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Things to do in Almeria city – only it’s not

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We thought we’d share our tips and things to do in Almeria city – with a difference. Regular readers will remember that we did something similar for Granada City. We take you away from the traditional “must do” tourist articles and share our finds instead. #livelikealocal

Things to do in Almeria city

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We first visited Almeria city a few years ago, and did many of the tourist attractions on that occasion. However, last weekend (February 18-20 2017) we were just after a short relaxing break, with plenty of tapas and wine and a lot less “touristy” activities. In this article we share our experiences, hopefully giving you a couple of extra items to add to your future trip alongside any other attractions that you may visit whilst in the city.


The absolute highlight of our short break – La Galeria Neo Taberna

Alan and I love our food… and we love tapas. Being able to choose a different dish each time you have a drink really works for us. We get to have a fun evening out… eating and drinking our fill.

We discovered La Galeria Neo Taberna on the Saturday night and returned on the Sunday evening for its entirety.

This bar/restaurant is stylishly decorated and the staff are all dressed beautifully (and are all very easy on the eye too).Service is attentive but not oppressive, and we found the staff to be very helpful when we needed them to be. We managed to have a proper chat with a couple of them on the Sunday when it was a little quieter than the Saturday. They are rightly proud of this venue, and were happy to help me with a few new Spanish phrases to add to my growing vocabulary.

There is a range of 15 free tapas that you can have with your drink, or for a little extra there are plenty of other tapas available also. There is a decent a la carte menu and regularly changing specials. Over our two visits, we tried almost everything from the free section. The favourite for Alan was the “Taquito Mexicano de Pollo Picante” (a flour tortilla with spicy chicken, salad and a hot dressing), and mine was the “Taquito de atún rojo” (slices of seared tuna sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and served with a drizzle of sauce). However, special mention must also be made of the “Ensaladilla de bacalao y gambas” (a potato salad mixed with cod and prawns) and the Pincho de Pollo Thai (succulent and flavourful chicken on a skewer). To be fair, everything we ate tasted great!

The menu comes with a miniature record on the front which you can spin to choose a tapa if you can’t make your mind up.

On the Saturday, the bar was filled with a mixed range of groups – couples, groups of youngsters, and families. On the Sunday it was quieter, with a couple of couples and a group of young lads (who were happy to chat to us at the end of our evening) You can sit at high tables with tall chairs (as we did), plonk yourselves at the bar, or at a normal-height table. There is seating outside too – but it’s a little chilly in February for that.

Saturday: Two large white wines, two large beers, four tapas: €12.20 total
Sunday: Five large white wines, five large beers, ten tapa dishes: €32 total.

Would we return? Absolutely yes! We would like to thank all the staff for their excellent food, great wine and beer, friendly helpful service and the chupitos too!

Address: Calle Libano, 15
Tel: +34 950 030 939
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The Tryp Indalo hotel

Previously, we stayed at the Nuevo Torreluz hotel which is right in the heart of the city – but this time we stayed a little further out.

The Tryp Indalo is located on Avenida Mediterraneo, which is a 25 minute (ish) walk from the Centro Historico. The prices are great for a four star hotel, plus parking is free on the Avenida outside, although this may include a 5 minute walk to the hotel reception. It is really easy to find and is signposted well from the city limits.

This is a four star hotel and our room (303) was spotlessly clean. The bed was a huge King Size and there was a large television too. We only found one English speaking channel (BBC News) but let’s face it – you don’t travel to a city to spend all your time in the hotel room do you? Not when there is so much to discover outdoors. There is a small fridge in the room and a safe, as well as a large wardrobe and fully equipped bathroom (yes, there’s a hairdryer).

The service was excellent and the team on reception were happy to speak whichever language we chose. We checked in using English, but we were happy to chat in Spanish when I enquired about the proximity of certain attractions nearby.

Yes it’s a 25 to 30 minute stroll from the centre, but it’s a lovely hotel.

Address: Avenida Mediterraneo, 310
Tel: +34 950 183 400
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Breakfast in Almeria

We opted not to have breakfast at the hotel, but we found a super confiteria / cafeteria just a 5 minute walk.

Confiteria Fransisco Hernandez was immaculate and had plenty of waiting staff, not to mention a wide range of snacks and drinks… as well as a “to die for” cabinet containing every sweet or savoury pastry-based treat you could wish for.

There were plenty of types of tea also. I had the mint tea which was excellent (no teabags here) and a tostada con tomate both mornings, while Alan had a coffee and tomate y jamón on morning one and a coffee with a croissant on morning two.

Great prices, super staff and it seems extremely popular with the locals who filled every table while we were there. Alan also went first thing in the morning both days for a coffee while he was waiting for me to emerge.

The business was first started in 1971 with their first site in the San Luis district of Almería.

There are four sites according to their websites (three according to their serviettes), but we ate a couple of times at the Avenida Mediterraneo location.

Confiteria / Cafeteria Fco. Hernandez
Address: Corner of Avda Mediterraneo and Calle Gavilán
Phone: +34 950 144 742
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Places to eat and drink in Almeria during our day

Cafeteria Coimbra – established in 1969.

We stopped here after walking our little legs off around the Centro Historico because our favourite Marisqueria Baviera was full (click HERE for a previous article about this super little place).

Alan asked if I was ready for a break, nodding his head towards this cafeteria because he’d stopped here previously. “My reply of, Yes, but I’m ready for a glass of wine” was met with a big grin and so we made ourselves comfortable.

I have to say that the wine was a rather lovely Rioja, and Alan’s beer was good and cold too.

Don’t be misled by the size of my wine glass in the photograph – the phrase, “the camera never lies” isn’t always true. But the quality far outweighed the quantity. The drinks came with a plate of Spanish cheese and salted large almonds – both were excellent.

We also opted to share a pizza too. It wasn’t the best pizza we have ever tasted, but it filled a hole and kept us going until the evening.

The service, however, was friendly and attentive – nothing was too much trouble for our friendly waitress who also came and spoke to us briefly when she was finishing her shift.

This is a great place to watch the world go by and is ideally located in the main shopping street of the city.

One beer, one rioja and a large pizza: €12.35 total

Address: Paseo de Almeria, 4
Tel: +34 950 258 115
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Confiteria Rex – super chocolate cake and more

We stopped off at this little cake shop on our way back to the hotel from the Centro Historico. It was established in 1968 and is one of a couple of locations from the same owner.

As with most places we visited, this cake shop was immaculately clean and had a fabulous selection of pastries available as well as hot and cold drinks.

Alan opted for a piece of chocolate cake and a beer. I have to say that it looked gorgeous! I just had a glass of wine, although in hindsight I wish I’d tried a tapa too. maybe next time we visit eh!

The gentleman who served us was friendly and helpful and the venue itself was tastefully decorated with a bright and airy feel. It also seemed to be really popular with the locals – young and old.

Address: Avenida de la Estación, 36
Tel: +34 950 274 237
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A small cafe bar – formerly “Le Petit Bar”

I am so very sorry to the owner of this little gem we discovered, but I didn’t write the name of the venue down. I’ve tried phoning a few loal businesses and have emailed the lawyers next door also – hopefully someone can help.

It is located next to Plaza Cataluña, along the side of the large Police Station close to the Hotel Tryp Indalo. I have checked on Google maps and I can see that it is where “Le Petit Bar” used to be… so this place is fairly new.

It is the cutest little bar, tastefully decorated inside with plenty of dark wood and a warm friendly feel.

We opted to sit outside, at the two stools and from there we were able to watch the world go by, while recovering from our 10km ramble.

When we arrived, there was just one customer inside – busy watching the footie on his laptop. Not too busy to give us a friendly greeting though. Nice chap, who we felt would have liked a further chat had we been up for it.

Alan had a large beer and I had a bucket of wine (did I look like I need one after our hike around town perhaps?) and I also ordered a tapa of pisto. However, when the pisto arrived, it far outweighed my expectations. It was a large helping of flavourful pisto, served on a long wheatgrain cracker with a salad garnish. The salad was delightful and the honey dressing was fabulous. The pisto was “bang on” but I simply couldn’t eat all of the cracker too – it was too big for my already-full tummy.

The owner/manager was very friendly and was thrilled when I explained how much I’d enjoyed the food. The wine was great (and plentiful as described above).

Our total bill was just €4 for the two drinks and tapa. Excellent value.

I would have liked to return here the following day and put some more money over the bar (and try their pork cheeks that were advertised in the window), but sadly it is closed on Sundays.

If I can remember the name os this place, I will update the article of course.

Address: Plaza de Cataluña, 1

La Suite – trendy and welcoming

We wanted to kill some time on Sunday afternoon, and perhaps grab some tapas too. On our way to doing so, we discovered La Suite in a back street not too far from the hotel.

This is exactly the kind of place I would have met “the ladies” in on a Friday afternoon/evening to kickstart my weekend. It’s trendy, the music was great and the service was excellent.

I initially asked for wine, which oddly wasn’t available – but then I spotted Arehucas on the shelf. Arehucas is a dark rum famous in the Canary Islands, and one that matches really well with Coca Cola. Well… that was my mind made up, and Alan opted for a large beer which came in a frosted glass.

The lady behind the bar also gave us some crisps, jamón and olives to go with our drinks and we settled onto the leather seats to enjoy our drinks.

Although we were the first people to arrive in the bar… within 20 minutes or so it filled with families and groups of twenty-somethings.

Really liked this bar and would happily return. I had planned to encourage Alan to go back again later that night, but we ended up staying longer at La Galeria than we expected. It’s definitely on the list for some late night drinkies next time though!

The large beer, large Arehucas and coke, plus the selection of nibbles cost just €8 (plus change).

Address: Calle Italia, 27
Tel: +34 950 143 761
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Disappointments

Increased poverty

It has been three years since I was last in the provincial capital, although Alan has been a number of times since then on business. But one thing was immediately apparent on this visit – the increased poverty.

We had seen homeless people and beggars on our previous visits before of course – they are in every city. But it was heartbreaking to see so many younger folk, diving into skips to find something to eat, barter or sell. It was quite a dramatic increase compared to my previous visit here.

Name and Shame – Restaurante Zhende Chino.

We live in a beautiful village and cook Spanish food most of the time, so when we have a break… tapas are not necessarily the only food item we seek.

Sometimes we may have Indian fayre, or perhaps Italian or Mexican dishes. This time we fancied Chinese food. Let’s just say that we were not happy with the place we tried.

Alan has been craving a Chinese meal for some time – so we chose this place due to its proximity to our hotel.

Upon entering we were greeted with a smile and shown to our table. Because we had already had a couple of tapas elsewhere, we decided to go for a main dish each, and share a fried rice.

Alan chose a chicken curry, I chose chicken balls, and we chose a Cantonese fried rice to share. Oh and a couple of bottles of beer also. So far so good, until I asked about having some sweet and sour sauce with my chicken balls because the menu was unclear as to whether it was included. Well… you’d think I’d asked for the tears of a vestal virgin when the response from the waitress came.

I was told that if I wanted any sweet and sour sauce with my chicken balls, that I would have to order a second main dish. I asked if I could just pay extra for a small amount of sauce to dip the chicken balls into but appraently that was an awful thing to have asked for, judging by her look of disgust. So, to keep the peace I decided to have it without the sauce. To be honest, I didn’t fancy them using the ceremonial sword above my head to make a point.

When the food came, there was plenty of it. The shared dish of Cantonese fried rice was huge and tasted great (Alan would disagree). However, Alan’s chicken curry wasn’t really what we were expecting as a Chinese curry. It was comprised of 1cm/2cm chunks of boiled chicken in a non-descript sauce with a shedload of onions and veggies.

As I type this, Alan is telling me that he also discovered multiple hairs in his curry. He chose not to mention it to me at the time because I suffer from a vomit reflex with the mere mention of hair being in my mouth. Even typing about this is making me feel unwell, so I shall move swiftly on.

My chicken balls weren’t balls at all – but rather they were like deepfried Southern chicken legs without the spices. No chicken balls… none of the type of batter I am used to. They tasted good and were plentiful – but not what I asked for. Normally we would have complained but after the previous exchange of words over the sweet and sour sauce… we ate abut half our meal, paid and made our exit.

Now I know that I am far from fluent in Spanish. However, I have never struggled in restaurants with speaking Spanish – and the menu was even translated into English. I know what “Bolitas fritas de pollo” are… and I can also obviously read English The photo to the right shows the menu as displayed in the window. Item 56.

We wished that we hadn’t come here at all, and had stayed in La Galeria Neo Taberna for the night instead. When we mentioned the restaurant to locals afterwards… they all grimaced – not just us that aren’t fans then!

Maybe we just visited on a bad day. Maybe.

Address: Avenida Mediterraneo, 324
Tel: +34 950 144 871
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Other places of interest

Although we didn’t do a huge amount of exploring on this visit – we’ve been to the city several times before. The following is a small selection of places that you could take a look at while there.

The Alcazabar – this fortress dominates the city and is well worth a visit, if only for the breathtaking views across the city.  It’s a steep walk so best not to attempt it in the height of summer. Clear days are best to enjoy the views. Free entry to EU citizens.

The Guitar Museum – whether you are a fan of music or not, this museum is an interesting place to learn more about the history of the humble guitar. We have been given tours in both English and Spanish. Hands on education.

The Photography Museum – this place is worth a jaunt each time you visit the city because the exhibitions change regularly. Located by the port, you may find this museum of interest whether you are a photographer, and art lover, or simply wish to broaden your horizons.

Casa Puga – this historic restaurant is the oldest in the city. If you wish to enjoy a buzzing atmosphere with a wide range of tapas… then add this to your list. To really soak up the surroundings, join the locals at the crowded bar, rather than grabbing a table at the back.

The Cathedral – bring your camera because the cathedral is stunning both outside and in. You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the beauty of this building, which is more simplistic than the Gothic grandeur of Barcelona but no less breathtaking.

2 Responses to Things to do in Almeria city – only it’s not

  1. Carol Byrne February 21, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    We have never had chicken balls as we know them in Spain :) Always those little bits on the bone. But we did visit that Chinese, and when we complained that a dish was not what it should be, the waiter laughed and said “what do you expect? The chef is Spanish!” We still laugh about it, but have not been back…Definitely WILL put La Galería on our ‘next place to try’ list.

  2. Elle Draper
    Elle Draper February 21, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    Ah! So you’ve experienced the same place then. Odd that they used the “chef is Spanish” excuse though… because even the Spanish people I spoke to afterwards knew exactly what I was talking about. The wide eyes and grimace when I merely mentioned the name of it was interesting. Then the knowing nods and sympathetic looks when we elaborated – well you get the idea.
    Definitely do visit La Galeria Neo Taberna… we really enjoyed it there! Am now craving the seared tuna again!! Good wine too!
    E xx

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