Travelling from Puerto de la Duquesa we headed back along the coast toward Malaga and recognised some of the signs and turn-offs along the way. This time we stayed on the autoban and bypassed Malaga then after about another 2 hours eastward we reach Almeria. The country side views changed as we neared Almeria and consisted largely not of barren ground but rather endless plastic hot houses where crops grow under hydroponics. On the other side of Almeria, in the direction of El Toyo, the plastic hot houses seem to disappear.
El Toyo is a relatively new, yet odd settlement, relatively empty in the winter but full of life in the summer.
Evidently the El Toyo area was developed for the Mediterranean Games that took places in around 2005. The apartment we stayed in, though lovely inside was one of similar style in what seemed like many rows of apartments looking identical from the outside. It was nearby the beach, peaceful at night, and lovely and sunny during the day. We ate most of our meals outside.
The following photo is an example rows of apartment housing built for the Mediterranean Games. We were privileged to have our apartment free standing as one of a duplex, rather that in a row, it must have been for the judges or referees.
By the time we reached El Toyo in our travels we had shifted to Spanish timetables. We still tried to get up by about 7:30am, although sometimes it was 8:30am, school didn’t start for the kids until about 9:00am or sometimes as late as 10:30am, lunch was often not until 3pm! By the way it seems to be very common for the Spanish to not have lunch until 3pm and then later around 5pm they have coffee and pastries and then dinner after 9pm. Several nights this week we didn’t get dinner until 10pm! That’s pretty late for us New Zealanders! I hate to say it but the reason we were so late often was because I was stuck at the mobile phone shops trying to sort out internet. That is another thing to get use to – often shops are shut between 3pm and 5pm and then after 6pm until about 10pm everything comes alive. Whatever you do don’t go grocery shopping at 7pm as it seems to be peak hour shopping time!
Sunday we met up with Fidel’s family and his wife Susana cooked an amazing meal, Paella, a rice, seafood and chicken meal. It was amazing seeing Daniel try out so many different types of seafood, he was in boots and all, and especially enjoyed the prawns.
On Monday (5/2/2012) we decided to drive into Almeria (only about 15 minutes away) and take a look at the city.
There were two places we specifically wanted to visit, the first was the cathedral and the second was the Alcazaba (Moorish Castle). It wasn’t too difficult to get into Almeria although, of course, we did get a bit lost and ended up parking in a slightly different area than we had intended. After getting directions from a few Spanish-only speaking people we headed off with google maps leading the way. After about 15 minutes of walking we came to a fortress-like structure and then realised that this in fact was our cathedral! The cathedral was built in the 1520s on the site of a ruined mosque and its fortress-like walls were intended to be a defence against pirates. While the outside was unusual for a cathedral the inside was what you would expect in Europe.
After visiting the cathedral, which by the way was fabulous; we headed off to find the castle. Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, it was closed; however we had a pleasant time eating chips on its doorstep and I really enjoyed simply walking back through the streets of Almeria to our car. On the way back we stopped off at a bakery and bought the most amazing cranberry/custard twist pasties.
The week was mainly spent with me trying to sort out internet and Karen getting the kids into a good routine with schooling. Wednesday tends to be our big trip day and that was when we drove some two hours or so to Granada. Please refer to my other posting about Granada.
The rest of the week was spent at home. I was able to fit it two runs along the beach which I really enjoyed. The first run was a little late in the day and the sun zapped energy from me. I am trying to go out 2 or 3 times a week but am back at the start of my training only spending at the most 1/2 hour out and usually only about 20 minutes. I am pretty unfit at the moment but hopefully in a few months I will be back up to an hour run each week.