Diving in the Med

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My manager was kind enough to grant me a week off, so last week I winged my way to Murcia for a week in the sun and some diving off the Mediterranean coast.

I had a gorgeous week of sunshine, with barely a cloud in the sky.  Needless to say, having missed the Aussie summer and now being utterly complacent with sun protection, I got fried to a crisp on the very first day unintentionally whilst having lunch!  Then i spent the rest of the week trying to even up my tan.

I dived out of Cabo del Palos, which is predominantly a fishing port.  It goes without saying that seafood is a feature along this coast, and the produce is just so fresh and delicious! The strangest thing I tried was hueva de maruca, which are salted and preserved eggs of blue ling – a bit like fish-flavoured jerky and not bad!

The diving was quite good, even though the visibility was poor.  My dive guide and buddy, Javier, said that the 3-5m vis that we had most days was the worst that he’d ever seen! What great timing. The water was also a chilly 14C, which is damn cold by my Sydney standards! It’s definitely the coldest water I’ve dived in, and I wished that my drysuit was ready for this trip (it’s currently being made!).

I spent most evenings relaxing, reading, and watching Spanish cooking television, but let my hair down on the last couple of nights in Cabo de Palos.  The friendly folk from the dive shop Planeta Azul took me out for tapas, drinks and dancing around Cabo de Palos, Los Belones and La Manga.  The Spanish seem to have a high-protein diet here with very few vegetables in sight.  I think that, over the course of the week, I managed to eat my bodyweight in delicious jamón serrano and queso!

The guys from Planeta Azul were absolutely fantastic – really friendly and hospitable, and they organised my accommodation and showed me a great time!  I’m already planning my next trip to Spain, as I’m thinking of volunteering to teach English for a week in August through Vaughantown near Madrid, and then going back to Cabo de Palos for some warm water diving when the water temperature is a much more Ev-friendly 24-26C!

It’s a paella-fest

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You don’t really need an excuse to escape the cold and grey London winter, but there is no better reason to go to Valencia than to feast on the local dish, paella. We were also belatedly celebrating our friend Suvendu’s birthday, which like mine falls during the Christmas holidays when everyone is inevitably away.

There were 15 of us travelling together in celebration, and you can imagine the nightmare involved in marshalling this many people to move to a common purpose – to eat paella. We made a detour through the Central Food Market where there were lots of goodies to make you drool, such as olive oils, cheeses and more jamon than you could poke a chorizo at.

 

 

 

We then headed to the beach in search of paella, but not before we had a play on the sand, had a snigger at a local guy proudly smuggling g-budgies (if you know what I mean!!), and a few brave souls dipped the toes in the freezing cold water. After a bit of wandering and indecision, our hunger got the better of us and we retreated to a busy seaside restaurant to get our fill of paella. We also ordered another local specialty, arroz negro, which is rice with seafood and coloured with squid ink so it comes in a shocking shade of black. It tasted much better than it looked, with a hearty seafood flavour, though a bit salty for my liking. It also gave everyone appealing looking black lips – no kissing today!

Most people were only in Valencia for just the Saturday, but I decided to spend the weekend here to make the most of the mild Spanish winter – I was walking around in a t-shirt! On the Sunday, I had a nice sleep-in and hearty breakfast before heading off to the Arts and Sciences Museum. It is a stunning, architecturally-designed set of complexes that also includes an aquarium. Due to the limited timeframe, I only had time to walk through the Science Museum, which had an interesting exhibition on sailing and another on DNA.

 

 

 

 

There is definitely so much to do here in Valencia that one weekend doesn’t do it justice!