Best day so far.......!!!
Great to meet a new friend in Richard, top man and good to hear his experiences of a year abroad... but equally good to fully meet the neighbours (Janette/Gunther, Glen/Dick & Reina/Erwin). This has been the first day that we have seen and felt such a part of the community at La Marina... This will be a wrench to leave!!!
With the girls preparing for Halloween, they have been very lucky to get so many sweets from kind neighbours.... and they got to have yet another dunking in the water park!!!
But there was also time for us to try our hands at tapas and managed some spanish salads, mini burgers, mini chorizos and small chicken kebabs..... All prepared in readiness for the rugby!!! Great win for New Zealand, was it ever in doubt!!!! Good to chat to George too, another top man who we miss greatly!
But then off to Richard's pitch, the man has a golf putting set up and great Rose..... hmmmm!! A real struggle to pass 3 very happy hours as we put his golf swing to rights, and the world over some rose, and then headed back for bedtime reading with the girls!!!!
A really special day that we will remember for a long time to come.... so nice to be a part of such a special, welcoming and positive community.... we really have craved this for over 3yrs now..
Hardly a struggle to live like this.... But what an enjoyable day :)
Clearly found a throng little community here at La Marina and it has been great to chat to so many people (not just today but over past few days). There is clearly a strong bond between those that full time or those that dip their finger in the pond so to speak... Either way we have fully enjoyed speaking to our lovely neighbours here and are finding it a hard wrench to leave. Especially as our neighbours have such a beautiful dog that Libby now clearly adores...
As ever we hit the water parks, but this time managed to all get involved rather than the obligatory 'guard dog' for our possessions.... Great fun to all fly down the blue slopes or create a snake on the yellow run....
This was followed by the BBQ tapas that has become a firm favourite - marinaded chicken kebabs and mini burgers.... Salad and then followed by jelly ;)
All in all, a lovely unexpected surprise as we thought we were moving on today....
Hmmmmm should we stay beyond the weekend and start 'day trips' out to see the sights.... Or should we push onto Granada.... Decisions, decisions, decisions...
Good to also catch up with some former workmates this week.... Nice to catch up with those we will stay in touch with...
So following a busy day yesterday, we started with a large vat of coffee and a big tub of croissants.....
Both girls updated their brand new diaries (courtesy of Valencia..)
Lottie wrote a lovely passage about her experience in the market - "Today we went on the Metro into Valencia. We went into the old city in Valenica, we went to a fresh and busy market. At the market we saw fresh fruit stalls, bakeries and butchers. Mummy and I saw pigs heads and trotters. From the amazing buildings to the graffitied city I won't expect much if I go again"
Libby penned the following before starting on her duo lingo Spanish programme - "we strode into the fresh market of fruit fruit & veg bakeries with pizza, fish stalls and juices. We made our way to the marina to see some stunning boats. In the home-made restaurant we had Tapas,chips and paella yum yum.... A swimming pool.... Coooool! Ahhhhhh cold........ Lots of lengths.... Fun!!!!"
Now off to the water park again, more fun and frolics for the girls (& us!)
Lovely end to the day as we headed to the beach for a bedtime story as the sun went down over the mountains, listening to the waves lapping against the shores... Perfect end to another busy day
What a busy day!! Up with the larks to get breakfast and a new bikini for Libby. Then off for a beautiful bike ride to the beach.....
We were delighted with the beach which had wonderful golden sand and superb sand dunes to play in.... both girls enjoyed themselves in the sea before committing to burying both parents in the sand... a worrying thought!!!
On the way back, we hopped into the aqua park and all of us enjoyed the massive water slides!! Great fun!! Then back to the motorhome for a quick pasta and olives for lunch during the siesta, before returning later on so both girls could use the GoPro for water footage (cool camera and well worth the money spent!!!)
Back to the motorhome for showers, quick supper, bed time reading and then hopefully some kip!!! We are hoping for the full 10hrs until 8am tomorrow....... (we can only live in hope....???)
More of the same tomorrow I'm led to believe..... Wish us luck!
After being purged by the multiple jets, ice baths, steam rooms, citrus pools........ I felt a little like a football fan after a Lazio vs Roma Derby... And all those infamous Italian police water cannons in the 1990s...
That said, it proved to be a fantastic spa (http://www.marinasenses.com/en) and both girls loved the experience of being 'old enough for a spa day' whilst the presence of an actual 'ice bucket challenge room' proved a magnetic lure for both girls.
The swimming pool was also a welcome relief and both girls enjoyed a swimming lesson followed by numerous races to decide who would get to choose the content of our lunch today...
After this busy day, the energy tanks were strangely depleted, perhaps it will kick in tomorrow..... And a very lazy afternoon followed.... The good news is that this leaves time for bedtime stories and reading hour for both girls.... They can't wait to return to their books and Famous Five stories....
With the weather set to return to sunny 23 degrees plus tomorrow, we will sample the delights of the water park. I have to confess that we are both as excited as the girls, it is a new, fabulous set up and both girls should have plenty of fun tomorrow
So we said goodbye to Valencia.... with the weather changeable, it seemed the perfect day to travel the 250km south to La Marina, Alicante....
En route, we clocked up the 2000th mile, with well over 31hrs of driving hours now completed...
With mixed feelings on Valencia, we have travelled towards Alicante and a chance for the girls to enjoy a wonderful water park and spa... courtesy of some monies from grandparents...
It looks wonderful and our plot is again near to the sea.... perhaps not quite as close as last time.... we will have to struggle the 500m to the beach... such a hardship.
Today's journey was one of the most interesting so far, as we moved away from the concrete jungles beside the coastline and headed inland.... through field after field of orange trees, up some high passes and over or through mountains. Across some tundra that was clearly close to being termed a desert and then onto the salt plains that surround our current location...
It will certainly do for a day or two and then we will move south again towards Cartagena.... and it's Roman ruins...
But first, we will be made to go up, around and over the various water slides here.... again, such a hardship!!! But first, as we ended up here early, we might even get to watch the rugby since we missed yesterday's match!
With the bird songs still ringing in our ears, we set off bright and early to explore Valencia…
To say we were surprised was an understatement after our 5th street laden with graffiti… it was a sad start to a tour around the old city…. after the fairly uninspiring set of ancient gates, we headed inwards towards the central market…
Thankfully Valencia sprung into life here, with a vibrant market full of fresh produce and delicious pastries to make our mouths water…. After a wonderful picnic lunch as we careered through each line of stalls, we eventually waited our appetite and headed outside towards the roman colosseum that still has bull fighting taking place.
After short visit to the marina to see where the 32nd Americas Cup race was started and finished, we were lucky enough to see some quite stunning boats still on view….
As we skirted the edge of the harbour, we moved onto the famous beach and promenade that makes Valencia rival Barcelona…. it is hard act to follow and although it tries hard, Valencia still has to cede ground here to it’s Catalonian rival….
Following some shopping and a lengthy metro journey back (with extra costly tickets due to a malfunctioning card….) we arrived back at base and ready for tapas/sangria and sweeties….. With Strictly Come Dancing readied for action…. the van was a quiet place tonight… Roll on Alicante tomorrow as the rain is expected, so we will travel…. thankfully the week ahead’s weather looks fantastic!!! Time to get the bikes on the road again me thinks….
After a fairly busy morning as we sorted out the van ready for departure, we reflected on a wonderful 8 day break at Torre del Sol. The weather was brilliant, the beach even better and the chance to spend some quality time together... priceless!!
But all good things have to end, so we headed off south towards Valencia.... and the Valencia Camper Van park just outside of the main city.
We have wanted to see what Valencia has to offer after such a great time in Barcelona earlier in the year. Valencia is supposed to be Barcelona's quieter cousin but with more Spanish roots!! With a stunning beach, old city gates, bustling city food market and wonderful Aquarium... where will start tomorrow....
Well it may be later start than planned after that meal tonight... It had a wonderful Spanish kitchen feel as we sat in the campsite bar... with lovely Tapas on show a other tables, we felt rude not to order too!!! Well it started!!!! Tapas, Sangria, Paella.... and some pancakes to follow... the poor van's suspension tonight!!!!
Let's hope for more tomorrow night before the girls enjoy the free wifi and the chance to watch two consecutive Saturday's of Strictly Come Dancing.... lucky girls!!!!
We enjoyed a fun, relaxing morning building a sandcastle and wave jumping in the sun. This afternoon it was then a now or never moment, before we head off down the coast tomorrow, so we braved the sea for our first swim in the Med. With wetsuits on we headed out into the gorgeous, clear blue sea. After a few false starts as a few big waves came in, we made into into the sea, racing, floating and generally bobbing around. Lottie went a little further, body-boarding (minus the board) on some of the larger waves.
A pleasant evening meal outside by the sea proved to be the perfect end of a very enjoyable week at La Torre Del Sol.
Whilst the winds blow a gale up North, the South of Europe returns to beautiful warm, sunshine.... Not trying to rub it in, but it sure feels good to feel the sun on your face again.. A simple but undeniably pleasant feeling..
We've enjoyed a morning on the beach, and then spent the afternoon sampling the delights of the pool(s) and the Thalasso Therme spa later on....
Pizza for dinner and then onto Valencia tomorrow...... (or maybe we'll stay just one more day.......??)
........and weren't we treated at 'Chez Libby/Lottie's restaurant tonight.... A full dinner courtesy of the girls with table service to boot....
So another day of work banked.... leaving us more time to travel without stopping to work....
Today's efforts included
1. Libby's ten consecutive lessons of Spanish via Duolingo (great app on iPad from @duolingo). Covering phrases and grammar.... she's now officially 2% literate!!!
2. Art History - both girls are now able to mention in passing 10 famous artists and both have tried their hand at some surreal art to match that of Salvador Dali
3. Maths - again using a great (if expensive) app called Doodle Maths from @BoardworksLtd- both girls spent an hour working through the various challenges.... Great weekly report can be generated by this app
4. Both girls completed their diaries whilst focusing on giving prepositional phrases...
We also indulged in some of Libby & Lottie's favourite 'Wave Dodging' game.... another PE lesson banked!!!
All good fun, but now onto the main event of today... an effort at making a full Seafood Paella with the new Paella pan...
As both girls were having such a good time, we have extended the stay and used the superb internet access to FaceTime 'teach' using our grandparent's knowledge on topics such as the colour purple, building bridges and boats.
It was a superb afternoon of lessons that certainly helped both girls.... Libby managed to compile the following poem about Purple....
Purple is the best of all hues
Used by all the Royals too
Red and blue make purple so true
Perhaps you should worry if you have purple poo
Lots of pretty purple flowers too
Everyone loves purple, but do you...
Whilst Lottie's impressive understanding of the mechanics of a motor and how a turbine works was especially impressive.
With bike rides mixed in for fun, a late start after watching a cool film 'Inside Out' and some late afternoon fun on the beach with its strange sand formation (has only happened today due to the impressively large waves that are pounding the shore) - it's been a fun day all round!
But with an early bed looming, decisions will need to be made tomorrow.... do we move on or stay for the good weather forecast from tomorrow afternoon onwards.... one to ponder tomorrow....
A busy few days meant that whenever we chanced upon somewhere... we would stop and enjoy the chance to relax..... and this sub tropical paradise is certainly meant for that type of stay....
Be it serving up Paella or building concentric ring sand castles..... we have enjoyed the stay.... The on site restaurant has been sampled, the mini golf appraised..... and the swimming pools (x4) tried and tested.....
Maybe we should stay longer.... the girls certainly want to.... but the lure of the South means we are likely to move onto Valencia sooner rather than later.... A shame, it has been a fantastic site!
Little more to be said..... we've moved the sizeable amount of 150 yards today and now sit contentedly alongside the Mediterranean Sea in our motorhome plot..... absolute bliss.
Snorkelling for fish, swimming in the sea, sunbathing...... just perfect after some busy days..
Following a cold night in Fortia (at a great Aire which we would highly recommend), we travelled into Empuriabravia to see how attractive the 'reclaimed land' really was.... And we were not disappointed, the girls loved taking the hired speedboat for a spin and we caused chaos for 1hr.... after some stunning marinas we decided to head southwards...
Having seen Barcelona in February, we all decided that perhaps further south might be best and therefore moved onto our planned stop at Tarragon and the Torre del Sol site. This subtropical site is literally on the beach... in fact, I'm typing this whilst sitting in the van overlooking the sea (no more than 20m from our van...)
After a busy 10 days, we are all ready to settle down for few days and hope this will provide the base to do this..... It will also give us time to start getting some information into both girl's diaries whilst not forgetting to enjoy the beach.....
New wet suits are ready by the door as are the snorkels...... in the sea by 9am tomorrow..... Can't wait :)
Sometimes less is more..... so rather than listen to me.... here's the girls account on their side of the website...
With some degree of surprise, the clock turned over to 8.13am and still no sign of Lottie.... a lie in on her birthday???? She must be heading for her teen years.... A somewhat sleepy yet very excited Lottie descended the ladder from her bed to a room full of pressies and banners...
Suffice to say the wrapping paper was shredded and presents adorned the bed in roughly 4mins flat.... SuperDry is apparently 'de rigour' this year for anyone with a 10r old girl!!
Once this was done, it was off to the Boulangerie for Lottie to choose her cake (a vanilla macaroon cake with candles) and more croissants than you could imagine.... It was a beautiful ride on the bikes via palm trees, the lagoon and some lovely little shops...
Busy day started with a quick 1hr drive towards (http://www.france-voyage.com/cities-towns/puicheric-854.htm) and a 'L'ecluse'. The intricate manoeuvres of each boat made for entertaining viewing whilst we watched from our motorhome windows (over breakfast). Thankfully the bikes got an outing today as we enjoyed a wonderful 15km ride alongside the Canal du Midi. Ever since watching Rick Stein's French Odyssey, I've wanted to see the tree lined avenue and its canal traffic (not to mention the wine/food en route). So a mission accomplished with only 1 punctured tyre too!!!
Then we made the next step of the journey southwards towards Narbonne and then onto Port Leucate. This place gets the thumbs up in the guide book (a Frenchman's holiday resort....) and its certainly getting the thumbs up from us.... Campsite booked for 2 night so we can enjoy Lottie's special day tomorrow.... Must get some sleep so we can cope with it!!!
An early morning of trampoline(s), boulangerie(s) and the enviable task of emptying the toilet cassette…. hardly inspiring stuff you might say!! But at 10 we happily left the site and headed south to Spain.
Thankfully the Pic du Midi was anything but boring. Staggering views followed one after another…. frightening hairpin bends, craggy outcrops, circling eagles!! It was truly a joy to see nature in it’s rawest form today…
That said, rather than using what god gave us, we decided to take the cable car ride up to the 2876m observatory at La Mongie. Already a full 1800m above sea level, we waited patiently at the ticket office and admired the view.
The ride was akin to that of a rollercoaster at times but the views were simply jaw dropping, mesmeric in their scope and size. The girls were in awe as new peaks were unveiled until we reached the observatory. This fantastic viewing platform also contained a superb museum and planetarium that amazed us all.
After many hours at the top, we descended sadly and started the scenic route down the mountain. Leaving the Pyrenees sadly behind us we headed back inland towards Toulouse and the promise of Carcassonne in the morning..
It may have been a far cry from the peaks of the Pyrenees, but the heat certainly went up a notch or two today - peaking (!) at a more than comfortable 24ºC in the afternoon at Carcassonne.
The 2hr drive took us through the Midi Pyrenees and into the Languedoc, which had certain similarities to the recently visited Gironde. Sweeping valleys filled with vineyards set against 'moody' mountain backdrops behind.
We had been warned that Carcassonne would be special (it is listed in France's Top 18 places to visit from the LonelyPlanet guide (http://www.lonelyplanet.com/france/travel-tips-and-articles/76696) .
The changing landscape at dusk was breathtakingly beautiful, before Carcassonne was transformed into a 'Medieval Cite'' that had both girls gasping with delight. With sweet shops aplenty, terrace bars and gargoyles at every corner... it was something that fitted everyone's tastes!
Somehow two new hoodies found their way onto two happy young girls and the night ended with a happy jaunt back to the motorhome..... all 250m away from the views below!
Magical without Disney! One to visit again....
After a well considered half hour, the decision was taken… Carcassonne it was! But as with all the best laid plans…… As we approached the bakery to get the morning croissants, it was again discussed. “Sea or Mountains, which do you want?” I ventured…. I was a little surprised to hear that the sea had lost out…. so the plans shifted to Pau and the Pyrenees.
Fast forward the 6hr drive and 270miles…. we neared Pau, a large but largely uninspiring town at the foot of the Pyrennes. We moved on…. Onto Lourdes via numerous hairpin bends and steep climbs… Finally arriving to the see some beautiful citadels, cathedrals and stunning town halls…
With time running out, it was onto the Aire near to Lourdes and some school work/diary entries before bed…. but not before some fun on the campsite trampolines!!!
(8.30am) Knock knock... "Monsieur, s'il vous plaît je peux avoir huit euros"...... A rude shock after such a long drive yesterday.... No lie in for us!! But a cheap night's accommodation!!
So we headed out after sorting travel plans for tomorrow (destination - Carcassonne) to Talmont sur Gironde...... Sadly the weather stopped the bike ride but following a trip to gather food (from the Super U....), the day broke out into glorious afternoon sunshine.
It proved to be a great day on the side of this beautiful headland. A stunning church (where we offered a prayer/candle for Mrs Davies (Libby - Reception teacher) and then a lesson in rock pooling!!!
Since we are in sturgeon country, it seemed rude not to visit a shop on the way back to a quick stop at Chez Neal and then back to Mortagne.....
Those poor people in Nice, if the weather we encountered was the lasting remnants of that storm.... Phew! Glad we chose the Atlantic coast for our route southwards. It was unrelenting rain from the moment we left the ferry at 4am until we hit the Loire valley..... A further 3 hours to the coast on the Gironde at Mortagne-sur-Gironde. So a busy start with over 470 miles in just over 10hrs in the driver's seat.... A long first journey but worth it for the views of the familiar vineyards and fantastic harbour at Mortagne.... Clearly the fresh morning croissants helped, followed by some popcorn poetry (courtesy of A Louisa's English lesson yesterday in Hampshire).....
End Result - 4 very tired but happy people who will sleep well tonight... In fact we may not even make 9pm!!!! Just think of all that beauty sleep.....
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