It's our second visit to Murcia. The first time we wondered the city's streets, window shopped and sat in plazas enjoying the local cuisine. We stayed very close to the city yet amongst fields and lanes and in a converted train wagon - Vagon Rural. The National Park of Sierra de Espuma provided great hikes in woodland with breathtaking open views to stumple upon. There is a busier beach area too at La Manga where many holiday apartments and hotels have been built up on both sides of an unusual spit with sea one side and lagoon the other. But if you prefer to visit a protected stretch of coastline just to the south, go to Calblanque Beach.
This time we were with a local, Luis - a family friend, who wanted to show us some of his favourite bits. We followed him into Mula de Baños, a tiny hamlet. The dry earth of this valley is watched over by a pyramid like volcano. And this is the source of the thermal baths that bring us here.
We are greeted by Antonio and Ramona at El Delfin and shown to our simple but comfortable apartment, which proudly retains its antique tiled floor and other touches from the past, and the artwork - Ramona's own - adds style. Included in our stay are 2 thermal baths a day. There a several bathing rooms on the ground floor, one with a mural, and we quickly get in to savour the healing heat seep to our bones.
If you love to watch a decent tennis match, may I impress upon you that a visit to the Valencian Open 500 in late October is worth considering. It's a great city to spend the weekend in and this year the temperatures were in the 30s in October so it needn't be the only reason you come. Outside of the final weekend, there is barely a queue and the stadium was nowhere near full so there's no difficulty organising a ticket. Some great male players throw themselves around the 2 main courts, including high-speed doubles teams.
I've been lucky enough to watch the women's finals at Wimbledon a couple of years back, and wonderful as that was, it has left me with the desire to watch live tennis from somewhere close enough to absorb the mood, feel a part of it. We were in the eves at Centre Court - it was chilly up there in the shade - and although we were caught up in the atmosphere, the actual tennis felt a long way away. Not so in Valencia.
For €38, mid-week, we were in row 3, and even managed to hop forward to the front row (as these higher priced seats hadn't sold). From there we could feel the frustration of the players, were overwhelmed by the power of their game and could see them sweat. It was incredibly engaging.
Winches creak as my carriage is cranked up, up, up .... then wooosh down, hair on end, a rush of fear passes from my head to my toes. Although I'm held in place by the grip of hefty safety straps at that moment it doesn't seem quite enough. There is no time to even let out a scream - but the odd 'oh my god' escapes my pierced lips. Then flung to the left, swiftly over to the right, violently spun up and over and that scream finally is released - no holes barred - building to a crescendo. I stumple off the ride, clutching my stomach, feeling clammy. All around me are exhilerated faces. My own children are grabbing at me and screiking 'Again, again!'
Is this your idea of a good time? I was shocked at the amount of adults that rush from ride to ride and have selected Orlando (from all the amazing places to go in the world FOR GOD'S SAKE!) as their holiday destination. It is term time. I thought the place would be empty. I think I have answered that question emphatically. It is not my idea of a good time, but this isn't about me. Orlando - the last stop on our world trip - the carrot reward that we've dangled temptingly over the kids for the last 3 months is unavoidably, forcefully upon us.
Climb this volcano and you can ride the roller-coasters. Visit this temple and we'll join you, we chanted. Brave the jungle and we'll tackle the waterslides. No moaning in exchange for a fast food fix. They had done their side of the bargain impressively, even with enthusiasm. Now it was our turn....but WHAT, without moaning..?
Arriving in Miami after a couple of weeks hardcore travelling in South America, and almost 3 months away, was like finding gold at the end of a rainbow. Having traipsed through jungle and eaten from a can in remote ramshackle half-built huts you can't imagine how great it feels to get to somewhere so happening.
Being close to Cuzco, after we left Machu Picchu, it seemed almost rude not to pop in on the neighbouring Amazonian area at Puerto Maldonado. Our daughter's fear of the ordinary ant would surely be shrunk into perspective! As our time to arrive approached we realised that we were hopelessly unprepared. Our bags were full of ski gear and swimwear and not the lightweight breathable, and long, clothing needed. Our last night in Cuzco was spent dashing round the shops looking, rather unsuccessfully, for garments that would save our skin - literally.
Our accommodation was arranged at Estancia Bello Horizonte. From the airport we were taken to the office, where we left the un-necessary luggage and hung out briefly in the efficient cafe next door awaiting another family. Both are run to fund a children's home, but at no point were we asked for a donation. By staying at the lodge you are supporting the project. From the town it takes about 45 minutes in the minibus to reach the lodge.
There are several cabins in the clearing which overlooks an open view of tropical rainforest. The twin bedded simple rooms had pristine bedding and nets and bathroom. There were 2 rooms together sharing a terrace, which was perfect for the 4 of us. 3 course tasty meals were presented in the dining room (a large caged space), where you sit together with your guide and other guests encouraging friendships and chat. There is also a netted bar area with games and inviting hammocks.
After a lovely lunch and a quick dip in the natural pool, we and our Catalunyan companions, joined Henri who guided through the forest around the property - getting us to chew on this numbing plant and smell that one, watching giant ants and monkey's movements. A taste of what's to come.
- The Lost City of Machu Picchu
- Get High in La Paz
- Solar de Uyuni - Crossing from Chile to Bolivia
- Easter Island
- Tahiti and Moorea
- North Island NZ Adventures
- Haunted Rooms
- Re-visiting Christchurch
- Borobudur and Discovering Beaches in Java
- Travelling to Japan?
- Japanese Alps and Sumo
- Osaka and Kyoto (+ Hiroshima)
- Hokkaido - Bear country
- First Taste of Japan - Tokyo (with kids)
- Stay in a Treehouse
- Preparing to Travel Check List
- Islington - a lovely corner of London
- Go West (in the UK)
- Hayle, Cornwall
- Marseille and its Surroundings
- Las Fallas - Huge City Centre Fires in Valencia
- Train Travel
- Visiting Valencia
- Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
- Skiing in Avoriaz
- More about Kobae from Base Camp, Utah
- Palaces or Beaches of India
- Saving Up - For the Budget Traveller
- Dealing with Altitude
- It's all in the Planning
- Hiking in the Costa Blanca
- Revelling in Rio
- Perth - The Alternative Stopover
- New to Norway
- Texas Road Trip
- My London Olympics 2012
- Spain - Far more than a Beach
- Hotel Pools with Vavoom
- FIB - Festival Internacional de Benicassim
- Orlando's Natural Beauty
- Clover Spa and The Hotel Inspector
- UK Festival full of surprises - Shambala
- Moros & Cristianos
- Only in India
- 1 year and 400 properties
- A Story from Base Camp in Utah
- Briefly in Barcelona
- Funky Fitzroy - Melbourne city living at its best.
- Filming The Hotel Inspector
- Local Fiestas in Spain
- Sport Heaven - Club La Santa
- Sydney Beaches - Manly to Bondi
- Weird is Wonderful
- Ski Sierra Nevada
- New Year in Sydney - The Place To Be
- Healthy Holidays
- Get Naked
- Tips for Learning a Language
- Alternative Weddings
- Motorbike Madness in Ho Chi Minh City
- Hiking in Spain
- Unusual Hotels
- Stopover in Dubai
- Sri Lanka - The South Coast
- A Taste of Sri Lanka
- Sri Lanka - the Emerald Interior
- Travelling Alone
- Chiang Mai Party Train
- Expat Christmas
- Chang beer on the Koh San Road, Bangkok
- Make Things Happen - Volunteer Work Abroad
- Ethiopia - Land of Mystery
- InterRail: How my travels began
- Support Japan - Go There!
- Futuristic Travel (part 2) - On Earth
- Futuristic Travel (part 1) - Space
- Coast to Coast
- Cape Town
- Ibiza - Mature Clubbing
- Hotels in Disguise
- Top Travel Reads
- Camino de Santiago de Compostela
- Sleep Well & In Style at UK Festivals
- The Pyrenees and Beyond
- Is a Bull Run Fun?
- Latitude Festival Review
- Socially Conscious Accom
- Brighton V Blackpool
- Lake District Tips and Tipis
- The Straw that Broke the Camels Back
- My Top Quirky Places to Stay
- Semana Santa in Guatamala
- Introducing Myself