Santiago de la Ribera Hotels
Santiago de la Ribera Restaurants
El Gallego: Light lunch at a Galician restaurant
We ate a light lunch at Restaurante El Gallego on our final afternoon in Santiago de la Ribera in July 2014.
El Gallego is located on a pedestrianised stretch of Calle Munoz, just a few minutes walk inland from the seafront. We sat at an outdoor table on the shaded pavement in front of the restaurant.
It specialises in meat and seafood dishes from the Galicia region of north-west Spain.
The menu features a good choice of raciones (portions of food that are larger than tapas dishes, but not as substantial as a full meal) and main courses such as octopus, squid, cuttlefish, prawns, clams, steamed mussels, snails, chorizo, ham, roast chicken, pork loin, lamb chops, steaks and paella.
We decided to share a few raciones between us:
Patatas con Ajo (Potatoes with Garlic) - €3.50
A plate of boiled potatoes in a creamy garlic sauce. Served cold.
Judias con Jamon (Beans with Ham) - €4.00
A dish of green beans and sliced ham. Nice enough, but not particularly tasty or memorable.
Tabla de Queso Gallego (Galician Cheese Table) - €6.50
I must say, we expected more from this dish. We thought it would be a platter of different Galician cheeses. Instead, it was just a plate featuring one type of cheese; a semi hard white cheese with no accompaniments. It was a little bland as dishes go.
We paid €1.50 each for cans of Fanta Orange to accompany our food.
A good choice of Galician cuisine. The dishes that we chose for our light lunch were a little bland. Perhaps the meat and seafood main meals are better?
Cafe Bar La Tertulia: A quick lunchtime tapas stop
We visited Cafe Bar La Tertulia for drinks and a quick snack during our stay in Santiago de la Ribera in July 2014.
We were just killing time before our bus departed to Los Alcazares and this looked like an authentic local place for a refreshment stop; three wooden stools were lined up along the pavement in front of a serving window and there was a large wooden barrel outside the entrance. We made our way inside and found more barrels that were acting as tables (as is often the case in Spanish tapas bars). The bar was empty at lunchtime, but it's not difficult to imagine it being a busy tapas bar in the evenings.
We sat at high stools at the bar and ordered drinks from the barman. I had a bottle of the local Murcian beer Estrella de la Levante beer (€1.50 for a 330ml bottle) and Emma had a couple of bottles of pineapple juice (€1.50 each). The drinks came with a small complimentary bowl of very salty roasted almonds.
A handful of tapas dishes were displayed behind a glass counter on the bar; the usual stuff, Spanish omelette, salads, ham,cheese, olives, small fish.
We shared a salad dish which consisted of egg, cheese, peas, onions, mayonnaise and small breadsticks (€2.00). It was a very enjoyable snack.
This small tapas bar is located on Calle Zarandona, just a couple of streets back from the seafront promenade.
A nice stop for local beer and good value tapas dishes!
Jijonenca: Ice cream and granizados on the...
We visited a couple of Jijonenca ice cream outlets during our stay in Santiago de la Ribera in July 2014.
They are located just a couple of minutes apart, on the seafront promenade, one either side of Avenida Sandoval. They both have outdoor seating areas with sea views and offer a large selection of ice cream flavours and refreshing "granizado" ice drinks.
The choice of ice cream flavours includes several varieties of chocolate (white, dark, gourmet, truffle, chocolate cookies, chocolate brownie), coffee, cappuccino, nougat, hazelnut, coconut, pistachio, yoghurt, cheesecake and all manner of fruit flavours (pineapple, mango, orange, banana, melon, strawberry jam).
The ice cream is priced as follows:
1 scoop = €2.50
2 scoops = €3.60
3 scoops = €4.50
On our first visit, late in the evening, I had a large scoop of Chocolate Blanco (White Chocolate) ice cream. It was deliciously tasty and contained hundreds of small white chocolate chips. Emma had a large scoop of Mango con Pina (Mango and Pineapple); a refreshing mango ice cream with small chunks of pineapple in it.
The following morning we revisited this branch (located on Paseo Colon) and sat outside beneath a canopy. This time I sampled the "Leche Merengada" (lemon sweet milk and cinnamon ) flavour, which sounded more interesting than it tasted, although the cinnamon rescued it, and Emma had the lovely creamy "Coco" (coconut) flavour.
On our final day, before leaving for the airport, we sat out front the Explanada Barnuevo branch and cooled down with refreshing Limon Granizado drinks. We needed them, it had been a hot and tiring day, and they cooled us down perfectly – but were a bit steeply priced at €3.60 a glass. As well as the lemon flavour, granizados were also available in orange, coffee, chocolate, strawberry, yoghurt and pina colada flavours.
Jijonenca – a vast choice of ice cream flavours and refreshing granizado ice drinks on Santiago de la Ribera's seafront promenade.
Santiago de la Ribera Transportation
Ferry to La Manga
The Mar Menor Ferry is a year-round ferry service that operates between La Manga and Santiago de la Ribera (the beach district of the town of San Javier located close to Murcia-San Javier airport).
It is the quickest way to travel between La Manga and Santiago de la Ribera. The crossing takes just 30 minutes compared to 1 hour and 10 minutes by bus.
We caught the ferry from La Manga's Puerto Tomas Maestre (located about 13-14km along La Manga's strip) on a Sunday afternoon in July 2014.
The following details were correct as of that date:
There were several ferry crossings each day. The timings were as follows:
La Manga – Santiago de la Ribera
Santiago de la Ribera – La Manga
According to the timetable (http://www.marmenorferry.com/horarios.html) on the company's website, it seems that the later crossings (those after 5:30pm) are seasonal and run only in the summer months.
We caught the 4:30pm ferry from La Manga and arrived back at Santiago de la Ribera just before 5pm.
We purchased tickets as we boarded the boat and paid €4 per person for a one-way crossing.
We were able to take our luggage on board (small, wheeled suitcases) at no extra charge. There was a space where bicycles could be chained up (charge of €1 for taking a bicycle on board).
We initially sat outside on the upper deck of the ferry. We hoped that we would benefit from a sea breeze. However, the ferry wasn't moving quick enough for us to feel any breeze and we soon found ourselves melting in the hot afternoon sunshine. We moved downstairs to the indoor cabin and it wasn't long before several others followed suit.
The departure point at La Manga's Puerto Tomas Maestre is quite a walk from the main road. We caught the local bus (#15) to the closest stop and then walked for maybe 15 minutes before arriving at the point where the ferry departs from. It was a few minutes walk (5-10 mins) from the bus stop to the port entrance and then a similar length walk around the edge of the marina to where the ferry leaves from. Upon entering the port, walk to the right and you ultimately get to the ferry departure point (next to El Pulpito restaurant).
The arrival point at Santiago de la Ribera is very central. A short pier leads to the beach and the seafront promenade and a couple of minutes walk brings you to the centre of the town.
Buses to Los Alcazares
During our visit to the Murcia region in July 2014, we needed to travel from Santiago de la Ribera to Los Alcazares.
Despite the two towns being fairly close by, we found that buses between the two weren't as frequent as we had expected them to be.
Nevertheless, with a bus ride being considerably cheaper than a taxi ride, we visited the tourist information office and identified a 1:00pm bus that would fit with our plans.
The bus stop for this bus (#23) was located just metres away from Hotel Mar Menor – very convenient as that is where we were staying.
There was a timetable displayed on the bus shelter. It indicated that the #23 bus, operated by Alsa City, would arrive at 1:00pm and would get us to Los Alcazares by 1:15pm. Highlighting the infrequency of these buses, the next bus listed wasn't until 6:30pm.
We thought we knew what we were doing. We were wrong!
Two local ladies who were standing at the bus stop were adamant that we should not catch the #23 bus. They told us, as best they could in broken English, that the bus we needed was a "Costa Azul" bus, not the #23 Alsa City bus. We were sceptical; the bus timetable seemed to suggest that we DID want the #23 bus.
The #23 bus arrived a few minutes after 1:00pm. We ignored the ladies' protestations and their calls of "Costa Azul" and stepped forward to get on the bus. I asked the driver if the bus went to Los Alcazares and he said not. I was pretty sure that it did, and I now wonder (with the benefit of hindsight!) whether it was my pronunciation of Alcazares that confused him. I was pronouncing it, as it is spelt, as "Al-caz-arr-ez", instead of the correct (and somewhat different!) pronunciation of "Al-cath-a-reez".
Either way, we returned sheepishly to the knowing looks of the two local ladies who were shaking their heads and repeating "Costa Azul". One of the ladies pulled out a folded bus timetable from her pocket and showed us that there was a bus due in a few minutes time. She told us "tres paradas" (which I correctly guessed meant "three stops"), pointed them out to us on the timetable and then gave us the timetable to keep.
The Costa Azul bus arrived at around 1:10pm. The two local ladies ensured that we got on board. We put our luggage in the bus's undercarriage and purchased tickets from the driver. The fare was €1.15 per person and the journey to Los Alcazares, via San Javier town centre, took around 15 minutes.
We disembarked the bus in Los Alcazares on Avenida de la Libertad, close to the junction with Calle Santa Ana, just a short walk back from El Espejo beach.
Taxis to/from Murcia-San Javier airport
My fiancee and I visited the Murcia region to attend a wedding in July 2014.
We flew into Murcia-San Javier airport, which is located on the coast some 40-50km south east of the town of Murcia.
We decided to spend our first evening in the small beach town of Santiago de la Ribera, immediately north of the airport.
On Google Maps, it looked close enough to walk from the airport to our hotel (Hotel Mar Menor), but with the benefit of hindsight I can say that this wouldn't have been a good idea. The journey is longer than it looks on the map, and involves a journey along a busy carriageway. Also, we landed at around 9pm on a Friday evening and were keen to get to our hotel as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, we didn't attempt to walk from the airport; we took one of the airport taxis.
A row of white taxis were parked up immediately opposite the airport's arrivals building. We simply jumped in to the first one in the queue.
The driver put our small suitcases into the boot and we sat in the back of the vehicle. I noted that the meter started at €3.95. I have since read on the airport's website that there is a €3.10 starting rate from the airport and €0.35 charge per suitcase (i.e. €3.80 starting fare if travelling with two suitcases). The information on the website might be out of date, explaining the small discrepancy in our starting fare, or there may have been another supplement on top that we weren't aware of.
The 5 minute journey to Hotel Mar Menor clocked up a further €6.33 on the taxi's meter (both the €3.95 and €6.33 were displayed separately on the meter), bringing our total fare to €10.28, which the driver rounded down to €10.
At the end of our stay, we caught a taxi back to the airport from near Santiago de la Ribera's tourist information office. With no starting fare on the meter, the cost of our journey back to the airport was around €6.50, which we rounded up to €7.