We got back last week from our lovely holiday in Mojácar, which is located in Almeria, Andalusia on the south coast of Spain. It has Moorish heritage and architecture, and is also part of the only desert region in Europe. I’ve never been anywhere like it before, with its tan arid landscape and cacti everywhere. We asked the travel agent we were working with to find us something really authentically Spanish; no “Churchill’s Tapas” serving English breakfasts as we saw on one place we looked at! We wanted an old, crumbly Spanish pueblo with gorgeously authentic food… and that’s exactly what we got.
We went with Jet2, who were great all the way through actually. We flew into Almeria airport, and everything went smoothly the whole way including transfers, Jet2 planes are quite nice too, they don’t feel cramped like easyJet and Ryanair do!
We stayed at the Alegria Palacio Mojácar hotel, which was set in and behind an old Moorish palace. Mojácar itself seems to be quite a long stretch of coast, and we were based in a fairly quiet part away from the main shops and beach bars, which suited us brilliantly as we wanted a peaceful getaway. The main part isn’t super busy anyway; there are some nice restaurants and beach bars but it doesn’t have nightclubs or anything like that. Our hotel was adults only, but there were lots of playgrounds and football pitches along the beach for kids.
The hotel itself was stunning, and I often found myself just staring at the huge palace building. It was really quiet, and there were rarely lots of people on the sun loungers at once. Mojácar seems to be one of the places where the Spanish go on holiday, which suited us absolutely perfectly. It was so relaxing to hear nothing but quiet Spanish conversations around us, and being one of the only English couples there gave us a lovely little almost private bubble to relax in! The staff were absolutely lovely and got to know us as the week went on. I don’t know a lot of Spanish (French is my thing!) and I really hate the arrogance of just walking up to people in their own country and demanding they speak English to me, so I was trying my best to learn the phrases I would need from Michael since he knows a fair bit. The hotel staff helped to teach me key phrases too, and one of them even had a conversation with me in French so that we were both speaking a different language and I didn’t feel so arrogant!
The hotel is situated right on an urban beach, and the beaches there are a little rocky and stony but still beautiful. We’re not massive beach people; we don’t spend full days lying on the beach and would much rather walk there in the evenings and stare at the sea from the shore. Our favourite routine was to have our dinner, then walk the quick 10 minutes down to the beach and walk along, paddling and skimming stones into the sunset. There are lovely palm tree lined boulevards to walk along, full of lots of different palms, cacti, aloe vera plants and succulents. The locals and the Spanish holidaymakers walk along here during the evening having happy animated chats, and there were LOADS of little dogs – cue one very happy Lucy!
One of the main reasons we were excited to go to Mojácar was to visit the old town, which is a beautiful white Spanish pueblo set high up in the mountains. It promised to be full of the narrow white streets, crumbly buildings and bougainvillea we craved so much – and it did not disappoint! The buses there are really great and super cheap (only €1.20 per journey) and it only took around 20 minutes to get up to the pueblo. It was our absolute favourite place to go, and the views from up there across the Andalusian desert were just spectacular. We had some lovely tapas and sangria on one of the many rooftop terrace restaurants there, gazing out across the mountains and Alboran Sea.
We spent most of our time wandering the winding streets, as there was so much to look at and photograph. There are lots of gorgeous shops there, especially homeware and Spanish leather and basket bags. I managed to get myself a satchel style basket bag, and some handmade painted enamel house numbers just like they have on the typical houses out there.
On one of the days we did wander down to the nearby fishing port of Garrucha, but there wasn’t much there so I wouldn’t recommend it. Down the other end of Mojácar there are lots of shops and supermarkets, so we had a little nosey there but to be honest, we mostly spent our mornings wandering around the old town and our afternoons chilling by the pool at our hotel.
We were there for our anniversary, and the hotel were really great at making sure we felt special. We booked ourselves onto a Balinese bed for the day, which was only €15 and included a bottle of champagne. It was really good value considering how flipping comfy it was! Plus the Balinese beds are set far back into the garden, so we were on our own away from everybody else and able to truly relax. The staff gave us a few free cocktails and everybody wished us a happy anniversary, which was lovely!
They were also fantastic about upgrading our room; our first room was on the ground floor and didn’t have a proper balcony. It did have a tiny space you could go and stand on, but there was only space to stand and there was no terrace with table and chairs. I asked if it would be possible to switch, and at the time they only had the super fancy top of the range room which we would have had to pay a lot to upgrade to. We weren’t too bothered so we left it, but a day or so later they actually called me whilst we were out to say they had a room with a balcony free, which would be an upgrade as it was a bigger room than ours but they would do it with their compliments and no charge for us. We were really impressed with that; we got a free upgrade complete with balcony we could actually sit out on in the mornings!
It was everything we’d hoped for. We wanted this holiday to relax after a very tough year, and we certainly did a lot of that. We wanted it to be authentically Spanish, and having barely heard any other English voices throughout the whole week I definitely think we managed to achieve it. We probably could have done a little more exploring, as there were some cool excursions such as the mini Hollywood trip that Michael had wanted to go on – they filmed loads of spaghetti Westerns there because it’s so desert and cactus-y! But when it came down to it, we were just too tired and it was quite hot, so lots of reading and listening to podcasts by the pool was just perfect for us.
In terms of the flights and my anxiety, I got myself really worked up in the days leading up to it and barely slept the night before… but I needn’t have worried! I do take diazepam for flights which I get from my GP, and it really really helps. I’ll do a separate post on this, but I’m not actually anxious about the plane itself or flying; I find flying really fun actually and I trust planes! I get super claustrophobic if I can’t get off something, and it can’t be solved by walking up and down the aisle because the size of it isn’t the point – it’s the fact that I am trapped on a plane and cannot get off it or open a window for fresh air. Everything went really smoothly and I was super excited to land and start our holiday. The journey home was a little stressful as our transfer bus was late as it got stuck in traffic, it was super full and we had to sit in separate seats… then as soon as I sat down a child behind me threw up everywhere! (The poor kid was travel sick, but I have a phobia of vomit and start to get panic attacks if I see someone throw up). The airport was super packed, hot and noisy, and then on the actual flight home we ended up sat next to a really loud and inconsiderate man who kept leaning over us and shouting to his family sat in front. I felt really on edge and anxious the whole way through despite taking my diazepam, but I made it! I had a few anxious moments during the holiday as I struggle when I’m far away from home… but on the whole I did really enjoy it and manage to relax.
If you’re after somewhere authentically Spanish, peaceful and cultural then I would definitely recommend Mojácar!