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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.

Macenas 012

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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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.

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in Almeria

16 Apr

We are very lucky living where we do – we have mountains, countryside and beach all within 20 minutes of each other.  There are lots of walking groups too which definitely have advantages.  For a start there are lots of “off the beaten track” walks, which not only would you have difficulty finding, but can be dangerous too if you don’t know the area.  Mick and I did such a walk the other week with our friends Heidi and John.  We decided to take Digby, our Jack Russell, with us as he is very good on a lead – Kevin the Pointer unfortunately is a bit more tricky!

So we met up early on a beautiful Sunday morning in the direction of Sorbas.  There were at least 30 or us, all of different nationalities.  We pulled off the road and parked all the cars and waited for our guide.  He is a local guy, very friendly and knowledgeable and warned us all to stay together on the walk; apparently it is an area with lots of massive deep holes which you can’t really see!  This was borne out when we saw a load of pot-holers!  With this in mind, Digby was kept firmly on his lead.

Anyhow, we kept to the track and enjoyed the scenery – lovely spring flowers in the meadows and mountains in the background. We walked for around 5 kms – unheard of for me!  But made all the more enjoyable by all the chatting as we went along.  We ended up in a tiny little hamlet of deserted houses and sat under the trees and had a little picnic of hamburgers, juice and fruit provided by our guide – all for the princely sum of 3 euros.

If you like walking and being in nature, you really could do worse than to join a walking group – it is fun, safe and you will get to see places that you didn’t know existed – and good for you too!

 

 

GB Triathletes in Cuevas del Almanzora

28 Jan

You will notice that I haven’t been posting much recently – the minute the family left after Christmas, I started cooking for the triathletes at the Kinetic PB training camp  and just finished last night!   It was fantastic fun, if a little tiring – 6 nights a week for girls and boys who had been training virtually all day long and therefore came back hungry and looking forward to some home cooking.

The camp has really taking off with triathlon teams from Manchester and Scotland choosing to train here, mainly because of the dry, sunny weather.  It can be chilly first and last thing, but during the day you can get 5 or 6 hours of lovely warm weather- a little different from theUK!

The latest athletes to make it out here are the GB Triathlete team who are manically training for their busy season ahead and what is after all an Olympic year.

We have high hopes for medals at the event which is to be held at Hyde Park this summer and so shall be watching out for any familiar faces!

I, too, felt like an athlete, but of the culinary kind – racing to shop, cook and serve substantial and tasty meals that I thought they would enjoy – they were an amazing bunch to cook for – no complaints and hardly anything they didn’t eat and so made life very easy from that perspective.

They had a gruelling but enjoyable time here – the roads are amazing for cycling (they went up to Seron – twice -an hour away by CAR!) – I think they loved the rugged scenery, the blue skies and the great location of their camp.  They even swam in the man-made lake at the camp – freezing at this time of year, the sea at Garrucha (crazy), but mainly used the indoor swimming pool in our local town of Cuevas.

Running, of course, is made easy, due to the lack of traffic, endless hill and mountain.

In the next weeks, they are all off to various parts ofSouth America– I can’t pretend that I am not envious, but only of the travel part – I am no athlete really!  We wish them all the best and hope they will be back again.

Trialthon training in Almeria

20 Sep

Up by the dam at Cuevas del Almanzora is a huge man made lake and clubhouse which was built in 2004 for the rowing and canoeing events of the 2005 Mediterranean games. The thought of rowing and canoeing in the desert has always made us chuckle.

After the Games it just sat unused –we couldn’t believe what a waste it was – until earlier this year Kinetic PB run by Oliver Watts took it over to launch a very impressive triathlon training camp. We met Oli when some friends came to stay and one of them wanted to hire a bike and found him on the internet.  So we thought we would get in touch with him too as we thought it may be of interest to people who stay with us.

The Tri Lodge (10 minutes from here) is at the centre of all training activities – obviously it is ideal for winter training when the UK is pretty grim so makes a brilliant base for athletes.

The lake (or swimming channel) is pretty impressive at 1,150m long and 115m wide offering controlled environment swimming right next to the camp HQ and Kinetic also have their own indoor swimming pool.

Cycling in Almeria is already recognised as one of the best places to train, again particularly during the autumn and winter months as we get so much sunshine during the days.

Oliver is very helpful and obviously enjoys what he does and has a great atmosphere going up at the Tri Lodge along with the equipment and facilities.

Several top coaches work up there during the year but you’ll have to visit the website for a full schedule or just call Oli direct at Kinetic PB.

For those of you who live nearby, do go up and take a look – it is so great to see this structure being used for something sporty!  It is only around 10 minutes drive from Cuevas itself.

Kinetic PB telephone number: +44 (0)7976275503

Horse Riding in Almeria

23 Mar

When I was young I used to go horse riding quite often over a period of a few years, summer and winter.  I loved it and my sister and I would go together – she was always much better than me but it was something we loved doing.  The summer evening rides were the best ones – when the sun was setting over the lush, green fields and then towards September, still warm enough to ride in the evenings, seeing all the bales of hay in the fields.

Second best to that (and only because of lovely memories of my sister)is to go down to Mojacar beach and have a lesson at the riding school, Cueva del Lobo,  which is bang on the beach – there is something about being on a horse and being able to hear the waves rolling in, and feeling a warm, salty breeze on your face.

Last time I went out for a ride, we went up into the hills behind Mojacar and just trekked for an hour in the peace and quiet, in and out of the narrow little streets and then onto the rough tracks and paths through the hills themselves.  It is a great thing to do and you don’t have to be a particularly confident rider to enjoy it as on this particular ride, there was no galloping, just a bit of trotting and the odd canter.  I have not ridden for years and years and I really enjoyed it and if you are holidaying here, it is something different to do one day.

Also close by is Rancho Luz del Sol who have a selection of beautiful horses available to ride in a rural setting.

There are several other places to go riding, a little further afield, where you can go for a trek and have lunch before coming back, but that is for the more serious riders among you.

Cueva del Lob Riding Center (Mojacar) 950 478 991

Rancho Luz del Sol (Partaloa) 678 838 547

Ski-ing in Sierra Nevada

7 Feb

If you are a bit of a winter sports fan but don’t want to take a whole week’s holiday ski-ing, you could do worse than combining a trip here with a mid-week break in Sierra Nevada.  At this time of year, and from late November, while driving to Almeria City you can see the snow capped mountains of Sierra Nevada (it literally means snowy mountain range!).

Sierra Nevada is a two hour drive from the cortijo, and so is perfect for people wanting to make a base here and then go off for two or three days ski-ing.  We can hold your rooms here at no cost on the nights you are away.  The ski-ing there, whilst maybe not as challenging as other European resorts, is perfect for intermediate skiers and beginners alike, whilst still being enjoyable for the advanced among you as there are 50 red runs and 9 black runs.

One of the other attractions is that being Spain, it does not cost anything like the more traditional Swiss, French and Italian resorts.  As said, you can drive there in less than two hours from here and if you are not limited to skiing at the weekends, well so much the better.  The season here starts usually at the end of November and runs until end of April.  Visit www.sierranevada.co.uk for a complete guide to ski-ing here.  Then come back down to the cortijo for some relaxation and some home cooking.

Walking in Almeria

3 Feb

At this time of year, when the days can be beautifully sunny and warm, a great way to spend the day is to join in on one of the organised walks here.  Anyone can join the Mojacar Walk Group on Tuesdays and Thursdays – they can be quite challenging but the walks are graded – Green denotes that it is suitable for everyone and then they are graded upwards to Red very strenuous and only suitable for very experienced walkers.  They range in length from around 3-4 hours and often include a stop for lunch.  Usually they start from 15 minutes away to a maximum of 30 minutes drive from the Cortijo.

 

It is important that all walkers are honest about their ability as some of them are really quite hairy so our friends Mike and Jill Colyer tell us.  They go regularly, are in their 70’s (well Jill is only JUST 70!) and come back full of where they have been – from Cortijo Grande up in the mountains, to the beautiful Serena Valley.  It really is the best way to take in the stunning scenery around here and is perfect for people who don’t want to spend ALL their time on the beach.  From now until early summer is the best time to go – the weather is just perfect for it, not being too hot, and as we only have around 30 days of rain per year, you are pretty much guaranteed to be able to go for at least one momentous walk!

 

Desert Springs Golf Resort, Cuevas del Almanzora

9 Oct

Sometimes during the week, when we don’t want to go out for the whole evening but we feel like a pre dinner drink somewhere, we pop up to Desert Springs. It is only 10 minutes away and has two options to have a drink or dinner.

 

El Torrente 'Clubhouse' Restaurant

 

There is the clubhouse – it is a lovely colonial style building with a vast terrace running around it so perfect for a late summer evening drink.  We met a couple of our friends there the other night who have a house on the course and as it doesn’t get dark until at least 8.30 pm and it was a wonderfully warm evening, we met on the terrace.   It is a great place to relax for an hour or two with friends and has a good restaurant too where we sometimes go for Sunday lunch.

 

The view from the 19th hole

 

More often. though, we go to the other bar/restaurant, the Crocodile Club.  It is a fabulous building which looks like it could be on an African plain – it has a huge thatched roof and rustic furniture with a terrific view over the deserty landscape, to the sea.  It is lovely to go and meet friends for drinks or dinner – kids are very welcome and they can just run around as there is lots of space and the staff don’t seem to mind.  There is a menu for every taste – from burgers and ribs to wonderful fresh fish, salads and pizzas.  The service is always good and it is just so convenient for us if I don’t feel like cooking.  We go there all year round and there are cosy open fires for the chilly nights from December.  Oh, yes, it also has a beautiful golf course for the golfers among you – anyone can play so long as you have a handicap – if you play with a member you pay a reduced rate (we usually know someone who can sign you in).  There is also a swimming pool and tennis courts for non-residents – that should keep everyone happy!

El Torrente Restaurant telephone number: 950 548 403

The Crocodile Club Restaurant telephone number: 950 548 404

Valle del Este Golf Club and Spa, Vera

3 Oct

As most of you know, in June it was my birthday – the hideous big 5-0 but it came and went without too much pain!  In fact I received some really lovely presents from dear friends which softened the blow somewhat – one of which was from our friends John and Phil, who live in London but are restoring a gorgeous old cortijo in the hills near us.  They treated me to a fantastic afternoon at the spa of one of our beautiful golf courses here.  It is nearing the end of the season (I have one more group booked in arriving tomorrow for 8 days!) so I thought I had better book myself in.

Valle del Este is a 10 minute drive from here – it is really gorgeous and is a hotel resort with golf course, huge outdoor pool, terrace restaurant and bar, and the spa of course.  It is all open to non-members and Mick and I used to go there on Sunday afternoons before we had our swimming pool installed.  There is no charge.

Swimming with a view

Anyhow I arrived after lunch and went straight into a full body massage – anyone who spends half an hour massaging my feet has to have something going for them – it was divine!  Then I had a face massage and a hydro massage (basically a lovely warm, deep bath with jets of water that pummel you and somehow make you feel instantly thinner!

Outdoor area Valle del Este spa

You can have a Jacuzzi, sauna or steam as well or just go outside and sunbathe and read.  I went straight onto the hotel terrace and had a gin and tonic.  What a fantastic end to the week – thank you John and Phil.  Even better, when I arrived home, Mick was in the kitchen making dinner for me and had downloaded Mad Men which I was too tired to watch the other night.  How lucky am I!