23.01.18 — Travel


Sometimes in life things just seem to slot together perfectly, and that’s just what happened last week when cheap train tickets, a couple of spare holiday days at work and a well timed trip by my parents all aligned just right. I grabbed the Thursday and Friday off work in earnest just before Christmas, and then the plan was set: my parents were to fly into Murcia and stay with my auntie and uncle who live there, and I was to meet them all on Wednesday night to spend a few days basking in the warm air of the south of Spain. It’s been at least a few years since I was last there, so the plan worked out just perfect!

A view from my auntie and uncle's place

The journey started with a quick transfer to Madrid’s main train station, Atocha, straight from work. Once there I grabbed a slice of pizza and made my way on to the platform, where I realised that I was in possession of a fancy ticket for the preferente cabin – I guess it’s the Spanish take on first class. I definitely didn’t opt for that through choice, so I assume they must have been the only tickets left when I bought one…

Anyway, and after four and a half hours of enjoying the extra legroom and personal space of the three-to-a-row seating of the fancy cabin, I rocked up at the train station nearest to my auntie’s place. There I was greeted by my mum, dad and auntie, and then we hopped in the car with my uncle and headed back to their apartment. Arriving after midnight, we quickly all resolved to put ourselves straight to bed, and I enjoyed a good night’s sleep thanks to a lack of nighttime chill.

The next day it was time to present my mum with a couple of slightly belated presents I’d brought down for her birthday, namely a bottle of fancy gin and slices of homemade lemon sponge cake. We had to get creative with the use of the candles provided by my auntie, as in order to fit the cake in my bag I had had to cut it into slices in Madrid before setting off. It did the job just fine, and after a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday, the well-travelled cake went down pretty well!

Ready for presentation
Mum and her cake

After some lunch we decided to head out and do a little exploration, and we opted to visit the coast as I’d said that it’d be nice to see the sea – I was feeling slightly cheated to have been living in Spain for four months and only managed to spend some time on the coast once in that time whilst up in Oviedo with Kevin.

We hit the empty beach
Looking out to sea

Before leaving my mum and auntie had badgered me saying that it’d be a good idea to don a pair of shorts as the sun was quite hot, no matter how much I contested, and so I eventually borrowed a pair of my dads against my better judgment. My hypothesis was proved right as soon as we stepped out of the car, as the sea breeze kept up a steady battery of my poor exposed legs. Not to worry though, as I kept myself warm by keeping on the move, pacing down the empty beach and snapping photos of anything and everything that caught my eye.

A funky lifeguard station
An even funkier zig-zag pier

Once we’d had our fill of the first beach, we hopped back in the car and headed a little further down the Mar Menor for another spot of strolling, and to stop at a picturesque little coastal bar for a cheeky cocktail.

A pretty little church
A desserted beach
Drinks in a courtyard
Looking through the plaza

It was soon time to head back to my auntie’s place, where we freshened ourselves up before being picked up by the local town’s curry house who run a free taxi service. There we enjoyed a lovely meal, and rocked up at home later on full of chicken curry and wine.

The next day we’d decided to head up to a restaurant run by who my auntie likes to call the lady in the mountains. In reality it’s a pretty traditional café/restaurant run by a lovely señora which serves an array of typical homemade local dishes, and we all tucked in to a lovely selection from the menú del día. Me and my dad tucked into a lentil-based dish before enjoying a salmon steak, all followed by a round of coffees and various desserts.

The road to the restaurant

After an evening meal at home, my mum and dad set about packing up for the following day, as before we knew where we were Saturday had come around and it was time to wave my parents off at Murcia airport as they headed back to the sleety streets of England. Once I’d ushered them into departures with a round of “see you in six weeks!” (they’ll be up here visiting Madrid before I know it), me and my auntie headed out on an adventure together alone, as my uncle wasn’t feeling too well and had to decided to get rested back at home.

A view from the car park

As you can see from the photo above which was taken just next to where we parked the car, we were back on the seafront visiting a place called Cabo de Palos. The pretty little peninsula jutting out just below the Mar Menor was actually recommended to me by my boss Pablo, who knows the region quite well from many visits in previous years.

Another view from the car park

Once I’d done messing around on a rocky outcrop taking the previous two photos, me and my auntie took a stroll along a little promenade which terminated in a picturesque little harbour, opting not to eat at the pricey spots offering 38€ fixed menus, but rather to get ourselves lost down the backstreets. There we found cañas (small beers) and tapas for a couple of euros – now that’s more our kind of price!

Brightly coloured palms
The pretty mess of the harbour
Drinks and nibbles by the roadside

After our little refreshment stop we were back on our feet and making progress along the seafront, heading slowly but surely to the tip of the peninsula, guided by and headed towards the cape’s iconic lighthouse. Once we arrived nearby we thought about giving the rest of the trek a miss, but a curiosity to see what kind of views it would provide led us marching up the spiralling road to the base of the imposing brick structure.

The sea and the lighthouse

Murcia was providing some striking geometric compositions.

Found compositions
More striking shapes

The views over the sea were quite impressive, but as you can see from the photos above I found myself rather mesmerised by the unexpected jumble of angular shapes provided by some rather wacky architecture hidden at the base of the lighthouse. Upon peering into the blue tinted glass of the structure above I also found myself before another rather lovely view – my own reflection! All joking aside, it did actually create quite a cool effect, so I will be so vain as to share the selfie I snapped…

Chilling at the lighthouse

Here I should mention that you won’t be finding any more photos of me herein, as I managed to forget to bring my sunglasses down with me from Madrid, and so was forced to rock a spare pair of my mum’s diamante encrusted frames. Regardless, the sea breeze eventually had us descending back further towards sea level, but not before one last shot from our vantage point across La Mancha and the Mar Menor beyond.

La Mancha and Mar Menor

When we’d descended from the little hill we began our slow return back to the car, but with the coast pretty much to ourselves, I was sure to make plenty of stops to explore deserted coves and abandoned buildings. I even roped my auntie into taking a photo of me as I risked life and limb in venturing out onto a little rock jetty in the perilous wind…

A look back at the lighthouse
An abandoned house
A view from a deserted mini beach
Who is that idiot over there?

Now, just who is that idiot out on that rock over there?

Once we’d found our way back to the car we were momentarily led astray by my evil Google Maps. I have named the malicious woman who narrates the directions Marisol, as she is a Spanish lady who sounds like she’s rather bitter about something and has decided to take it out on me by sending my on pointless looping detours.

Despite Marisol’s attempts to sabotage our journey, we found our way back to my auntie’s place and had some food with my uncle who was thankfully feeling better. After eating we all made our way up to one of the lakes of the resort on which they live, as my uncle wanted to grab a shot of the sun setting over the water, and my auntie wanted to feed a bunch of stray cats which she has unwittingly adopted.

The sun begins to set
The sunset over the lake
The rolling landscapes

Not being the world’s biggest fan of cats, and spotting the opportunity for a cool panorama, I abandoned my auntie as she fed the cats in the maintenance area of the resort. I went for a brief jog up a manmade hill, from where I managed to snap the following shot of the technicolour sky over Murica. If you’re on your computer be sure to click on the photo to expand it and check out all the details!

The sun sets on Murcia

The day after was Sunday and so my last day in Murcia too, and as I was catching the coach back to Madrid from the city of Murcia, it seemed only logical to go and check out the city before heading back. I had visited once before with my parents and sister many years back, but we’d not really had a great time of it – it was a Sunday in the height of summer so nothing was open and it was way too hot to just meander the streets.

This time I was driven there by my auntie and uncle, and the cooler weather and pleasant sun made for a much more enjoyable experience. They also took me to some lovely corners of the city which we’d missed last time, and so once again I was back to my usual running around to find places to take a few decent photos.

The river and the cathedral
The facade of a lovely building
Fountains and flowers for days

It turns out that although Murcia may not be Spain’s biggest or most eventful city, it certainly is beautiful. After a couple of hours of admiring the architecture and the carefully manicured flora, we stopped for a quick meal in one of the many plazas, and soon thereafter we were once again headed back for the car.

Oranges by the cathedral
More gorgeous facades
A blue sky covers the plaza
I love the layers of this shot

Being back at the car was a pretty brief affair, as I had just to pack a few last things into my backpack and pick up the hug multipack of monster munch I had bought for work. Once I’d found my coach at the bus station, I hugged goodbye to my auntie and uncle, thanked them for having me down at theirs for the long weekend, and began the five hour journey back to the centre of Spain.

Murcia at street level

I’m now back in the throes of reality and working life, but with an exciting new project to get my teeth into at work and plenty of people to see and things to do, I’ll be sure to be back pretty soon with more updates and photos. I also plan on bringing you all a few more design-related blog posts as I begin to pick up some personal projects I’ve been meaning to do for a while, details of which will be with you pretty soon…

As we say here – ¡vamos a por ello!