The English Bit of Spain – Murcia, Alicante and La Manga Club

Eating Out in Cabo de Palos

Eating Out in Cabo de Palos

By Regina Winkle-Bryan

We went to a wedding near Murcia in the southeastern bit of Spain. It was not a Spanish wedding, but an English wedding, and most of the guests were from London. In fact, Adri and one other woman were the only Spaniards there!

At the wedding - A and I at La Manga Club

At the wedding – A and I at La Manga Club

First of all, let me just say that I love weddings, and I love my friend W and am SO happy for him and his new wifey! Marriage, it’s so grown-up, right? The wedding was a blast and the ceremony sweet and personal (the colors were blue and white for those of you interested in these details! Classy).

Wedding at La Manga Club

Wedding at La Manga Club

While the location for the wedding was beautiful, it was also quite weird.  I felt like I was at a sort of Disneyland for adults. ‘Isn’t that Las Vegas?’, you’re thinking. Yes, you’re right. Then this was Euro Disney for adults, golf and drinking and eating being the main draws. The place in question is La Manga Club, and it’s just inland from La Manga on the Mediterranean Sea about a half hour to the east of Murcia and a half hour north of Cartagena.

Wedding flowers..

Wedding flowers..

It’s strange because this area doesn’t seem to have much going on, just fishing and lots and lots of agriculture – artichoke fields as far as the eye can see. Men in the hot sun picking strawberries. Many times in Spain the ‘Murcian Garden’ is referred to as much of the country’s produce comes from here. It’s not a ritzy region. It also seemed quite dry, with low rolling hills and sparse vegetation. Yet among all this dry grass and these migrant workers there’s La Manga Club, with its manicured golf course and lush palms concealing luxury apartments and fabulous villas (I saw a couple I wouldn’t mind moving into to!).

This juxtaposition alone is not weird. What’s weird is that everyone who lives at La Manga Club is British. What’s weird is that when you order a drink in Spanish the bartender says, ‘Huh?’, and you have to stop and think about what country you’re in. It does not seem like Spain when one is strolling La Manga Club, where fish and chips are easy to come by and the pork is prepared at an English Butcher, ‘Best English sausage in Murcia’, his sign says.

Indeed, it is not just La Manga Club, but the whole area around Alicante and Murcia that seems to attract Brits. What’s the deal? Maybe some of you Brits out there can fill me in.

Cartagena - Spain

Cartagena – Spain

Not golfers, and in possession of a rented car from SIXT, Adri and I ventured out of La Manga Club. We went to Cartagena which is OK, but certainly not a must-see sort of place. We also ate a couple meals in Los Bellones (some good Asian food), which seemed to also have a large English expat population. The top meal we had during our weekend in Alicante and Murcia was most definitely at the fishing village Cabo de Palos at a seafood spot overlooking the Mediterranean.

Cabo de Palos

Cabo de Palos

There are quite a few options in Cabo de Palos, but I recommend El Navegante (Paseo Maritimo, Cabo de Palos, Tel 968-56-33-12). Here we had the Menú del Día for €15.00 each which included wine (white this time), bread, a huge salad, fried baby squid (yum!), and a sort of paella called caldoso which neither of us had had before and which was totally tasty. Oh yes, let’s not forget dessert, which was flan. Stuffed, we went back to our spacious Suite at Las Lomas in La Manga Club and took a nap.

Sort of Paella at Navegante - Cabo de Palos

Sort of Paella at El Navegante – Cabo de Palos

El Navegante

El Navegante

I’ve got to say that despite my mixed feelings about La Manga Club, Las Lomas was an excellent deal. Mostly people live at La Manga Club but there is also a 5-star hotel and Las Lomas which offers up Suites and and holiday apartments. Las Lomas offers guests several pools, a spa, plus restaurants and cafes (serving Spanish and English fare) in a compact, landscaped environment. It’s very nice. We got an amazing deal on our Suite for €60.00 a night. Our Suite had a lovely porch and a bathroom bigger than my apartment in Barcelona. The view was of a parking lot, but at €60.00, we weren’t complaining too much. I noted that some of the other Suites had barbecue pits, too.

Las Lomas Suites - La Manga Club

Las Lomas Suites – La Manga Club

 

Waiting for Ryan Air - which was 40 minutes late

Waiting for Ryan Air – which was 40 minutes late

More on traveling to this area:

We took Ryan Air to Alicante airport. Flying to Alicante puts you closer to Benidorm and Valencia, if that’s your cup of tea. The closest airport to La Manga Club is Murcia, but we couldn’t find flights to Murcia from Barcelona (which is also strange). From Murcia or Alicante you need to rent a car to get to La Manga Club. There are taxis too, but they’re expensive.

Heading to Alicante via Barcelona? Pick up a copy of Eat Guides to get the scoop on the best food in the Catalan capital. $4.99 http://eat-guides.com/

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3 Comments

  1. Posted August 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Interesting article. As someone travelling with a family, I realise there’s something reassuring about having some familiarity around you abroad (especially for those worried about language barriers), but I think it’s such a shame when you completely lose the local culture. For me, my travel plans are not wildly risky or adventurous, but I do like my children to understand where they are and to realise that people are different in different country, and most importantly for us – try different foods. (the baby squid looks lovely!).

  2. admin
    Posted September 3, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    They were delicious, those squid! And the service was great – very friendly people. Being in a bubble is not good, no matter what culture you’re in. I personally believe some attempt to learn the language and connect with locals is important.

    Thanks for your comments.

    R

  3. Posted June 12, 2013 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Nice information about La Manga Club and its surroundings. All the options of holiday resort is available here including food, lodging, drinking and enjoying the leisure.

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