Things to do in Almeria

With Mum and Dad arriving next week, we’ve been thinking about where we can take them and some things we can go and do while they’re here. I’ve done a blog previously giving a quick overview of the province, but I thought I’d give some specific places to visit this time.

We haven’t actually spent much time at all sightseeing here – the first year we were trying to get this place habitable, and then the pandemic hit, so we’ll be seeing some of these places for the first time too!

Almeria is in a special location – they say you can go skiing in the morning up in the Sierra Nevada’s, and then go and lie on a beach in the afternoon! It’s a great place if you are sporty – lots of walking and hiking in the mountains, and water sports down on the coast. Kayaking out from Cabo de Gata is really popular (don’t think mum and dad would be keen as hilarious as that would be!).

The Cabo de Gata nature reserve is an area of outstanding beauty.

Almería has some truly beautiful beaches. Or you could hire a boat and go and discover the coves around the coast too! Then there are organised boat trips where you will often catch sight of dolphins. There are various places along the coast where you can find these – Cabo de Gata and Aguadulce being just two that I know of. Aguadulce is lovely, and very close to the popular resort of Roquetas de Mar (personally my idea of hell … rows and rows of hotels and bars selling English food!!). I’m planning a boat trip for mum and dad from Aguadulce – they last a couple of hours and cost about €30 each – longer days trips are also available.

Then there’s the many little villages dotted around the province, usually with great local bars and cafes so you can while away a few hours with some cold beer and tapas! As you go towards the mountains of course you get spectacular views to enjoy with your cold beer! Another drink you might enjoy over here is Tinto de Verano – wine of summer – basically a red wine spritzer and very delicious on a hot day! There are some beautiful villages near us that I plan to take mum and dad to – Laujar de Andarax, Almocita and Padules – they’re all within half an hour of us, and we have tried and tested the tapas there!

Overlooking Almeria City is the 10th Century Fort – the Alcazaba. It’s free entry if you’re an EU citizen and €1,50 if you’re not (sorry Dad!). There are beautiful gardens and you can walk around the ruins of the Fort, once lived in by the King of Almeria.

Every time we drive to Almeria city we keep saying that we must visit the fort!

Almeria is home to Europe’s only desert. The town of Tabernas sits on the edge of the desert, and is a nice place to wander around. However, most people go to this part of Almeria to visit Mini Hollywood and Fort Bravo. Loads of films have been made here, and you can visit some of the sets and even watch a Wild West show! I think it famously started with the Spaghetti westerns, but in more recent years there have been Indiana Jones, Top Gun, Game of Thrones etc to name but a few, made here.

Then there’s the cathedral and various museums in Almeria city to explore! The city is right on the coast, so you can do your shopping, wander around the museums and then down to the beach to enjoy a spot of lunch looking out across the med – we did this the other week and just kept sitting there saying how lucky we are!

Almeria has become a more popular holiday destination over the last few years and there really is something for everyone – the busy city with bustling markets and lots of shops or you can escape to the more tranquil settings in the mountains or hidden coves around the coast … we’re certainly looking forward to doing a bit of touristy sightseeing ourselves over the next few weeks!

Food shopping in Spain

Out here in the countryside, the weekly shop is a little different to what we were used to in the UK. Large supermarkets with an enormous amount of choice, and all veg available all year are just not a thing here. In Almeria you have loads of big supermarkets, but we rarely go down to the big city these days!

Locally, there’s the daily fish van that comes round the village beeping his horn vigorously – we’ve never bought from him as he doesn’t get to our village until lunchtime, and we’re always back at the finca by then if we have been out. Some locals say never to buy the fish as the van isn’t refrigerated – the fish is kept in polystyrene boxes in the back of the van, and would’ve been in there for hours by the time he gets to us!

We have two food shops in the village – they’re small, but you can get your staples there if you run short, and we do like to support our local shop where possible. We do go to the nearest ‘bigger town’, Alhama, which is about 4 miles away, as there is a small supermarket there, so between Alhama and what we have in the village, we can get everything we need.

Then there’s the pharmacy – if you want some headache pills, you can’t get them in the food shops – there’s no crossover here! Different shops for different things.

But the highlight of the week is the market on a Wednesday. Every village has its particular market day, so if you miss yours for some reason then you can always find a nearby market within the next day or two (when there’s no pandemic and you’re allowed to travel anyway!).

The number and variety of stalls vary from week to week, but there’s always a couple of fruit and veg stalls, a butchers van, usually one selling clothes, one with household items – pots and pans etc, and a linen stall with bedding and towels. Sometimes we get shoes, handbags, scarves, and underwear too!

The weekly market is an important part of life in Spain. Some weeks the market is really small, but other weeks stalls line both sides of the road.

You can always tell when it’s fiesta time – extra stalls appear with special flowers and posh dresses!

We always get our veg from the lovely Alexandra. It seems normal to us now, but I remember when we first moved to Spain how we couldn’t get over the size of the veg – it’s all huge! And it’s really fresh too. You don’t go with a shopping list – you decide what to buy when you get there based on what’s available and what’s in season. The only things I really miss are parsnips and swede – never ever see them here (probably because they need a frost and that just doesn’t happen here!).

I remember as a child going to do the weekly shopping with Dad on a Thursday night – butchers first, then the green grocers, followed by the supermarket (and always the fish and chip shop on the way home, making sure we were back for Tomorrow’s World and Top of the Pops!) – going shopping here is just like that (minus the fish and chips, Tomorrow’s World and Top of the Pops of course!) in that you go to different shops for everything. I didn’t realise just how much I’d missed that till we got here – it really is like going back 40 years!

Like most things about life here, rushing is pointless. Standing at the veg stall isn’t boring .. it’s just an opportunity to catch up with other people and enjoy the sun for a while! This slower, calmer pace of life is wonderful and I would heartily recommend everyone trying to introduce a bit of this ethos into life! It would’ve probably driven me mad though if I was working full time with a family like I used to – it was a struggle to find the time to do an online shop back then, never mind visiting different shops!

Over the last year during the pandemic, shopping hasn’t been as much fun as it used to be … after getting our stuff from the market we would go and enjoy a leisurely coffee at the cafe and have a gossip. Unfortunately, our cafe has been closed since last Autumn as our lovely cafe owner, Antonio, is very ill with Covid – I’ll take this opportunity to wish him a speedy recovery – the cafe is such an important part of the village and it’s just not the same without Antonio and his family there. Fingers crossed we have better and happier days coming again.