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Friday, June 29, 2012

Spain - I

We've been back a week, so before I forget all the details from our holiday on the Costa Blanca in Spain I need to write them down. We had an amazing week on the east cost of Spain at Steve's sister & brother-in-law's flat which they really kindly let us use. The flat, part of a large resort called Condado de Alhama was perfect for the two of us with self catering facilities (that we used a bit) and a pool in each jardin of flats (that we used extensively!) and loved. We may even have been motivated to swim weekly at our local pool, but we'll keep you posted on how that goes.




We flew direct Bristol - Alicante on Easyjet and picked up a hire car at the airport that was really essential to getting around especially as we were inland and were hoping to explore the Costa Calida area a bit, over the week. The days were long and relaxing and we rarely woke before 11am or later and had a late breakfast and swim. Because the Spanish don't eat lunch till about 2:30pm it still left loads of time to go out after, or even if we left about 5pm following a siesta we had all evening to explore before tapas o'clock at 8 or dinner at 9...so it was perfect!


We started in Aguilas on day 2 where we went to a weekly market and got the local rotisserie chicken which is stuffed with a bush of herbs and cooked in the open and served with grilled potatoes. Food was definitely a highlight of the holiday especially the incredible sea-food and I'm a bit sad cos I have almost no pictures of food at all so you'll have to imagine it in your head.





We then headed north along the coast to the beautiful little bay of Cabo Cope (pictured above,right and below) and turned west into the mountains, driving through the Parque Regional de Cabo Cope y Puntas de Calnegre. It was beautiful, and a little scary and it slightly amused me that the picture of the view below is exactly the same as the one in our little guide book.




This was also the day we found our first country restaurant and stumbled across the fabulous Menu Del Dia. This fixed price meal is a fixture at most restaurants in Spain. It's a great way to taste the local Spanish food, without the worry of a long menu. The Menu del Dia is a 3 course meal and the price almost always includes salad, bread, water and wine or beer with a coffee at the end - they really are very good value at as little as 8 euros in inland Murcia. When the waitress first plonked our bread and salad on the table Steve spent ages saying in English that we didn't order them, and she spent ages talking back at us in Spanish (probably calling us fools) till a kind English speaking customer came over to explain.

We followed the coast north and spent the evening on the beaches of a little town called Bolnuevo. I don't think that's a bad view for a holiday, do you?











Thursday, June 28, 2012

Spain - II




If you've just started reading then you need to go here first for the first part of this travelogue on the Southern Costa Blanca.
Day 3 was even more relaxed than the first couple but one of my favourite days of the holiday. On the reccomendation of a neighbour we headed further inland to the mountain village of Aledo. It's small and quaint and has a fortress that sort of just hangs off a cliff. It also has very narrow, steep, one-way roads but the stunning views make up for that! Just across the valley (a five minute drive away) is a beautiful old monastry and a large statue of Jesus on top of the hill. I'm not into large statues of anything if I'm honest but we went up the hill to see it anyway and Steve enjoyed seeing the statue and I enjoyed some more fantastic views.


 



 


The monastry was part converted into a hotel but the old church was very heavily ornamented and covered with intricate murals and sculptures and was slightly spooky (as you'd like an old fairy tale monastry to be perhaps?)
It was attached to a lovely orange orchard (can you have an orange orchard?) and an olive grove. Orange grove? Olive orchard? Meh, you get the picture.





 





Puerto de Mazarron was our nearest seaside town and has a lovely waterfront area by the port. It was buzzy, and pretty, and we ate some of the best tapas in the bars there.  We went there one evening and then went back for lunch (hurrah for paella with sangria!) & a walk on the beach on our last day.




Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spain - III

Last one! If you're just starting you might want to go here and then here first for the start of our Spanish adventure.
Our little book highly reccomended Calblanque as being a stunning coastal park with hills and beaches that were remote and not too crowded so we headed down there one afternoon. The beaches were all that and the park fantastic, but there was something a little bit odd about the beaches. Talk to us if you fancy a trip there and we'll tell you what.

 
Timer picture fail!! But I still quite like it.


We went into Catagena to look round and have some dinner. It's a really beautiful port city with a big naval presence and Steve would say it was his favourite place. We were there the night of Spain's first match in the Euros which was fun and the tapas at La Tartana, in the city centre, were a.mazing!  






We also went into Murcia one day, but driving round the city is a nightmare. which is probably why Steve doesn't look very happy :(. We ate a delicious (and highly overpriced) meal and walked round the city a bit. It was siesta time though and all a bit dead so we got some empanadas which are the local food specialty and are quite like pasties, and headed off home.

                          



We had a really fun holiday and it was the perfect mix of relaxing and doing stuff so we loved it and are so grateful for it, and we'd love to go back sometime!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

..and we're back!


This blog hiatus has now been officially terminated.

I've had a superfantastic five weeks in Kenya but I'm now home and very glad to be here. Pictures will follow, but only once I've had a chance to sort through all 12,365,824,237 of them.

In other exciting news, the Patersons (these Patersons, in case you're wondering) have discovered a nature reserve down the lane from us. Personally I think nature reserve is a bit of an overstatement, overgrown aquaduct is more accurate - but hey, whatever makes them happy!

We love it though - cos it's pretty, and nice for walks and we have never seen anyone else there. So shhhhh - cos we'd like to keep it that way!
Our friends Debs and Matt were visiting this weekend - (huzzah for four day weekends and Queens who've been around three score years) so we took them to our private reserve.

Here are some piccies from that evening! Come and see us and we'd love to take you as well.. :)


These guys are great cos they're happy to pose and I'm happy to take lots of photos! Woot! Don't you love how lush and green everything looks?   





  

 

The pictures featuring yours truly are courtesy of Matt Fairhead (no.5) and Deborah Wrighton (no.8).