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Old 09-21-2008, 02:59 PM   #1
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Sun and sightseeing in Spain COMPLETE

Sun and sightseeing in Spain

Pre-trip report – I didn’t know you could get prices that low these days! 4

Dates: Saturday 13 – Saturday 20 September
Adventurers: Me, Cheryl (35) and DH Mark (43), along with Mark’s parents, Dave and Barb
Itinerary:
Saturday 13 September – drive up to London Gatwick and stay the night at a hotel there
Sunday 14 – Friday 19 September – staying in Moraira at Mark’s parents’ villa
Friday 19 – Saturday 20 September – driving up to Barcelona and staying the night up there to finish all the parts we didn’t get to visit during the Mediterranean cruise last year.
Celebration: Enjoying some much needed rest and relaxation.

I guess this trip really started about a year ago. Dave and Barb spent a lot of time looking at potential holiday homes in a variety of different areas, including France, before settling on Moraira in the Costa Blanca part of Spain. For those who don’t know Spain very well, the Costa Blanca – literal meaning “White Coast” – is located on the south east of Spain, about five hours from the capital of Madrid in the centre of Spain and about five hours further down the coast from Barcelona, which is fairly close to the border with Spain. The Costa Blanca runs along the Mediterranean Sea and it’s renowned for its beautiful beaches and its stunning climate, with brilliant sunshine much of the year round.

Ever since they bought the villa, all the other members of the family – and a lot of extended family and friends – had been out to visit and we were really the only ones who hadn’t been. It wasn’t a purposeful decision, rather we’d got an awful lot of vacations booked throughout 2008, with Hong Kong in February, Berlin for the weekend in March, followed by Sue and Steve’s visit in May, then our grand tour of the States in October and finally my birthday weekend in Disneyland Paris. Where on earth could we fit in a visit out to Spain as well?

It turned out that Mark had about a week’s vacation still going begging, so I did wonder about going out to Spain to use that up, but really couldn’t see how we could do it. We knew that, just like Florida, the temperatures were prohibitively hot for us in July and August, so that wasn’t an option. I figured that maybe we could go out in January 2009, as that would be a nice break from the horrible winter weather, but then Dave began telling us how nice the weather was in September and the fact that they’d be out there then.

The talk then turned to a website that he used to find cheap flights and he told me to check it out. I was equally adamant that there wouldn’t be any particularly great deals around, but I was pleasantly surprised and found some flights that were essentially about £50 each way for the two of us – it was almost just taxes and no other charges. I really thought that prices like that had stopped years ago. Obviously not.

I asked Mark whether he could get a week off in September and he checked which dates he could have on, then I went to price flights from there. I found some pretty good deals, flying out on the Sunday and coming home late on the Saturday night. Then I started to wonder about Barcelona. We had loved visiting the city when we boarded the Mediterranean cruise last year and really regretted not having another extra day there to see everything. We had already promised ourselves that we would return to see the bits we’d missed first time around, so what better time than this, especially as it was about five hours’ drive away? It would save a separate weekend away. Again, I priced out flights coming home from Barcelona and the prices were great, so we went for it.

Flights booked, we didn’t really have much else to do, except grab a good deal on the car hire, which we managed to do. Then the hotels for Barcelona were booked – a great four star hotel (or so it seems from the website anyway!) for just £43 for the night. It was on the outskirts of town, but as we’d have a car that we needed to park, that worked fine for us. I decided that we’d also book a hotel at London Gatwick the night before we flew, as the flight was leaving at 6.15am and I knew we’d have to be at the airport two hours beforehand. I didn’t fancy driving up there at a stupidly early hour of the morning and I managed to find a good deal for one night, just £75 for the night and eight days’ parking. Not bad at all.

That really was it. It was a very unusual position to be in. No itinerary to plan, as I kept being told that it was a relaxing holiday and there would be lots of “down time”. I must admit every time this came up in conversation, I did develop something of a nervous twitch. I am not good at travelling with no itinerary and no plans. I like to be out doing something every day and the prospect of just sitting by the pool sunning myself didn’t inspire me. But heck, I guess I can be good and relax occasionally. Still, it would help to recharge our batteries ahead of our mad plans for the American trip just three weeks later!

Next: great, no room for us!
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Old 09-21-2008, 04:29 PM   #2
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Great start! Hurry back with more!
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Old 09-21-2008, 10:37 PM   #3
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Great start Cheryl!! I am also so delighted to read your trip reports!!
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Old 09-22-2008, 12:42 AM   #4
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Saturday 13 September – part one: great, no room for us!

It was a late start to this holiday for us, as we only had to drive up to the airport and settle in at our airport hotel. After a day at home, getting things finished – when fortunately the sun turned out for one of its rare appearances this year – it was into the car and off to London Gatwick.

We soon found the hotel, a little further away from the airport than the ones we usually stay at, but a very nice place all the same. The only problem was the parking – there just wasn’t anywhere and this was where we were due to leave the car for the whole time we were away. The place was packed, so we pulled up outside reception and went to find out what to do. It turned out that we had to park in a neighbouring car park and they would then move the car into the underground car park as soon as spaces became free. It wasn’t the ideal arrangement, but there was nothing else we could do, without being able to magic up spaces ourselves.

We were given our room, which was only a couple of minutes walk away from the reception and right by the elevators, very convenient and it was nicely laid out with plenty of space, as you can see:



We decided that we would head down to get some food from the hotel’s Italian restaurant. I’d already been on the website and liked the look of their menu and the prices. It seemed perfect and at first, it seemed that we’d get in there with no problem. We were seen by an Australian guy, who started to sort us out with a table, then another guy came bowling across. I guess he was in charge from the way he behaved – and the behaviour wasn’t pleasant. We were told very curtly that they had no space for another 25 minutes, even though we could clearly see empty tables in there. His whole attitude was just that he didn’t want us in there, so we were sent away with our tails between our legs.

On the way back, we checked out the other place to eat at the hotel – an English pub, but it was really an English pub in all senses of the word, with a snooker table and football available on a big screen. Not the place to grab a quiet dinner and not me at all. We quickly rejected that idea and, dejected, returned to our room, although Mark had spotted that they did room service, so we took a look at that menu and actually it wasn’t that badly priced – probably no more than we’d have paid at the Italian restaurant, so we decided to go for it.

I went for a wood fired pizza with pineapple and mushrooms, while Mark had a burger and chips, followed by a chocolate brownie for me and fresh fruit for Mark. We also had a glass of wine and a beer between us and very good it all was as well. It came to £45, which wasn’t a bad price. It brought back some lovely memories, sitting there eating in our room, as the last time we had ordered room service had been in 2006 at the Fairmont in San Francisco, so it was nice to sit there and remember that.

Then it was off to bed, as we had a very early start to the day in the morning.

Today we walked 0.33 miles
The weather today was sunny and in the low 70’s.
The best thing today was enjoying room service.
The worst thing today was not being able to get into the Italian restaurant in the hotel.
Today we tried a new hotel
And the result was it was a nice place, but further from the airport that our usual hotels.
The most magical moment today was enjoying room service.


Next: not the wrong terminal!
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:02 AM   #5
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Great start Cheryl... I can't wait to read all about it!
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:38 AM   #6
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Gosh, you work fast! Great start!! More please
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colexis Mom View Post
Gosh, you work fast! Great start!! More please
OK confession time then. What do you think I spent a lot of my "down time" doing while on vacation? Why, writing this trip report of course!
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:56 AM   #8
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Sorry you couldn't eat Italian, but the room service food sounds delicious!!!
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Old 09-22-2008, 08:13 AM   #9
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Great start. Sorry the guy was so rude at the Italian restaurant. Wonder what was up with him? Glad you found something better.

The next post sounds a little Hurry back.
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Old 09-22-2008, 01:28 PM   #10
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I don't do well with down time, either. I just don't get that concept of vacation. Wonder what that guy's problem was at the restaurant? And it would have made me nervous about leaving the car and having them move it later. But overall it sounds great, looking forward to hearing about your adventures and seeing your pictures!
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Old 09-22-2008, 02:17 PM   #11
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Great start. Can't wait to hear more.
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Old 09-22-2008, 07:02 PM   #12
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Great start! I can't wait to read more of your TR!

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Old 09-22-2008, 09:30 PM   #13
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Great start!!! I can´t believe you managed to squeeze another trip in!!!
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Old 09-22-2008, 09:41 PM   #14
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Great start - although the manager in the Italian place sounded horrid! I agree with you about going on vacation and not having a plan of things to do. Sitting around "relaxing" is hard for me to do too!! Hope you perfected it!
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:25 AM   #15
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Sunday 14 September – part one: not the wrong terminal!

Generally days that start at 4am are not my favourite, but when you’re heading off somewhere, you really can’t complain and we were up quickly enough. Something to do with the fact that the taxi was due to pick us up 15 minutes later, no doubt. We were down at reception dot on time and checked out and found our taxi waiting for us outside. It couldn’t have gone more smoothly. What could have been better was the price of the taxi. Because our hotel was further away from the hotel than the ones we had stayed at before, of course it cost more. I think we anticipated that, but not how much it would actually cost. I guess we should’ve kept in mind the time of the day and the fact that we would be charged more for that, but it didn’t cross our minds. We ended up with a bill of £16.20 and only just had enough money to cover it.

Even worse was to come when we got into the Terminal building. We were at the North Terminal and followed the sign for Easyjet. When we got to the woman who was directing people to where to check in, I told her that we were flying to Valencia and the next words she said made my heart sink. “Not from here you’re not darling. That would be from the South Terminal.” I couldn’t believe I’d done that. This has to be the first time I’d ever made a mistake like that, so off to the South Terminal with us.

At least it was easy to get between the two. We quickly followed the signs to the monorail that runs between the two terminals and jumped on one, just as the doors were closing. Then it was only a couple of minutes walk from there, once we got to the South Terminal to the check-in desk.


Unusually, they had displays up for where you had to check in for each destination. These days, you usually all just stand in one huge line and wait for the next operator. At least here, there was a dedicated operator for each flight. It was just that our operator didn’t seem to be that quick. We only had about five people in front of us, but she seemed to take an age with each of them. It was only when she got to the guy in front that she finally speeded up and typically it barely took us any time to be checked in and on our way.

Then it was through security and fortunately it was only about a five minute wait to get through that. No extra checks required, unlike the last time we flew, when my hand luggage had to have special attention, although we did have a close call with the boarding passes. I thought I saw them move off the top of the tray as it went through the machine and those fears were confirmed when I heard the security guy say that he had a couple of boarding passes. I just knew they were ours and of course they were. A quick check with the passports that they were ours and they were back in our hands.

The next quest was to find some food and that was quite a quest. My goodness, considering that there were a fair number of flights that early in the morning – ours was nowhere near the first, as there were some taking off from about 5.30am – a lot of shops and restaurants weren’t yet open. I couldn’t understand that, as they were missing out on trade and indeed, the place that we went to last time and really enjoyed was one of the ones that was closed. We tried another place, but there must be something about us at the moment. We were told that there’d be a 25 minute wait, even though the place was half empty. I’m sorry, but in 25 minutes, we’ll be close to boarding time, so that won’t work.

We finally found a place that didn’t have a 25 minute wait and was open and ordered a continental breakfast for me with croissant and Danish pastry, along with orange juice and tea, while Mark went for a full English breakfast with tea. It wasn’t cheap, but then again, food at an airport never is. It was very good quality food at least and would keep us going for some time.

When we finished, our gate had been announced and we only had time to buy a paper and get some more money out – I mean, goodness knows how much the taxi back to the hotel would cost when we returned, as our flight was due to land after midnight! Then it was off to the gate. Interestingly, it was out of the gate that we used for our flight out to Disney on our honeymoon, so that brought back some nice memories.

Boarding was quick enough. The way it works is that basically it’s a free for all when you board. You don’t have seat numbers, you just grab any that are free. You can pay for speedy boarding to be one of the first on board, but I hadn’t bothered. I figured that I’d see what it was like and then we could decide for any future times we flew with Easyjet. I think my view, after seeing the system in action, was that I’d probably pay if I knew that I was flying at a peak time, such as the summer, or perhaps on a Friday. When we boarded, there were still a lot of seats and we had no problem finding seats together, towards the back of the plane, despite the fact that we were probably amongst the last 30 or so people on.

Considering that Easyjet is very much a budget airline, it didn’t feel like that when we boarded. The seats had a good bit of room between them and the staff were very pleasant, even though they still give out the old announcement at the start of the flight that they were “only there for your safety”. Despite that, they were obviously enjoying their job and having a lot of fun.

The two hours in the air passed quickly enough and we had some lovely views of the sunrise on the clouds below and then the Sierra mountains in the south of Spain, as we came close to landing. It was surprising to see some were snow covered and then suddenly there were lakes and it was much greener.



We were into land much earlier than we expected, about 30 minutes early in fact. We were told it had something to do with the 120 mile tail wind that had been following us. As we did so, we got some awesome views of the Spanish countryside around Valencia and then the city itself:


Valencia from out at sea

The port area of the city

This is a new development in the city and includes an aquarium, science museum and IMAX theatre – you’ll find out more about this when we go to Valencia later in the vacation

Next: what a bargain!
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Relaxing on board the Magic. The trip report for our back-to-back cruises on the Disney Magic has started!
My Countdown Counting down to: 2019
Happy New Year!
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My Previous Trips21 trips to WDW, 6 to Disneyland in California, 9 to Disneyland Paris, 1 to Hong Kong Disneyland, 1 to Tokyo Disney, 1 to Aulani, 1 to Hilton Head, 2 to Vero Beach and 13 Disney cruises on the Magic, Wonder, Dream and Fantasy
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