Spain and the Canary Islands

February - March 2019
It’s the big 70th for Tory and Christine. To celebrate (a little early), we are off on a cruise to the Canary Islands followed by 2 weeks in Spain. Bring on the tapas, paella and wine!
  • Day39

    Final Thoughts

    March 31 in Canada ⋅ ❄️ 0 °C

    All in all it was a very successful trip. NCL was more than adequate and the larger ship and good weather made for smooth sailing. The Gaudí Sagrada Família is amazing and a “must see” for anyone visiting Barcelona.
    The people of Spain were quite friendly to tourists; especially the staff in the restaurants.
    It was unfortunate that the Tourist Information places were often closed. We think it was a combination of the time of the year; siesta breaks and bad luck.
    The roads we drove were in good repair, we just didn’t stay on them, blindly following our GPS. Five out of every ten cars that passed us were BMW’s doing at least 140 KPH on the toll highways.
    They use two languages in Spain: Spanish (Castilian) and Catalan (Valencian); wished we had known that sooner.
    The flights to Europe were uneventful but 7 hours in Economy across the Atlantic, wait times in airports and 6 hour time differences take their toll. We took the melatonin at each end which did help but I fear theses long trips will come to an end in a few short years.
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  • Day32

    Good and Bad

    March 24 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Our last driving day began well. All packed, we set out on the toll highway. Good weather and light traffic made the trip easy. Passing miles and miles of orange groves it was hard to believe Spain is only ranked 6th in their production (Brazil is #1). We breezed through the toll booths laughing about how we had struggled with them 2 weeks ago. It’s expensive but Google told us we were saving 1.5 hours for the last 500 km. Our troubles began when we came to the last toll. Christine couldn’t find the credit card we had been using. Our best guess was that it had fallen out a the restaurant we had stopped at for lunch. At the hotel, she called Visa and Roger and Brian returned the rental van to the airport. Remembering we had to top up the gas tank, we pulled in to make a quick purchase. Not so fast. Despite Roger following all the robotic instructions, the pump would not work! He had already put in his credit card info so we were reluctant to move and try another pump. To make matters worse, the station was fully automatic and unmanned. We tried asking people in adjacent stores to no avail. Our luck changed when a young woman drove up behind us. She volunteered to phone her sister in law who spoke English and talked us through an alternate way of purchasing gas. Good.

    Leaving the station, our GPS decided to have one last hiccup. Bad. After going in circles for 5 minutes, we finally got directions from the cursed machine and returned the van. We couldn’t wait to tell them our tale of woe. The Enterprise representative couldn’t have been nicer. She listened to all our complaints, apologized profusely, explained what we could have done differently and gave us a substantial rebate. Good!

    Back at our airport hotel, we reconnected with our wives and enjoyed a complimentary glass of cava (not very good) and eventually, a surprisingly good dinner. Good.
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  • Day30

    As Usual

    March 22 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    The weather returned to what we had come to expect; sunny with some clouds and 16 C.
    As usual, we left around 10 a.m. but this time checked the internet to confirm our route.
    Our day trip this time was a half hour jaunt north to a pretty town called Polop. Amazingly the van’s GPS found the town easily (it probably knew we were checking it).

    We parked near an “I” which to our surprise was open, and got a local map and a brief history of a famous Spanish author, Gabriel Miro, who had lived there. Back in the van, we wound our way through narrow streets, up the mountain (again) to the old town. We were forced to walk the last kilometre, past small houses, a church, through a small square to the remains of the castle. Almost at the top, there was a small bar/cafe. We stopped for coffee, delicious croissants and a magnificent view.

    That evening we returned to Lings, a restaurant we had visited the first night. The staff is friendly, the food delicious and it was a lovely ending to our stay.
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  • Day29

    Lost Again

    March 21 in Spain ⋅ 🌬 15 °C

    After a slow start to the morning, Tory and Christine set out on foot to try and find a new restaurant that had been recommended on Trip Advisor. The men left later, with the van to meet them at the Tourist Information kiosk. The restaurant was found but no joy at the kiosk; still closed. That’s ZERO for 5 attempts!! We cruised the town till we found a parking spot and visited the VRA, a small, open air museum of a Roman Villa with a partial excavation of a Roman bath. The exhibit was modest but the young man running it was very helpful with how we should spend our last 2 days. Armed with his directions we set the GPS and drove away. Almost 2 hours later, we had traveled through farmers fields, orange groves, pot-holed dirt tracks.....you get the picture. We gave up, found a paved road and consoled ourselves with wine and pizza at the first open restaurant nearby.Read more

  • Day28

    One Down, Three to Go

    March 20 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    We awoke to cool cloudy weather and a light rain. Unfortunately, Christine was a little under the weather too.....we diagnosed too many spicy peppers. A quiet morning didn’t improve her health but she insisted the rest of us should continue as planned: a visit to the nearby “most visited” town in the province, Guadalest. It was about a 35 minute drive, mostly up the surrounding mountains. Once out of town there was virtually no traffic and we were able to stop frequently for pictures of the stunning countryside. We parked in the town and wended our way up a wide, well worn stone path to Casa Orduna. The grand house was built after the earthquake of 1644 which devastated the region. The house was burnt down in 1708 and rebuilt years later. It’s 4 levels are well preserved and now are a museum that reflect the “aesthetic taste of the bourgeoisie of the 19th century”.
    Above the house, steps lead to the Castle of San Jose. The two old men dutifully (and slowly) followed Tory to the very top of the ramparts where we were met with spectacular views only marred by the recurrence of wind and rain. We bade a hasty retreat to the first restaurant we encountered and warmed and rewarded ourselves with coffee and dessert.
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  • Day27

    Slow Start

    March 19 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    The cool weather is supposed to improve slightly in the afternoon so we spent the morning reading. After lunch we dropped off Tory and Christine to walk the boardwalk and then tried to go shopping. Once again the men were cursed as all the grocery stores were closed for Father’s Day. We eventually found a bakery and bought some delicious looking bread. The highlight of our walk was a celebration of someone’s 50th wedding anniversary complete with very loud fire works on the sidewalk of the busy street!

    That evening, a restaurant rated #2 on Trip Advisor was our destination. We were not disappointed. Hungry, we were at their door the minute they opened and were met by the owner who doubled as our waitress. She was lovely; advising us on the food, the wine, showing us pictures of her dog, talking about running the business, her trip next year to New York and bringing us free after dinner drinks. A wonderful experience!
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  • Day26

    Weather Change

    March 18 in Spain ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    Our luck with the weather finally ran out as we awoke to cloudy skies and a high of 14 C.
    It was decided that we would drive to the next larger city and explore. Benidorm was easy to get to but except for some very tall buildings was unimpressive. We took the scenic way back to town (okay, we missed a road sign) and parked near a super Mercado. After picking up a few items our little local grocery didn’t carry we lunched in a nearby Greek restaurant. Afterwards, Tory and Christine decided to walk home and Brian did a laundry.
    Dinner was leftovers.....everyday can’t be spectacular.
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  • Day25

    Around Town

    March 17 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    The resort is located very near a Nature Reserve with 5 different walks. Tory and Christine set out in the late morning to explore while the boys volunteered to grocery shop.
    Who worked the hardest?
    Brian and Roger discovered, the hard way that most stores are closed on Sunday in Spain.
    Despite having researched on the internet the nearest store to us and its hours, we were thwarted. Our store had gone out of business and we were left at the mercy of our troublesome GPS. To its credit, it did locate all the grocery stores in the area and dutifully directed us correctly. Unfortunately all were closed. Somewhat daunted, but refusing to give up (we had seen people walking and appeared to be carrying grocery bags) we accosted 4 women for information. Two recommended we might buy some bread in the restaurant they had just left and the other two waved in a general directions we might try.
    Our luck finally changed and we stumbled upon an open store. Of course there was no parking so Roger parked illegally and Brian ran to shop. Success and ninety minutes later we were home, having put about 100 kilometres on the van.

    For dinner, we parked in town and walked around, checking out posted menus. We settled on a Mediterranean/Italian restaurant which was fine. Afterwards, we tried to walk a little but it was turning quite cool so we drove home.
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  • Day24

    Driving Day

    March 16 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    The day got off to a shakey start as there was no running water when we awoke. A call to the front desk informed us they were aware of the problem and working on it. Unable to wash or shave, we brushed our teeth with soda water and packed up the van. We stopped at a rest area for a much needed coffee but the cafeteria was crowded and understaffed. One man was making the coffee and serving the tables. On top of that, his cash register was not working. This seemed to be a local Sun. morning coffee and breakfast stop with the counter seats full. In any case, we did get coffee. Christine bought a box of cookies but they were pretty dry.

    The drive was easy and scenic and we made good time.

    The town of El Albir was easy to find and armed with a map the resort had provided we felt confident we could make it before their office closed. Unfortunately, many streets are not marked and of course our finicky GPS would not recognize the address nor the name of our resort. To make matters worse, the resort is halfway up a mountain, many of the streets are one way and the Tourist Information kiosk was closed. After 20 minutes cruising the hills we finally spotted a sign and Brian ran to the office to catch the receptionist before it closed. Once settled we drove into town (very carefully watching for landmarks so we could find our way back in the dark) and had a wonderful dinner at Lings.

    That night we received an email from the last resort asking for a €28 fee for “utilities”. We replied asking for some consideration re: the water problems mentioned above and they kindly waived the fee. Yea.
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  • Day23

    Slow Day

    March 15 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Everyone had a late breakfast (too much wine last night) then Charles left for Portugal today. In the afternoon, Brian volunteered to drive Tory and Christine to a large department store, El Corte Ingles that they had been lusting to visit. Our finicky GPS surprised us and we arrived in good time. Brian suggested we meet in 1.5 hours and Christine reluctantly agreed. The timing worked out but the store was a bit of a disappointment; too pricey. Tory did buy some clothes for the grandkids in a discount section.
    Dinner was leftovers and anything left in the fridge, as we leave tomorrow.
    The pictures were taken from our balcony.
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