I have been away on several breaks with my Irish friend, Mary Magee, but this one was different. She had - bravely, I felt - upped sticks from Ireland and moved down to the Costa de Almeria near a small town called Vera and was very happy for me to stay with her for a few days.
I travelled up to Gatwick the night before the flight but the trains were poor. Apparently a day or two afterwards, a new train had been introduced and, well, there were no services between Swindon and Paddington so maybe I should not have felt hard done by when the Reading to Gatwick gave up at Redhill and chugged off back to Reading to save even more severe delays for those still hoping to reach Gatwick. I was glad to be able to check my bag in just before the cut-off time when I finally arrived.
I flew to Granada the following day but again many flights were delayed and the Granada flight was one of them. It made up some time but the baggage was slow and I only reached the pension around 3p.m. so had little time to do much in my short time there. I had visited Granada a few years ago but actually did better this time.
The Pension Matilde was basic but in a good location and was perfectly fine. Strange things happened, though, and when water twice gushed out of the pipe behind the sink without my ever once going near it, I felt that I should report it. With the lady speaking little English and me token Spanish, it was left to Google Translate to exonerate myself of blame. Giving her my laptop to explain what had happened, there was much raising of thumbs and other digits before I was told that a Formentera was coming. There was a further flood later but this was self-inflicted: a beer bottle crashed to the floor and emptied most of its contents before I managed to get some down my throat.
I saw the cathedral and visited a small area of the wonderful Alhambra Palace before taking photos opposite. I later enjoyed a nice meal in a square close to the cathedral and was amazed that 11 euros bought, within the daily menu, a bowl of paella, two pieces of pork and chips and a glass of red wine.
The journey from Granada to Vera where Mary lives was very pretty and initially quite exciting. Having forsaken an earlier and very crowded bus to the main bus station, I took another one shortly afterwards which was very quiet but which broke down. A lady kindly took me to the station and we could only correspond with each other through hand signals.
The two-hour journey to Almeria was very picturesque and went along the coast for around half of the journey. Although I did not see much of Almeria in the short time I was there between buses, it seemed pleasant. I sat in a park and found that I soon gained a weakness for sangria... The onward bus was on time and it was lovely meeting Mary at Vera.
Many people have bought properties in Spain but I must say that Mary has found herself a very nice spot in between Vera and the beach. It struck me as odd that the town and beach are around eight kilometres apart and Mary found herself a lovely two-bedroom place in a small complex of ten houses. It seems ideal to me and is far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the larger towns.
Having never heard of Vera, I looked it up to find that its main claim to fame is its apparently vast naturist beach and general housing area. Mary had heard of a lady who had expressed an interest in viewing a house which was, unbeknown to her, in the naturist area. Quite how the viewing took place is uncertain but it seems that she went for a different property...
Granada Cathedral

A more distant view of the Alhambra.


Mary and her new house.

Mojacar Pueblo (taken from the car)

Sunset taken from Mary's house.

Huercal Overa.

San Juan de los Terreros.
Mary's house is wonderful and has lovely views of the mountains. It is a fairly barren area and apparently the only part of Spain which is desert. That said, some areas are lusher than others but the whole, general area is very pretty. There are plenty of seaside towns and Mojacar - with its pueblo (village) of whitewashed houses set on a hill up the road from the sea - was undoubtedly my favourite. There were many interesting places which Mary kindly showed me around and many of the towns, including Vera and Huercal Overa, had most impressive squares and churches.
We visited the coastal towns of San Juan de los Terreros and Garrucha and the four days were wonderful. That may not have been the case on Sunday having to rise at 5:30 a.m. to catch a coach to Almeria Airport but it was a good service even though the first hour of the one-and-three-quarter-hour journey was spent collecting people up from Vera Playa to Mojacar.
Everything was on time too and so I was home around 4p.m. and had a little time to recover. It had been a very interesting and pleasant area and a nice break.