Spain

We have just come back from our yearly trip to Roquetas de Mar, Almeria, in Southern Spain. We go there each year to visit my parents who emigrated there nearly 20 years ago. You can fly direct to Almeria airport, which is about 45 minutes away. Charter flights from several companies go there. "Tarleton Travel", in particular, specialises in holidays in Roquetas. You can also fly into Alicante, but you then have a (not unpleasant) three and a half hour journey, via the Autopista de Mediterraneo, to get to Roquetas. "Going Places" and the budget airline "GO" fly there, amongst others. Malaga probably has more flights, and is closer in distance, but the journey is much longer, due to the poor state of the coast road, which can be prone to landslippage in heavy rain. Places to stay include the Hotel Golf Trinidad, the Hotel Bahia Serena, the Cappriccio, Playalinda and Playasol, all of which are either next to, or extremely close to, the beach.

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Features of Roquetas de Mar

Roquetas is an excellent place for families. It has a fine long beach, which has been awarded an EU "blue flag" for cleanliness. The beach is several miles long. Those of a prudish disposition be warned, there can be nudist sunbathers at the very westerly end of the beach, but they are usually discreet and are not a problem in general. The beach is safe, and there are watersports, such as pedallos, windsurfing, and I'm afraid those awful water motor-scooters, though they have to stay quite a way out at sea, and only rarely annoy those of us who like a peaceful time. The old port area of Roquetas is worth a visit, particularly during festival time. An aquapark has just opened this summer, and we went there for the day. It opens at 11am and closes at 7pm and the prices are very reasonable. Adults are charged 1200 pesatas, Children 1000ptas and Pensionistas 700ptas. The current exchange rate is 250 ptas per £1. We had a great time there. You can hire a small "urbocar" for a few hours to explore the area, or 4-6 seater pedal-cars which are great fun to pedal around for about an hour, before you find out that you are the only one pedalling, while the rest of the family are just sitting back and enjoying the scenery.

Other places to visit

Other seaside places to visit include Almerimar, Aguadulce and San José. Almerimar is about 20 minutes drive West of Roquetas. It has an attractive marina and a lovely bay where the water is only about 1 metre in depth maximum and about 10 centimetres minimum, great for young children. Aguadulce is about 20 minutes drive North, and also has a marina. San José is a long drive of about 1 hour and a half East, near to Cabo de Gata, the Southeast tip of Spain. It is a lovely little village with some beautiful beaches just South, outside town. The water is crystal clear, so clear in fact that the world championships for scuba diving are held there. Take plenty to drink and a sunshade is indispensible. The ancient city of Grenada is relatively close by, and is well worth a visit to see the Alhambra and the Generalife. We once stayed in Grenada to go skiing in the Sierre Nevadas at Sol-y-Nieve.

Golf

Roquetas is handy for golf. There are several courses close by. Playa Serena is about a mile from the centre of Roquetas, while Almerimar is about 20 minutes drive West and Envía is about the same distance North, in the foothills of the Sierra de Gador mountains. Further along the coast, towards Malaga, are a raft of courses, many of international standard, designed by people like Jack Nicklaus and Seve Ballesteros.

Eating out

Eating out is very reasonable in this part of Spain. Specialities include "Gambas al Pil-Pil" (Prawns, Garlic and Peppers in Oil), for a starter, "Solomillo de Cerdo Pimienta" (Pepper Pork) and "Rapé" (Monk fish), as well as the usual "Paella" (usually for 2, ordered a day in advance). Wine is extremely good and very cheap. The house wines are usually very drinkable, and if you want to push the boat out a little, splash out on a good Rioja, such as "Marqes de Cáceres". Try a real Sangría or drink at a Tapas bar, where you get small snacks, ranging from mushrooms, to liver, to calamares with each beer. If you are self-catering and have a car, try going to one of the larger supermarkets just outside old Roquetas such as Lidl, rather than using the more expensive Margar's in the Urbanización itself, and be amazed at the price of wines and spirits.

Summary

Roquetas de Mar is a lovely place. The people there are so friendly and you don't get hassled by "timeshare salesmen". Many British pensioners go there for several months in the winter. It is almost cheaper for them to go and stay in an hotel than to stay at home, and they can opt to have their pension paid to them in Spain while they are staying there. We go there every year and return with our "batteries" recharged, and I would advise anyone to go there.

Sue - August 1999

 
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