SPAIN Part two plus Milano and Singapore September 21-November 5th

We dropped Allison off and drove home past the pink lakes and Flamingos not your every day sight, and once home we started an extra big clean up outside of Paula’s. The storms had done minimal damage but we wanted to rake up leaves and clean the tile areas to stop them blowing into the pool. The sad truth is you need to use more water to clean up after the damage from too much water.

It gave me something active to do while I was sad, missing my girl.

We decided to walk to the massive shopping centre and really started to comprehend how big it is. I did get some new sunglasses.

It’s still high temperatures and after a long walk on the Sunday to check out the damage at La Zenia beach to see how the clean up was coming along, we were grateful for Paula’s pool to cool off in as the sea water though getting better wasn’t up to our standards for swimming.

The local powers that be have actually been quick to get the beaches back in shape for people to enjoy sunbathing etc, but obviously the water cleanliness is up to Mother Nature.

We decided to walk out for dinner on Sunday night and after doing the strip walk thought we’d try the one place offering tapas, hmmmmm wish we hadn’t bothered. Malaga will hold those precious memories of good tapas in a vibrant atmosphere.

Monday saw us at home for the day except a food shop trip. We were looking at car rentals, flights and started looking at booking our holiday in Cavtat, Croatia for August 2020.

Because of the length of time we will be up this part of the world in 2020 we have to play the numbers game carefully with The Schengen zone agreement. One of the reasons we love Croatia is it gives us the opportunity to extend our stay in Europe as it’s not in The Schengen zone and it’s beautiful coastline and history are pretty near impossible to beat.

It was time to change our rental car, which meant another drive to the airport. The handover of the old vehicle was fairly quick but again the new car with a different company was drawn out and painful. But finally we were on our way in our little Ford Fiesta. The last car had been a small suv ( Opal, Mokka) which was bigger and much more comfortable for our road trips with Allison on board too.

Now that it’s just the two of us we can zoom around in our fiesta Spanish party car.

Wednesday we decided to start looking at the beaches close by and started and ended at Punta Prima which we thought was lovely. By now the water had cleared up and was beautiful for swimming in.

That evening we went to the town of Villamartin to go to the Chinese restaurant. Sitting outside we were stunned by the amount of people and traffic, there was even traffic patrolmen guiding people.

The stream of people were heading into the plaza.

So after we finished eating we walked over to see what was going on.

The plaza is a huge two story complex with a stage on the ground level, meaning all the bars and restaurants all only need to pay a minimum amount to pay for entertainment that they can all share. Turns out on this evening Les McKeon from The Bay City Rollers was going to be performing.

Thursday I decided to call the Singapore consulate to confirm if they would let me into the country with an outgoing ticket if my passport had less than six months on it. Apparently NOT! So spent the morning organising an appointment at the Australian consulate in Madrid and getting paperwork printed, booked a pet friendly hotel so we can take little Dolly the dog with us, with her mums ok. Dolly arrived the next day Friday to stay with us for a week and with the passports taking three weeks ( no emergency passports here) we had to go ASAP so I’ll be good to fly to Milan on the 28th October.

Phew another adventure in the life of travelling.

Friday we spent organising ourselves for after our July reunion cruise with our buddies from 2010 Europe trip. Organised a car hire to get to Luton airport from Southhampton, flights to Dubrovnik and organised our accommodation in Cavtat for six weeks at the same villa we stayed at in 2018.

Had a catch up dinner and show with our Columbus ship mates on the Friday night. Always good company.

Saturday we spent organising flights to NZ in January to see my dad, the rest of the family and friends before we take off in February for most of 2020.

Sunday saw us pack up the car along with Dolly dog and head to Madrid for my 11am Monday appointment at the Australian consulate.

We had a couple of coffee stops and water/ toilet breaks for Dolly and arrived at our pet friendly hotel by 3pm. We’ve never taken a dog to a hotel before and Dolly was brilliant.

It was in a strange area where the food markets are and we had to go through a barrier each time and confirm we were staying at the hotel.

There was absolutely nothing around except the big warehouses so we went for a drive to see where the consulate was and grab dinner out.

It wasn’t a fantastic opportunity to sightsee but luckily we have been to Madrid before and eating in a local area was great for watching every day Spanish enjoying their evenings at the small local parks and cafes.

My appointment on Monday couldn’t have been easier or quicker and fingers crossed The passport arrives back from Australia ok and in time for our flight to Milan end of October. They will let me know when it arrives and we can decide whether to go collect it or get it couriered. If we go back to collect it hopefully it will allow us a few days more to sightsee there.

We arrived back in Cabo Roig on Monday evening in time to cook dinner and binge watch a funny show called “Back to life”. Quite entertaining. Last week we watched the series “ an ordinary woman” from Russia, also a great watch.

Paula has a firestick for watching shows on her tv and we also change our VPN and hook the iPad up to the tv to watch stuff from Australia.

Tuesday I got Paula’s sewing machine out and hemmed some pants and after food shopping we basically spent the day reading, and doing some office work. Life is often just like at home just somewhere different. Bills have to be paid, calendars tagged, shopping, washing.

The week continues to have beautiful sunny warm days and we take walks along the coast and swim in the sea which is now back to normal after the storms and sometimes we’ll have a coffee at one of the beach kiosks and dry in the sunshine. It really feels like a summer holiday when you get to enjoy the beach.

I had a dental appointment to see about a root canal and go back next week to start the treatment. Very professional looking outfit and good pricing. Let’s wait and see how it pans out.

As it turns out, could not have gone better, forty minutes tops in chair, no anaesthetic required as nerve dead, go back on the 21st for filling in root then next day for composite filling over the lot. $400 Australian all up.

We had a lovely day at Cartagena in the sunshine exploring this town which was the base for the Spanish Armada .

Fantastic old Roman theatre which had only been rediscovered in 1990 and what a lot has had to happen to bring it back. After centuries being built upon by churches and homes the Spanish have managed to renovate it to such a standard that a part of each of the sites history is preserved whilst bringing the old theatre back to life.

A new one has been built next door.

The town is lovely for strolling and the harbour port offers boat rides which we did take a 45 minute catamaran tour. Not quite as spectacular as the photos displayed had you thinking but, it’s always nice to be on the water on a sunny day.

Two dinners out one with Lesley and Mark, Dolly dogs mum and dad which was great with drinks at a bar first before a sumptuous Asian fusion dinner.

A Chinese with all of Paula’s friends at the chinky, quite a gathering requiring two tables of 9 and 12. Met some other lovely interlopers like us, visiting their Friends from the group and hopefully we’ll catch up next year in Ealing where one of them lives.

A day trip to the town of Murcia which also encompassed a reconnaissance of the Murcia airport for picking Paula up whom unfortunately has had to cut her trip early to undertake a skin cancer treatment.

Murcia was another lovely day trip, and we managed to see a civic parade which was the start of the weekend celebration of Espania Dia.

We enjoyed a delicious tapas lunch, soaking up the people watching and sunshine which has been delightful.

Sunday morning the 13th of October we walked to our pick up spot for our trip to Benidorm and The Rollingstone tribute show. Our friends Beryl and Alan got on about an hour later as we rode around the countryside making pickups but still only 21 on the coach.

The deal included a lunch, dinner and breakfast as well as accommodation at the hotel Poseidon resort, tickets to the show, transfers to the Benidorm palace and of course the ride there and back, for 95€ each we thought it was great value.

We had plenty of time when we arrived for a lovely walk with Beryl and Alan through the old town and quite a way along The esplanade of the next bay enjoying a cold drink at a waterfront cafe and heading back for a quick nap,shower and dinner before the show.

What a brilliant night! we caught up with our other partners in crime Pat and Derek inside The Palace and even another of Paula’s friends found us.

After enjoying a fantastic show we three couples walked to the Rock n roll bar down the street where we watched the last of a Blues brothers set, then an incredible Argentinian guy who had the crowd in his palm from the first minute. At one point he was on the table tops playing his fiddle and entertaining everyone with his endless talent. Next at about 1:15 we had a change again, another guy who looked like Bryan Ferry and who did sing a Roxy music song but was mostly doing 50s Rock n roll.

I think he may actually have a preference for Roxy Music but the gig called for rock n roll. He wasn’t disappointing. Plenty of dancing occurred and just the great atmosphere and geniality of the other patrons made it a night to remember.

All of a sudden it’s well after 2am and we decide we better call it a night.

After breakfast the next day Beryl, Alan, James and I went for another walk and coffee before meeting Pat and Derek for lunch, they had come to Benidorm in Derek’s camper van and staying a few extra days for a change of scenery.

Derek comes from Blackpool and we love his English sayings like yeah anytime come and stay at My Gaff.

And Alan pointed out it wasn’t a surprise I had a bit of a headache as I’d been necking it the night before, meaning I’d been guzzling down the grog.

What a great little trip away, as Pat said isn’t just fantastic we all met on a cruise and here we are having a night out together in Benidorm. Yip one of the wonderful moments that travelling and meeting new friends gives you.

We didn’t get picked up till 5:30 pm so you really got plenty of time to enjoy getting out and about.

So I had a birthday here in Spain. We had an airport change of cars at Alicante and a pick up of Paula at Murcia airport in the evening. But during the day we enjoyed visiting the town of Alicante and a lovely waterfront lunch at the marina there.

Paula had to fly back early for a hospital appointment but made arrangements once it went well to fly back to England for a few days and come home on her original ticket.

This allowed us to organise a final catch up lunch with all the gang from our cruise last year and say goodbye to everyone. All of them great travellers and excellent company. As Beryl said Hasta Luego not Adios.

While Paula was here we also had a last dinner at the Chinese with whomever turns up every Wednesday night.

James and I took a day trip to Tarbaca island, just off the coast.

A small island with half residential homes ( think Mediterranean village houses ) and the other half more nature reserve with a small walled cemetery, remains of a goal and some beautiful clear waters for swimming.

We initially thought we might stay overnight but after seeing the prices at the eateries we’re glad we didn’t. A day trip was fine.

We dropped Paula off very early on the Saturday morning and said our thank you’s and goodbye as when she arrives back we will have gone on a road trip for the last six days of our time in Spain.

What can we say! how generous to offer your home to new friends and allow us the opportunity to live locally with a few trips away using her home as a base.

Humbling to meet such kind and generous people in our travels.

Hope one day we can reciprocate.

Before we knew it our trips to the dentist to finish my root canal and James check up and clean were done, we’d tidied up and repackaged our suitcases, enjoyed a couple of drinks with Mike and Val, Paula’s neighbours and enjoyed our last walks and swims at the beach and it was time to take off for our last days in Spain on a little road trip.

Our first stop was Valencia and after navigating the narrow streets inside the old town we made it safely to our Airbnb and met Irina our host.

We could not have been more delighted with our choice of accommodation or it’s location.

With our little penthouse cottage having awesome views and comfortable living arrangements, we settled in quickly and went out exploring.

Valencia is an incredible place and probably more attractive than Barcelona in many ways.

We did however find it a tad more expensive than a lot of Spanish towns and cities especially after Malaga.

We only had two nights here and will have to come back to experience more of Valencia outside the historical centre. We had been here before in 2015 but again that was just an appetiser.

Having googled great towns to visit from Valencia we plotted our next few days travelling with our next stop to be the furthest north to Morella. Described as one of the prettiest towns in Spain we booked a nights accommodation at The El CID hotel, coincidentally it started hosting guests in 1928 the year of both my parents birth.

A comfortable room with great views of the surrounding countryside and just inside the old city walls.

We had a wonderful time exploring the Castile and township.

Dinner in Spain often doesn’t begin to be served until at least 8:30 pm so we had an opportunity to have a drink in the bar and a quick nap before heading to the restaurant for a delicious meal of courgette thinly sliced and sandwiched between ham and cheese then lightly breadcrumbed and pan fried, followed by slow cooked Pork. With a bottle of wine and coffee around £12 each.

The next morning we enjoyed a couple of coffee con leches before heading off towards our next stop Tirig.

We had heard it was a lovely town with cave paintings.

Little did we know it has the most concentrated amount anywhere in the world. Striking it lucky we perfectly timed a guided tour from the free museum for a few kilometres walk there and back to see some original paintings, see a Little Rock shelter built approximately 200 years ago with an incredible domed roof and see the incredible scenery and hear about the areas past.

Fantastic! We shared the tour with a couple from a France and another from Brazil who actually had pretty good English and helped with some of the translation.

How wonderful to experience something so incredible just by travelling the road least travelled.

Onto our stop for the night the town of Requena.

A smaller old historical town with plenty of churches and a rich history associated with the wine industry. The town sits high overlooking the surrounding areas of vineyards.

The town has quite a delapidated feel in many streets, but there was several quite extensive renovation projects happening which will help preserve this town for many years still.

Again we ended up eating at the hotel, seated near the fire as the weather has turned cooler morning and evenings now, we both enjoyed a delicious red wine and James had Iberian sirloin and I had melt in your mouth duck.

An included breakfast the next morning and we were back on the road heading towards Xativa.

Another beautiful old town surrounded by a more modern and still vibrant township bought more interesting streets to explore.

We visited the old church and witnessed a christening, popped in to see the amazing larger than life paper mache puppets used in the towns corpus celebrations, found some of the water fountains the town is known for including one of only four remaining gothic fountains in the Country.

We had visited the tourist centre so having parked and paid for town parking we did the town before driving up the twisting narrow streets to Xativa castle.

Built purportedly by Isobel Borgia the history reaches further back to the tenth century and has several distinct styles. Definitely Arab and Christians have had their hands on it and has held a prison back in Aragon days.

It’s high location over the surrounding area offers 360 degree views from different vantage points. A most enjoyable visit.

By the time we arrived at Bocairent our stop for the night we were both happy to find our accommodation to be quite luxurious and we had a comfortable late afternoon nap before heading in to look at the historical town centre.

The light was going fast so although we managed a few photos most will have to wait till tomorrow.

We did however enjoy what we saw and deciding that we would head back to our hotel to eat were once again thrilled with our meal.

They bought our nuts, bread, aioli, and a free tapas of Finley crumbed fish pieces before James was presented with a hot stone plate of steak pieces and I the lamb shank minus the bone and delicious cooked eggplant.

I had two glasses of cava , James two beers, a large bottle of mineral water, and a coffee each, presented with complimentary chocolate brownies all for 44€.

The next day we explored all over the town and surrounding area getting some beautiful shots and seeing the local cemetery open went in-for a look.

There were dozens of families cleaning the plaques of their dead loved ones polishing them till they gleamed and it was almost like a competition as to whose family cared the most.

Before long it was time to head toward Alicante for the night as we prepared to leave the next day to Milano Italy for a few days before heading to Singapore then Sydney.

Milano was a quick two day visit and we had booked an airbnb which didn’t let us down in style, comfort and closeness to transport.

We spent our first day going into the city centre to visit the Duomo

Outstanding experience walking the roof and getting a close encounter with the architecture.

We visited the big gallery shopping centre before arriving back to our accommodation.

Our last day we took the train to Como and took a ferry to Bellagio and back. The weather wasn’t stunning but you could see on a bright sunny day it would be even more spectacular than how pretty it still looked.

Of course I googled so we could tell which house belonged to George Clooney.

Before we knew it we were back at Milano airport and preparing to take off and leave our adventures behind. Lots of great memories made along with new friends and old friends it was an awesome time.

We touched down in Singapore for our fourth visit in 2019. We booked The Park Royal this visit as we had checked it our on a previous visit and liked its location and pool.

I got to go Wedding dress shopping with Allison which is a highlight for mummy’s to do. Photo shown is not the dress chosen for their big day but you get the idea of how beautiful the dresses are.

and we got to meet the adorable miss Penny, Allison and her James’s little cockapoo puppy. The Sunday Penny has her last shots in the morning which meant she was allowed to socialise with other dogs and people so we all went to a lovely park where at the restaurant it’s dog friendly and so is the park.

What a really lovely day we had.

Another lovely short visit came to an end and on the Monday evening we flew out of Singapore, homeward bound for Sydney just over 31 weeks since we left at the end of March.

In the 14 weeks till we leave Fremantle on February 12/2020 we have two weeks in New Zealand a wedding in Canberra for daughter Allison and her James, countless catch ups, investment property maintenance and all the usual round of accountants, lawyers, doctors etc plus two house sits booked.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s