Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Spanish Stories: Paella, Ponies & Pink Salt Lakes

While our minimoon in St Andrews was a welcome break for Gordon and I after the wedding, we're still planning/saving for a bigger, more exciting, once in a lifetime kind of honeymoon next year. Where or when that will be, nobody knows. We're still working on it! In the mean time though, we booked ourselves a little winter getaway and found ourselves in sunny Spain in the middle of November.


Despite being the top holiday destination for more than 12 million Brits, neither of us had ever been before. In fact this was the first time we'd ever seen an actual palm tree in real life! We landed in Alicante on a Sunday morning, jumped in our hire car and cruised the roads of the Costa Blanca to our home for the week. Day one was spent wondering, getting used to our surroundings and hunting out an open supermarket! We stocked up on essentials (read: beer and chorizo) for the week at La Zenia Boulevard - the biggest shopping centre in Spain! Think Union Square on steroids.


Our first evening was a cosy one. I rustled up a huge prawn and chorizo paella, which we ate out on the terrace and washed down with surprise bubbles (cheers Mum & Dad) and ended the night wrapped in blankets, playing Uno under the stars!


Day two was a fun one! We made our way to Lo Rufete adventure park near San Miguel and after much deliberation (AKA me refusing to go quad biking) we settled on horse riding around the stunning La Pedrera lake. I haven't been on a horse since my 6th (?) birthday but I've loved horses ever since!


Our guide was a Yorkshire lass who introduced us to our beautiful white mares - Clara and Sombre. We got to brush them while they got saddled up as a way to get to know the girls and bond with them. Clara was lovely and soft and very needy. She'd stamp her hooves for attention if I stopped stroking her for one second. Basically the horse version of me! Sombre on the other hand, didn't seem to enjoy human contact quite so much. She was happy to let you touch her until you got anywhere near her face... then she'd try to bite you! Sombre by name, somber by nature. Of course I ended up with her.


I was helped up onto the saddle by a Spanish man who didn't seem to speak much English. He literally told me to swing my leg over, waited til I got myself comfortable... and then buggered off! No guidance on how to hold the reigns or steer poor Sombre! Gordon meanwhile was told all of the above, despite having owned horses and already knowing far more than me. A quick "Pull left for left and right for right!" and we were off. Luckily Sombre was much kinder to me on her back (not so much the other horses, who's bottoms she nipped to  make them speed up!) and we relaxed with each other along the way.

Our hack around the lake lasted an hour and was lovely and peaceful, with clear blue skies and beautiful views across the picturesque, turqouise lake. Turns out horse riding is pretty tiring, and not easy on the legs, so our daily siestas became a thing soon after!


In the evening we headed for a bite to eat before the infamous Monday night pub quiz and discovered our favourite restaurant of the trip. A fairly recent addition to Los Dolses, Brooks California BBQ boasts their very own smoker and unbeatable prices. Three tacos for 6 euros? Yes please! Gordon enjoyed a BBQ pulled pork bun while I tucked into the best tacos I've ever tried!


The highlight of day three was our visit to the pink salt lakes at Torrevieja. An alga and a certain type of bacteria thrives in the salty environment and turns the water at the Salinas de Torrevieja this striking colour. It's also responsible for the colour of the shrimp and for turning the flamingos that eat them from white to pink - who knew?! I was gutted there weren't any flamingos on the go that morning. The locals use the lake as a natural spa as the salty water is apparently great for your skin, and it's not uncommon to see people just floating around! 


While we weren't quite brave enough to take the plunge (or not, apparently the water is such a think consistency it's impossible to sink. Hence the floating spa users!) I did dip my toes as we strolled among the washed up salt crystals on the banks. Maybe next time! 


Wednesday was completely overshadowed by the lakes and the rest of the day was a casual affair, strolling along the prom at Torrevieja and tucking into some tasty tapas back at La Zenia Boulevard. A look around the many many shops, a late afternoon siesta and a lovely Italian meal washed down with a huge glass of sangria in the evening and our third day in Spain was complete.

More Spanish stories coming soon...

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