Whenever you travel by plane it’s an all day write off and our day leaving the UK for Spain was no different.
Wake up to our once again delicious full English at The Grange Guesthouse in Ealing, final packing or rather squashing in so that our bags fit the regulation two carry on bags. Drive to the car hire drop off, take shuttle to Heathrow airport, take bus to Gatwick airport, flight delayed, take flight to Alicante, go to hire car, blah blah blah with them, check out car in the dark, photograph all scratches, dents etc, take back to car hire office, then drive to hotel on the European side of the road, check in, get food, crash out.
First full day we drive to Benidorm to the cheapest, not complete dump hotel and are pleasantly surprised at how nice it actually is, both hotel and Benidorm.
We are a fair walk down to the seafront etc, but we had a good long explore and were surprised by a few things we hadn’t seen before like tandem mobility scooters!
There were heaps of shoe shops, restaurants, sunshine, people, umbrellas for as far as you could sea and a pretty relaxed vibe.
Back at the hotel we opted for staying there for dinner and had a decent meal. Met a lovely couple from the UK, whom we then ran into a few times at breakfast and hopefully we’ll catch up with them next year in the UK.
We were going to spend only one night there but as the pricing was great we opted for another night and drove off to El Castell de Guadalest. What a lovely drive to the mountains and stunning vistas from the lovely town.
Really enjoyed it.
This was a great trip for James to get comfortable with driving as not busy and he also had to navigate the incredible amount of roundabouts. I’m really impressed.
That evening we walked into the old town and had a lovely dinner over looking the length of the beach from the terrace of the restaurant. A lovely stroll along the waterfront then back to our hotel.
We’re already acclimatising to the Spanish lifestyle as we always do and not having to check out till noon helps tremendously with not having dinner till at least 9 pm at night and we have never minded an afternoon siesta.
After two nights staying in Benidorm we booked a hotel not far away in Albir. But before heading there we took a drive to Denia. The town and beach didn’t really float our boat but we had a nice lunch then drove to our cheap but again comfortable and clean hotel.
This one turned out to be a closer walk to the waterfront and we were really impressed. Lovely boardwalk, bars and restaurants, so stopped for a couple of pre dinner drinks and people watching before finding a lovely Italian restaurant for a delicious meal and with a glass of wine that was the largest glass of wine I’ve ever been served and very drinkable for €1.50!!
A really lovely evening.
What a delightful surprise breakfast was. Fresh, fresh, fresh, bread, pastries, fruits, eggs, bacon etc and also including the little yoghurt drinks and a decent coffee machine.
There was a nice pool area which we made use of later in the day after we took a trip to Calp another lovely seaside holiday spot with a fantastic waterfront and after a good walk we were able to enjoy a very tasty and affordable lunch overlooking the esplanade and beach.
On the way home we had a quick look at the beach closest to us Aleta, but the wind had come up and it was a pebble beach so decided to head back to the comfort of a sun lounger in the shade pool side where of course you can also order a beer.
Once again we walked into the heart of the town for dinner and enjoying our meal the night before and the generous drinks- opted to go straight to the restaurant just after 9 pm, the night before we had arrived at 10 pm. See what I mean about living the Spanish lifestyle.
Both nights we had met lovely people to chat with either while having a drink at the bar or sitting next to us at dinner.
Sunday September 1st saw us pack up the car and head towards Villajoyosa a lovely colourful beach town that we had visited on our 2015 tour of Spain, Portugal and Morocco.
After a stroll along the promenade we hopped in our car for our last leg to arrive at Cabo Roig to our friend Paula’s home where we are going to stay till late October. This was a wonderful offer by Paula last year on the cruise where we met and we quickly took it up as an opportunity to immerse ourselves into the expat life on the Costa Blanca.
A very warm welcome from Paula and her little friend Dolly the cute dog she was sitting.
After looking at all the houses on A place on the sun tv show we were not expected to arrive at such a generous sized home and grounds. Not only that but it’s very close to the large town centre with lots of shops and services. A great location for the European expat community. Not only that but she has her own swimming pool and there’s also a communal one too.
Paula had dinner organised for that evening and also on Monday night.
Monday saw us go on a Paula tour of the local area and the chance to get a SIM card for our phone sorted.
Wednesday we caught up with Pat, a lovely coffee out and lunch back at Paula’s and will be seeing her and Derek again on Friday when the whole gang get together for lunch.
It was a day of visits with little Dolly being picked up by her mum and later Eileen popping in. The evening was a lovely Chinese restaurant meal where Paula’s gang meet every Wednesday night and have done so for years.
We got a very warm welcome and what a bargain meal. €9 each which included a tip got us a drink( beer, wine,water,soft drink) a starter, main, desert and a liquor to finish!
Great company and an invite to join them again.
Friday saw the gang from CMV 2018 have a catch up lunch at The Castle.
What a stunning day it was, undercover the temperature was perfect for outdoor dining and laughing and chatting away, making plans for more dates while most of us are in town.
Unfortunately Paula will miss out but I’m sure she will be enjoying her time in the USA with her very dear friends.
I didn’t feel so great, not sure what it was ( not had any alcohol so can’t blame that) but I headed to bed after getting home and basically sleeping the night away waking up completely recovered.
Saturday morning was time to take Paula to the airport and wave her off for her six weeks away.
On the Sunday We decided to take a walk to the beach and ended up taking a fabulous coastal walk to La Zenia beach where we had brunch at the cafe/bar on the beach.its one of several at the different beaches offering the same menu.
We had a swim and walked back home.
That night we drove back to the airport to pick up daughter Allison who flew in from Milan to spend almost two weeks with us.
Monday we took a quicker walk to La Zenia with her then the coastal walk back home. We were all glad to be able to dive in the pool on our return as we had left a little later and it was very warm.
Tuesday we only made it down to Cabo Roig beach and swam and had brunch there before returning home in time for allison to get ready to take the bus to Alicante and catch up with a work mate from her time in London. She ended up going back to Benidorm with her mate and staying the night.
We just relaxed at home as we sometimes do.
With warnings of bad storms about to descend our way we were glad to make an early getaway on Thursday morning for a few days in Granada. We had been before but Allison hadn’t seen The Alhambra Palace and we wanted to take her on a road trip there and spend a couple of nights in Granada.
We had a lovely lunch stop at Velez-Rubio with its lovely old streets and church in the square.
Our Airbnb in Granada was down a narrow lane and it was with trepidation that we not only made it there but with guidance from our host got the car parked in the underground car park. Really a motorbike would have been more suitable.
Our apartment couldn’t have been more fab, newly decorated with style and comfortable beds. Each bedroom, kitchen and lounge had a little Juliette balcony onto the street. We were all thrilled with our choice and once the car was garaged there was no need to get it out again till we left.
Just a great location for exploring the city centre. We quickly got ready to make the most of the afternoon and headed off exploring. Some places were familiar from our previous visit in 2015 and we managed to cover a fair amount of area resting for a cold drink just directly opposite The Alhambra as James and I had done with tour friends in 2015. Of course the prices were ridiculous but you have to do it for the view just once at least.
We headed home for a siesta although it was a 7 pm one and left for a stroll for dinner around 8:45pm. After our meal we walked back to see the Alhambra at night then made it home before it was already the next day.
A slow start the next day but with our tickets already purchased online we headed out for our 20 minute walk all uphill to start our day at The Palace. As with our last visit we were in awe of the majesty and magical scenery and buildings that make up this must see Palace.
A lovely stop for lunch at The American hotel in the grounds turned out to be both tasty and inexpensive. The courtyard setting was delightful as well.
The storms that had hit the coast looked to be descending quickly our way and we made our way back to our apartment all happy with our outing.
Fortunately they passed over quickly and the afternoon spent resting at home before dinner out was dry allowing us to open all our balcony doors letting in the fresh air and sounds of the world making their own way through the day.
After our obligatory siesta we headed out later and decided to take the tourist train around and then have dinner. Best idea as we got to see so much more than we knew existed in Granada. Then a lovely little alley way for dinner and walk home.
Granada was everything we hoped for and more.
Our trip home we decided to go towards the coast and look at the beaches on the way up from Motril, well apart from Calahonda we wouldn’t spend a half day at any.
If the beaches weren’t unappealing the acres upon acres of plastic greenhouses right from the mountain ranges to the sea line definitely were. Also we had watched a documentary by Simon Reeves who spoke not only about the appalling conditions of the poor African immigrants working in these ridiculous hot conditions with no basic human rights but also how as the plastic rips and is useless for their needs they are just buried in the sand near the waterways where when a storm comes along they are taken out to sea polluting our oceans and seas.
On return to Paula’s it was to find her property had sustained very little effects from the wild and ferocious storms that had passed over the area, killing at least three people and leaving huge devastation behind.
A good sweep and clean down of the back yard, a backwash of the pool,vacuum and skim had everything back to rights.
Sunday late afternoon we headed down to visit our friends Melissa, Tom and their two daughters Tara and Ciara who planned a stop for the night so we could catch up. Fantastic to see them and catch up on all the news over drinks by the pool then dinner out.
Monday they were heading to Seville and we were off to Malaga for four nights.
We arrived at our three bed,two bath Airbnb in Malaga by 4:30 pm and after a rest we decided to walk into the old town for a look and dinner.
Malaga old town is sensational looking at night as we soon found out and we were all thrilled with our first look around.
Tuesday we drove the most scenic route through the mountains to Ronda.
We had been there before but wanted to show Allison. What can we say it’s a wowser from every scenic vantage point.
If you ever do a trip to Spain put it on your list, you won’t be disappointed.
So Tuesday was a wonderful day for me as I got to catch up with my old neighbour and bestie till 1969 -fifty years ago when her family sailed back to England.
As youngsters we probably spent almost every day together and I still have great memories of those days.
It was a bit tearful when we saw each other and we had just the best time catching up.
Dallas and her lovely husband Derek live on The Costa Del Sol between Malaga and Torremolinas. It’s a fabulous place. We loved it. Their apartment is extremely spacious and wonderful sea views filled with their charming company, what more could you want.
All too soon it was time to leave and I know we’ll be back to visit again.
Another great evening of walking around Malaga took us along the waterfront and seaport with all the new development of bars and restaurants , just past that is a long stretch of beach. We walked back into the old town for another evening meal of tapas and drinks. It’s so funny we didn’t sit down to close to 10 pm and even walking home at 11:30 people were still sitting down to dine and drink.
Thursday our last day here we ventured along the waterfront then cutting in to take the quite steep climb to the top of the Castillo de Gibraltar’s. Walked the fortified walls and then back down.
there we took a visit to the Cathedral de la Encarnacion de Malaga.
I think it is probably one of the most impressive and beautiful Cathedrals we’ve been to. It really was breathtaking.
We left Allison to shop and we started to head home via Costa coffee for a beer! Because yeah that’s a thing here, you can buy beer or a bottle of sangria even an ice cream at Costa in Malaga.
In reflection we have decided that Malaga is one of the most liveable cities we’ve visited. It’s easy to walk, there’s a great vibe, historical museums and areas,awesome Spanish food etc, a sea port to travel from, an airport, countryside and mountains to escape too along with beaches we don’t have anything to criticise.
Our last night we walked back into the old town for our last night of delicious tapas and soak up the vibe. On the way Allison managed to buy a few more things as her shopping in the afternoon was cut short due to shops closing for siesta.
We got away by 9:30 am the next morning and with just one stop for lunch and another at lidl for a few things were home at Paula’s around 2:30 pm.
We had an early start the next morning to get Allison to the airport and it’s hard waking at 6 am to darkness, in fact it wasn’t light till 7:30 and it’s just the beginning of Autumn.
It was a tearful goodbye, but we will be in Singapore the first weekend in November and Allison will be in Australia for a wedding in December so have actually managed to see her quite a few times this year.
It was a great visit for road trips and sharing the experiences that travelling brings and hopefully we’ll repeat a trip together next year.