Murcia City, Mar Menor and the historic Caravaca del la Cruz.

A few of my treasured photographs of Murica, Spain.

 

Historic sites to visit in the region of Murcia

I have visited Murcia City, Caravaca del la Cruz and spent many sunny days on the Mar Menor all in the last five years, having been fortunate enough to own a property in this pretty region of Spain. A relatively short flight takes me into San Javier airport and if I wish I can be on the coast of the Mar Menor in half an hour. Here in Murcia you can Seek out, explore and enjoy some of Spain’s historical places. Beautiful imposing architecture, wonderful scenery with perfect light that allows everything visual to be showcased. To appreciate Spain’s wealth of historic buildings there’s nothing better than doing it whilst the sun shines. The region of Murcia benefits from approximately 340 days of sunshine each year, perfect!

Religious buildings, magnificent churches and cathedrals, huge Structures, amazing craftsmanship with jaw dropping beauty will draw you in. There is no need for a guide as these historical places offer snippets of information, relevant dates in history to communicate historical stories. What really makes these places special is they are open to the public and fully functioning. Whilst the clergy get ready for mass or other religious ceremonies, as a visitor you experience the catholic church in all its glory, taking in the atmosphere that I’m sure hasn’t changed for centuries. It can feel like a piece of theatre, a performance, its interesting, historical and totally captivating.

 The Cathedral, Murcia City

The construction of Murcia’s magnificent cathedral began 600 years ago in 1394. Built on the site of a former mosque, construction of this huge place of worship took many years to complete. Several architects overtime contributed a range of different styles to this building, this is apparent from the facade being of a Baroque style, the Interior very much in a Gothic style. Inside there are twenty-three chapels, each dedicated to those who took part in the construction of this monumental place of worship. It really is worth the visit and if you’re a keen photographer you cannot fail to capture many wonderful photographs.

Plaza Flores 

A short stroll away through the old streets is an area named ‘Plaza Flores’, a beautiful old square where people meet up, drink coffee, wine, and share plates of tapas. It’s vibrant and busy, tables are taken up with families, old friends, lovers all catching up and so very Spanish. Flower stalls hold the perfect positions, adding colour and fragrance, drawing you in to admire their displays, tempting you to make a purchase. Plaza Flores is one of my favourite places for watching the world go by whilst enjoying a glass or two of Cava.

Caravaca del la Cruz, within the province of Murcia

In the region of Murcia, Southeastern Spain, Caravaca is the fifth holiest city of Catholic Christianity. It is believed that the Caravaca Cross was delivered by angels in a miracle, centuries ago. The Knights Templar guarded the cross and protected the worship there. Amazing examples of religious buildings, stunning architecture and stories fill this place,  you can spend hours even days taking it all in. Spain has many festivals all across the country it seems there’s always something to shout about. Here in Caravaca there are many captivating stories some historical even mythical but there’s one that involves wine, water and horses – a festival that takes place between 1st to the 5th of May, loaded with fantasy and symbolism, known as ‘Los Caballos del Vino’. 

The castle and Basilica Santa Cross, built by the Knights Templar many centuries ago is where the festival takes place in early May every year to celebrate the story of the survival of the people. Legend has it that Knights and citizens of the town came under attack by the Muslim army, the people fled to the castle seeking safety but the water began to make them ill. Men left the castle on horseback in search of clean water, but there was no water to be found, returning to the castle having found only wine. The wine was then mixed with water and blessed in the presence of the cross. Legend says that the Christians who drank it became strong again and were able to go on and defeat the army. Five days of celebration for this particular area are connected to the stories, legends and Christian beliefs. Every year at Easter time there are many more events and festivals taking place, so if you happen to be in this part of the world at this religious time, enjoy!

The Mar Menor

The smallest sea, located south-east of Murcia and very close to the larger city of Cartagena. A relatively small body of water, a salty lagoon only seven metres deep, separated from the Mediterranean. If you’re looking for sunshine without the throng of too many holiday makers then the out of season times are amazing for peaceful relaxation. Flights to this region are at a reasonable cost from Ryanair and Jet2 flying into San Javier airport, small and convenient for holidaying here in Murcia, with close proximity to the coastline, golf resorts and the larger towns.

Places to add to your list worth a visit

Los Alcazares

Puerto de San Pedro

La Encarnacion, Spa Hotel, bar/ restaurant

Tropical, Restaurant

Marde Sal, Restaurant

South African, John Merriman, Stellenbosch Red Wine 2014

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Stellenbosch, located just inland off the coast at Somerset West, where mountains surround this wine making region of South Africa. Overtime Stellenbosch has gained a reputation for producing top class wines, often made in a Bordeaux style. Blends of Cabernet sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah are showcased so it is no surprise that in blind tastings they can be mistaken for the very best of the Bordeaux blends.

This delightful wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and the bordeaux grape variety Petit Verdot which adds a little spice and depth of colour to this delicious red wine. Cask matured for twenty months, however is still relatively youthful. Stored in ideal conditions, this wine can go on to mature further. There are pronounced flavours, aromas of blackberry and plums, a fruit sweetness that’s mouth filling, tannins that are soft, acidity low, alcohol 14.5%VOL. Overall a delightful wine that gently opens up to reveal distinctive earthy, meaty undertones on the palate, it really is delicious. This South African red will complement most red meat dishes but can be enjoyed without food.

Purchased from Waitrose £15.99

Gewürztraminer Villa Maria, East Coast NZ

Do not be fooled into thinking this wine is sweet, loaded with perfumed aromas that may confuse your palate. The very best Gewürztraminers are dry unless its a sweet dessert wine. Gewurz means ‘spice’ in German and spice it most definitely has! With hints of roses, grapefruit, gingerbread, fruit-cocktail, lychees and sweet spice. There was a slight edge of bitterness on the finish. This New Zealand example was an ‘off dry’ well balanced wine with medium – low acidity. Gewürztraminer is the perfect choice with spicy foods such as Thai cuisine, Mexican or your favourite Curry dish.

 The very best Gewürztraminers are the French ones, they have concentrated aromas and flavours, are deep yellow, full-bodied wines. Italy also showcases high quality Gewürztraminers the best examples are from the region of Trentino Alto-Adige.

An interesting wine that I would recommend when serving spicy food. This New Zealand attempt most certainly impressed me and my guests.

Available to purchase from Waitrose,  priced at £10.00

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SYLVA Deli and Bar

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SYLVA, the name means wood or trees in Latin. New to Oakwood here in Leeds, where many locals and passers by have waited, watched and wondered what this unusual building was all about. Spread over two floors, its light and spacious, a modern space where breakfast is served from 8am. Light snacks, small plates, tea and coffee are served throughout the day, ingredients sourced from local producers.

SYLVA finally revealing itself in February 2017. Standing amongst the trees on the edge of Roundhay Park, a  modern twist on a gothic building. Blending beautifully with its surroundings, protected by the tall trees as close as the build would allow, fitting in as though it had always been there. What a transformation from what used to be ‘The Park Toilet Block’. Oakwood residents should be thrilled with the outcomes.

I have visited SYLVA now a couple times with friends, had a glass or two of Chardonnay ‘Little Rascal’ ( Australia), felt peckish so ordered from SYLVA’s night deli menu. A platter of continental meats together with an artisan cheese board, just the trick when only a nibble is required to enjoy the fine wines they serve here.

There are approximately twenty seven  wines featured. Wines to suite all palates, choose from Red, Whites, Rose, Sparklings. If you feel like being ‘waited on’ take a seat, sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere.

 A few of my favourites -Albarino (Spain), Sauvignon Blanc (Esk Valley, NZ), Viognier (Le Versant, France). Cabernet Sauvignon (South Africa), Pinot Noir (Esk Valley, NZ), Rioja Tempranillo (Hacienda Lopez de Haro, Spain).

Gin is trending everywhere right now, so many varieties available to choose from. SYLVA offer a wide range of perfect Gin & Tonics.

Inedit, the famous beer from Barcelona, the one you drink from a wine glass. Developed by one of Barcelona’s Michelin Star Chef’s Ferran Adria’.

SYLVA  is most definitely on the map here in leeds and well worth visiting, a fabulous venue for meeting up with friends or simply dropping by and having a coffee. I shall be checking out some of the events that are being planned for April and May …..

 

 

 

Douro Valley Reserva 2015

A wonderful blend of Portugal’s grape varieties traditionally used in port production. These native varieties blended together have created a fruit filled wine of immense intensity.

On tasting this wine the ripe black fruit aromas and flavours were so pronounced, sweet and juicy. On the palate were blackberry, black cherry, black current and so it went on and on… Mouthwatering, soft, ripe fruit flavours that were beautifully balanced.

Enjoy this wine with slow cooked red meat, a steak or any rustic meaty dish.

Purchased from Waitrose – £8

 

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An old vine Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough, NZ

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This wine was received from a family friend, a surprise gift. I then stored it in the fridge anticipating when I might taste it.

Here I am now writing my review, having tasted this delightful ‘old vine’ Sauvignon Blanc.  Mouthwatering tropical fruit bursts, limes, lemons and layer upon layer of stone fruit aromas, with acidity adding wonderful balance to this wine. Old vines most definitely bring intensity to this Sauvignon, some may agree that this adds body.

Comparing the Sunday Bay with a Cloudy Bay (another of my favoured Sauvignon’s) I would have to say the Sunday Bay brings overwelming pronounced flavours of fruit that continue to develop as I sip. This wine is recommended to pair with shellfish, creamy pasta dishes or enjoyed simply on its own.

This exciting and thoroughly enjoyable wine is available through most reputable online retailers in the UK. Ching Ching!