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Orihuela Market

OM1This takes place every week throughout the year. The market is always well attended, and there are often cars parked in the surrounding streets in every direction, so arrive early if you don’t want a long walk. The market features a range of local seasonal produce, as well as preserved meats, spices and many types of olives. You can also buy both cut flowers and plants.

There are many clothing stalls, ranging from underwear to summer wear, to more formal outfits. There are plenty of accessories available- jewellery, bags, belts and scarves. You can also buy regional dress in children’s sizes.

There are many stalls selling toys and games. Children are also attracted to stalls selling sweets.

Household items are also available, including art and craft items. There are many stalls selling linens, and tablecloths are a particular focus of most linen sellers.

As always when purchasing from markets, be aware that quality may be variable, and that the safety of items, especially toys, should be thoroughly checked before purchase. It may not be possible to return or exchange items, so avoid impulse buys.

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La Zenia Boulevard

LZ8 Shopping centre, Orihuela Costa.

La Zenia shopping centre has an amazing range of shops and businesses. It is a modern, well-designed centre with ample parking. The stores are laid out largely on the ground floor, with a range of other facilities on the upper level.

The ground floor boasts an enormous Decathlon store, and a B and Q/Homebase equivalent called Leroy Merlin, both of which are on the exterior of the centre. There is also a petrol station in this outer area.

Once inside the centre itself, there are a wealth of stores catering for almost every need. There are Home Design stores, ranging from Conforama at the budget end to specialist Home Interior stores that cater to more expensive tastes.

Clothing shops range from the large and well laid out Primark store, to well known stores like Zara, H and M, and C and A. There are also designer brands available, with an excellent Desigual outlet, and stores dealing with high-end labels such as Versace, Lacoste and others.Spanish stores are also well represented, and both men and women have plenty of fashion choices. Specialist jewellery and accessory shops are also plentiful.

LZ2 There is an excellent electrical store that caters both for the domestic and IT market. Other stores include the supermarket Al Campo.

Aside from the wide range of stores, there are many food and drink outlets. The ground floor offers many ‘snack’ facilities, including gelateria. The upper level has many and varied restaurants offering everything from tapas, to American diner eats, to full restaurant menus.

The upper level also houses the large and impressive children’s play zone, discretely located on its own side of the level.

The food outlets centre around a square that incorporates a stage area. There are often free entertainment activities on show. At ground level there are further activities for children, including a water jet maze. There is a Big Screen that shows films, video games and sporting events. If all this were not enough, there is also a bowling alley.

Children are well catered for in other ways. To get around the centre, parents can hire minI sports cars, landrover-style cars, or animated animals for their children to ride on. There is also a children’s bus and train service. There are also plenty of shopping trolleys with Little Tykes cars attached.

In addition to all these benefits, there are plenty of modern and clean toilet facilities, with baby changing and feeding rooms accessible to both parents. The entire centre is also wheelchair accessible, although more lifts are needed at certain times of the year.

Finally, if you are a gym bunny, there is a free outdoor gym, though this is unsupervised so must be used at your own risk.

My ratings:

Range of shops GOOD

Adequate shopping for both male and female shoppers GOOD

Child friendly environment GOOD

Parking facilities GOOD

Disabled access MOSTLY GOOD

Food and drink facilities VERY GOOD

Well worth a visit!

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20160402_201540

Murcia Sardine Festival

20160402_201540It seems to be a fact that the Spanish can turn anything into a fiesta. You might have thought that burying rotten fish would not be one of them, but, oh, how wrong would you be!

The festival, due to begin at 9 pm, suffered from normal Spanish tardiness, but there was plenty to watch as Sardine Groups gathered in their colourful robes, accompanied frequently by live music or disco tracks.

Eventually, one hour later than scheduled, the parade began. It is hard to describe the atmosphere that accompanied the dancers, stilt-walkers, fire-breathers, acrobats, musicians and costumes. The floats were creative, colourful and spectacular, frequently lit up by fireworks, and often spewing smoke or confetti from cannons. Bags were given out to children early on to collect sweets and toys given out as floats passed. A local tv station recorded the parade.

The highlights included a tribute to Spanish football, an unexpected and delightful Star Wars themed float surrounded by characters from all seven films, and a Harry Potteresque giant sorcerer.

20160402_224852There were bands aplenty, playing everything from Salsa, to jazz, to pop, to classics. Dancers accompanied the musicians, and thankfully it was a warm night as the female performers were often underdressed! The costumes were spectacular, displaying the rainbow of colours, and the technological structure that fiesta is associated with.

Disco featured prominently, with dance moves that reflected both retro style and modern twerking. It was clearly a feast for the many dads in the audience.

Acrobats performed on some floats, whilst fire-eaters wowed the audience from others. There were many different groups of stilt-walkers, some of whom were dressed as insects, others in mirrored costumes, and still more dressed as mourners. The latter group were mourning the death of the fiesta season, although the new season start is only weeks away.

20160402_223005The final few floats were perhaps the most confusing and controversial, with a disco float decked out with dancers dressed in black and silver. Diamanté dripped from the costumes, not least from the black and bling gas masks the performers wore. This was followed by a float bearing five young maidens, whose modesty was maintained by only three large sea shells apiece. Any thoughts that they were additionally clothed was laid to rest as they turned on the float!

But this is a family festival, so of course, the end had to bring things back to the Spanish love of children, as four huge trucks filled with toys tail-ended the procession, toys and sweets being freely distributed.

To end the fiesta, the model sardine was ceremonially burned before a massive fireworks display brought the proceedings to an end. If you have never been to a sardine festival, I can whole-heartedly recommend this one!

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