22.06.21 — Travel

A Long Murcian Weekend

A mere two weeks after my trip up to Bilbao with Jhosef, it was time for me to grab a train southwards and to the now very familiar lands of Murcia. I was once again traversing the Iberian peninsula, and I was once again bound for the Mediterranean coast in order to spend a few days with my auntie and uncle after I last saw them last summer.

The trip started with a near miss, as I arrived running into the station and boarding my train a mere two minutes before it left on its way. This was thanks to me getting quite distracted in a rather fancy supermarket, where I’d nipped in for a bottle of water and left with a bag full of snacks and a bottle of vermouth.

Relieved, and with the rare luck of having a whole two seats to myself, I spread out and took the time to work on my website on my laptop during the journey down. This, combined with aforementioned bag of delicious treats, made the five hours fly by; before I knew it I was stepping off at the station of Balsicas to be greeted by my aunt and uncle.

From there, the three of us headed to a local bar that they’d found, where we ordered a selection of dishes and a beer each to make the most of that Friday evening. Once full of garlic prawns and chopitos (little fried squids), we headed back to theirs to rest for the night before a busy Saturday begun.

A brisk morning walk to grab some bread was the perfect start to the weekend.

Me and my auntie kicked off the weekend with a walk up to the local shop to grab some supplies for breakfast, after which the three of us jumped in the car and down to the coast to visit a restaurant and seafront bar. There we were in luck, as the place was pretty quiet and they were sound testing for a dinner the following evening, which involved being serenaded to some of our favourite songs whilst enjoying a drink overlooking the water. It was pure holiday bliss!

From there we then headed further down the coast and to the mud baths, where I once again took the plunge and covered myself in the rather whiffy sulphur-rich goo. As I struggled to get the stuff to stick, I got chatting to two locals, who wound up talking to me for a good while – so long that my auntie had to come and drag me away so that we wouldn’t be late for lunch!

We dined down at a harbour that I’d never visited, which involved a journey winding through the nearby salt flats in order to reach the place. I figured that when in a harbour, I should probably order some seafood, and so my lunch was a delicious combination of seafood soup and fried dorada (a kind of fish which I have never heard of in English but who’s name is apparently the same as Spanish, where it means “golden”).

The sky looked threatening but held out for the most part.

With the day drawing to a close and having packed quite a lot into the morning, we spent the evening at the apartment, where I introduced my auntie to the wonders of those peeling face masks which don’t seem to do much for the skin but are a whole lot of satisfying fun to remove!

The next day began, once again, with a wander around the golf complex where my auntie and uncle live. We decided to stick around the place for the day, where I spent a good while in the pool and a little while reading my new book. I’d headed down to the poolside without a hat, however, and so some quick improvisation was called for…

Once the sun had begun to fade and I was all pool-ed out, we showered and prepared ourselves for an evening out. We’d decided to visit a place that my auntie and uncle had heard good things about down by the coast, and so headed back down to the Mar Menor to seek out the restaurant in question.

The meal we had certainly didn’t disappoint, from the small bites for starters to the delicious plate of pork in a creamy mushroom sauce that we ended with. I even got myself hooked on their buñuelos de bacalao, fried balls of cod with some other delicious stuff thrown in, and ended up ordering more!

Once I was quite merry after a couple of glasses of vermouth, we paid up and headed back for the car, stopping on the way to pick up a bag full of that staple of Spanish cuisine, freshly fried churros with a cup of gooey, thick hot chocolate. We sat down on a wall to eat these whilst overlooking the sea: the perfect end to another lovely day.

The next day saw us once again head out for lunch, stopping by an ancient spot in a little old town that served us a series of local dishes as part of their daily menu. From there, we headed out shopping, as I was keen to grab a few bits from the British supermarket to share with my friends and colleagues here in Madrid. I do think my taste is now changing however, as the Kettle crisps that I used to laud so readily now seem a bit greasy and cheap to me…

That evening, a couple of my auntie and uncle’s friends nipped over for a drink, and we had a lovely evening chatting away until late as I finished off that bottle of vermouth that I’d brought down with me and which had nearly cost me my train journey!

Through sheer damn luck and the willpower to down two pints of water before heading off to bed, I awoke to spend my last day without any kind of heavy head. Not wanting this last day to be spent faffing around until my train left at 4:30pm, me and my auntie headed down to La Encarnación, a lovely hotel and restaurant down by the seafront. There we had a quick breakfast before heading back into the town of Los Alcázares, where I picked up a few last minute bits and bobs before heading back to the apartment to pack.

Before bundling myself onto the train back up to Madrid, however, there was one last tradition to be honoured. Before heading for the station, we seemingly always stop for lunch beforehand in a little town called Roldán, and this time was no different. Meeting up with more of my auntie and uncle’s friends, we enjoyed a very filling meal which always keeps me very satisfied and very dozy during the long journey back home.

This wasn’t the last highlight of my trip down to Murcia, however, as I had quite the surprise on the train back to Madrid. As the train crawled out of Murcia’s train station, I suddenly felt someone grab my neck, and turned around to find myself face-to-face with Borja, an ex colleague from back from when I first started at Erretres! What are the chances?

My journey down south concluded with this lovely surprise and a quick catch up with Borja on the way out of the train station, the cherry on the cake after four days of relaxation and catching up with my auntie and uncle. Needless to say that, as ever, my little holiday was great fun, and I’ve to extend many thanks to my auntie and uncle for putting up with me and my every whim during the time I spent with them.

I now look forward to being able to nip down to visit Murcian shores once again, most probably once I’m all vaccinated up to the nines. Until then, ¡chau!