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Travel to Alicante

  • Getting compensation on flight delays

    Thu 28th February 2013

    The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ordered Ryanair to compensate passenger Denise McDonagh, who was forced to wait seven days for a flight from Faro to Dublin,a delay during which she spent nearly £1000 on accommodation, food and transport - details .

    Having personally got caught up  in  the same Ryanair delay was compensated with £700 from them.

    Good to know that compensation, brought about by such flight delays, has been clarified.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • 25th November Newhaven to Dieppe on the 10.30am sailing

    Mon 31st December 2012

     A late Sunday departure from Newhaven meant arrival in Dieppe at 3.30pm French time, followed by  fuelling up at the Carrefour Hypermarket's unmanned fuelling station going around Dieppe. Having previously experienced a 24hr fuel station in Drew not accepting any of my credit cards, which was on one desperate Sunday morning a few years ago when I had not bothered to fill up the night before, had forced me to ask a kindly local if I could give them cash in exchange for use of their card, it was a surprise to find that the Carrefour  24 hr pump now accept them up to the value of 140€. At 1.35€ a litre diesel (£1.10 per ltr) it's worth waiting to fill up in France, particularly more so at supermarket stations when you should get about a 15% saving. Ordinarily we would head down and stay on the outskirts of Chateurault, in an Etap (budget hotel) or such like then go for a meal nearby. But this time we went a bit further to Limoges arriving at 9pm (5 hr easy drive) and stayed in the centre at an Etap hotel, though this was a mistake, being a very old pre Ibis hotel with a tired bathroom and non-functioning TV, but then one was too tired to comment and the stay too short for one night to be concerned. Pity there's no explanation as to the hotel chains more modern hotels verses old tired ones. Cost for 2 including breakfast, secure car parking and 5€ for the dog was 65€, so cheap.

    Arriving to France on a Sunday is not ideal for finding a good restaurant open either, even if you only seek something simple. I always I try to avoid the Buffalo Grill you find at every roundabout and all those brightly lit ones you find on industrial complexes that serve the travellers staying at B&B hotels around, but Sunday meant they had a calling, though we needed to be more desperate for a bite. An empty hotel brassiere around the corner from the Etap was not so inviting and to start travelling around town at 9pm was a no no, but within 30 mts a Turkish kebab cafe offered a cheap alternative choice meal. Eating foreign food in any country is another no no too usually for us, except for the big cities. The lamb kebab was fine and just hit the mark at 9.30pm. One course for 2 including Turkish Kakut wine cost just 25€, so made a promise that the next meal out would be more of an indulgence. One advantage of travelling through France on a Sunday is that you never see a 12 metre truck on the move, as they are not allowed to travel.

    A good continental self-serve breakfast and on the road at 8am meant arriving to the destination of Andorra La Vella (city centre) at 1.30pm, just in time to have lunch and collect some essential shopping at the Pyrenees department store in the centre, which is a bit like the food store of London's Selfridges and the department store of John Lewis in one.

    The route taken on the motorway passes by Toulouse and Cahors, following the sign for Montpellier and then turning right for Foix and following through to Andorra. Diesel is only 1.17 per lt in Andorra, so best not to overfill in France. Tolls through France amounting to a total of 33.80€.

     Going up the picturesque Pyrenees and within a few km before Place de la Casa you can choose between taking the faster route through the tunnel (6€ toll), just passed Customs , or going around the mountain. I prefer to take the slightly longer route and get the stunning views from the top, dropping on then through Caldea and Encamp. If travelling in winter and the snow is on the road then it's more advisable to take the tunnel.

    If going direct to Arinsal in Andorra there's a new 2km tunnel that has just opened (2012) connecting Encamp to La Masana, which saves going into the city centre of Andorra la Vella and back out. Just passed Encamp keep to the left hand lane and take the tunnel sign that says Ordino and La Masana (new tunnel and not much signage, so go slow or you'll miss it). Turn right at the end of the tunnel and go on passed La Masana and then on through to Arinsal.

    The Arinsal apartment is at the very end of the Arinsal road after you pass through 2 short tunnels. A heavy dousing of snow on the 27th November was just the right welcoming sight to behold through the windows of the balcony.

    Time to enjoy some excellent meats cooked over wood burning stoves in the local restaurants' and fun in the snow with the dog.

    Just the facts:

    Newhaven to Dieppe (4hrs on-board) 3.30pm arrival French time Cost return .

    Fuelling up at Carrefour located on the periferique of Dieppe with  diesel fuel at 1.35€ per lt.

    Onto Rouen (Paris route) then towards Drew, Chartres, Chateurault then arriving at Limoges at 9pm.

    Etap city centre hotel (not recommended) near to station, with satnav it's easy to go in and out of the city.

    8am start travelling on the motorway passing Cahors, Toulouse and Foix. Buy a little fuel to keep you going, and save full refuelling until Andorra where the cost for diesel is 1.17 per lt.

    Stayed at Andorra apartment

  • Our staff in Spain

    Thu 13th September 2012

     After an exhausting, and very hot summer, the local team can be pleased with themselves for doing such a good job. Thank you girls. Supervisors Cristina, Sandra and Amparo, flanked by two of the large, excellent cleaning team. Standing in front of our local office in Benissa, which is handy for all our villas in Moraira, Javea, Calpe and Denia.

     

     

     

     

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Best euro exchange rate, Villaspain

    Sun 01st July 2012

    For security and getting the best exchange rate compare 17 different providers in one go, click here.

    Interestingly, if you find Fairfx offering the right deal for you then go to our link here at Fairfx  to sign-up to them, since they give us £5 for every sign-up as an Affiliate of theirs. We will then pass all these receipts onto the charity Save The Children (Registered charity England & Wales (213890) until the end of 2012.

    Advice about  Prepaid cards can be found on the moneysavingexpert page, who advise also about Fairfx, below;

     FairFX Top pick card, no spending or 'load' fees

    The FairFX* prepaid card charges no spending or foreign 'loading' fees, and can be topped up for free by debit card or bank transfer.

    The link above takes you via comparison site MoneySupermarket, and means the standard £9.95 application fee will be waived if you top up more than €60/$75. In addition, load more than £500 on to one and you'll receive a £5 bonus, further boosting the exchange rate.

    To get the fee structure described here, you must select either the euro or US dollar card- so it's no good if you need a more exotic currency. If you spend in a different currency to the one you selected, you'll be hit with a 1.4% charge for every transaction.

    However, with FairFX it's the rate on each day you load up (not spend) that counts. So if the pound strengthens after you load the card, you will lose out. Conversely, if it weakens you'd gain. You get a different rate each time you load the card.

    The only cost is €1.50/$2 to withdraw cash from an ATM, less than most credit or debit cards. You get FairFx's own exchange rate, which changes daily but generally beats the other prepaid cards and cash rates (compare it with TravelMoneyMax.com's best).

    Why not help yourself and help Save The Children's charity at no cost to anyone

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Top 20 Car Hire Tips

    Thu 31st May 2012

     These top 20 tips will ensure you avoid the pitfalls and hassle when you next hire a car.
    1. Clarify the rule on fuel charges before you book. Some firms will ask you to return the car with the tank full, while some will advise to leave the fuel at the guage level when first collected, or leave it empty. Consider though in the latter case that each car manufacturer's guide advice of the amount of fuel each model holds: have you ever attempted to run any car dry and actually tried to fill it to the manufacturer’s level? Well it’s impossible due to the fact that there are 5-10 litres of fuel residue in the tank, even when it shows empty, so when you leave the car empty you have already been charged for the fuel at the manufactures' stated guide level: thus being a benefit for the car hire firm. Whatever the rule, check the fuel gauge before exiting the car hire compound.
    2. Ensure the comprehensive insurance cover includes theft cover also, as fully comprehensive means different things in different countries.
    3. Having pre-paid for the car hire car you may find on arrival at the airport office a request for insurance indemnity to cover the undercarriage of the car at some 3-5 Pounds per day. It may even sound like a demand, so do consider before paying up, or take out an insurance cover for this, since all car fire firms exclude the undercarriage.
    4.
    Excess Waiver fee is useful to avoid the potential charge in the event of any minor scrape. TO AVOID CAR-HIRE EXCESS - Although your rental includes 'Fully Comprehensive Insurance', the excess you’ll pay if the car is damaged or stolen will be anything from £200 to £1,000, and you have to pay a fortune to reduce it. To avoid this you can buy a Europe-wide annual policy. It costs around £49 a year and indemnifies you against all excess charges. Plus, it covers damage to tyres, windows and undercarriage – areas not covered by the rental companies’ policies - Info
    5. Check the charges before booking for extras like; child seats, sat nav, DVD players, snow chains and roof rack costs.
    6. Additional driver charge (ought to be free) but do check. Do include the second driver as you never know when it may be needed.
    7. If you intend driving around a lot consider diesel fuel, as it is much cheaper in many European countries than petrol.
    8. When you get the keys to the car do double check the listed scrapes and dents, to ensure no charges apply upon your return.
    9. Do check that a spare wheel, jack, warning triangle (2 required in some countries such as Spain) and that fluorescent jackets are present.
    10. Ensure you take your driving license with you (include plastic and paper one).
    11. Check the contact details in the event of a breakdown.
    12. Ensure you have the rental papers with you at all times, in the event you are stopped by the police.
    13. For security it is better to remove any obvious signs (stickers) that the car is in fact a hire car, since many thefts occur when people are identified as short stay visitors.
    14. Do check on exiting the airport that your car is not being followed, as opportunist thieves are known to spike your tyre and pretend to be friendly when flagging you down, but then to rob you.
    15. Clarify too when booking that there is a reception desk either in the arrivals hall or within the car park compound. Do not be dependent on awaiting the arrival of someone holding up your name who may or may not be present upon your arrival, thus forcing you to have to chase up with a phone call.
    16. Read the terms and conditions of the rental agreement online before booking.
    17. Ensure you return the vehicle by the contracted time, otherwise should it be over then you could pay for an extra day’s rental, based on their 24 hour policy rental.
    18. Make sure you get a signature to sign off the car upon its return to the car hire office, so that nobody can claim damage from you later, or charge your credit card wrongly.
    19. Probably you will find the best prices are with brokers and not the main dealers such as Hertz and Avis etc who tend to aim rentals at the business market end, whereas the brokers are more competitive in the holiday sector. It is worth considering the local firms to the areas you travel to as well, since they have offices in your area in the event of any issue arising and can accommodate quickly. Using a broker gives you access to over 550 car hire firms and their 15,000 offices with just one click, so well worth getting a quote.
    20. Acquaint yourself with the meaning of road signs. In Spain a stop sign means stop, so even if the way is clear and you roll forward it will result in a fine if seen. Should you inadvertently cross a continuous central white line or just clip it, then that would result in a fine too. Helpful tips about driving in Spain can be found on the Blog, as well as a fully costed driving route through France to Spain - Info.
    Happy driving

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Driving down to Moraira via Andorra

    Fri 24th February 2012

      Dieppe/Arinsal (Andorra) 10hrs

    Newhaven/Dieppe ferry arrive 15:00 local time. 4 hour crossing arriving relaxed and ready for travel.

    Via Rouen/Everoux (2.10€ toll);

    Châteauroux arrive 20:00 overnight stop - depart 08:00

    Orleans/Vierzon (10.10€); Cahors/Montauban (12.10€); Montauban/Toulouse (3.20€); Toulouse/Foix (5.30€)

    Arinsal arrive 13:00 - depart 08:00

    Arinsal/Moraira 5 hrs

    Tarragona/Valencia (28.65€); Valencia/Javea (7.85€)

    Moraira arrive 13:00

    Total Fuel used 232.20€ (fill up Dieppe 46.53€; Deux 69.67€; Pas de la Casa - cash only (Andorra) 50€; exit Andorra 66€)

    Total tolls 69.30€

  • Documents required when driving in Spain

    Mon 05th December 2011

     Of all the years travelling to and from Spain I neglected to take my vehicle registration document. Stopped on a routine police check in Spain I was asked for it. Yes, I had the driving licence in paper format and in plastic card format too, as well as the original MOT and the insurance certificate to hand and all in my name, but no vehicle registration log book, which I had left back in the UK.
    As far as the police are concerned it could be a stolen vehicle I was driving, and informed that any child could copy the other documents presented. Showing the tracking device paperwork that the car had cut no ice.
    It was nicely explained to me that they could impound the car and be retrieved upon the registration document being shown, plus a fine for their trouble.
    A lesson learned from the helpful Guardia Civil and they very kindly let me on my way, but just as he did so the nice policeman noticed that the GB sticker I thought was on the number plate wasn't there. A 5 year old car that has gone through France and Spain every year went unnoticed and unpunished.
    A possible on-the-spot fine would be 200 Euros for this misdemeanour, but the Guardia kindly let it go. Must have been the pending xmas goodwill.
    I had the document posted out to me in Spain toot de suite, along with the missing GB sticker, just in case. What documentaion is required when driving in Spain and France?

    • Driver's license in plastic card and paper format
    • Insurance document (original)
    • GB sticker on bumper or a 200 Euro fine
    • Vehicle registration (original) document (or rental documents), otherwise you risk car being impounded.
    • Wearers of spectacles should carry a spare pair
    • Fluorescent jacket (for each occupant of vehicle)
    • Two warning triangles for Spain to allow for front and rear warnings.
    • Spare light bulbs, even if you cannot fix them.
    • Fire extinguisher (recommended)
    • First-aid kit (recommended)
    Speeding:
    What is nice about Spain and France, apart from the usual enjoyments of being abroad, is that they pre-warn you of radar, so if you happen to be over the limit, by any chance, then at least you have been warned. The exceptions are when the police have a hand operated radar unit. One place notorious for this in Spain is on the Teruel to Zaragoza road around the turn off for Monreal del Campo (normally always under the bridge).

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Halal & Kosher food on the Costa Blanca

    Tue 28th June 2011

    We have been getting an increasing number of requests, from clients, for information regarding their dietery requirements whilst on holiday in Spain.

    There is a large Moroccan community in Spain and every town has halal butchers, where  you could ask for advice on eating out locally at restaurants serving halal or kosher foods, as well as picking up supplies for your self-catering at one of our holiday villa rentals.
    The best one in our region is in Teulada, on the ‘Avenida Santa Catalina 48', which is in the centre of town, by the town hall, near the Aquagest (water company) office. There is another in Calpe and Benissa.

    There are plenty of established Indian restaurants in the area, mainly in the resorts of Moraira, Calpe, Javea and Altea, and they may be serving halal meat, so best to check.

    There is a lovely family-run Lebanese restaurant in Calpe - SHADI, Tel 96 583 6464. Cabo La Nina (close to fountain by the dry river bed at the bottom of the town).

    AL ZARAQ Carrreterra N332 - Calpe Tel: 96 573 1615 (on the national road, signposted, just north of Calpe). Upmarket Lebanese restaurant set within beautiful grounds overlooking Calpe. Very special, formal and abit pricey but well worth it if you are looking for something different. Tables outside in lovely gardens.

    For tapas, there are a lot of seafood and vegetable tapas (tortilla, calamares, mejillones, olivas, anchoas, pulpo) - hope this does not count as halal, as they are delicious, and would think that, like kosher food, seafood is alright so long as the animal has scales (fish). Also, just tell the barman that you are allergic to pork! Happy eating.

    Please let me know of your own thoughts and recommendations as we like to provide as much information as possible to our clients who enjoy renting villas from us and the joy of home from home comforts, with a bit of warmth and sun, I hope!

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Lottie - new member of the team at VillaSpain

    Thu 26th May 2011

     It's true to say that you do go all soft and gooey eyed when a pup joins the family.

    Lottie is just 10 weeks old and a very adorable chocolate brown Cockapoo. More Cocker Spaniel than poodle, it seems.

    It has been a long time since having a dog, so updating myself on those books entitled how to bring up a dog has been absorbed.

    Lottie just loves lying over your shoe to make sure she has a tag on you, as she is not keen yet on being left alone.

    If you have a pet then why not take him/her with you to Spain.

    Take a look at the Newsletter here for details about useful links and those villas that are pet friendly.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Las Fallas – the greatest fiesta of fires on earth

    Mon 14th February 2011

     The insider guide to Las Fallas in 2011

    When? 15-19 March, each year

    Where? Valencia

    Why? To honour St Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters

    Really? Yes, but one feast day has turned into a crazy, five-day fiesta of fires.

    How? It's Spain, remember.

    The land that brought you bull-running in Pamplona and the world's largest food fight in Buñol (La Tomatina) brings you a pyromaniac's dream - Las Fallas in Valencia, a five-day fiesta of fires. If there's one thing Spain does exceptionally well, it's party.

    Neighbourhood groups, known as casal falleros, create enormous, papier maché figurines. Creations are often satirical, always elaborate, can scale above three storeys and cost up to €600,000. Pick up a local Fallas map (from tourist offices and dotted throughout the city) for all the exhibit locations.

    All but one of the creations are stuffed with fireworks and set alight at midnight on the 19 March in La Cremà (the burning). The pardoned figure is chosen by public vote and joins generations of previous fortunate favourites in the Fallas Museum.

    The finalé is an ear-splitting cacophony of noise with flames appearing to engulf the city. Don't be tempted to squeeze into the front rows behind the barriers as the heat and floating embers from the towering fires routinely drive crowds back. Resourceful bomberos (firemen) are on hand to douse out-of-control fireballs. This event is not for the faint-hearted!

    Looking for something more sedate? Head to the Plaza de la Virgen on the 17 and 18 March. Entire communities, including their fallera mayor (festival queen) don exquisite, traditional costume and offer flowers to a huge wooden statue of the Virgin Mary. The processions are joyful and music spills through the streets.

     Accommodation for Las Fallas 2011

    Accommodation is tough to find in the city, but check the virtual tours of our luxury villas for a quiet bolthole within an hour or so of the city.

    Parking in Valencia

    Driving? Make the most of the Valencia park & ride system. You'll find car parks and great transportation into the city from: Llíria, La Pobla de Vallbona, L'Eliana, Massarrojos, Rocafort, Empalme, València Sud, Paiporta and Seminari.

    Or try parking along the Turia dry riverbed, close to parks, gardens and Valencia's major architectural highlights. In the city, find blue zones and pay at the nearest machine. Watch out for red and yellow zones (or blue signs with a yellow line through them). Park here and your car will be ticketed, clamped or towed.

    Helpful links...

    for accommodation away from the noise click here

    for a cheap flight to Alicante, Valencia and Murcia click here

    for the Las Fallas 2011 itinerary, photos and information click here

    for transport information for Valencia click here

    Have you been to Valencia in March? Will you be going to Las Fallas in 2011? Tell us your story, email your photos and give us your top tips. blog@villaspain.co.uk

  • Making a claim against an airline for cancellation of a flight.

    Tue 25th January 2011

    My personal experience

    Yes, we all have to get caught out on the odd occasion and this time it was my turn.

    Having booked a return flight with Ryanair UK Ltd (Gatwick-Alicante), both myself and a partner were caught up in the cancellation of the return flight due to the closure of airspace. Although not desperate to get out of Spain, the earliest date for a flight with Ryanair was two weeks away, so we simply booked with Monarch airlines on the trusty laptop for a flight leaving in 6 days. Time was not wasted with a laptop to hand.

    One month after my return to the UK, Ryanair kindly refunded the return flight, but sadly would not accept my claim for compensation of a cancelled flight under (EC) Regulation No 261/2004 *(see next paragraph), and responded  by stating that any such claim should be claimed from my insurer. After submitting documents and drawing their attention to the issue and the regulation it was rejected twice, on the basis that I had chosen to use another airline to fly back to the UK, even though it mitigated further losses. Ryanair  then stated that their decision was final and further correspondence would not be entered into. I therefore sought settlement through the small claims court, which was more driven because of their tone than anything else.

    *Under (EC) Regulation No 261/2004  (article 9) you are entitled to compensation for additional accommodation costs, food and travel cost between hotel or other to the airport, but Ryanair would not accept the European regulation.

    Whilst it may well be unfair to airlines that claims are brought against them for circumstances beyond their control, it is incumbent upon the airline to be insured for this, or as is the case, airlines are claiming from the government for unnecessary closure of airspace for their losses. The (EC) Regulation was put in place to protect travellers that have had their flight cancelled, irrespective of cause.

    Making a claim for compensation on cancellation of a flight is straightforward in most cases, but this was due to the ‘ash crisis' back in April 2010 and with Ryanair........oh dear. Ryanair are not known in the forums for being very helpful in meeting the simplest of claims, but airspace closure??? This was going to be a challenge.

    To cut a long story short they kindly settled out of court with £700 out of the £800 claim.

    If you ever need to communicate and take action against Ryanair, under similar circumstances, then you may well find the following helpful after issuing proceedings against them

    Address, as it is not easy to find;

    Ryanair UK Ltd
    Satellite 3
    London-Stanstead-Airport
    Essex CM24 1RW

    Firstly, Ryanair say they will defend the case.

    Then the secretary of Ryanair UK at Stanstead will send an application to the judge stating that Ryanair UK is a dormant UK company and that it did not enter into an agreement with the Claimant.

    The file then goes to the District Judge for directions, which usually results in a mediator being appointed to hear your case, which you can agree to do.

    In the meantime, the Secretary of Ryanair UK will write to you asking to settle the claim and to phone him on his personal number. He will include  a notice to discontinue the claim in the letter.

    The deal is about 50 Euros per person accommodation per day plus allowance of travel and food. If your claim is not excessive and falls within these boundaries then you may want to consider accepting the offer. If not then let the secretary submit your claim to Ireland for further consideration.

    The secretary then confirms the offer in writing to you.

    You then send a letter of acceptance and withdrawal of the case.

    Many have been successful suing Ryanair in Ireland, for which many Forums advise that it only costs about 15 Euros to do, so you could try that.

    Ryanair Holdings PLC
    Ryanair Corporate Headquarters,
    Dublin Airport,
    Dublin,
    Co Dublin,
    Ireland

    To my understanding, if you took off or landed in the UK; then a UK court has jurisdiction, and the applicant can choose where to start the claim.

    The moral of the story is do not be put off making a claim, particularly as there is an EC regulation that supports such a claim.

    It is a pity that some companies are simply unreasonable and in this case downright difficult.

    Hope the above is helpful to those who have or may have a similar experience in the future with an airline.

    Bruce

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Why not spend some time in Alicante?

    Thu 30th December 2010

     It won’t take you too long to understand why Alicante is referred to as the City of Light. Because thanks to an eye-opening annual average of picture-perfect blues skies, even a late autumn/early spring visit to the capital of the Costa Blanca is a bright and refreshingly breezy affair. Add this natural wonder to an equally enlightened cultural and culinary backdrop, which includes museums, archaeological and architectural treasures reflecting over 3,000 years of history, and an enticing range of traditional and boundary pushing bars and restaurants, you’ll wonder why you haven’t sampled the best of Alicante at this relaxing time of year before.

  • New Alicante airport terminal

    Wed 29th December 2010

     Alicante Airport has now completed the new terminal which will allow it to increase capacity by up 25%. In the past the airport apron could take 31 aircraft an hour. The new terminal will increase this to 46 aircraft with a maximum of 22 being processed in an hour. The new terminal has 92 check-in desks, 40 gates, of which 16 has airbridges and 14 baggage reclaim carousels. it will enable the airport to process 6,000 passengers an hour.
    Before the terminal opens testing will take place by the general public, as `extras' if you are available from February and would like to participate you can register on their web page

  • Why book early?

    Thu 23rd December 2010

     Why book your holiday early?
      The choice of resort destination on the Costa Blanca - Javea, Moraira, Calpe or Denia
      Secure your perfect villa rental from our choice of villas
      Best availability on cheap flights & car hire
      & most importantly, to book your holiday travel dates.

  • Save an extra £10 on Monarch return flights with their discount code!

    Fri 03rd December 2010

    Use the special discount code and save £10 on return flights to the sun this weekend. It's never been easier to save, the code is available for use on all routes, all dates and all seats until Thursday!

    It's easy to claim your discount, just enter ALLSEATS into the discount code box when you make a booking and watch the price drop in the running total. Don't miss out - book by midnight Thursday!

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

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