25 June 2016

A daytrip to Carboneras in Almeria

While on holiday at the HPB El Pueblito de Alfaix in Almeria we took a day trip to Carboneras which is at the gateway to the Cabo de Gata Natural Park.

Our view from lunch

We'd been told in our welcome meeting that Carboneras was a great place to experience fresh fish in the area, but that it was less touristy than other regions such as Garrucha. And, it was near some beautiful, white beaches, so we thought we'd give it a try.

From inland Alfaix, we took the coastal road via Mojacar to Carboneras. We'd been warned that the road was beautiful, but a bit white knuckle. The windy road afforded an amazing view of the coast cornered by the Sierra Cabrera Mountain Range. It was a bit squeaky bum, but nothing compared to the Amalfi Drive that we experienced on our honeymoon! 

My son's "high chair"
When we arrived at Carboneras, it was practically deserted! We decided to eat at an unassuming place called Chiringuito J. Mariano because it had a lovely position on the beach and had good reviews on Trip Advisor

The staff were super friendly and helped us to a seat with amazing views over the beach. There literally was not a single person in our eyesight. The sun was shining, the sea looked azure blue, it was absolutely blissful.

Our view from lunch
Similar to many restaurants we visited, they had no high chairs for my toddler. But they tried to accommodate him by stacking two plastic chairs! He didn't seem to mind, but I wish we'd brought our booster seat as he kept trying to escape.

They had a dish of the day,  but the waiter encouraged us to choose a selection of fresh fish and salads. To be honest, we had no idea what we were eating. But it tasted incredibly fresh (we were told it was caught that day) and great value. 

The wine we enjoyed
over lunch
All washed down with a delicious bottle (or 3 or 4) of Spanish white. Like nearly all the restaurants we went to, the wines on offer were all Spanish and without any explanation of grape, taste or dryness on the menu. So we took the recommendation from the waiter and it was very delicious. 

After lunch, we hopped in the car and drove further down the coast into the Cabo de Gata Natural Park. We happened to stop at this beautiful beach called Playa Agua Amarga

We parked up on the sand and strolled down to the sandy beach. On one side flanked a rocky cliff riddled with caves. From this cliff stretched about a mile of wide, golden beach. Again, with hardly a person on it.

My son on Playa Agua Amarga
The sea was fairly choppy with a stony bed making it somewhat tricky to go in and out! But the water was warm and even wimpy old me leaped in for a swim. 

It was June when we visited and, although the whole area gets fairly windy in the afternoons, it was still baking hot. And, we were delighted to find a little, shady bar off the beach called Los Taharis. We enjoyed a deliciously cold glass of beer and my son dripped an ice-cream all down himself.

We had a wonderful daytrip to the Carboneras region. The whole Carboneras area was very quiet and felt like it was waiting to be discovered! If you're looking for white sandy beaches, fabulous food and to feel remote and secluded, this is the region for you. However, I'm sure it will soon be discovered, so enjoy it now before the tourists descend! 

Travelling with the Mothercare XSS Pockit Stroller

We've travelled abroad with out little one four times now. And, previously, we have always taken our Bugaboo having bought a special flight bag for it. Since our boy is nearly two, when travelling to Spain this year, we thought we could probably cope with a more light-weight stroller for holiday.

Using the XSS on the beach
As I've written in a previous post, it is perfectly possible to fly with a Bugaboo. However, as you have to take the wheels off and take the seat apart in order for it to be flat and you have to carry the bag around the airport (and it's fairly cumbersome), we decided that something that folded easily flat would be more practical. 

After some deliberation, we decided upon the Mothercare XSS Pockit Stroller. The blurb about it said that it folded down "incredibly" small and that it fitted into the overhead locker of the plane. 

The XSS stroller in the
overhead locker
I could only find a couple of other buggies that folded small enough to be carried onto the plane including the Quinny Zapp and the Mountain Buggy Nano. However, at £129, the XSS Pockit Stroller was a much more affordable option.

It does fold down really small and fits into an easily portable bag. On our outward flight with Monarch from Gatwick, we effortlessly stowed the stroller on the overhead locker. And, it folds down and up incredibly simply, in one complete piece, in virtually a single movement. 

Wheeling my son
off the runway
The advantage of carrying the stroller onto the plane is that, when you disembark, you can literally pop it up and your toddler can sit straight in it on the runway. This means you don't have to worry about him wandering off or having to carry him through check in and onto baggage collection before you can collect the buggy from oversized baggage. This would be especially useful if you were only taking carry on and would enable you to bypass baggage collection altogether.

I was a bit worried that it might not be robust enough for rough terrain or the beach. But actually, it fared no worse than the Bugaboo on the sand. And, since it weighed less than 4kg, even when it faltered on sand, I could easily pick it up in one hand and carry my son in the other.
My son napping
in the stroller

The other thing I was worried about was whether the XSS Pockit Stroller would be comfortable enough for my son to sleep in. Normally he sleeps in his cot, but on holiday you have to plan to all eventualities such as delayed flights (or missing them!). And, on the last day, we had to exit our villa at 9am and weren't flying until 6pm meaning he had to have his daytime nap in the stroller. And, after some persuasion, he did have have an hour long sleep in there quite comfortably. 

There were a few downsides to the XSS Pockit Stroller. Firstly, it came with a very small sun shade which didn't provide a huge amount of coverage. And, you'll see from the photo, I had to rely on a muslin when he slept. However, because both sides of the stroller were open, even with the shade up, my son had a really great view enabling him to satisfy his nosy side.

Another downside was that the straps were really difficult to adjust. Again, you'll see from the photo that we didn't exactly succeed with the adjustment! However, he didn't seem to especially mind.

The final drawback was that the footrest was not adjustable. My son's feet were a good few inches off the footrest. Since my son is already 12kg and the stroller only goes up to 15kg, I'm not sure he is ever going to be tall enough to reach it! Again though, he didn't seem to mind his feet dangling.

Overall, we loved our XSS Pockit Stroller. It was much easier to travel with then the Bugaboo. It collapses incredibly easily, is super lightweight and perfect for taking on overseas holidays. 

One word of warning. When you check in, make sure you tell the staff that you intend to take the buggy onto the plane. On our return flight from Spain, we didn't tell Monarch and the stewardess hunted us out on the plane to find out why we hadn't handed a buggy over at the gate. They were fine with it being in the locker, but I think there is some procedure or paperwork that needs to be completed.