A few days of relaxation, exercise and thermal pools – Banos de Fortuna

A spa town in the hills north of Murcia. Amazing thermal pool – well worth paying a little extra for 🙂

On leaving Oliva we were going to head to Isla Plana to stay at Los Modriles (1 of our favourite Spanish sites in 2017), but instead decided to head a little inland to try a new area and different site.

We found ourselves slightly north of Murcia in a little town called Banos de Fortuna, just a few kilometres past the town of Fortuna, but otherwise pretty much in the middle of nowhere up in the mountains.

The clue is in the name ‘Banos’ meaning ‘thermal’.  We didn’t immediately realise this or that this was a proper spa town.  Not until we took a different turn on coming home from the mountains one day and found lots of people wandering around in their dressing gowns!

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We did struggle to find the original spring, although there were a couple of contenders.  There were also 2 campsites; we were staying on La Fuente – not an amazing site but it was home to the, simply amazing, thermal pools 🙂   I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we revisited on our return journey!

The area is very special with the underground water providing a particular environment for rare grasses.  The main picture was taken from our van as the sun went down – and this was our view every morning and evening.

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View from our window at La Fuente – it never got old 🙂
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Our view at Banos De Fortuna

The area was settled originally by the Romans and we rode up into the mountains to find the Cuevas de Negra.  Amazing views but steep inclines on the way – Calv rode his bike all the way up to the caves and then had to come back for mine, as I’d resorted to pushing and was really struggling…

At the bottom of the final incline we found a large abandoned building which was completely open – so we had a look.  This answered some questions about why there are so many ruined buildings around.  There were massive cracks running down the walls.  Calv says that these buildings have no foundations and that is another explanation.  (Also, we’re now convinced that all Spanish buildings are rendered to cover up the diabolical brickwork – we have now seen the backs of many many walls – it’s a shocker!)

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We took a wrong turn on the way back and ended up in the traffic in the, fairly busy, town of Fortuna.  We discussed going further this way, but didn’t really like the feel of the town so headed back up the main road to the site.

On the way we found an English bar, Tina’s Bar, so stopped for a quick drink.  It turns out that there is a large ex-pat community in the area.

The next day we headed out again in search of the original spring and evidence of any roman settlement.  We still have no idea if we found anything, although we did manage to convince ourselves that we might have done!  It was a mini-adventure though coming back down the ‘mountain’ that we had gone up, as the way we went was marked as private land and we ended up clambering down the terraces (which wasn’t as easy as it might sound), and then making our way to the road via an unofficial rubbish tip (that’s what it felt like anyway!!)

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Banos de Fortuna – had we found Roman remains??!!
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Banos de Fortuna

Our final day was spent by the pool.  It cost 6 Euros (which is the normal price for non-campers, but we didn’t purchase ahead of time so got no discount).

It was worth every penny.  Not only was there a constant temperature of 38degrees, there where jacuzzis and massage jets that were every bit as good as having a real massage 🙂

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The pool at Banos de Fortuna
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The pool cover at Banos de Fortuna

All in all a fitting end to our time here.  Our next stop was back on the coast at a site we’d previously stayed at, Mar Azul – we weren’t initially heading there but more of that in my next post 🙂

Related Content:

Campsite used:- La Fuente (click for our review)

Next Campsite:- Mar Azul, Balerma (click for our review)

 

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Day ??? (Who knows!) – Moving on from Alicante to ?? (Isla Plana – near Cartegena)

Everything happens for a reason. Or so Calv likes to say. Well today this was proved beyond doubt!

We had our first failure today, in that we got to our first choice of campsite and it was full. It was a big site too, at La Manga de Mar Menor. Actually this is the 1st time that we’ve highlighted more than 1 (3 to be exact) as we know that there’s now more chance of sites being full (as we head further South). And to be fair this was only our 1st choice because it was the 1st one we got to.

However, it was out of the way and we wish we’d rung in the morning to save us an extra 40 miles driving… I had thought that being situated right at the end of a peninsula with few roads going in (as shown on our map anyway…) and a sea lagoon on its doorstep it would be a little slice of heaven with very little going on. Haha – there were high rise hotels built along the sandbar that created the lagoon and a fair bit of traffic. So not my little bit of paradise then!

There was a slight complication though when we were told it was full in that there were 2 other vans there who were told the same thing. Were we all headed for the same site next? Were there any spaces there? If so was there just the 1?! So we ditched the plans to stop for a cuppa, Calv jumped in the driving seat and we were off – it was like Wacky Racers!! The old Talbot that was already there before us also got away first, but we easily overhauled him within a mile or so. The newer Carthago looked like he could have had us, but, luckily, he went in the other direction J

Anyway, my point is that we headed towards the 2nd site (which in reality WAS my 1st choice…) and, having skirted Cartagena, we started climbing through a mountain range – hard driving, following an already hard drive with high side winds all the way – lots of switchbacks and hairpins; it was a bit like being back in the Pyrenees except that we were in the van instead of the little C1!

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But the views!! Just amazing and as we emerged from the mountains, the final descent revealed the sea sparkling just up ahead and we knew then –‘Everything happens for a reason’ J

The drive here saw the landscape change from one of groves and groves of orange trees to groves and groves of lemon trees, and finally to acres of agriculture (we don’t know really but it looks like cabbages and leeks – much is hidden in poly tunnels and greenhouses). Where we have landed, Isla Plana, just south of Cartagena, is no exception. (It’s now Thursday evening and we’ve been on a bike ride alongside some of the polytunnels – filled with hundreds of thousands of tomatoes in various stages of ripedness).

There’s not much going on here but it is beautiful and the site had 4 spots left. It was a bit of a squeeze getting in to our chosen spot – not particularly helped by the German man who emerged to point out that we couldn’t leave it with the nose sticking out into the road (really? really??!).

Normally when people emerge it’s to assist a fellow camper, but he came out to tell us off before we’d even finished manoeuvring– anyway Calv managed to get in sideways instead. Everyone who walks past keeps staring – I don’t think they can believe it’s in like that!! Even our neighbours were impressed that we had a van you could park sideways J

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But we do have a seaview, and a good steep walk to the toilets, supermarket, reception, bar and swimming pools!

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We have an indoor and outdoor pool, both open. The outdoor pool is thermal and we’re thinking of going in later. It won’t be so warm today (we had about 20 degrees again yesterday), maybe 18 (we’re hoping!) We’ll also ride back towards the mountains we came through and maybe up a little to one of the viewing spots (we went out yesterday down to the beach and the ‘town’ – very tiny!)

** Okay Thursday update – the temperature today was easily 24/25 again with full sun all day. We have sat outside the van, swum in the outdoor pool (followed by a bit more sunbathing) and then ridden the other way along the coast, up a mountain to look at the tower that we spotted yesterday. (And we have both, definitely, caught the sun – as in “should have put some suncream on….!”

The tower was part way up, yet another, mountain and then the entrance was halfway up the tower itself, followed by some steep, and very narrow, spiral stone stairs up to the top! It was used to protect the coast from pirates J

We are definitely going to stay a 3rd night here and just relax – or maybe try to cycle up into the mountains to one of the viewpoints – wish me luck!