There have been many times in my life where I have caught myself in class, staring out the window at the sparkling ocean and watching the waves roll up the shore. Except that this ocean was actually a frozen lake, the shore was actually a field full of dirty grey snow and I was sitting inside a building that would endure another three months of the New England winter.
Of course, I was not the only one guilty of daydreaming during economics. Undoubtedly, everyone begins to yearn for a warm day by the sea reading books, frolicking through the water, eating slightly sandy Goldfish, participating in various spring break activities–you know, the usual. Lucky for me (and you, if you find yourself in the south of Spain) there are so many options to leave the city and explore the playa. Even better, the trip can be quite cheap if you pick the right city and the right time.
Perched by the sea on Andalusia’s eastern coastline, Almería is a beachy town with the usual Spanish charm. Walk the streets and you will encounter palm trees, Moorish fortresses, stunning cathedrals, dainty white apartments with wrought iron balconies and lots of tapas bars. The wonderful part of Almería is that everything is situated with respect to the ocean. The largest street, La Rambla, features a long stretch of sidewalk dedicated to pedestrians with a direct view to the sea. The large Alcazaba fortress offers high altitude views of sparkling water and sunshine. Tapas bars paint their walls white and blue and serve cold beer and seafood. The city is a perfect escape. Better yet, it is possible to plan a trip with minimal stress and without reaching into your wallet too many times.
Almería is easily accessed by bus or train, with both stations located next to each other in the city center. Round trip from Granada on one of the comfy ALSA buses costs about 30 euros and only takes an hour and a half. Furthermore, the city is relatively small and easy to walk around (we never had to take a taxi).
While it would be quite easy to spend all day lounging on the beach (a free activity), the water can be a bit cold in January. While it is still nice enough to pad through the sand, if you come in the winter you may want to look into some of the sites. My friend Rachel and I first went to the Alcazaba fortress, which offers free admission and stunning views of the coast. We followed up the panoramic views with some ornate architecture at the cathedral. This massive structure is not as glamorous decorated, but its massive size and detailed ceilings are worth the 3 euros it will cost you. Afterwards, you have the option of strolling through the grand city market and eyeballing the mouth-watering produce, breads, spices and meats (just make sure not to visit on a Sunday or after 2p.m.). Finally, before returning to the beach, we stopped at the Spanish Guitar Museum of “Antonio de Torres” to learn more about how the Spaniards found that perfect strum. Entrance to the museum will cost you only 5 euros in exchange for seeing some beautifully handcrafted guitars and learning some interesting tidbits about their history.
Of course, the most important thing on most of our minds is our stomachs! After spending only 38 euros so far, that leaves us with 22 to spend on food. Almería is no Barcelona or Madrid, and so you can find several great places to eat at decent prices. Rachel and I went to a cafe and I got salad, wine and two tapas for 10 euros. For dinner, we went to a bar on a side street near the beach to get mixed drinks and a bit of food. I got a delicious tortilla Espanola (thick omelette of potatoes and onions), a drink and nachos for only 12 euros. I would give you a list of all the best places to eat, but in reality, all the places that were open seemed to be más o menos the same. Many of the best places were closed for the season, and so, I recommend you check out TripAdvisor to find food that best suits your budget.
Overall, if you are looking for an affordable beach excursion, Almería is a great place to take a fresh breath of sea air. Keep following my blog and in a couple of weeks I will return to Almería to visit Cabo de Gata, one of the most beautiful beach parks of Spain.