The Birthday Diary
Friday 29th June 2018
We had to skip Thursday, after finishing slightly later from work than I anticipated, it meant we wouldn’t have time to visit anywhere and be back for the all-important world cup matches. Can we all appreciate that Alex has been sacrificing some games to take us to see all of these places?!
So, we needed to make up for it. It meant we needed a big trip.
It’s getting close to the end of my Birthday Diary, so officially girls, you do have birthweek, don’t settle for a birthday.
This one is officially my favourite, and even though it took some driving out of the Comunidad Valenciana region, it is still within reach, and it’s still on the Costa Blanca!
First Stop – Cartagena
The best idea is to always start at the bottom and work your way up. Whether that’s in travel, or work, or life. You have to start at the bottom. So, we travelled the furthest down, to Cartagena.
After travelling to so many Spanish villages recently, it started to get monotonous. Even though each had their own quirks and their own features, you can start to predict what you will see. It would be easy to take for granted how stunning the views of below were when it started to become ‘a norm’. Cartagena was a breath of fresh air.
It’s been quite a while since we’ve visited a city, and Cartagena reminded me why I do love a big city. The hustle and bustle, the pedestrianised spots, the big shops, the extent of bars and restaurants, the culture, there is so much to see and do.
Cartagena was almost like a collision of some of my favourite cities, with strong reminders of Valencia, Madrid and even Rome. It is somewhere I most certainly would travel back to.
This charming, coastal city has so much character, with museums, churches, monuments and archaeological sites, there is something for everyone to find something to enjoy. There are also plenty of boats to view or take a trip out on! It’s not uncommon to see an enormous cruise liner docked up in the Port of Cartagena.
It’s a lovely place to take a slow take on a city and relax in one of the many bars or restaurants.
Whilst you’re in Cartagena, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Roman Theatre Ruins.
Second Stop – La Manga Club and Strip
If you’ve heard of La Manga Club, I can guarantee it’s something positive. There is a reason this beautiful resort is as globally known as it is. On-site, there is the stunning 5-star Principe Felipe Hotel and the 4-star Las Lomas Village. If you’re into tennis, golf or luxury stays, then La Manga Club is the spot for you.
La Manga Club is like its own town. Shops, banks, restaurants, everything you need and more is already there. The resort is so vast and has so many impressive facilities, such as 28 tennis court centre, spa facilities, three 18-hole golf courses and plenty of swimming pools to take a dip in the scorching, summer heat.
We had a lovely time relaxing around the club, searching for our friends’ villa and chilling around the pool. It is definitely somewhere I’d love to spend some time at.
The Club is located in the region of Murcia, the journey from Cartagena took 20 minutes. From Benidorm, it is just under 2 hours drive.
After relaxing in the pool, we headed to the strip. It has such strong American vibes that you’ll truly feel like you’re driving down a coastal American road. The Strip is a piece of land that separates the Mediterranean Sea from the Mar Menor. The only way to describe it is like an island, that isn’t an island! It felt so weird to look over and see mainland Spain out of the window, even though we hadn’t left mainland Spain?!
La Manga, meaning the sleeve in Spanish, is pretty apt considering it is a 21-kilometre long and 300-kilometre wide piece of land, just like a sleeve for Spain!
In La Manga, there are plenty of bars, restaurants and water sports to do. The crystal clear waters of Mal Menor, meaning small sea, is so calm and rich in salts and minerals. There is also a pretty impressive marina.
Third Stop – Zenia Boulevard
Shopping is important. Often, we discuss hobbies and sports at work. The children would always talk about their hobbies and sports, then ask, “and Lauren, you?”. To begin with, replying with “my sport is shopping.” was not acceptable to them. Until they realised how often I did it, and how much cardio goes into carrying heavy bags on a summers day. Now, it’s “Lauren’s favourite sport is shopping”. So, to say the least, I’ve been wanting to visit Zenia Boulevard for quite a while.
I wish we had more time at La Zenia Boulevard, with it being the newest and the largest shopping centre in the Alicante region, I could’ve spent hours there, even if Alex couldn’t.
Zenia Boulevard has more than 150 shops, which includes a Primark! Who’d have known I’d be so excited to see a Primark?! T-shirts at 3.50€? Just know that 10 went in the basket. It’s a good-sized Primark, much bigger than the one in Alicante. It’s worth the drive just for the Primark. There are also some personal favourites of mine there, such as Pull & Bear, Bershka and Stradivarius. Also, there are plenty of food outlets and services.
Located in Orihuela Costa, when you arrive it’s evident straight the way why people travel from all over the region just to go shopping at Zenia Boulevard.
The shopping centre itself has an American Mall style. There is also a nice London feel at one part of the shopping centre.
From Benidorm to Zenia Boulevard, it takes just over an hour in the car.
Last Stop – The Pink Waters
Any other day, this would be my absolute favourite stop. But, after a strong day competing against Cartagena and La Manga Club would take some beating. So, I’ll refer to it as ‘another favourite’. Have you noticed I tend to call things my favourite? The Costa Blanca is just filled with favourites.
Did you know Spain is home to one of the very few pink salt lakes of the world? This gorgeous Pink Lake also is known as Laguna Salada de Torrevieja or Laguna Rosa de Torrevieja and if you’re on the Costa Blanca and you love pink, just as much as me, then it’s definitely worth a visit.
The photo of the pink lakes gained a lot of engagement on Instagram, much more than I’m used to. It really is a dreamy space.
The pink lakes are home to flamingos, but on both visits to the pink lakes, we still haven’t seen one!
We first went to the pink waters back in 2016, and it’s crazy to see just how different the photo style is. Also, is it always cloudy in Torrevieja?!
Visiting the pink lakes was one of my bucket list experiences. Everywhere you read, they tell you about how nice it is to swim in the pink lakes and the benefits that you’ll get. But, before you get out your bathing suit, take a read of this first.
Why can I not bathe in the Torrevieja pink lakes?
If you are heading to the pink lakes of Torrevieja, please respect the sign that prohibits bathing.
Reasons for the prohibiting of bathing:
- The extraction of the salts is still active
- The lagoons are part of the Natural Park, where preservation of ecosystems is paramount.
Although public access is allowed, we must be conscious to minimise the damages that we could do.
It’s also worth noting that taking a dip in this pink lake may seem like a perfect Instagram moment, but think of the effects that it could have on the future ecosystem and the environment.
Taking a quick dip could also end up being pretty expensive. Bathing in the pink lakes is prohibited, should you be caught by a civil guard or an environmental agent, a lead may follow.
It’s all about positioning your photos right. You can get a perfect pink photo whilst respecting the environment and its ecosystems.