We were desperate to achieve a tan to attract comments about how glowingly relaxed and well-travelled we looked. Taking inspiration from an episode of 'A Place in the Sun', we headed to Almería in the south-east corner of Spain.
This stop included our first fly-in guest in the form of our friend Kate. Kate doesn’t tan. She had also just finished watching ‘Fear of the Walking Dead’ which is set in Mexico so was feeling pretty confident speaking Spanish.
We stayed in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar National Park. It’s (apparently) the only part of Europe with a truly hot desert climate (tick!) and about 3 hours of rainfall each year (two ticks!). I'm not going to argue, but I have been to Malta and the weather felt swelteringly familiar. But let’s not beat around the tumble weed; this place is desolate, devoid of life and in late October, so wonderfully hot and sunny (and cheap) you will forget winter is coming.
There are a few towns dotted around. We visited Nijar which is up in the hills. Considered (by whom?) to be one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. It is pretty; whitewashed, cobble stone laneways, flower pots on window sills and all that jazz. Worth a visit for a wander throughout, and the views across the national park. And of course the ‘Water Museum’. Unsurprisingly given it's a desert, they worship water and everything about it. Drop in if you’ve got a spare thirty to forty seconds. Then get down the hill and hit the beach!
Karen the Campervan carefully navigated craters down a dusty track near the town of San Jose towards a famous beach from cinematic history. Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Sean Connery uses his umbrella to scare all the seagulls? Well the beach is called ‘Playa de Monsul’ and its a delightful spot for a dip in the sea. Be sure to collect enough of the black volcanic sand in all your crevasses like we did.
Just before dropping Kate off at the airport, we realised we hadn’t spent any time in Almeria itself. We spent a swift 17 minutes power walking through the Old Town to come to the conclusion that Almeria is definitely worth more than 17 minutes. They’ve got their own moorish castle on the hill, Cathedral, cobble stone lanes, cafes and bars. But we only had 17 minutes. Bye Kate!
Now of course, Rob and I were staying an extra week so we could have easily come back into Almeria for a visit. No. This was Tan Week. For 5 days we planned on basking in the sun, popping down to the beach, sitting by the pool and conversing with old people. Day 1 of Tan Week was the night before Halloween which is like Practice Halloween for children. Then on actual Halloween, they do it again. And then its a national holiday in Spain for ‘All Saints Day’ or something. So the first 3 days of Tan Week were full of Spanish tourists, and their precocious, incomprehensible Spanish children dressed as the devils they embodied. Unless they wanted a Nature Valley breakfast bar, they were getting nothing from us.
We stayed an extra day just to bolster our tan and recover from this torture. Oh and we walked up a volcano.
More photos? Check them out here.