Almeria is a rural province with networks of small roads through open countryside, foothills and mountain ranges and a beautifully wild and undeveloped Mediterranean coastline which is a succession of lovely beaches and quiet bays.
Year-round good weather, good quality roads, the absence of traffic and the sheer variety of the landscape is why the professionals train here plus it's laid back and friendly which is why they like to stay here.
Most of this lovely part of Andalusia is protected by designation as 'Parques Naturals' [the equivalent to our National Parks]. Here's what Lonely Planet has to say about one of them, the Cabo de Gata-Níjar, which is next to the small beach resort of Mojacar where the Marina Playa hotel is: 'The Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Níjar has some of Spain’s most flawless and least crowded beaches. The park encompasses 340 sq km of dramatic cliff-bound coastline and stark semi-desert terrain punctuated by remote white villages and isolated farmsteads'.
The variety of the landscape is such that it has been used as film locations for countless movies from Lawrence of Arabia and the Clint Eatwood Spaghetti Westerns through to Indiana Jones, Mad Max and the Game of Thrones.
Our routes will take you through this landscape of all year round sunshine and wonderful cycling roads.
Here's why cycling, cricket, golf and performance vehicle professionals come here.
Sports - La Vuelta
La Vuelta 2017 passed through our area - here is the report on it from Cycling News.
"Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) claimed victory at Calar Alto after a stinging late attack to drop the major GC contenders. Race leader Chris Froome (Team Sky) did his best to bring back the Colombian but Lopez proved too strong on the day."
Sports - Performance Cars & Bikes
Mercedes, Porsche, BMW and Ducati all use the area to road test their new models of cars and bikes every year so if you are cycling around don't be surprised to see blacked out prototypes just like the Car Magazine reader who reported seeing these two Mercedes SLS prototypes.
"The peaceful tranquility of a Sunday morning in the quaint village of Zurgena, Almeria, southern Spain was shattered by the deep burbling of, not one, but two heavily disguised Mercedes SLS prototypes creeping into the village square.
The locals didn't bat an eyelid as they sat at the cafe tables drinking their morning coffee. It is obviously a common sight to have exotic cars in the village, as two days earlier the same place was occupied by two Porsche Panameras."
towns & Villages
Mojacar is a small nicely developed beach resort (no lager louts) where the Spanish themselves come to holiday. Garrucha next to it is the local port with it's fleet of small fishing boats keeping the restaurants around the quay supplied. Friday is market day there. We mention this because the quality of the fruit and veg and other produce in all the local markets is really good. Mojacar is overlooked from the hills behind by ancient Mojacar Pueblo which is listed as one of ‘Los Pueblos Más Bonitos de España’, one of Spain's 'most beautiful villages'. Inland just beyond that is the small town of Turre where Friday is also market day and about 10 kms from the hotel is the town of Vera which is a sleepy place which wakes up on Saturdays for their market or when there is some action in the bullring which is one of the oldest in Spain. Other than that the countryside and coast is dotted with typical Andalusian 'white' villages and Velo Hols routes pass by many of them.
Sports - Golf
There are three excellent golf courses within 15 minutes of our partner Marina Playa hotel.
For example the Indiana course at Desert Springs is the first desert course in Europe and has been built to full USGA specifications and the quality standards of these desert courses, now famous for the quality of golf that they offer. It presents unforgettable views, and golf of such a dramatic nature that it can be said to have taken not only desert golf, but also golf in general in this part of Spain to a new level of excellence.
Sports - Cricket
Desert Springs Resort has an ECB standard cricket ground and training facility with an eighteen (18) wicket square providing an all year round cricket facility which has hosted the England Cricket team Pre-Ashes Training Camp.
"The Desert Springs Cricket Ground and Academy provides a world-class year-round training environment in an ideal climate."
Sir Ian Botham, OBE
If you don't want to eat in the hotel or just fancy going out for a drink here are some Velo Hols suggestions to start you off. There are plenty of bars and restaurants along the beach strip. A good place nearby is the Imperial Pizzeria (go right from the hotel and it's just under 1 km) and just on from there is the little Bar San Pedro which is owned by a Belgian guy who was a professional cyclist and likes Almeria's cycling so much he moved here. It's popular with the pro teams who stay in the hotel and, needless to say, there's cycling memorabilia on the walls and a great selection of Belgian beers.
If you like seafood Garrucha (go left from the hotel and it's 2 kms) has good places around the harbour selling what's come off the fishing boats which line the quay. We think the Rincon del Puerto restuarant and tapas bar down by the marina and the others around there are the best.
It's also well worth exploring Mojacar Pueblo which is in the hills about 5 kms from the hotel. They can call a taxi and it's not expensive. The place is a warren of old streets with plenty of places to eat and drink. A Velo Hols favourite is La Taberna de Roberto. If this tapas bar is good enough for the King of Spain it'll do for us. It's in a tiny street behind the town hall (just follow the signs for 'Ayuntamiento') which is an old building in a lovely tree-shaded square. King Felipe and Queen Letizia dropped in when their yacht was in Garrucha harbour and the place have the photos to prove it which must be one up on a TripAdvisor recommendation.