11.04.22 — Travel

A Half Holiday

With the weather in Madrid not up to much recently, I had some hope for some nicer weather as I once again set off down to Murcia to spend a weekend with my auntie and uncle. The familiar routine unfolded as I caught the train at Madrid’s Atocha train station, but this time the journey had a few twists, as I’d to change trains and wound up going backwards and forwards as I got closer to the Mar Menor.

The first evening was a chill one, as I was tired from a long day, but then the Saturday was a completely different story. After a quick bite to eat, we jumped in the car and headed down towards the coast. Before hitting the big city, we stopped off by an industrial complex, where my uncle knew of a walk that’d take us to the very top of a hill with views over the sea.

We parked the car and wandered first past this crazy forest of transformers and electricity cables, heading uphill at quite a pace until we reached a seating area with views over the water. My uncle carried on further, but my auntie and I opted to rest at this first stop, taking in the views as we were ruffled by the wind – it was blowing quite the gale!

I soon got restless, and decided to creep past a “no entry” sign in order to see what lay beyond. This little adventure took me along a rather exposed ridge of the cliff face, which then led me down to the corner of the precipie. This precarious little spot offered some lovely views over the sea, but I didn’t stick around for too long due to the gathering wind and questionable structural stability.

Me and my auntie then waited for my uncle to head back down. Once he was back, the three of us headed back to the car, where the smell of sausages made us hungry for a quick snack. To this end, we started heading on our way to Cartagena, stopping along the way at a little cove that I’d never been to before.

This hidden little tunnel took us down to the quirky little cove.

The weather really wasn’t good enough for a dip in the sea or a rest on the sand – but that didn’t seem to stop the locals! We opted not to join them, instead grabbing a drink and some marineras (a local snack made with Russian salad and an anchovy) to pass the time.

I’m always down for a Radler and a local snack by the sea.

We then headed into Cartagena proper, wandering its pretty streets and spending the afternoon drinking beer and munching on tapas instead of sitting down for a proper lunch – when the weather’s good, it’s a great plan! Our afternoon ended when we had some frozen yoghurt for dessert, after which we headed back towards their apartment.

That evening, we first headed into another local town to check out a restaurant that they’d never visited, but we were met by a rather empty and rather glum looking bar. Not fancying that, we headed back to their local town, Sucina, where we shared some local dished at another restaurant.

From there, we headed to the bar within the complex, where I wound up spending the evening chatting to the bar staff after my auntie and uncle grew tired and headed home. I found out some pretty interesting stuff, from details about the local parties to the story of the old duchess of the property on which the complex was built, whose burial site was relocated when the old house was renovated to create the resort’s restaurant.

The next day, we headed down to the shore, where the wind had picked up and the sky was beginning to get a little cloudy: foreshadowing of the weather to come. We wandered along the shore, stopping eventually at a restaurant to share some food. As we left, I grabbed myself a chocolate a la taza (like a thick hot chocolate) to go, which came in useful as a hand warmer as the wind kept up its relentless attack as we headed back to the car.

This old car in front of this old facade took me back a few years.

That evening’s meal took us down to a lovely local Indian restaurant, where I enjoyed a lovely curry and some fish pakora as recommended to me by one of the owners. After this, we headed back home for an early night, as the next day I’d to connect to work remotely for the day – hence the name of this blog post.

In the end, this day at work wasn’t too hard to face, as the weather outside had taken a page out of Madrid’s book and turned into a downpour. It was lovely to have the flexibility to work from Murcia, and the experience was made even lovelier by a varied spread of food that my auntie laid out for us all to have lunch together on my lunch break!

After work that evening, we headed up to one of their friends’ apartments, where Viv and Martin treated us to some homemade sausage rolls and coconut buns to accompany a gin and tonic. From there, we headed to the resort’s restaurant, where we enjoyed one last evening meal of burgers and burritos.

The next day was Tuesday, and that meant that I’d be heading back to Madrid in the afternoon. This time, we retook our old tradition of heading out for lunch at a restaurant so that I wouldn’t be hungry during my train trip back up, joined by another two of my auntie and uncle’s friends. It was a light-hearted and delicious lunch, as usual, cut somewhat short by my need to be at the train station in the next town along at a given time.

This trip back didn’t go quite to plan, however. At the train station, I stood on the platform waiting for quite a while, becoming somewhat worried when I didn’t see the train appear on the screens. One of the receptionists eventually appeared, who promptly informed me that there was a bus replacement service that had – to my horror – already left. Upon further inspection, it did indeed mention said rail replacement on the ticket – but in my defence it was printed in pretty small text and right at the bottom of the page.

It seemed like the only option for me to carry my trip back to Madrid was for my auntie and uncle to drive me all the way up to Albacete, where I could jump straight onto the second train of my original journey. As we sped down the motorway, my auntie told me to reread my ticket, and it turned out that the bus service didn’t actually last the entire way to Albacete. We thus rerouted and they managed to drop me off at a small town, where the lovely conductor directed me to the train which would take me onwards, upwards, and towards the capital.

The trip back up to Madrid was proving to be a pretty interesting one, but it was about to get even more so…

From Albacete, and once on my final high-speed train back to Atocha, I thought things would be smooth sailing – but that wasn’t to be so! As I sat working on my previous blog post, I sensed a commotion brewing in the aisle, and wound up watching a guy discover that another guy had stolen his laptop and hidden it in his backpack. This caused a lot of discussions between them and the train conductors, and I stepped off the train to the police waiting on the platform to interrogate the people involved.

After checking that my laptop was securely in my backpack, I then walked to the short distance back home, ready for a good night of rest after such a chaotic journey back up to my home city!

Although I’d to work during one of the days and despite the shenanigans that unfolded on my trip back northwards, I had a lovely time down in Murcia. I’ve to once again thank my auntie and uncle for putting me up and taking me out to do all sorts of different things – I’ll be back in the autumn!