After the brunch at La Dulce Vida, Bill and I drove the short distance to Playas de Vera, just up the coast 15 kilometers. Vera has 15 urbanizaciónes (developments) that are clothing optional, along with a 1 KM long section of the beach that is also clothing optional. This had been part of the cancelled 2020 trip, so we had been planning this stop for a while. This, however, was one of my booking errors. I know! They don’t happend often, but I am human. I noticed while we were at Costa Natura, that the booking I had made for Vera was not in one of the 15 naturist developments. It was down the beach a bit. When I discovered the error, it was still in the free cancellation period. So, I looked for an alternative. I found one in Natura World on “La Primera Linea de la Playa.” which translates to beach front. It was a 1 BR/1BA, facing the beach. The apartment didn’t look bad, so I changed the reservation. Once we got there, the building looked something akin to a World War II bunker, with no esthetic appeal at all, and most importantly, even though the building is on “La Primera Linea.” the apartment faced a rather bland courtyard. Needless to say, we were very disappointed and I can say it impacted our overall impression. After brooding about it and thinking seriously of driving back to Costa Natura, we decided to make the best of it, check out the beach other options for future travel.
As it turns out, we really like the beach at Vera, long, wide, with several options for palapas and hamacas (loungers). We did shorten our Vera trip by one day. Afterwards, we are glad we got to know the Vera area and will be back. But now, we know which Urbanización to choose.
After departing Vera, we had a 3 1/2 hour drive back to Málaga Airport, where we would drop the car and take a taxi into Torremolinos. Our friends Ken and Andrew, who we have known since early in our time in Palm Springs, now live in Torremolimos. They remodeled and lived in two different places in Cathedral Cove. In 2016, they sold and moved back to Vancouver. A couple of years later, they decided to retire and move to Torremolinos, Spain. Torremolinos is a city of about 70,000, a short distance from Málaga airport. The town has a large and well developed gay social scene. Some say it is the gayest city in Spain.
The drive down the coast through Murcia and Almería is dotted with thousands of greenhouses. These greenhouses provide optimal growing conditions for the various fruits and vegatables that contribute to the 61 percent of Spanish fruit and vegetable production out of these two provinces. But this comes at a high price. First, most of the workers, much like the California Central Valley are immigrants. In Spain those workers come from ecomonmically stressed areas like Eastern Europe and Northern Africa. The working conditions can be extreme, temperatures up to 50 degrees celsius (122F), high humidity and very little air movement create adverse working conditions. Additionally, all that used, and no longer usable, plastic is creating millions of metric tons of plastic waste. Also, the area is Europe’s only desert, so water to support the agriculture has to be brought in via pipelines and canals. It is not dissimilar to the situation in the American west. Below are some photos from online sources showig home much of the terrain is covered by these greenhouses. There is a comparison photo showing before (1974) and after (2000) the implementation of greenhouse agriculture. Clearly it changed the landscape! Also, a few photos of the drive on the AP-7, (Autopista 7).
Since we had decided to leave Vera a day early, our room at Ken and Andrew’s place was not available. They suggested we stay at the Hotel Ritual, a gay hotel on a cliff overlooking the beach. We checked in to Ritual, and had time to enjoy both the naturist rooftop pool and the large party pool on the 2nd deck. Our room had a large terrace overlooking the party pool. Even though it was for just one night, we enjoyed out time. I particularly enjoyed the rooftop pool early before the afternoon sun was too much. But by then a large part of the 2nd floor pool was shaded by the building. Bill stayed up on the rooftop, while I moved below. Bill enjoys sun far more than I do. That first eveneng we met Andrew and Ken out for cocktails, later we were joined by their houseguests, one of whom we had met previously in Palm Springs.
The next morning, after a great breakfast at the hotel, Bill and I walked along the Torremolinos beachwalk. This walk, and bike path, stretches from one end of Torremolinos to the other. There are countless Chirinquitos (beach bars) and restaurants along the walk. As we were walking, I saw a bike rental shop. Even though I had previously sent my biking clothes and gear home, I decided to plan a ride for Sunday morning.
On Saturday, we had arranged to spend the day at Eden Beach Club. Located on the beach, just below the Hotel Ritual, Eden is a larged churinguito, with countless palapas and hamacas and a few cama balinesas. Ken and Andrew had arranged to rent one of the 4 person Cama Balinesa, a covered Balinese style bed. The rental of the bed was cheap, but it did require food and wine consumption of €25 each, which wasn’t particularly difficult. I think we exceeded the minmum by a little bit. We had a great time, people watching, walking the beach, swimming in the rather chilly waters. Remember, water temperature is impacted by the cooler Atlantic waters coming through the Strait of Gibralter. Anyway, it was a fun day. I particularly enjoyed that we weren’t wallowing in the sand and had protection from the sun. And, after getting out of the salt water, there were a nice fresh water shower. Here are some pictures. Look closely at the size of Andrew and Bill’s Club sandwiches. I really think they are made to share.
On Sunday, as I mentioned, I went on a bike ride. It was all going great. I was about 9 miles into the ride and heading toward the waterfront in Málaga, when I had a flat. First, the rental bike did not have a pump, so I have no idea if it would pump. I tried asking several cyclist riding by if they had a pump. Very few did and the couple that did just rode on by, so I called Bill told him I was walking the bike back to the rental shop. It was slow going, but finally I was back on the Torremolinos beach walk. I stopped for snack and water. Bill called again and suggested that I just wait there and Andrew would pick me up in the car. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a longer ride in. But pushing the Bike the 3+ miles back to Torremolinos, did give me a workout.
Monday, Juy 4th, after 9+ weeks since leaving home, Bill and I began our trip home. We had orignally booked a non stop British Airways Málaga to Heathrow flight on Monday evening and then the non-stop Virgin Atlantic flight to LAX the next morning. You may have heard or read of the challenges BA is having, particular in Heathrow. Our non-stop to London was cancelled and we were booked on an earlier departing, Iberia to British Airways connection through Madrid. Because it left earlier, we got into Heathrow about the same time as orignially booked. However, we did have to negotiate a Termianal 5 to Terminal 3 transfer. It is interesting, they actually use the Central London to Heathrow Express which stops at both teminals as a free transfer. You have to use either a London Transport Oyster card or a Touchless Debit/Credit Card. Although there is no charge, they do use the number to track the number of riders. After trying to follow non-existent signs to our hotel, which was right in Terminal 2, and getting lost a couple of times, we finally checked in and went right to bed, because the next morning would be an early rise, so that we could the enjoy the Upper Class Wing, for breakfast before boading our non stop flight to LAX.
Time passed quickly on the flight. Upper class has fully lay flat beds and an entertainment system with a large variety of choices. Bill watched 3 moves and I binged on The Brokenwood Mysteries, a New Zealand crime series. Whatever each of us did, it made the 11+ hours fly by. Clearing customs and immigration at LAX was smooth and, amazingly, efficient. Only 45 minutes after landing, we were through all that and awaiting our house sitters, who were driving my car to LAX because they were taking a later flight to Mexico. We met at a bar/retstaurant outside security, chatted with them for a bit and then we were on our way home.
You all know that Bill and I travel a lot. But we both feel, 2+ months is too long to be away, particularly to be away from Mouse. Mouse was very glad see us, but did express his displeasure with a several loud meows, which to us sounded more like, “where have you two been.” But as you can see from the photo below, it didn’t take him long to enjoy a nap with Bill. All is right in his world.
We are home for 3 weeks, then are off on a travel trailer trip to Wasington to see Keith and Joanette. As much as we enjoy being home, July and August can be brutal weather wise in Palm Springs. Heading up the coast and spending time in the Pacific Northwest gets us out of the heat. Mouse gets to come with us. Until then!