Spain at last

Our arrival into Alicante a day late didn’t quell the excitement I felt – we were at last here in Spain. The real adventure was beginning. We had four confirmed housesits over the next few months, and time between each to explore.

Alicante to Mula to Mojacar

For our first (supposedly second) night, I had literally picked a spot on the map inland from Alicante, Googled and reviewed accommodation options and decided that Mula was going to be an introduction to the real Spain we had come to see and experience. After a couple of (unintentional) laps of the airport after picking up our rental car, we moved inland towards Mula. The roads were good, and much quieter than France had been, we were aware of the lack of trucks on the roads here. Our abode for the night was called Hotel Rural El Molino de Felipe – and rural it really was. We turned off at a tiny hamlet and followed the country lane about 6km into the “campo” before spying the gates.

Parking the car, we wandered into the front door of the hotel and, finding no one at reception, pushed our way into the bar where 8 pairs of eyes swivelled to meet us, conversations stopped and we were left to try and stammer out who we were and that we had a booking. Thankfully there was an English speaker of sorts there, but by the hurried Spanish conversations that followed, I wondered if in fact we were expected. There was a room for us so upstairs we went, with our heavy bags thankfully being carried by the staff. Being a Sunday, we were unsure what options there would be for dinner but thankfully the wifi was good enough to check out a couple of options back in the town of Mula.

Dinner here doesn’t start until after 7pm, and even then it’s usually only the foreigners eating that early. We had some time to spare, so went for a wander further down the rural lane to see what there was to see. The land here was planted out with lemons and oranges and while there was some ripe fruit on the trees, it was the smell of orange blossoms that pervaded everything. The atmosphere was lovely. We enjoyed the tranquillity of this place, it was just so rural – but so different from NZ rural, there are no animals visible; no sheep, definitely no cows and occasionally you might see a goat. But there are lots of trees. Lemon and orange trees, olive and almond trees and many other types of fruit trees growing in this region.

Over the past 4 days. Chris had really missed having a cycle and we decided that we would purchase a second-hand road bike for him to continue using over the next few months.  Our rental car (a Yaris!) had enough room even with our bags to put a bike on top (with its wheels off of course) so we scoured different websites selling 2nd hand bikes and detoured to a couple of recycled bike shops too to try and find the right one. Chris had set a budget of €250 tops and the best one was a private sale (via Facebook marketplace) by an Irish ex-pat living on the coast near Alicante. Lots of messaging re what was included, size, photos, price and when we could see it and/or purchase it. More negotiations followed, plus a check of what actual cash on hand we had and when he tested it out, Chris decided it would definitely fit the bill. It was basic but it worked, had little wear and tear (and little use beforehand it turned out) and we got the bike, helmet and pump for €220 and then headed to a Decathlon store to pick up clip in pedals, tubes, tools and odds and ends he would need. All up the whole thing came to under €280 so Chris was a happy chappy. Renting a bike usually started €20-25 a day, so he figured that 15 days use would cover that cost and anything else was a bonus.

We had decided on two days near the beach before heading inland to our housesit in the countryside (campo). I had heard that Mojácar was a place worth visiting, and like so many places in Spain, there is the pueblo (old original town) and the beach town. We found a delightful B&B in the Mojácar Pueblo, a whitewashed pedestrian (? except for residents cars) village on the hillside. We based ourselves here for 2 nights, as single night stays hauling luggage up and down stairs was beginning to jar on us.

As soon as we had unpacked, Chris was off to get on the bike! Such a happy guy to be out exploring the roads – and he says they are very good roads for cycling on too. Smooth and wide enough for cyclists; he loves the hills and there are plenty of those! While he was out I wandered the streets of Mojácar looking for dinner options and trying not to get lost. The views along the coast were beautiful and the village has quite a charm. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, with a cool wind and cloud cover bringing temperatures into the mid-teens. Dinner that night was in a lovely location, which on a fine evening we would have sat on the terrace overlooking the coast, but tonight we opted for indoors and out of the wind. We still got great views and a very good meal. Spain does food so well, and especially seafood. And it’s cheap.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny, although still cool, we enjoyed breakfast on the outdoor terrace of the B&B with lovely views and sunshine. This was one of the best breakfasts we’ve had at paid accommodation so far this trip – plenty of choices including the longed-for muesli option. Even the coffee was acceptable. We decided to go off and explore the areas around us, first driving to Mojácar beach where there is a lovely promenade and separate cycleway.

We walked along the beach in the sunshine and even got to shed some layers. Soon though, the clouds overhead became ominously grey and we got back to our car just as the first drops of rain splattered on the ground. We then headed north along the coast, marvelling at the developments and multitude of same-same apartment blocks which, although low-rise, just looked out of place. Lots of ex-pats move here to enjoy the sun and lifestyle and you can see the growth that has taken place, although from time-to-time you see construction sites that have been abandoned with a whole complex of barely started work blighting the landscape. We will be back in this area in June with another housesit, so will have more time to explore and hopefully find some of the authentic pueblos we enjoy.

On our way out the next day, heading inland to our first Spanish house-sit, we detoured through Playas de Vera, where we will be based in June so I could get a brief feel for the area. Unfortunately, we missed our turn and ended up driving through more of the urban area than we anticipated, bringing us past the naturist resort (!!) where I commented to Chris that at least there were high walls around it until we rounded the corner to the sight of a man walking his dog. Shoes on, but nothing else! Oh, my… I hope our housesit is not anywhere near this…or our dog walking will be done far far away! (PS: I’ve just found this information on the web… “Vera Playa is unique because it is a naturist seaside resort where you can walk the public streets, promenade and 2km of sandy naturist beach completely naked and free. The beach is fringed by the low-rise naturist residential zone made up of 15 fully naturist ‘urbanizations’ connected by public streets where you’ll see naked walkers meandering to the beach where nudity is perfectly normal and accepted. ” ) Oh dear! We will keep you posted…or not!

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