Winter break in El Portús, Spain.
This year my friend Phil and I decided to have the Christmas period away from it all and fly off somewhere warmer for a couple of weeks.
As Andrew Welch is now the UK rep for El Portús, Spain I contacted him to find out what was available. At the time of asking all types of accommodation for any dates were there for the booking.
Given the options and prices we settled on a Type B “mobile home” also called a casita as that had the luxury of a bedroom each rather than the pricier Hacienda which have one bedroom and a sofa bed, from 15th - 29th December.
The casita allocated to us actually had 3 bedrooms. A double bed, 2 single beds and a room with 1 single bed.
We booked our flights from Stansted to Alicante. Although Murcia airport is much closer the flight times and price suited us better. Murcia is about half hour from El Portús and Alicante about hour and half drive.
We left the cold UK drizzle full of the anticipation of a warm and sunny fortnight.
Having decided we were not going to hire a car, as this was going to be a chill out holiday, Andrew arranged our taxi transfer and Blas was waiting for us on arrival. With Blas being Spanish (neither of us speak Spanish apart from the usual courteousness and greetings) conversation was a little hard but as I can speak a little French (as can Blas) we persevered and had limited conversation (Spanish/ French/English) with Blas doing the tour guide bit on the way and arrived at El Portús just before 2 p.m.
During winter the site supermarket closes at 1.30 but we had packed white coffee/tea and some biscuits so after booking in Blas drove us to our casita and the kettle went on for a well needed brew.
Our casita was above and behind the Hacienda with a lovely view out to sea. The webcam shown on the El Portús website is virtually the same as the view we had.
The casita itself was a little “weary” in it’s furnishings but had all the necessary crockery, cutlery and pans etc. needed including a coffee maker. We also had an electric heater which was used as the evenings and mornings were chilly.
Toilet rolls, soap and towels are all supplied as was a bottle of mineral water waiting in the fridge for us although the tap water is ok to use for brewing hot drinks.
The cooking facilities in the casita are only a hob which is fuelled by bottled gas as is the hot water for the sink and shower. After unpacking we relaxed on the veranda for a while drinking coffee and taking in the view in the warm sunshine.
I decided to take a walk to find the location of the pool, the restaurant and the supermarket while Phil relaxed in the afternoon sun. All three places were just down the hill in front of the Hacienda, but being on a hillside there were steps and sloping roads and paths to contend with (cars and golf buggies seemed to be used a lot) and returned to the casita for another coffee.
Whilst the sun was still shining we both took a walk down to the beach and then through the camping and caravan area to reception to purchase our Wi-Fi code for the week at €12 (or €3 per day). Returning to the casita we fired up our notebooks and linked to the Wi-Fi. By now the sun was going down giving the first of many spectacular sunsets of an orange/red sky across the sea and over the mountains. It also became much cooler.
By 7.30 we were getting hungry and found some clothes to put on for a meal in the restaurant (although nudity is the norm you have to be clothed for the restaurant).
We had decided that as we were on a chill out holiday our evening meals would be in the restaurant with our breakfast and lunch being chosen as and what took our fancy). So with the exception of two evenings we dined in the restaurant. A varied menu of starter, main meal and dessert costing approximately €40 for 3 courses for the two of us. There was also a “menu of the day” which was starter, main and dessert OR coffee for €9. These often were different from the choices on the menu. Some starters were very plentiful and could easily be shared by two. Luckily that was pointed out to us by Jaejoong (not sure of spelling), the young waiter/barman, when we ordered the Baby Cuttlefish dish. Most meals come with chips but can be ordered with salad if preferred. There is even eggs, bacon and chips for the Anglophile that we both can recommend lol. Every meal we had was good, very enjoyable and filling along with the beer or wine and quite often we had the restaurant to ourselves with a few German, French or Spanish on some days there or in the bar area. We did not detect many English voices around.
We filled the next few days with visits to the supermarket for essential (bread & lunch etc.) purchases, sunbathing, reading, pc’ing, swimming (in the winter pool which we often had to ourselves) and generally relaxing, with maybe an afternoon beer from the bar and of course, our evening meal taken in the restaurant.
On Monday morning (19th) having had breakfast and coffee was tidying up ready for another day of relaxation when we heard a loud noise which sounded as if inside the casita. Nothing being apparent we checked a few things then realised that the seat Phil had been sitting on had collapsed. It is just like any caravan seat with wooden struts holding a bench seat and the front strut had come loose and the wooden seat has collapsed inside. Thank goodness he wasn’t sitting on it at the time. Reported to reception and early afternoon a man with a screwdriver arrived to do the repairs.
Having no transport of our own we decided to take a taxi to Espacio Mediterráneo on Tuesday for some shopping. Espacio Mediterráneo is situated the other side of Cartagena and I reckon about 20km from the site. Reception called the taxi for us from their usual firm and Blas arrived to take us. En route we had more stilted, tri-lingual conversation and Blas told me about his trip to see family in France for Christmas and that his friend would be our driver when we were returning to the airport at the end of our stay as he would still be in France.
Espacio Mediterráneo is a very modern shopping precinct with many fashion shops and a huge supermarket which has everything you could want from white goods, TVs’ etc down to the humble toilet roll or toothbrush although cigarettes could not be found. There is even an aisle with lots of British items including butter, peanut butter, biscuits and teabags. As we had found the evenings quite chilly we wanted to get a fleece jacket each and was pleased to find a C&A store with exactly what we were looking for. Was even more pleased that the label said 30% off and mega pleased to find there was a promotion for another 20% off. The jackets were very useful purchase for the remainder of our holiday.
Before Blas was due to return to pick us up we had some lunch then waited by the Casino for our ride back. On the way back Blas kindly stopped at a small tobacconist where we could buy some cigarettes. The return trip to Espacio Mediterráneo cost approximately €40.
That evening, as we had eaten out at lunch time, we decided to self cater for our evening meal and enjoyed soup, bread and fruit.
During the following days we continued with our relaxation policy, renewing our Wi-Fi payment (can only book a week at a time) and generally just watching the hours tick by whilst relaxing in the sun.
On Friday 23rd, with no special plans we settled on the usual routine of breakfast, swim, shower and sunbathing/reading when our peace was shattered by a van and a tractor on the path between our casita and the Hacienda delivering and laying piping along the length of the path. This was accompanied by the 2 Spanish workmen shouting rather loudly to each other. This carried on for a few hours and right through siesta time. Having laid the pipes which were not connected to anything the men disappeared quite late in the day leaving the tractor parked up there.
There were notices up to say that on Christmas eve there would be Traditional Christmas songs being sung from 5.30 - 6.30 so I decided to join in while Phil went for a stroll along the beach. This was taking place in the restaurant area and we also discovered then that the restaurant and bar were closed all day (notice on the door). Apparently reception was not aware of the closure. It was a very pleasant hour singing various songs, carols and canons. Mostly done in different languages for each verse. English, Dutch, German, Spanish, French and even one verse in Latin. Luckily we still had another carton of soup so dinner that evening was soup, bread and fruit again.
Christmas day arrived warm and sunny and after breakfast we took a walk down to the beach so I could “perform” my sand angel (as opposed to snow angel) and I also dared a paddle in the sea, which was a bit too chilly to swim in but wonderfully clear. We came back via the pool and had another swim.
After a relaxing afternoon in the sun we went for our pre-booked setmChristmas meal (€30). There were 24 people booked for this meal.mThis started with prawn in filo pastry and hoi sin dip, chicken consommé and then dim sum. The main meal was roasted baby goat leg with sauté potatoes, mushrooms and peppers. The meal also included wine. Then coffee and Spanish “sweets.”mMoncho, the bar and restaurant owner presented us all with a Christmas gift.mDuring the evening there was fine rain and a cloudy sky.
We awoke the following morning to rain and overcast skies which then cleared for a short while but by lunchtime (2 p.m.) it had clouded over again and we spent the afternoon inside.
The next day was sunny again and after confirming with reception the booking for our taxi to the airport for 29th had the usual swimming, sunbathing, reading time until the clouds rolled in again sending us indoors.
That evening it rained heavily whist we were dining but had luckily stopped for our uphill climb back to the casita.
Our last full day arrived warm and sunny again so you can guess that our day consisted of the usual sunning and reading and relaxing until it was time when we thought about packing. Being a naturist holiday this didn’t take long but you still wonder why you have so much to pack LOL
As our taxi was due at 7 a.m. the following morning so we decided to shower and get everything sorted before dinner. Phil had first shower and said that the water had gone cold mid shower. We checked the pilot light on the water heater and it was still on ok. I then went to shower. It started off barely warm then went cold and we discovered the pilot light had gone out. Phil relit it but when we turned the tap on for hot water it went out again.It appears our gas bottle had run out but luckily we still had some filter coffee left for a hot drink in the morning before the taxi arrived.
We had our last meal in the restaurant and this night there were quite a few people there. Said adiós to Jaejoong and went “home” for an early night.
At 7 a.m. we left El Portús in the dark for the journey to the airport. Conversation with Blas’s friend was even less as he could only speak Spanish but we did manage to understand each other basically. After an hour and half we reached Alicante airport and having seen the sunrise during the trip it seemed the day was promising to be warm and sunny again.
We checked our cases in and headed off to find a coffee and purchase some duty frees.mOur flight home departed 10 minutes early and with an uneventful flight we arrived back in the UK early to find the weather hadn’t changed whilst we had been away. It was still cold and rainy.mAnd so began our journey back to home with good memories of our winter break.