The Costa Tropical
Position 36:50.0N 2:28.0W
The small marina at Marina del Este between Almunacar and Herradura gave us our first experience in Chili III of Mediterranean mooring – reversing into an improbably small gap between two boats with a very short run-up at a difficult angle and then picking up mooring lines from the quay that run out into the harbour and secure the bow. Belinda did an admirable job and in the process we met Jonas and Carolina on Sally (Halberg Rassy 48) - our new and very welcoming neighbours. They had spent the last 2 winters in the Caribbean and so lots to chat about. The people at the marina were friendly and helpful – all good other than a constant surge that required the deployment of shock absorbers on our mooring lines, fenders off the stern and death-defying leaps to get ashore (we do not have a gangway).
We had a good walk over the hill to Herradura – a small and pleasant beach resort and later a trip by taxi to Almunacar - the main town in the area with a lovely water front, gardens and impressive C16th Christian fortress built over Roman and Islamic remains. It’s a mountainous area with an indented coastline and enough trees in places to make for some lovely views.
A trip the next day to the nearby and popular town of Nerja was excellent. In 1959 4 students from the university in Nerja were out waking in the hills one evening close to the town when then noticed bats flying from a hole in the ground. Coming back to investigate they discovered a vast cave system – one of the most impressive in Europe and containing many important cave paintings from the Neolithic period. Our visit to the caves was astonishing with vast cathedral sized caverns and dramatic rock formations. Nerja is a very attractive town and after a visit to the “Balcon de Europe” viewing promenade we managed to find a lovely terrace over-looking the sea for a delicious Italian lunch.
We left Marina del Este on 11th November and spent the day mainly motoring east along the coast calling at Calahondra (a rare anchorage) where we anchored for lunch - a small town with a strong British influence.
Just before sunset we arrived at the massive Almerimar Marina (over 1,000) boats surrounded by a purpose-built tourist resort. A good marina but wholly unappealing and after a good night’s sleep and a chat with Jonas and Carolina in Sally, were we off to Almeria – a 3 hour motor over a glassy sea.
One of the most striking features and less attractive features of this coastline is vast areas of polytunnels for growing winter veg and salad to supply Northern Europe. It stretches for miles along the plains between the sea and mountains and is, from the sea, an eyesore - but the economy here depends on it and we all demand food out of season. The other is that some towns have clearly been colonised by the Brits to a very significant degree. I get the weather but surely it must get just a bit boring?
Another short motor of 3 hours took us to Almeria where we were really lucky to get the only space in the Yacht Club (Puerto de Almeria) by occupying a space on the Quay (for waiting boats) with inches to spare – another high-stress mooring event. But it was worth it: we were right next to the town centre – a great place from which to explore the City. We really liked Almeria, the capital of Almeria Province, a buzzing vibrant town with palm fringed plazas and a superb Alcabaza Moorish fortress and cathedral – the latter strongly fortified from attack and virtually without windows.
A highlight was a tapas evening at Casa Pugo. Trading since 1870, at 8pm there was a gathering of people outside and at when the doors opened everyone piled in (no queue…). Within 5 mins it was full of people, animated conversation, 8 women dressed to the nines having a great time, plates of fantastic tapas flowing non-stop from the kitchen. Definitely the place to be.