for their boat at the bottom of the garden. We saw a yacht go by as we stood on a bridge to take the view in. Take a look at our view from the bridge

Upstream – I am in love with those villas.

Roses Costa Brava

and downstream with a yacht coming our way. I’m so sad the weather had turned on us and the photos look a bit dull as I promise you it is a stunning view.

Roses waterways

We rode our way back to the beach and followed a path all the way back to where we had started.

Thank you Roses Burricleta for your time and such an amazing trip. I wish I had a Go Pro to show the readers just how beautiful our trip was, in fact I must invest in one soon.

Roses beach

Back at the beachfront, the weather was turning and everyone was hungry, Visit Roses had booked us a meal at one of the town’s many restaurants L’Entrecot and as we turned up we saw the paella finishing off on the terrace – what a welcome!

L'Entrecot Roses, Costa Brava

 

The starter was a buffet of amazing tapas to choose from, there was something for everyone and I couldn’t resist but take a spoonful of my favourites to try and the main of course had to be the fresh paella it was worth it.

Roses Costa Brava

After lunch we had to make our way back to Barcelona for our flight home but I left my heart on the Costa Brava and husband, ever since he’s been back, has been dreaming of moving there once he retires … he’s even been on the property websites. I daren’t remind him how many years he has yet to go. But a villa with a staircase like this? Yes please!

Roses staircase

 

 

Alice and Bessie in roses Costa Brava

Disclosure: We were guests of the Catalan Tourist Board for this trip and we would like to thank Burricleta Roses for taking the time to show us around and Visit Roses for such a delicious lunch.

sunset Costa brava

As promised here’s the second part of our weekend on the Costa Brava at the end of September.  Our tale of L’Estartit was only the start!

This time I’m taking you to a place of great beauty, a place that as I stepped off the coach I was captivated by the countryside around me, the vineyards line upon line stretching out into the distance, the sun setting  over the Pyrenees in the distance and the sense that I had arrived somewhere special. I grabbed my camera and wanted to snatch a few photos before our evening’s cooking demonstration.

La Vinyetta Costa Brava

We were led down to a small house in the midst of the vines and inside Jordi and Anna from I Cook It were waiting for us, Jordi was going to get us to cook our dinner in true Catalan style. A table of bites was prepared including the ‘Pa amb Tomàquet’ or Bread and tomato which is so easy to prepare.

Pa amb tomàquet

  1. Cut a tomato in half and rub the flesh over the bread hard, pressing the pulp into the bread
  2. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Drizzle olive oil and eat.

DELICIOUS!

I cook it La Vinyetta

I offered my services for the making of the utterly delicious Gazpacho which always reminds me of Pedro Almodovar’s 1988 comedy Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown. Do you think I could remember the name of the film that evening? No but how could I forget when it was the film that started Antonio Banderas’ career? Anyway back to Gazpacho but do look out that film it’s really good.

Gazpacho for 4

1 kilo plum tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1 small green pepper
1 small cucumber
1 small cup olive oil
2 dessert spoons vinegar
200g bread (yesterdays if possible)
  1. Put the tomatoes, onion, pepper, cucumber, vinegar, oil and bread in a liquidiser. If you want to dilute it add a glass of water, you can also add fresh garlic to the mix for a tangy taste.
  2. Serve in glasses as shown below or in bowls with portions of extra diced tomatoes, pepper, cucumber, onion and croutons so people can add as they prefer.

Gazpacho I cook It

 

I cook it Marianne

Dad offered his help towards making the Surf and turf Catalan paella, the girls stepped in to help with the stirring. Dad was so impressed with his handywork he made another when we got back to England.

Surf and Turf Catalan Paella for 4

360g bomba rice (I found paella rice)
750ml of of fish stock and 750ml chicken stock
4 king prawns, 4 mussels, 4 clams 2 small cuttlefish
50g pork ribs + 50g chicken + 50g little sausages
2 onions
400 gr tomatoes
1 green pepper
some vegetables – can include asparagus, peas, saffron and so on.
  1. Stir fry the cuttlefish and add the meat in bite size pieces in a pan with olive oil.
  2. Add 1/2 inch of oil to a pan or casserole and heat well. Add the onions, reduce the heat and cook until softened stirring occasionally. Cook until the onions are golden brown adding a little water if necessary. Don’t let the onions burn.
  3. Add the tomatoes and mix well cooking until all the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes start to ‘melt’ into the onions.
  4. Add the meat, cuttlefish and rice and stir well.
  5. Add both stocks and cook on a medium heat taking care to stir as little as possible. Add stock as necessary to make sure the rice is covered. Add any vegetables you wish to include.
  6. After 10 minutes add all the seafood and cook the rice for another 6 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat, wait 2 minutes and then serve.

I cook it, all cooking

 Crema Catalana for 4

1 litre of milk
200g sugar
8 egg yolks
45g corn flour
1 stick of cinnamon
1 lemon peel
  1. Bring to the boil the milk, cinnamon and lemon peel.
  2. In a bowl beat the eggs, cornstarch and 3/4 cup of sugar until thoroughly blended.
  3. Add the milk and mix until frothy.
  4. Gently heat the liquid stirring continuously until thickened. Remove pot from the heat immediately.
  5. Ladle the milk mixture into 4 – 6 ramekins. Allow to cool then refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
  6. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top of each dessert and burn with a torch or broiler.

Disclosure: We were invited, as a family, to spend a weekend on the Costa Brava by the Catalan Tourist Board, all expenses were paid and we’d like to thank them for a wonderful experience. All recipes above were kindly handed out by I Cook It.

Costa Brava L'Estartit

Dad has been very busy on the computer of an evening recently, he’s been scouring the northern Spanish coast for 5 star campsites dreaming up our next summer holiday on the Costa Brava. You see we recently spent a weekend on the Costa Brava thanks to Catalan Tourist Board who invited us over for a taster weekend and we all loved it so much we want to return as soon as possible.

L’Estartit – Costa Brava

When we awoke on Saturday morning the sun was shining brightly in a spotless blue sky and held many promises of fun, warmth and beauty, we weren’t let down. Our home for the weekend was Hotel Medes, a lovely family run hotel very close to the sea which takes its name from the Islands of Medes which sit opposite L’Estartit. It was central enough to allow us to walk along the coast to the port passing a lovely market as we made our way.

Costa Brava L'Estartit market

Our morning activity was to sail across the calm seas on board El Corsari Negre to celebrate the Pirates and Corsairs in Medes Festival.

Costa Brava Iles des Medes

You see many many years ago L’Estartit was attacked from the sea by pirates from Africa, the locals had to hide in the towers of their homes and the stories are re told over and over in the town.

Costa Brava Iles des Medes

 

In fact the weekend of 27th September is the only time of the year anyone is allowed to land on the Iles des Medes and walk to the top or explore. It is a natural Park and source of much pride for the locals.

Costa Brava Iles des Medes

It is stunningly beautiful. Here you can see L”Estartit in the background.

Costa Brava Pirates

It is a hugely popular area for scuba diving too and has recently been featured in a UK Scuba Diving magazine. These shots make me want to have a go at scuba diving again

Costa Brava Scuba Diving

It was fun to see the town decked out for the festivities, there were signs of pirates everywhere, perfect for firing up the imagination of the little people. The L’Estartit tourist board had many activities planned, pirate shows in the town square, music, fireworks and craft and it was lovely to see everyone dressing up in the finest pirate gear to take part in this family festival.

Costa Brava L'Estartit pirates

We had a delicious lunch in La Gaviota restaurant, also on the promenade. I went for Octopus Galician style followed by Colin à la donostiarra (Hake) but it did make me laugh as I tucked into Colin. Pudding was the delicious Crema Catalana.

Costa Brava L'Estartit La Gaviota

Our afternoon was spent partly in the hotel swimming pool and a short walk back into town to see the pirate festivities.

Costa Brava Hotel Medes L'Estartit

That evening we were taken to a very special place about an hour and a half away close to the Pyrenees, Lavinyetta. We got off the coach surrounded by vines as the sun started to set. It was magical and what was even more interesting was to find out we were going to be cooking our own meal with Jordi and Anna from I Cook It.

Costa Brava La Vinyetta

But rather than cram a whole weekend into one post I’m going to tell you all about our La Vinyetta experience and our Sunday in Roses plus the most amazing bike rides (on electrical bikes that dad was very impressed with) in a different post.

If you like seeing holiday photos, here’s a few more I took and shared recently in The Gallery: Creative

L'Estartit promenade Costa Brava

L'Estartit Costa Brava

Fish Crates Costa Brava

La Vinyeta Costa Brava

La Vinyeta Costa Brava sunset

 

Do you need to find out more? Helen has written a post that makes me want to pack my bags and run back on Actually Mummy, take a look.

Disclosure: We were invited, as a family, to spend a weekend on the Costa Brava by the Catalan Tourist Board, all expenses were paid and we’d like to thank them for a wonderful experience.