In the intervening years, we cannot recall a single night we've had alone without children, friends or family. We have never really felt the need to 'escape' on our own, but - eleven years on - we do now feel we have finally had a little moment of special marital bliss to ourselves. On Sunday and Monday, we had our honeymoon at last! And it was absolutely perfect...
Having won a voucher for a hotel, *LateRooms, the sponsors of the voucher, did a fantastic job of booking and paying for us to stay in a hotel that I found on their website. We had never visited the natural park area of Cabo de Gata in Almeria but this is an area said to be the most beautiful and unspoilt of the southern coast of Spain. The chance of staying overnight in what looked like a very lovely hotel was too tempting to resist, especially as FR's parents have been staying with us and could be at home with the children.
So without much ado, we got up early on Sunday and had a delightful, leisurely journey through the provinces of Granada and Almeria, arriving at 'Cortijo el Sotillo' just after midday. And the hotel definitely lived up to expectations. In its pre-hotel days, the cortijo has been used in many film scenes, including 'A Fistful of Dollars', 'Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade', 'Lawrence of Arabia', 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' and more!
|Lovely big room and a huge bed - very simply decorated but with everything we needed.|
We were in an annexe from the main hotel - down the passageway you see on the left of the photo.
'Cortijo' is the Andalucian word for a small holding or a farmhouse.
Peluquero is a hairdresser...
Sometimes we have to go figure...!
|I loved the 'organic' design of the hotel|
|The hotel also had stables and a riding school|
|Almeria is basically a desert - we saw lots and lots of aloe vera plants.|
|Spanish rustic style...|
|Plenty of space to relax...|
|Or find a sunny corner to take a coffee|
We didn't spend ALL our time in the hotel!
Cabo de Gata is one of the few natural coastal areas left in the south of Spain and it is now protected. We have wanted to go and visit for a while but never have. The number of cars that can enter the area is limited but there are buses that go backwards and forwards all day and we were amazed to see people walking along the long, dusty track to the beaches - laden with umbrellas, chairs, bags and picnic boxes! It was a long way and very, very hot.
|Looking back along the long track - with still 2kms to go!|
|But the view of where we were going looked wonderful!|
|This is the Playa de los Genoveses. Stunning, perfect and almost empty.|
|We had picked a 'rather blustery day'...so decided to check out another beach as we couldn't actually put up the umbrella!|
|La Playa de Monsul. Absolutely perfect.|
|The rocks are volcanic and make some amazing shapes.|
|A view from the beach - I was lying down at the time!|
It really had been an incredibly windy day and when we returned to the hotel, we were absolutely full of sand - ears, hair, noses! We wondered if it was always like this but apparently not - and the next day was quite calm.
In the evening, after eating at the hotel, we wandered down into the pretty little village of San Jose - forgetting the camera, of course. All the buildings are very low-rise and just incredibly white! There's a lovely long walk along the front of the beach where there were stalls of jewellery, clothes, fossils and other ethnic goods on sale. But it was all very quiet for the middle of the summer season. Good for us, but probably less so for those dependent on tourists.
The next day, we enjoyed an excellent breakfast in the hotel - we ate a lot too! Well, you have to when it's been paid for, don't you?
Our journey back took us around more of Cabo de Gata and parts of the coastline of Almeria. Strangely empty of tourists everywhere - particularly in one town called Retamar, where we stopped for a while - amazed at the length of beautiful beach, the vast areas of well-maintained park in the middle of the town...and no people! Then we discovered a large (but low-rise) hotel on the promenade which was absolutely packed full of folk, in and around the large pools in the grounds. They were all Spanish families. I guess it seems easier to pass one's holiday at a place where everything is laid on, no invasive sand, no roads to cross and sun loungers in excess. Only it seemed really odd to me!
And as we continued our journey back along the coast, leaving Almeria behind and reaching Granada province, we felt as though we'd been away for an age! The last hour or so of the route was very well known to us and after the barren and unearthly landscape of Almeria, it seemed friendly and comfortable.
Our honeymoon was very special but even better than for most, we were coming back to all our family - who were just over the moon to see us again!
Seems only right to finish with my photo of the recent 'supermoon' - and couldn't it just be a moon made of honey - la luna de miel - a honeymoon.
* This is an independent review of the hotel and is not connected to the prize I won through LateRooms. They have not asked me to publish anything and my voucher has had 'no strings' attached.