Peter and Elizabeth - RTW 2009-11 travel blog

Diving around Torremolinos



















The beach in Torremolinos

July 15-18, 2011

Malaga/Torremolinos, Spain

After a few weeks without a proper holiday (haha!), I decided to book us a trip to the south of Spain where we would be able to dive. I had planned to go to Malaga previously when Elizabeth was in Texas but the flights were too expensive and so I had decided to skip it. Now, we were both going, taking a Friday morning flight out to Malaga and staying in the tacky tourist resort of Torremolinos. Many reading this won’t realize quite how awful Torremolinos is but just imaging a resort in the US full of tacky restaurants and inhabited by trailer trash camped out on the horrible beaches for a couple of months every summer. That’s right – Virginia Beach.

Our first experience of the resort was a lengthy wait for the shuttle bus to take us to our hotel. Even though we’d booked independently, our hotel offered a shuttle service and this was provided by a larger tour company, meaning we had to wait for loads of people to turn up to get on the bus. Thankfully, our hotel was the second stop along the route so we weren’t on the hot, sweaty bus for too long. Having dumped our bags, we were soon on the lookout for lunch and we found a local(ish) looking restaurant and ventured in for more Sangria than was probably necessary and some reasonably good tapas. After a bit of a stroll, we headed back to the hotel for our siesta (gotta love the lazy Spaniards) and to sleep off the Sangria. In the evening we headed to a bar typical of the region – a Welsh bar called Cheryl and Keith’s! If we were going to “do” Torremolinos, we were going to do it right!

On the Saturday morning we were met by the dive company and we headed out to an area called Marina del Este which was about an hour drive from the resort. I was planning on doing a photography course as Elizabeth had bought me a new camera and underwater housing for my birthday and I wanted to use it! However, I decided to spend today practicing with the camera and then doing the course tomorrow. The dives were both shore dives and the lugging of the equipment across the sand wasn’t much fun. I’d never done a proper shore dive before and it’s so much easier when you sit on a boat, put your tank on and just jump into the water! Anyway, the dives were quite good and the water was pretty calm, if a little cold. Even with a thick wetsuit and an oversuit on, Elizabeth was cold on the first dive and I wasn’t sure if she would do the second. She got gloves for the second dive and although she was cold at the start she was a lot more relaxed and enjoyed it more than the first. Over the course of the 2 dives we saw an octopus, a dead octopus, morays and plenty of wrasse and other creatures. The highlight though was getting to see our first sunfish although I was annoyed I didn’t get a decent picture of it. These creatures are so strange looking and almost look like they have been put together incorrectly, with the fins on the top and bottom and the body being a weird triangle shape which is almost flat with a beady eye on each side! I’d only ever seen sunfish once before even in an aquarium so to see these rare fish in the flesh, in their natural habitat was wonderful. After the drive back we grabbed a late lunch and had a much needed shower and nap. We ventured out for dinner about 9pm and went looking for a restaurant that was supposed to do really good barbeque. We’d looked for it last night unsuccessfully and when we finally found it tonight it was closed and looked like it had been for a while. We instead found a bar and settled down with a beer and ordered two salads. Around an hour passed and we still hadn’t received our food and we were getting annoyed so we just paid for our beers and left. We found a little kebab place as we walked back towards the hotel and we instead sat on our balcony, overlooking the Med and ate our authentic Turkish food!

The next day we headed to Tarifa which was about a two hour drive away, this time for more diving. This time it was from a boat so we were hoping for good conditions. It looked pretty calm but we were never certain given that this is the point where the Atlantic meets the Med and they have some stronger currents. Of course, unlike yesterday, the sun wasn’t out which meant it felt a lot cooler and Elizabeth was worried she’d be cold in the water again. As we drove along the coast, we got a view of Gibraltar (still owned by GB so keep away you dirty Spaniards) and some nice views out into the ocean, including a view across the straight to Northern Africa! Unfortunately for Elizabeth, the water became quite rough when we got to the dive sites and one of the men in our group was messing around a lot, firstly with his weight belt (he was quite a big bloke so needed a bigger belt), then couldn’t find his mask (he’d not picked one up on the dock) and then finally he decided he didn’t want an oversuit or hood but of course when he finally jumped into the water he was cold so decided he wanted to get out and put the rest of his gear on. By this point the waves had really picked up and Elizabeth was feeling really sick and was getting bashed about by the surf and she decided she didn’t want to dive either. I can’t help but feel this guy was to blame and had we got in and gone down quickly she would have been fine. Under the surface, the water wasn’t as cold as yesterday and there wasn’t too much current and the visibility was decent enough. I was doing my course today and I had a great dive and got some great pictures of some morays and an octopus as it danced around the reef in front of us. When we got back Elizabeth said she’d seen a dolphin on the surface but that didn’t help her and she still felt sick and decided not to do the second dive. When we went back to shore to change tanks, we left her at the dockside. I felt bad because I knew that if we could keep her relaxed and get her under the water she’d be OK but once she gets a bit nervous she struggles to dive. The second dive was good, too, although this one was also nearly ruined by the fat man as again he got into the water and decided he couldn’t do it. By the time he decided he couldn’t do it we were already at the bottom and we had to sit and wait while our guides, Marco and Simon, made their way down to us. This gave me a chance to practice my photography and I got a really cool picture of a fast-moving wrasse which decided to come and play with my mask! Near the end, we saw a massive crab which I got some close up pictures of after Marco had prodded it a bit to make it move! The dives were fun and I felt bad at the end as I really wanted to talk about it but I could tell Elizabeth was pissed off and just wanted to go back. Over the course of 4 dives, she’d only enjoyed one and she didn’t think much of the tacky resort we were staying in so overall she hadn’t enjoyed any of the weekend and it was frustrating for both of us. Diving is something we can do together and we both enjoy doing when it goes well but when it doesn’t go well, it seems it is always Elizabeth who has the bad experiences.

We stopped briefly by the beach to pick up some of the other divers and here we were on a small peninsula with the calm Med one side and the rough Atlantic on the other. After the long drive back, we had to stop at the dive shop to get my course signed off but Elizabeth was so annoyed she just walked back to the hotel and when I got back the room door was open as she’d not been able to get the key out of the door! After a shower and a nap we went for some dinner at the restaurant opposite the hotel. After trying some gazpacho (which neither of us liked much) we had some lovely veal steaks and sangria. It wasn’t the greatest atmosphere though as Elizabeth was still a bit annoyed and moody and to top it off, she’d managed to get some sunburn during the day when the clouds had finally burnt off!

On the Monday we had a day which was supposed to just be lazing around but given Elizabeth wasn’t having a very good weekend it wasn’t exactly very relaxing! We headed out about 10.30 for a decent fry up although that took us ages to find somewhere to eat as someone was being particularly indecisive about what they wanted! Back at the hotel, we packed up and checked out. I’d hoped we could spend the afternoon lazing by the pool but given Elizabeth had gotten sunburned yesterday she didn’t want to sit around the pool, particularly not as she thought everyone around the pool was “English” poor white trash! I thought this was funny given that most of the people around the pool weren’t even English, given that we were in a hotel of mostly Germans! We hung out around the hotel and read but Elizabeth was bored and annoyed so went for a walk, played on the computer, moaned, whined, etc! After a burger for lunch we got our airport pickup which got us to the airport in good time. We checked our bag in and then found out that our flight was an hour late, a delay which soon turned into about 2 hours. Given we’d sat around all day this wasn’t a good end to the weekend but some cheesecake for Elizabeth and ice cream for me certainly helped! We finally got back to Zurich and were lucky to get a tram when we got back into the city, getting home about 1am.

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