VillaSpain Blog

  • Hello from Spain

    Mon 23rd March 2020

     What's happening in Moraira and the surrounding areas here on the Costa Blanca during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak you may ask, apart from restaurants, bars and coffee shop closures?
    Whilst we are staying in Mirador al Sur on the Moraira Benitachell hillside overlooking the valley and Moraira, we are somewhat removed from the town itself so feels like you are in the country. Without seeing hardly anyone walking about each day feels like a Sunday but even quieter.
    The Spanish regulations put in place for this lockdown from midnight on the 14th March include the limitation of movement. To that end only one person is permitted to take a car to the supermarket and one can only go for a walk if you have a dog and on your own. Sometimes you will see a police patrol car parked in the supermarket car park and a patrolman checking that only one person is driving. Although there are severe fines to support the lockdown in Spain and with France too, it appears they are giving verbal warnings, or at least in the initial stages and if it is for a minor infringement.
    I have found the supermarkets are full of produce and there are no queues at all. In fact, the isles of even the big 10,000 sq ft supermarkets may at any time only have 3 or 4 people in. On Saturday 21st March the large Carrefour supermarket had maybe more staff than customers in at 10.30am; considering it was fully stocked was quite odd. At the entrance a security guard ensures you put on a pair of disposable gloves and advises you to keep a distance from other shoppers. Gel is also provided.
    There was a rush, but hardly any panic one would say, before the shutdown, simply as it coincided with a regional holiday on the Costa Blanca, so more products were being purchased than usual.
    Pushing the trolley around the supermarkets is quite strange as everyone gives a wide birth to other trolley pushers. There is no interaction between anyone and clearly none as no partners or family are present. One is just there to shop.

    Chemists, takeaways, launderettes and oddly hairdressers are open. I understand the latter two is due to the government making the concessions in a bid to ‘not do much harm’ to small businesses which are important ‘for the economic structure of the country.’ Ministers also wanted to maintain some elements of daily life to reduce the harm to the economy and the upset to people’s routines.

    Most electrical stores that sell IT products are permitted to open, so you can even shop for a TV or fridge and not have to buy an IT product. Other retailers are all closed, as well as builders merchants, unless with the express permission of the police and have a certificate to open. Trade builders merchants are mostly closed too. Oddly one builders merchant in Benissa has been open. It may well depend on staff considerations as to why some are open but others are mostly closed. Clearly a problem for the self-employed generally, if they are unable to get any supplies to carry on working.
    Only those people who can obtain certificates to travel to work are able to get on with their business.
    Most, if not all professions like solicitors are taking the opportunity to work from home, or just spend time with family.

    The common site of group semi and professional cyclists have had to cease their sport. With gym closures and inability to walk about then nobody is getting much exercise. For those staying in villas with gardens then one can at least enjoy the sunshine outside and maybe do some exercise.
    The new games room at Mirador al Sur has a static exercise bike and ping pong table, which is getting well used.

    Local supermarkets;
    Mercadona is a huge national chain of supermarkets here in Spain and whilst the outlet in Moraira has a great wet fish counter and has staff who hand slice the wonderful selection of cured hams, currently closed off though, lacks choice in mostly all other areas. There is a good sized fresh fruit and vegetable section but lacks choice. There is no open butchery and all meat products are pre packed. The range of wines is extensive at the very cheap end and too many of the same price point and style.
    Aldi is opposite Mercadona and a busy store. Good choice of products and non-food that ever changes.
    Carrefour has its dominant presence but they do no not have an open butchery section either, There is a greater choice of fruit and veg and cheese too. Probably a better selection of wines and international products on offer. The non-food section is quite useful too.
    Lidl is just a few doors away from Carrefour and a much busier store.
    Pepe La Sal has 2 branches in Moraira and located on the main road into Moraira and on the coastal road to Calpe. Both stores have wet fish and an open butchery . The meat in particular is very good and great choice cut to order. The stores have a far greater selection of international products and vast range of wines including wonderful regional Spanish wines from Alicante and Valencia areas. In fact, there is more choice on wine than all the other supermarkets put together. If you want a 1lb of plain flour or say porcini (dried cepes) you will get it here. Pastries everywhere always disappoint. They look good but don’t taste as nice as they look.
    All supermarkets close on Sunday, with the exception of a small Corte Inglais in Moraira town opposite the fuel station. You can buy freshly baked bread there too.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Changes to Mirador al Sur

    Mon 23rd March 2020

     At villa Mirador al Sur during this virus lockdown period the exercise bike is a twice daily essential activity, not forgetting the ping pong table is getting well used too. Daily Pilates is the order of the day with mats provided. The Games room has a router booster, so you can play music or listen to radio if you have your own equipment.

    A new set of dining chairs for the living room and an exterior electric awning was ordered prior to the shutdown, so will just have to wait for delivery and installation.
    New blackout Roman blinds in the salon allow them to be lowered just to the required level to meet the main curtains each side, thus blocking out any unwanted sunlight without losing the view. By drawing the main blackout curtains up to the Roman blinds makes
    The new electric awning is to be positioned on the small upper terrace by the principle entrance. The location is ideal for breakfasts, whereby the sun comes up over the Cumbre del Sol, and lunches too. This is a favoured position off peak as its well protected from any chilly northerly winds, as well as peak periods too. You will now no longer need to use a parasol in this location. A wind detector will detect the wind velocity and wind the awning in, just in case you forget, but we do advise that if it is not in use to close it.

     The new summer kitchen is now equipped with its own superior quality acrylic dinner plate set and cutlery, just to save having to take move items between kitchens.

    The last fridge freezer was icing up and after repeated technician visits, we decided to replace it.
    The new fridge freezer has more space and set to eco.

    The Wifi has 10 mb download speed and good for streaming. In the next few months we understand that fibre optic is being laid, which will give considerably more speed and bandwidth. As soon as we can hook up to this we will.
    We have unplugged the telephone, simply as there are too many scam or telesales. If you want to use then simply plug in again.
    When the WiFi is updated with fibre optic then we will disband with the current Orange network.
    The pool light button by the bar also lights up the palm tree spots for an hour, unless the button is pressed again. Replacement LED lights now shine a better light on the steps descending the stairs from the kitchen.

    The cane fence that separated the parking area from the garden zone blew over during a storm and has been replaced with metal triple gates, thus allowing for the gardener to also pass through now.

    If you have any ideas of how we can further improve the villa, then please let us know.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Avoid this loophole

    Tue 27th March 2018

     It is important to note that when paying for an item or service online that you do so with the individual or firm directly and not pay via  a third party, as you could fall foul of a little known, and less understood, loophole in the  Consumer Credit Act which holds card issuers jointly liable if a trader breaches the contract.

    There must be a direct relationship between the customer/client, the card issuer and the offending merchant, otherwise the protection of section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act is lost.

    Some online companies use specialist payment processing companies like Paypal and Transferwise, and so customers are not necessarily aware of the problem and the implications this means.

    Action Fraud disclosed that nearly 100 people a week in 2017 were scammed by companies that clone legitimate holiday websites, whereby paying with a card via a third party will invalidate your protection.

    If this happen to you and your card issuer refuses to compensate you, then do contact the financial ombudsman to handle your complaint.

    To avoid this use your credit card or debit card and pay the holiday firm directly. Further info on security can be found on our About Us page.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Remember remember the Valencia Fallas in mid March

    Mon 05th March 2018

     I recall the first time I went to the festival of fire some 30 odd years ago and travelled into the city on a motorbike. Not all the way from the UK I hasten to add, but staying with friends outside Valencia was told it was an easy way of getting into the city and fun too. Having not ridden a motorbike since I was a 12 year old (off road), meant having a lesson by a good friend who happens to be a motorbike fan, so a 30 min run around  a disused football area and learning to change gears and lean over on the curve was the lesson. I hour later 2 bikes and a pillion friend on the back of my borrow3ed bike certainly concentrated the mind, especially going along the motorway and between cars in city. A very trusting pillion rider I must say at the time.

    After a great evening out seeing the spectacular displays before they were lit up was most memorable, as well as the return journey  the next day for the central square final day of the big bang, whereby at noon an enormous series of hanging bangers are set off building up to a huge crescendo.

    It was also my first introduction to churros, which are long doughnuts that you can also dip into hot chocolate; fattening, of course, but nonetheless enjoyable.

    Whatever means you use to get into Valencia, you simply get around on foot. Take the map and comfortable walking shoes. When seeing the displays do pick out the one you want to see burn on the final night, should you return for the burning, that is .

    For further info see our Fiestas page and our previous blog

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Guardian highlights Booking.com cancellation issue

    Mon 05th February 2018

    There is nothing worse than having your holiday cancelled, but this can happen even with the biggest holiday booking companies, as shown in the article in the Guardian, below dated 13/01/18.

    One common problem in this industry is double booking, whereby a holidaymaker books a villa or an apartment or hotel, only to find that it has been cancelled. Ordinarily you should expect a full explanation and alternative accommodation to be given, or a full refund if you prefer it. Certainly not what Booking.Com said to their client repeatedly, who was then forced to write in to the Guardian.

    Apart from our own website listings, you will find us on many portals like Booking.Com, although you will find more information on our website than theirs, as well as more pictures.

    In order to avoid double bookings the system at villaspain removes the villa from being available as soon as credit card details are given, as well as stops the data feeding to other portals.

    In the event you were unfortunate to be subject to a cancellation by any operator, which was not necessarily even a double booking error, but because the villa had a major problem preventing it from being habitable, then an explanation should immediately be given as to what has occurred and suitable alternative accommodation can be offered to you.

    This can be more of a problem if dealing with an individual owner directly, who would not necessarily have access to an alternative suitable quality property.

    It should be said that cancellation is rare in the case a property becomes uninhabitable.

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

  • Thomas Cook sun bed battle ends

    Fri 02nd February 2018

     Thomas Cook has reported that the sunbed towel battle could well be at an end in hotels, providing you reserve a sunbed for 25 Euros each.

    We all know that renting a villa, as opposed to a hotel,  avoids the extra costs of a so-called all-inclusive holiday provides, but more importantly it’s having your own private space a villa offers  etal that go to make a great holiday.

    Clearly I am preaching to the converted, as you will have already either considered or have taken a villa holiday in preference to a hotel anyway.  However, when travelling further afield and on long haul,  then perhaps there is little option but to take a hotel .

    I was once in Cuba and travelling around the island, whereby a group of 4 of us found it simpler to book hotels for the short stays involved. However, on the final  week of our stay we pre-booked a villa through an agent who had arranged our hotel itinerary, and whilst not expecting to much in the way of comfort found none at all. In fact, it was so bad, more like a bunker on a concrete pad with an interior that did not match any picture given, we complained and moved to a hotel. The lesson is here, as we tell all our clients, is to choose a villa giving you as much detail as possible, not just 2-3 pictures and some exotic blurb the agent has written up.  

    extract from the Guardian dated 29th January 2018

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Posted by Bruce Gibson

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