Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Murcia Gives Great Value for Money; Not All the Spanish Costas Have Been Turned into Blackpool in the Sun. Neil McKay Visited One Still Unspoiled Coastal Region within Easy Access from the North, Costa Calida

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Travel: Murcia Gives Great Value for Money; Not All the Spanish Costas Have Been Turned into Blackpool in the Sun. Neil McKay Visited One Still Unspoiled Coastal Region within Easy Access from the North, Costa Calida

Article excerpt

AROUND 40 years ago British tourists began heading en masse for Spain.

From Benidorm to Benalmadena high-rise hotels, burger and beer bars, turned parts of the Costas into a sort of Blackpool in the sun, but without the tower or trams.

One Costa which escaped the boom, however, was Costa Calida.

Part of the region of Murcia, it lies south of Alicante, north of Malaga, and has so far escaped the notice of tattooed, football shirt-wearing, pot-bellied English tourists - or their husbands.

And although Jet2.com now runs daily flights to the region from northern airports, including Newcastle, that is unlikely to change.

Following a three-day visit to the region courtesy of Jet2.com Holidays it quickly became apparent that tourism bosses want to welcome more visitors, but only those of a more discerning sort.

Which doesn't mean they are raising the prices to make their region more exclusive.

Far from it, a visit to Murcia provides remarkable value for money, from the narrow, shaded streets and squares of the capital city which shares its name with the region, to the sun-kissed beaches of resorts such as Aguilas.

In fact, Aguilas provides a good place to begin this tour of the Costa Calida.

It is how one of Spain's now more populous and popular seaside venues may have appeared in the mid-Sixties before the advent of package tours.

Families enjoying the beach, Spanish youngsters playing beach football, small motorboats bobbing in the marina, the sails of a windmill rotating behind the harbour, a lighthouse at the end of the pier.

And among the excitable chatter of holidaymakers and weekenders enjoying the golden sands, not a sound of Brits abroad.

Which doesn't mean they don't go, or that they/we will not be welcome.

It's just that they are not the sort of tourists who advertise their presence by talking/shouting/singing as loudly as possible.

For the record, the Aguilas guidebooks describe the square as follows: "Originally laid down in 1874 this most beautiful of Spanish Plazas boasts a wonderful collection of rare plants and shrubs all growing in the shade of tall palms and other trees.

"In the centre is the fountain known locally as "Pava de la Balsa" (Turkey in the Pool) an unusual name for what appears to be goose!

The Plaza is surrounded by a variety of buildings most of which have beautiful early 19th Century facades, the most notable being the Town Hall.

So the town is well worth a visit.

In fact, it looked an ideal destination for holidaymakers who enjoy a traditional seaside holiday relaxing on sandy coves with an abundance of sun.

So long as you don't assume that everybody in the shops, bars and restaurants will automatically be able to speak English.

And just a couple of kilometres from the town are some wonderful, sheltered sandy coves. …

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