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Playa Macenas Beach and Golf Resort

8 Dec

The Almerian climate is perfect for golf lovers and as you’d expect we have many beautiful courses in the local area.

Desert Springs and Valle del Este are both less than 20 minutes away from the Cortijo and are well used throughout the year. We’ve reviewed them both already on Yummy Almeria

Playa Macenas is a little further away on the south side of Mojacar on the road to Carboneras and the fabulous Cabo de Gata National Park. It’s well worth the trip to find this gem of a golf course, even if it is a little unusual.

Macenas 006 (2)

The resort was built over 4 years ago but construction of housing stopped abruptly when the crisis hit. The result is an almost fully developed resort which is largely uninhabited but still has a very playable and enjoyable course in the middle of it.

Our chum, Mike ‘discovered’ Macenas earlier in the week and suggested that we played on Saturday morning. I hadn’t played for a long time so I was pleased to hear that the 18 hole course has eight par 3 holes – Mike said it would be a perfect place for me to get back into the swings of things.

Macenas 008 (2)

 

We paid 25 euros’s each for the round, which includes buggy rental and believe me, you need one, and enjoyed a gloriously sunny morning of golf in fabulous surroundings.

We saw a couple of other golfer’s but no-one else so it’s like playing on your own private course in the middle of nature with amazing views of both mountains and sea. On more than one occasion we stopped to enjoy the deafening sound of silence amazed that the place is so underused.

Macenas 004

As well as the par 3’s there are plenty of very challenging holes – water, gulleys and a fearsome number of bunkers to trip you up with every misplaced shot. I had plenty of those but without the pressure from other golfers and the serenity of the place felt myself relaxing very quickly, making a few decent shots and feel my golf mojo slowly returning. Mike was right.

After the game, we relaxed a bit more on their fabulous terrace overlooking the Med and gazing out onto the horizon admiring the natural curvature on the Earth with a couple of cold beers.

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Macenas is well worth the visit – it is a bit of a ‘ghost resort’ but a very upmarket one. The course is fun, challenging and truly beautiful and literally, all yours for the 25 euro fee.

PlayaMacenasBeach and Golf Resort Telephone number 950 548 240.

 

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La Capilla Restaurant, Mojacar

29 Oct

This surely is one of the prettiest venues in the region – it is a converted Chapel and is gorgeous both inside and out.  We went recently, just before the heat of the summer, for lunch and it was really excellent.Capilla Ollie and Bug 004 (2)

La Capilla is on the road that joins Los Gallardos and Garrucha so it’s not strictly in Mojacar but close to it. The menu is incredibly varied, something for everyone and whilst, not cheap, represents good value.  If I had known the size of the main courses, I would not have ordered a starter – maybe two starters instead, or a salad for the table to begin, and then a main.

Capilla Ollie and Bug 010 (2)

 

The setting is just gorgeous and one can’t help thinking that it would make a fantastic venue for a wedding reception or big birthday celebration.

Capilla Ollie and Bug 003 (2)

 

We had a wonderfully cool table under a canopy and incredibly private. Lots more nice pics here on their Facebook page.

La Capilla Restaurant telephone number is 950 479 305

 

Bodega Mi Cortijo Restuarant, Mojacar Playa

18 Mar

It is always a bit of a quiet time during the first three months of the year for everyone here.  Restaurant owners take their well deserved holidays, and we are all doing those horrible jobs that we put off until the winter – the run up to Christmas is too busy, so it gets pushed back until now (before going out today, Mick and I finished painting the hall!).

 

Anyhow, we decided it was about time for an outing again and a bit of relaxation and so went down to Mojacar to meet up with some friends who had already visited Mi Cortijo.  It is located on a side street (second turning on the right after the Hortiflor roundabout if you are coming from Garrucha direction).  As soon as you turn up the street you will see it on the left hand side.  Parking is easy as it is in a residential area.

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 001

 

It is obvious that this has been newly refurbished (it used to be a lovely home interiors shop) as it is very smart and tastefully done.  There is a large area with lots of tables and chairs, and barrels and bar stools where you can have breakfast, coffee, drinks or tapas and then a more formal dining room at the back.  We just went for tapas and a couple of glasses of wine – there is a fairly extensive tapas menu and some good healthy choices too (half of us are on diets!).

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 004

 

We ordered Jamon, mixed salad (which comes with tuna, but is left undressed), roasted peppers and tuna, sliced tomatoes with grilled Italian cheese, smoked ham and sliced potatoes on toasted bread, and then some toasts that we first thought were kebabs (pinchos), but in fact you went and chose some toppings of your choice – the boys chose alioli, anchovy and a chilli pepper topping (?) for us, but actually it was very nice.  Had I not been on a diet I probably could have had one or two more dishes to make a reasonably substantial lunch, but opted for another glass of wine instead!

 

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 005

 

As the name suggests (Bodega) they also sell their house wine by the 2 litre bottle for 4.50 euros – red, white and rosado, which we didn’t try.

 

It is good to have another new place to go to with slightly more sophisticated and beautifully presented tapas than usual.  The service was lovely and friendly, swift but without bringing everything at once and the bill came to 14 euros a head which included a 10% tip.  We will definitely be going there again and would be a good choice for an evening drink too.  We didn’t look at the a la carte menu but if the tapas are anything to go by, take a look next time you are down that way and see for yourself.

Mi Cortijo cats and dogs 006

 

They are open all day from 8.30 a.m. until 11p.m daily.

Bodega Mi Cortijo Restuarant, Mojacar Playa Telephone number: 696 431 510.

The Chippy Restaurant – Vera

30 Dec

Although we get the most amazing fish here, both at the supermarket and in restaurants, what you don’t find very often is really good English style Fish and Chips!  That was until the Millers opened the Chippy, a fantastic, authentic fish and chip shop in Vera, opposite Iceland.

The Chippy 020

It is a family run business and Graham, Mandy and their two lovely girls, Daisy and Rosie are always there with a smile and very friendly service.  The choice of fish is as good as any chippy you will find in the UK, always really fresh and beautifully cooked; as well as fish and chips, they do great pies, doner kebabs, battered sausages and also, specialities such as Graham’s hand made sheek kebabs, with mint and yoghurt sauce – just delicious.  If you have something you particularly like, they will do their best to get it in for you – you can call ahead and order, or order personally, and go and do a bit of shopping, or as we do, pop in to the Irish bar for a pint!

The Chippy 011

Having a great fish and chip shop locally is a funny kind of luxury – sometimes you just fancy it, or like me, you enjoy a night off cooking now and again but don’t always want to go out for a formal meal.  The fish and chips here are excellent value and a lot cheaper than you would find in the UK!   Incidentally, for those of you who know the Chippy already, they now have tables and chairs inside if you prefer to eat in, great for those of you who live a little further afield.

The Chippy 012

Every time you pop into the chippy, don’t forget to give Mandy your email address or telephone number and you will automatically be entered into their monthly prize draw.  Each month somebody wins a free meal for two – it’s just a bit of fun, and anything that is free these days can’t be bad!

They have their own website too, so go to www.thechippyvera.com  for full details of their menu and prices too.  Give them a go, you won’t be disappointed.

The Chippy, Vera telephone number is 667 33 33 61.

Mediterraneo Restaurant – Mojacar Playa

23 Dec

Ok, this is without question, one of the best restaurants in this region for a menu del dia!  It is situated overlooking the beach, and near the Irish Rover.

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We were taken here a few weeks ago by some friends, and we were so impressed wanted to go again and so we in turn, invited some other friends to join us for lunch.

The restaurant is bright and airy, has a formal restaurant with large windows overlooking the sparkling blue sea – it was a sensational day yesterday, which made it only the better!  On the pavement side, is an enclosed, less formal dining area where you can have drinks, or eat as well.

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The menu del dia offered here resembles a top quality a la carte menu in other restaurants – there is an endless choice of starters, main courses and desserts – all for 10 euros per person at lunchtime and 12 in the evening.  Drinks are all on top as you would expect from this standard of menu.  Alternatively there is a vast choice of rice dishes or perhaps pizza for the younger members of your party!

Mediterraneo 003

Yesterday we chose crunchy prawns (little filo parcels deep fried and served with a honey dressing), fois gras with a fig dressing, and a prawn cocktail which had crab sticks and pineapple pieces on a bed of iceberg lettuce.  All were fantastic.  Sue and I had chuleta de buey to follow – (on the bone steak, utterly divine), our friend, Gordon, had leg of lamb (actually, I have to say this looked a little disappointing, just two medallions which probably was not enough for most men,   so I would recommend the shoulder if you want lamb, as it comes on the bone and is a bit more “gala”!  Mick had an entrecote, cooked medium with a roquefort sauce.

Mediterraneo 007

There is a fantastic choice of fish as well – probably 8 kinds– next time I will have hake.  There are about 10 choices of meat dishes and as said paella etc for those not wanting a three course lunch.

Mediterraneo 008

All main dishes are served with hand cut chips and a small order of perfectly cooked fresh vegetables.  Digby and Kevin, the mutts, had the benefit of the steak bones later!

The desserts are very varied – I am not particularly crazy about puds, so had a gorgeous piece of fresh pineapple;  the others had chocolate brownies, blueberry panecotta and warm apple tart – all were good, even though maybe not homemade.

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With a bottle of house red, three glasses of white and a few soft drinks the bill came to 80 euros with a decent tip – unbelievable value and really good service too.

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If you want to give this lovely eatery a try, do book as both times we have been the interior restaurant has been packed, and the café part pretty busy.

Mediterraneo Restaurant Telephone 950 47 22 68

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.

Los Angeles Restaurant and Bar, Villaricos

13 Jun

My family are here at the moment and so there is a lot more planning for meals to be done – normally we eat late in the evening either here or at one of our favourite restaurants nearby.  But in the heat, sometimes it is nice to lunch out properly and then know that I can throw a mezze together in the evening.

So, yesterday was such a day.  I gave everyone the choice of going and sitting at a beach side restaurant, or letting me take them to a place that all of us here like to go to from time to time for the menu del dia.  Los Angeles is situated on the road to Villaricos from Puerto Rey direction (go over the roundabout, passed the Repsol Garage on the right and carry on for a minute or two, you will see the little building on the right, with cars usually parked outside.

Los Angeles cool bar terrace

True, there is no view either from the cool terrace where you can happily have a drink, or the cool, immaculate restaurant inside.  However, anyone who goes there will know not to be put off by this fact; the food is exceptional value for money, tasty, good quality and always served with a smile.  The owners are charming and nothing is too much trouble.

There is always lots of choice on the menu del dia, always including a great fish dish, stew of the day, or pasta dish among other things,  and for 10  for three courses (pudding OR coffee) including half a bottle of wine, a beer or any other kind of drink included you simply can’t go wrong.  For an additional few euros you can choose rack of pork ribs falling off the bone, or tiny delicious lamb chops – still amazing value for money.  There is an extensive a la carte menu, also good value and a special priced set menu for evenings and Sundays – I think at a cost of 12 euros per head.  Our bill for four came to 48 euros, which included a beer, water and freshly squeezed orange juice (plus the two bottles of wine!) – my father left a hefty tip!

Los Angelesis a great place to go in winter, cosy inside, with robust stews of the day and other warming goodies offered, and beautifully cool inside in the summer.  They clearly have the bums on seats theory but with the quality element uncompromised.

With times being a bit on the tough side for everyone, gone are the days of thinking nothing about spending 30 or more euros a head for a meal without it being a special occasion.  If this describes you, I urge you to try this little gem of a place.  You will not be disappointed.

Los Angeles Bar and Restaurant telephone number: 699 010 705

Treasure Island beach walk

21 May

Last weekend we wanted to do a morning walk before the weather really gets too hot to even think about walking – so our friends Mike and Gill, who are very keen walkers – told us about one particular route they had done which gave you two options.  The first one is a much more challenging walk over quite big hills above the beaches beyond Mojacar; the second is a coastal walk, but along a decent, flat track for the less ambitious. Both start from the tower at Macenas beach as you head for Carboneras.

Meeting point at Macenas tower

We didn’t have to start too early, although the forecast was for the high eighties on the Saturday that we went.  But anyhow, we agreed to meet at an acceptable 10.30 and promised Gill that we would be on time as we always seem to be 10 or 15 minutes late when going to theirs for lunch!  So, we set off extra early, and they still beat us to it.

Signposted all of the way

We were hoping to be 6 or 8 but everyone else cried off for various reasons, so with it just being the four of us, Mike gave us the option to either do the more difficult, over the hills walk (I hasten to add there was a promise of a beautiful beach and tapas lunch in the chiringuito at the end of the two hours that it would take to get there!) or to do the easier coastal walk to the same point, but which would only take an hour or so.  I thought as it wasn’t too hot, that even I would brave the hills.

The sea view

Shelters on top of the hill

This is where someone having done the route already pays off, as Gill kind of kept me up to date with what to expect; it was tricky here, steep there, over the worst bit – that kind of thing!  Not being much of a walker myself, it all helps to keep you going.  There were several gorgeous natural stops on the way where the council have put up seating areas and little cabins to get a bit of shade while you catch your breath and have a glug of water (which obviously is essential to take with you).

Keep going!

The way down.

It was as challenging a walk as I would like –  a few quite hairy bits going down some steep slopes with nothing to hold on to,  but nothing that phased our 70 something companions!  They are quite amazing and remained undaunted, but seriously, if you are of a certain age and not used to walking, then take the coastal route which is just lovely too.

The beach before Treasure Island beach

2 hours later we arrived at Treasure Island beach (yes really they shot the Orson Wells version here in 1972).  It is just lovely, unspoilt and with just one chiringuito, Manaca,  to have drinks, tapas or lunch.  You could quite happily spend the whole afternoon here – and the good thing is that it can be reached by car too, so you could pack everything up and come for the whole day, away from the more popular beaches in Mojacar.  You need brollies and something to lie on though as it really is a natural beach with no other facilities apart from the beach bar.

Treasure Island beach

Chiringuito Manaca

He was a bit thinner then

We arrived for lunch and of course a much needed drink, tinto verano in my case (summer wine a bit like sangria) – just lovely.  Then the owner came out with the menus and a chameleon – (see the picture!) who live naturally here in the trees.  He was very friendly and unphased by being handled by us (the chameleon, not the owner).

Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma etc.

The walk back to Chiringuito Macenas is a about 40 minutes long and passes past the old lookout point. Very dramatic scenery here.

 

The walk back

The old lookout point

Walkers delight – Chiringuito Macenas

So maybe from now on, if you do want to try this walk, you would need to start by 9 in the morning at this time of year, a little earlier as we go through to July, or even go when the sun is setting and have a swim and a sun-downer atTreasure Island beach.

Life doesn’t get much better than that.

 

 

 

 

 

Villaricos market

13 Mar

There is a market within 10 km of us every day, even Sunday.  Actually the Sunday market at Villaricos has to be my favourite.  There are hardly any shops open on Sundays, just the odd little store (although why anyone wants to go food shopping on a Sunday beats me!) and so the fruit and vegetables sold at the market are quite handy if you have forgotten something.  Anyhow, it is just a lovely thing to do on a sunny Sunday morning – the market overlooks the sparkling blue sea beyond the little marina and it is just gorgeous.

It is huge market which stretches along the narrow street and sells mainly fruit, vegetables, cheese, charcuterie, flowers, herbs and spices, lots of clothing, hardware, jewellery, pottery and lots of other knick knacks.

There is also a fantastic Chicken van – dozens of delicious grilled chicken sold hot to take home for lunch if you can’t be bothered to cook.

My friend Denise has her bookstall here, which she runs with her husband, Tony and they sell great second hand English books for a couple of euros and actually around here, English books are hard to find.  We tend to borrow them from each other, so this is a great addition for us.

Next door to Denise is the Churros van – on Sunday I had my third only taste of Churros since coming to Spain almost 8 years ago!  It is so delicious that I am frightened to have it any more often – for those of you that do not know what it is, it is like freshly made doughnuts, but cooked in long swirls and then cut into “sticks”, covered in sugar which you dip in hot chocolate – now you know why I am frightened to eat it!  It is highly addictive and just about the most delicious thing you can eat!

The market runs in and out of various restaurants and tapas bars, where we always stop for a coffee or a beer – this Sunday was scorching and so the market and the cafes were heaving with everyone enjoying being out in the sea air, and the hussle and bustle of it all.

If you are staying here, I thoroughly recommend you go down to Villaricos on a Sunday morning and soak up the atmosphere, before going off for lunch or an afternoon at the beach.  You are bound to find something you like to take home.