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What’s On Guide

21 Mar

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El Batel Auditorium in Cartagena – Patti Smith

18 Nov

On Friday, five of us went to see Patti Smith at the Congress centre by the harbour in Cartagena.   We love this city, about and hour and a half away from Vera, Almeria and although quite a drive for a night out, it was well worth the effort.  The auditorium itself is quite spectacular, designed by Jose Selgas and Lucia Cano of the Selgas Cano studio of Madrid, and completed only last March, it provides a surprisingly intimate venue within the 18,500 sq m structure.  It is like a vast corrugated warehouse in design, but at night turns iridescent with LED’s from within.  Quite spectacular and beautiful by the water.


We went early and our friend, Nevenka kindly drove us as she knew we would like wine with our tapas!  There was a great place right next door to eat which Nevenka had been to before.   We parked outside the restaurant, 100 yards from the venue and tucked into calamari, potatoes with morcilla (black pudding) and chorizo, pork in tomato sauce, baked potatoes stuffed with seafood among other things.  We took full advantage of the fact we didn’t have to drive and had a good few glasses of vino!

We walked over to the concert hall at 9 ish – John and Heidi had booked online so there was no hanging about – our tickets, unbelievably, were 30 euros each – another advantage of being able to see a legend in a smallish Spanish city!  Patti Smith  was just fantastic, yes legendary –and exceeded our expectations – she is, after all, 66 next month, but the voice was still there and the appreciate, mainly Spanish, crowd certainly got their money’s worth.


We would thoroughly recommend taking a look on what’s on in Cartegena, as often there are big names playing (Chick Corea being one of them in a couple of weeks – we are tempted to go again).


It is well worth staying overnight in the ancient city of Cartagena, check into a reasonable hotel (at this time of year 50 euros will get you a good double room), go for something to eat, see a concert.  Next morning, having done your research as to what you would like to do, visit the recently restored Roman Theatre, the Maritime museum (Cartagena was one of the most important defensive ports in the western Mediterranean), to name just a couple.  You really need to spend half an hour on the internet to get the best out of your visit.  But it is also a great place to just wander around, soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the ancient and modern architecture.

It just reminds us of the many fabulous cities that really, are on our doorstep, and sometimes life gets in the way of visiting them!   I urge you to put a date in the diary and go, if only for the day.


Antas Fiesta

10 Sep

Friday night was the first night of the annual fiesta in the next village to us, Antas.  It is our favourite fiesta as Antas is normally the sleepiest little village, and a place we go to for its little pizza place, but it comes alive during this week and you wonder where all the hundreds of people come from.


Everyone is out to have a good time, there are numerous rides for children, and even the operators really look like they are enjoying themselves too (remember this is a country that love children!), dodgems and a couple of scary rides for older kids and generally just loads going on.


Being Spain, Fiesta’s don’t really get going until pretty late  – we arrived at 10 pm with children ranging from a year up to 5 years old – they, of course, were delighted at being allowed to go out at this hour and go on all the rides, get balloons and generally have a brilliant time.


By 11 pm, we were all hungry (we had given the children their dinner at 7 but we had not eaten) so we managed to bag a table in one of the outside makeshift restaurants – dozens of tables and chairs, crammed in the square, with their grills, outside kitchens and fryers, and ordered fantastic roast chicken and chips, Calamari and drinks along with hundreds of other people.  It is just lovely to see tables full of families, but also lots of the older generation all out for a good old gossip and a good time completely unaware of the time or the noise!

Noise seems to be key at fiesta’s in Spain – not least the, err, singers who appear on the stage which has been put up for the occasion.  I really am not sure whether the locals think they are good (they aren’t) but everyone has a laugh anyway, and waits for the first couple to get up and dance.

After we had had our chaotic, but fun dinner the children wanted to go on more rides.

I had other ideas so whilst they went off to the giant teacup, I headed for the Churros van!  I have blogged about Churros before, sticks of hot doughnut type things, with hot chocolate.  It is only the 4th time I have eaten them though – too scarily bad for you and so very special when you do have them.


By this time, it was almost half past midnight and things were in full swing.  However, we were all a bit shattered and so decided to call it a night – we are such amateurs when it comes to staying out late – the Spanish are so used to it, and it is their way of life.  We love joining in though and really living in their world, even if we do have to go to bed early!



Moors and Christians Festival, Mojacar

28 Jun

The fantastic Moors and Christians festival in June is not to be missed and certainly helped to put the town of Mojacar on the map.

It’s a noisy, colourful fiesta and celebration where during the processional part of the event seven different armies march through the town.

It starts late in the afternoon and carries on until they have all marched from the top of the pueblo right down to the bottom. Be prepared for lots of bands (great drumming), amazing costumes, horses and this year, camels.

It’s a great opportunity to literally watch the world go by whilst enjoying food and drink from many of the temporary bars and stalls.

The Moors and Christians event celebrates the story of Mojacar’s defeat in 1488 and how the two sides managed to turn the battle into a companionable ‘draw’.

The Christian Kings, as they are known in Spain, were camped on the doorstep of the fortified town.

They had broken through the Moorish lines and sacked the next door town of Vera.

There are activities on the beach part of Mojacar, but the main action, including a medieval market in the main square, is in the village where the fun continues over the weekend with fireworks, live bands, thunder-flashes and musketry.

The final incredible parade takes place on the Sunday evening. Well worth making a note in your diary for mid-June to take this all in. It’s very Spanish and great fun.

Pita Christmas tree

12 Dec

Well, it is my favourite time of the year (as you may know!) – it is a week until my family come (poor Mick) so it is up with the decorations this weekend.  Christmas trees here are not the same as in the UK – they don’t have that fantastic smell for a start and are hideously expensive.  Outside, there are hundreds of Cacti – one kind is called the Pita – it is like a huge asparagus shooting out of a ginormous blue cactus plant – it is like being in Land of the Giants.  When the plant sends up this shoot, it grows to about 15 feet or more and flowers and is just quite amazing.  However, sadly after this happens and the seeds drop or are carried away by the wind or by birds, the entire thing dies.  Brilliantly, though, they make a beautiful and different kind of Christmas tree.  Entirely green in everything but colour.  Mick chopped one down yesterday and last night having potted it and put it in situ we decorated it.   Two sets of my lights don’t work (why is that?) so will be buying more tomorrow but in the meantime here it is.


Have a look and see what you think.

Oh Christmas tree, or is it?


Vera Fiesta

27 Sep

Spain is the home of the bank holiday or Fiesta as they are known.  There always seems to be one on somewhere near us as we are surrounded by small and large towns.

This weekend was Vera’s Towns turn and actually the first time we had gone to this one.  Fiestas are great – no-one really knows what time anything starts and even if they do it is never correct.  So you just have to take pot luck in the main and turn up anytime that suits you.  What you always know is that they go on until 2 or 3 a.m. and then they set off the fireworks (which we nearly always miss as usually by 1 a.m. we are exhausted and want to go home!

Fiesta is for everyone!

We turned up at 9 p.m. on Saturday night and arrived at the town square to find everyone packing up the beer tents, confetti everywhere, streamers strewn all over the streets and virtually empty!  We knew that the crowd had moved on to the main event but weren’t sure where it was.  Anyhow we walked on a bit and sat outside a little bar and had a drink, where we asked the waitress where the fair was – so she pointed in the direction of the park at the end of town, so after we had had a glass of wine, we hopped back in the car and headed off.  When we arrived there were about 400 million people and 400 million lights which made us laugh as we had only driven about 500 metres.  Mick dropped us off (us myself, my almost 80 year old parents and my aunty, 83!) – they were really excited as there was loads to look at – temporary bars which every drink you could want, loads of tents with fantastic barbequed food, salads and potatoes, some really scary rides (which no-one would go on with me), dodgems (which Mick did go on with me!), stalls selling fantastic cakes and sweets, and candy floss, and a little market selling, rather strangely, loads of shoes which as you might imagine no-one was remotely interested in!


There was a huge stage with some fantastically terrible girl singers, but no-one cared and everyone danced.  We had a delicious dinner of chicken and ribs with some pretty good plonk too and then just spent a couple of hours soaking up the atmosphere and left just after midnight as our eardrums had had enough (they always like to shout a lot on loudspeakers at all times!).

Everyone goes to the Fiesta from tiny babies to great grandparents – nobody is left out and everyone really enjoys themselves without any kind of agro it seems – it is the same whichever Fiesta you visit – you can buy a drink at 4 a.m. but no-one appears to get drunk which is just brilliant.

Late night Churros and chocolate

We had the best time – now we are looking forward to the Antas Fiesta later this month, but as usual no-one can remember when it is!