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My Travels Through Spain

I've lived in Spain for many years and have been enjoying travelling this vast country during that time. My blog looks at some of my favourite places in Spain and with, hopefully, some great top tips for you should you wish to visit them yourself.

Travelling from Spain to Morocco
11 June 2013

I don’t know about you, but I always find that one of the most exciting things about travelling is the impromptu extra trips you decide to go on at the last minute. Last year during our family holiday to Spain, we realised that a few days into our ten day holiday, we’d seen and done almost everything we’d planned to do, and we were wondering how we’d fill the rest of our stay. Someone at the hotel told us we could get a ferry from the Costa del Sol to Morocco, so we decided to jump at the chance to see another country.

The easiest route to take is from Algeciras to Tangier on the north coast of Morocco. This route takes just half an hour, and didn’t cost us more than €40 each. Our ferry tickets included a bus ride into Tangier from the port, meaning we could easily get into the town centre, and we’d already decided that we’d spend the afternoon in Tangier before catching a train down to Marrakech where we’d stay for a couple of days.

Fortunately our hotel in Spain hadn’t been expensive, so we decided to treat ourselves to a stay in a luxury riad in Marrakech. These are beautiful homes which were once owned by wealthy Moroccan families, and have a trademark layout with the home itself set around a central courtyard. Ours had a pretty little plunge pool to cool off during those hot Moroccan days, and space to eat lunch when we wanted to relax.

Morocco is vastly different to Spain, but we loved it nonetheless. The kids particularly loved the markets with their vast array of food, fabrics and amazing Moroccan souvenirs, and everyone was incredibly friendly. Jemaa El-Fnaa is the central square in Marrakech, and seems to be the hive of activity where most of the interesting characters congregate. In the early evening, the square fills with street performers and musicians, which the children loved.

It was also very interesting to go from a Christian to a Muslim country, as we were able to marvel at not only the cute little churches on the Costa del Sol, but also the incredible, intricate mosques of Marrakech. We’re all cultural buffs, even the little ones, so seeing the prevalence of these two religions made for a fascinating journey, and we even had time to squeeze in a little trip to some museums to brush up on our Moroccan history before we had to return to Spain for our flight home!



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Keeping in touch with family when on holiday
22 April 2013

When people go on holiday, they don’t just forget about their family back at home. This is the case whether it’s a short weekend away or a longer-term travelling session. It might just be a case of a quick text to say that you’ve arrived, but sometimes, things can go wrong and you need to make lots of phonecalls home to sort things out.

Of course, for many people, everything goes without a hitch and it’s enough to send a quick postcard home. It’s usually the case that a ‘wish you were here’ will suffice, and most of the time, it actually arrives after the holidaymaker is home anyway. It’s always nice to receive a pretty postcard of a picturesque view, though, to be reminded that your relative is thinking about you.

The next step up is the holiday texter. You’re on your travels but you can’t bear to miss out on what’s going on at home. Maybe you need to text home to wish a family member a happy birthday, or you want to keep everyone informed about what’s going on. For example, if your son or daughter is off on their first ever holiday with their friends, it’s natural that they might want to keep you posted on what they’re doing each day. However, it’s easy to forget that texts from abroad can be costly, and you may get a nasty surprise when their phone bill arrives the next month.

Although nobody wants to think about it, sometimes the worst can happen abroad. Baggage can go missing, cards can be stolen or travel plans can go awry. Sometimes people end up with a bout of food poisoning or end up in A&E after an injury, and situations like this might require longer phonecalls. It’s not ideal to do this on your normal mobile contract, as making international calls can be extortionate.

This is why, before you go away, you should always buy an international SIM card. Tell your relatives your temporary ‘holiday number’ before you go, and let people know that you’ll be able to call them from that number if anything goes wrong. The benefit of an international SIM card is that it’s set up to work abroad instantly, and you don’t need to worry about being hit with a massive bill at the end of your holiday. You can prepay for the card so that you know exactly how much you have to spend, or set it to auto top up if you think you’ll need to make a lot of calls.

Going on holiday doesn’t mean that you have to cut yourself off from your family and friends at home. As long as you go prepared, you’ll be able to stay in touch without spending a fortune and without having to track down expensive internet cafes everywhere you go.



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Golfing on the Costa del Sol
13 January 2013

Alcaidesa golf courseI have lived on the Costa del Sol for 19 years and have played golf on the Costa del Sol for 10 years… 

 
Alas I was a slow starter so missed out on 9 years of walking the green bias, the soft lush fairways and taking in the magnificent views that make a round of golf here, the best golfing experience in the world.
 
A lot has changed in my years here most of all, the progress of new golf courses.
 
Seven brand new courses built including three 9 hole courses, 1 course completely reformed and 1 re-opened.
 
All excellent but difficult to fill with the demise of tourist industry and now the recession kicking in.
 
Most golf courses have a strong membership base to support the finances of each of the clubs and that topped up with golf operators based clients help fill the courses for 75% of the year.
 
Golf is a wonderful, relaxing way of spending a morning with the view from the first tee to either side of where you hope your first shot of the day will land.
 
Putting out on greens that you can see from the previous players where your line should be from the water trail it leaves. 
 
What a lovely way to start your day, nothing quite like it.
 
Or an afternoon late on when most of the golfers are now in the 19th hole, you can play till the sunsets up to 8.30pm 
 
I wish I had found golf when I first moved here from London back in 1994 because I think I would have enjoyed those early years so much more.
 
Golf on the Costa has brought so many happy days and night’s, found new friends and lots of competition levels from serious to fun.
 
For 10 months of the year the sun is out and the breeze is slight and the golfing conditions are perfect.
 
2012 brought only one cancelled day on the golf course for me and whilst I do not play everyday I do play once or twice a week so that pretty good.
 
Last year I had the opportunity to see the Volvo World Match play with such great golfing stars as Ian Poulter, Rory Mclroy Lee Westwood, Garcia etc etc and to see them striking the ball as well as they do on a course that I played on the week before is fantastic to see, a real joy.
 
The courses here over the last 10 years have developed into real mature, lush green tree lined beautiful courses created by hard working teams of gardeners, green keepers, admin staff pro-shop workers, directors and of course the owners who put much of their hard earned money into the development of these beacons of relaxation.
 
If you haven't already then you need to come and try out the wonderful array of golf courses on the coast.
 
From the moment you get off the plane in Malaga the staff here at Golf breaks in Spain take over with looking after you and making your golfing trip one to remember.
 
Why don’t you let us know about some of your magic moments you have had golfing here on the Costa del Sol.
 
Happy golfing…
 
This post was written by my friend Ian at www.golfbreaksinspain.com
 
 


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International Deliveries May Cost Less Than You Think
13 December 2012

There was a time when sending goods from one country to another was prohibitively expensive, particularly to consumers. If you didn’t have the right contacts then your only real option was to queue up at the Post Office to have your parcel shipped overseas, and there was no guarantee it would arrive on time, if at all, without having to pay a lot extra for the privilege. And you could forget trying to send anything that you couldn’t carry under your arm into the Post Office, they just couldn’t cope with sizeable bulky items.

These days however times have changed and we’ve moved on. There are now fast international full service courier companies who will take your goods from you and carry them across the globe, keeping you informed of their progress at every step of the journey. These companies come to you, providing a full door to door service for maximum convenience, the sort of service that was traditionally only available to major companies who would be afforded such service on account of the high volume of business they gave these shipping companies.

Suddenly anyone can ship goods internationally, large or small, without even needing to sign up for an account or make any assurances of the number of times you’ll likely use the service. The world of international shipping has opened up to the little guy, and what’s more, it’s incredibly competitive.

I just used an online courier to ship a parcel to Spain from UK with Christmas presents for the family and it was unbelievably cheap.

There’s no need to get stung by the high rates of just one or two companies who might operate in your area, there are a whole host of courier companies who provide their services to customers across the UK, and these companies are all vying for your business, desperately trying to undercut one another in order to get each individual job.

We as consumers can play the big boys off against each other and reap the rewards of the best value deals on international parcel delivery. Whether sending Sandals to Siberia or shipping sweets to students in Shanghai, whatever your international delivery needs, there has never been a better time to take advantage of this competitive market. Get yourself a quote and see for yourself just how low prices can be, you might surprise yourself.



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Car rental insurance charges
13 August 2012

I know it's been discussed a few times on the forums but the whole car hire insurance thing really winds me up sometimes.

I was in Valencia recently and thought it would be a good idea to hire a car so that I could get around and see some of the areas outside of the city itself.  I hired a car through Valencia airport car hire and was offered the option to pay for extra insurance to cover me so that I wouldn't have to pay the excess should anything go horribly wrong.  I turned down the offer.

When I got to the airport to pick up the car I was again offered the extra insurance, this time at a more expensive rate, which if I didn't take it out I would have to pay something like €1000 euros should something go wrong.

In the end I paid the extra but I wasn't overly happy about the whole thing.  It seems that you are being forced to pay the extra for the insurance as otherwise, it could end up costing you a lot more.

I suppose it's like the budget airlines where they start adding so many extras that you end up paying considerably more than you bargained for.

Rant over.



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Watch out for pickpockets in Las Ramblas in Barcelona
25 July 2012

I've been travelling around quite a bit recently.  I was in Italy on business before coming back to Spain with a friend.  But the trip was slightly soured in the end.

We left Malpensa airport last week on EasyJey and landed at Barcelona airport nice and early to spend the day siteseeing.  We had a good walk around the usual main sites such as the astonishing Sagrada Familia and the Barri Gotic district and then ended up on the famous stretch known as Las Ramblas.

To say it was busy is quite an understatement.  People seem to spend quite a lot of time just walking up and down Las Ramblas.  There are loads of street artists, stalls selling things and generally just a great atmosphere.

However, as we left my friend realised that his wallet, which he had stupidly left in his back pocket, had been stolen.

We reported it to the police who told us that there are hundreds of pickpocket incidents in Las Ramlas every day.  It's so busy that it's easy for the theives to operate in that area.

It is incredibly annoying when you have to cancel all your cards, request a replacement driving licence and so on, so you have been warned.  If you're in the area make sure you keep your personal stuff well and truly safe. 



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Seville - It gets (very) hot
16 July 2012

Welcome to my first blog post about my travel around Spain.

Having just last week been in Seville, sort of enjoying the lovely city, I thought I'd start with a post about this most fabulous of cities in Spain.

When I say "sort of enjoying" I mean that you need to pick the right time to visit Seville.  July and August are NOT the months to enjoy a day there.   It's just so incredibly boiling all the time with little respite from the searing heat.

I had been before but the last time was in November. I stayed there for a weekend with my wife and we just fell in love with the city.  The temperature in November is very comfortable, unless you get a heavy rain day, so it leaves you able to explore the entire city without fear of your shoes melting.

Seville

Maybe last week I just felt the heat more as I had just returned from a trip to Scotland and flew into Seville airport.  I picked up my Seville airport hire car and as I pulled out of the airport car park I read on the dashboard of the car that the temperature was an incredible 42 degrees.

Not one to let anything stand in my way I made my way into the city centre and parked up for the day.

Despite the heat, I did manage to see a few more things from this useful guide to 85 things to see in Seville.  

I tried the Restaurante Miramar which was on the list and I wasn't disappointed.  Wonderful seafood in a great location by the hot beach.  To escape the heat I decided to head for the museum of flamenco dance which is definitely worth a visit and then finished the day off have a beer at La Fabrica de Cerveza where they make their own beer.  There's nothing like an ice cold beer on a hot day.

Don't get me wrong, I rate Seville very highly in my most favourite places in Spain but I'm not sure it's an enjoyable in the summer months.



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