Dec 102012

Casa Rural Accommodation Spain
This weekend we were pleased to welcome Joseph Goh and his family, who had come all the way from Singapore to spend their holidays in Spain. They were a family of five, with Joseph and his wife, their two teenage children and a grown-up nephew. Joseph is a pilot with Singapore Airlines and enjoys taking his family to different parts of the world – and Spain was a new destination for them all. They arrived at Gandia Casa Rural by car which they had collected in Valencia, although they had flown in to Barcelona and then subsequently taken the train to Valencia. The Spanish rail network was in fact to be their principal means of transport around the country for the remainder of their trip, as they had purchased a rail pass that allowed them unlimited use of the railway for the duration of their visit

Their plan was to explore our part of the Costa Blanca for a couple of days, and one of the main attractions for them was the fact that this part of the country remains genuinely unspoilt by foreign tourism and is still largely undiscovered except by the Spanish holidaymaker. After settling in during the latter part of Saturday afternoon, they then relaxed in our living room by the log fire (the nights here in December can be on the cool side!) before joining us for dinner. After that, a fairly early night was called for, as they were understandably feeling the effects of jet lag as a result of their journey.

Sunday morning was a beautiful sunny start to the day, so they decided to go for a brief walk in the orange groves behind us here – they loved the open spaces and unrestricted access to fields and countryside, which is in such short supply in their native Singapore. After that, they drove to Gandia to have a look at the historic centre of the town and a visit to the Borgia Palace, followed by a further drive to the inland town of Xativa with its quaint streets and historic castle. They were greatly impressed with the beauty of the countryside everywhere along their route and amazed that more foreigners had not discovered the delights of this part of Spain.

After returning to us for a brief time to relax and freshen up, Sunday evening was to be a time to sample a Spanish restaurant in Gandia so they set off to the Plaza de Prado area of the town and enjoyed a leisurely meal at one on the many restaurants there. Returning to us around 11.00pm, it was time to head for bed after a full and busy day and with the prospect of onward travel the following morning. Monday was unfortunately already time for them to move on to their next stop on their itinerary – Seville. A drive to Valencia would get them to the railway station in time to catch the AVE (Spanish high speed) train to Madrid, where another high speed train would take them down to Seville for the next four days of their holiday. After that, their intention was to travel to Barcelona for another four day visit there, before returning home to Singapore. It had been an absolute pleasure to welcome Joseph and his family for what was a brief visit of two nights, and it is only a pity that they had not been able to spend longer in this part of eastern Spain. However, they loved the area and had not had the opportunity to spend any time getting to know Valencia city itself, so perhaps we shall see them back with us in the future. We would certainly be more than happy to welcome them back to Gandia Casa Rural when they have their next European holiday!

Dec 042012

Mountain Biking Holidays in Spain
Autumn Activity Holiday – Mountain Biking in Spain, Walking and Winter Sunshine

Towards the end of October we received a reservation from Anne and Nigel who wanted to come to our part of the Costa Blanca in order to have an activity holiday in some welcome autumn sunshine. It was their intention to spend time getting to know some of the towns and villages in this part of Spain – which they had not visited before – and also to be out in the beautiful countryside both on foot and with mountain bikes.

Since they were experienced mountain bike enthusiasts, they had already been in touch with Mountain Biking Valencia to arrange the rental of bikes for some of the days of their visit. They wanted to combine some guided excursions with some skills training, so by the time they arrived they had a fairly clear idea of what they wanted from their holiday. Dave and his wife Carolina joined Anne and Nigel here at Gandia Casa Rural for dinner on the night of their arrival in order to meet with him face to face and decide on the form the ride should take on their first full day of Mountain Biking in Spain, here in the La Safor region.

Taking a packed lunch with them, they went on a trip of about 35kms along a beautiful gorge, following the course of the river until coming to the valley and reservoir at Benniares. They had a great experience that day and this only served to whet their appetites for more of the same, but with the added benefit of improving their existing skills. With this in mind, they spent another day with their mountain biking guide during their stay with us, concentrating on a route that took them a total of 42kms and ascending over 1,000 metres and leading to the Albaida valley. This is an area of great natural beauty and the route also provided them with the opportunity to improve their skill at descending rocky trails with a high level of confidence and control.

Anne and Nigel spent a week with us, and in that time just loved being out and about in the lovely sunshine. On the days that they were not out mountain biking, they would more often than not take a packed lunch with them and drive to a designated hill walking or hiking route and spend the day there, or else they would drive and explore some of the beautiful inland towns nearby. Xativa, with its historical castle, was a particular attraction for them and they wandered through the picturesque, narrow streets up to the famous castle that dominates the town and the surrounding valley. Simat, with its partially restored monastery, was another favourite – and one that is only a very short distance away from us here at our Casa Rural. One morning Nigel decided to take a rental bike and ride up Mount Monduver, the mountain that dominates our valley and is the highest in the region. This was a ride that incorporated an ascent of some 900 metres and a distance of about 25kms – quite an achievement when you consider that he was back at home in time for lunch!

A lazy holiday for them it most certainly was not. An enjoyable and refreshing one, however, it was. They really did have a great time here with us, and found that they were able to get exactly what they wanted from an activity holiday, but combined with the comfort and convenience of their accommodation here at the Gandia Casa Rural. They dined with us every evening, made use of the modern facilities like the free WiFi that is available throughout, and even managed to get in a little time sitting in the sunshine in the gardens beside the pool. Since this was November, the pool itself was not part of their holiday fun – but that definitely did not detract from what was a perfect autumn activity break for them. We certainly enjoyed having them visit us and look forward to their return, when they can explore even more of what this part of the northern Costa Blanca has to offer the out of season visitor.

Oct 212012

Autumn Sunshine Breaks

After the peak holiday period of the summer months, which extends into the middle of September, we have enjoyed meeting a wide variety of guests who have booked with us to make the most of the continuing good weather here on the Costa Blanca, but without the high season crowds.

The main attractions of a late break in this part of the Costa Blanca are the variety of things to do and see, other than sitting on one of the award-winning beaches in the area. Sharon and Dick came all the way from Chicago, for example, and spent time here as part of a much longer tour around the country. They wanted to stay in a rural setting but with easy access to the city of Valencia and found this location ideal with the convenient and frequent train service nearby. They went to Valencia a couple of times during their visit, as well as taking some scenic drives through the beautiful mountains that lie inland from Gandia and getting to know our local town as well.

Matthias and Christian from Hamburg also wanted to visit the city easily, which they did a couple of times during their stay with us as B & B guests. However, they also took advantage of the fact that at this time of year it is possible to find good-value air fares to the Balearic Islands and took a day trip to Ibiza from Valencia airport, which is only about 45 minutes’ drive from Villa Florencia. They had a great day, leaving early in the morning and returning in the late evening, and felt they had managed to add a whole new dimension to their stay here on the Costa Blanca. Other visitors from Germany included Sabrina and her cousin Tanja, but their visit not only was to reap the benefits of some late summer sun, but also to lend assistance at the nearby animal rescue centre in Gandia, run by SPAMA. Sabrina had visited us before on a working holiday, and this time brought her cousin with her to help as well. They stayed in our self-catering apartment and combined their time working in the rescue home with visiting Playa de Gandia in their spare time to enjoy the lovely weather, before returning to a much colder Germany!

Now that the heat of the summer has passed, some of our guests had come in order specifically to take part in some of the outdoor recreational activities that abound in this area in the cooler months. Mark and Christian from Belgium spent time with us (leaving their wives in Valencia city to do more sightseeing) and booked time for mountain biking trips as well as bird watching expeditions. The weather was perfect for this, as it was pleasant and sunny without being too hot for strenuous exercise and they biked around some of the inland towns and villages on guided routes courtesy of Dave Warrington at Mountain Biking Valencia. They found the scenery beautiful and had a wonderful time visiting places they would most certainly not have discovered on a day trip in their car. Their bird watching hobby is also one that they could enjoy in the local area, with an expedition to the Albufuera wetlands south of Valencia city, arranged by Valencia Birding where they were able to spot a large number of different species, often already on their migratory routes south.

Rock climbing is also a hugely popular sport in this region and attracts many visitors from all over the world, once the cooler weather arrives. We were pleased to welcome two visitors from Canada who called on us in the hope we would be able to accommodate them, as well as give them helpful information regarding the best climbing crags in the area. We pointed them in the direction of Gandia Crag nearby where they spent the whole day, before returning to us as darkness began to fall. The following day was an early start for them, as they were intending to visit other crags to the south and find accommodation for their next night’s stay. Again, they were pleasantly surprised with what was to be found in our little corner of the La Safor region!

Other guests included travellers from England who were spending time here visiting relatives in the area, but wanting the added flexibility of staying close by rather than imposing on their family members. We were also pleased to welcome other British guests who were in fact living out here in Spain, but wanted to acquaint themselves with our part of the Costa Blanca – all part of a long weekend break to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Perhaps the most unusual reason for visiting us though was that of three Spanish couples from Asturias in the north – they visited us for a long weekend with their eight German Shepherd dogs who had been entered in a national German Shepherd dog show that was being held in Gandia. They found that the accommodation here suited them perfectly, as they rented our self-catering apartment and their dogs slept in their trailers in our secure car parking area. They were quite safe and happy doing this, as they often travel for similar events and the trailers are very comfortable and sufficiently spacious.

So there have been many reasons for our late season guests to visit us, ranging from part of a tour of the rest of the country, getting to know the area generally, working in an animal rescue centre, or taking part in a prestigious dog show! Whatever the reason, all our guests had a thoroughly enjoyable time and were pleasantly surprised at just how much there is to see and do in this part of the Costa Blanca, in addition to their main reason for coming in the first place. Many of our guests felt that they would have liked to stay longer, but existing travel plans or commitments prevented them from doing so, but hopefully we will see them again next year when they can do and see the things they ran out of time for on this occasion.

Sep 162012
Pet Friendly Accommodation Costa Blanca

The Full Monty!

We received a booking request for one night from John and Jacqui, who asked if we could accommodate them, along with their Cockapoo named Monti. We always say that we welcome owners as well as their pets, so of course replied that the three of them would be very welcome. They were in fact travelling down to their holiday home in Andalusia, having driven down through France visiting friends along the way. This part of the Costa Blanca is a very convenient point to stop along the way down to the south of the country, and the Bed and Breakfast accommodation that we offer is a very convenient option. Added to that is the fact that guests can choose to take advantage of our evening meal service, so there is no need to look for a restaurant in unfamiliar surroundings after a long drive during the day. The pet-friendly accommodation that we offer only served as an additional inducement for John and Jacqui to stay with us – it was the perfect solution for them.

Monti was a beautiful and friendly 8 month old cross poodle and cocker spaniel (hence Copckapoo), who was a real delight and who soon became friends and playmates with our three dogs. Lola – our Spanish Mastiff – was wary of her male visitor at first but soon realised that there was no need to assert herself … much easier just to play and romp around together, which is exactly what they all did in no time at all.

John and Jacqui were delighted that they were able to relax after their drive from their last overnight stop near Perpignan and enjoyed some time in the garden and pool watching the dogs play together. Then it was time for a quick change of scenery so we took all four dogs for a short walk in the park behind the villa, before returning in time for a relaxing and convivial dinner together.
Pet Friendly accommodation
The next morning it was, of course, time for John and Jacqui to carry on with their journey to their holiday home, so our dogs had to say good-bye to their new-found friend, and Monti happily jumped in to the back of John’s car and was safely secured for the trip to Andalusia. It was absolutely great to have them say with us overnight, and they had a thoroughly enjoyable time and felt able to unwind quickly from the previous leg of their journey. We very much look forward to seeing them in the future and it goes without saying that Lola, Aurora and Sandy would love to reacquaint themselves with Monti again – no doubt a noticeably larger dog the next time we see him!

Aug 312012

Back to visit us again!

It was with great pleasure that we welcomed Marie, Anton and their daughter Jana back to Villa Florencia again – this was their third visit and the second one in our self-catering apartment. They live in Switzerland, although originate from South Africa, so are always pleased to see some of our warm Spanish sunshine – and this visit did not fail to disappoint, with beautiful warm weather and lots of time relaxing in the pool and gardens.

They stayed with us for a week here on the Costa Blanca and during that time also went to the city of Valencia, specifically to see the Oceanografic aquarium at the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias). This was as a belated birthday treat for Yana, who loved all the exhibits there and especially the glass tunnels that you walk through with marine life swimming all around you. Other excursions included a trip to the nearby Monastery of Sant Jeroni de Cotalba, which they found well worthwhile and which forms part of the La Safor monastery route and pilgrimage.

Marie and Anton immediately felt on holiday here, as they were already acquainted with the house and the local amenities, so were able to make the most of their stay with us. Routine trips to the supermarket and shops were all very easy for them, and most of the time they catered for themselves in their apartment. One evening, however, they joined our other guests for a barbecue in the gardens and on another occasion took advantage of our evening meal service up on the terrace. Their final night was a Thursday – one of the nights that many of the cafés and bars in Gandia participate in a special promotional tapas evening – so we were pleased to be able to take them out to the town and show them some of the places frequented by local people on an ordinary night out. This way they really felt they were able to get a proper feel for the town, in a way that they might not otherwise have done.

Their week’s visit soon came to an end, however, and it was time for them to drive back up to Barcelona and catch their flight home to Switzerland. It was a real pleasure to see them here again, and we are glad that they feel so at home and relaxed at our Casa Rural. We very much look forward to seeing them again with more of our Costa Blanca sunshine to warm them up!

Aug 302012

Our First Polish Guests

A few weeks ago we received a booking from Tomasz and Tadeusz, who were looking to spend nine days with us here in search of some reliable sunshine and warmth and an escape from what has not been a very reliable summer in Poland. They were to be our first guests from Poland, so of course we were delighted that we could accommodate them for the time they wanted. Their arrival was delayed by a few hours due to problems with their flight from Krakow, so they only reached us in the small hours of the morning, but they were very glad to find us with no problems even in the dark.

It was a lovely surprise for them, therefore, when they woke up the next morning to find themselves in such beautiful surroundings with the La Safor mountains almost in the front garden and the swimming pool beckoning to be tried out! Having had such a late arrival they were very glad to be able simply to relax and take it easy for the first day and to get used to their new surroundings, so after a leisurely breakfast, that is exactly what they did. They soon felt very much at home, and wanted to know all about the area and where they could go for lunch and dinner on different days, as well as taking day trips to some of the surrounding towns and villages.

They were most impressed with the blue flag awarded beach at Playa de Gandia, and went for lunch to the Club Nautico there on more than one occasion, as well as exploring towns such as Xativa with its imposing castle and the monastery at nearby Simat. This was by no means the first time they had visited Spain though, having spent time in Andalusia, the Basque Country and Cataluña, but they had not been to the region of Valencia before. They therefore took the opportunity to go to Valencia city on a couple of occasions, once specifically to visit the City of Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias) where they wanted to spend time at the Oceanografic – the largest aquarium in Europe. They returned to Valencia later during their stay in order to acquaint themselves with the rest of the city and especially the historic centre, which they found to be a delightful place to visit and tour around.

The rest of their time with us was spent largely relaxing in the gardens and swimming pool and often going to nearby beaches in the earlier part of the day. They also took advantage of our evening meal service on more than one occasion, and joined us and the other guests for a barbecue one night as well. They had a thoroughly enjoyable time with us and managed to fit a lot in to their holiday whilst at the same time relaxing and making the most of the really beautiful weather that lasted for the whole of their visit. The nine days seemed to go past very fast indeed, and all too soon it was time for them to leave and return to Poland, but they assured us they would return to us if they ever visited the Costa Blanca again. It was a pleasure to have them stay with us in our Bed and Breakfast, and we look forward very much to the time when they return.

Aug 252012

We received an unexpected phone call earlier this week from Mariolina and her husband Antonio, who were on their way northwards from Andalucía. In fact, they were already in the Alicante area, and wanted to know if we could accommodate them for a night or two as they passed through the Costa Blanca. They were having a driving holiday in Spain, and had spent the last four weeks touring the country before heading towards Barcelona and the ferry back to Italy.

As it happened, we had a vacancy so were happy to await their arrival later that evening. They made good time from Alicante and soon arrived with us and settled in to their room. They loved the house and gardens, and were so glad that we had room for them at such late notice, having read reviews about us on Trip Advisor. Having already eaten on the way, they did not want to take advantage of our evening meal service, but were happy to enjoy a drink in the garden with us.

They ended up staying for three nights, and took the opportunity to explore the area a little, see the wonderful blue-flag awarded beaches in Playa de Gandia, and visit the Borja Palace in Gandia itself. This was of especial interest to them, as it was the summer home of the Borja family who of course produced the only Spanish popes. They also joined us and our other guests for a barbecue in the gardens on their final night’s stay, before finally having to leave us to head north to Barcelona for a couple of days in the city there, and then the ferry home. They were most appreciative of their stay here with us, and it was a real pleasure to welcome Mariolina and Antonio to Gandia Alberghi Rural. They loved the house, the gardens, as well as our dogs and cats, and we sincerely look forward to the possibility that they might well return to us at some point in the future.

Aug 242012

Pet Friendly Accommodation Spain

We were pleased to welcome an Italian family who came to stay with us for a few days last week, Christian and Paola with their daughter Elena and their two beautifully behaved black setters – Maggie and Martha. They soon settled in, and Maggie and Marta became part of the menagerie here at Villa Florencia! It was the first time they had visited us, and they were doing a trip all around Spain but decided to make us their base for their time on the Costa Blanca.

Maggie and Marta felt at home very quickly indeed, and when the weather was too hot for them in the garden they had no hesitation in taking themselves up to their room and staying there in the cool! Most of the time, however, they preferred to keep close to their owners and accompanied them on trips to Gandia and local village restaurants, as well as on a whole day excursion which took in the Albufera wetlands, a paella lunch at El Palmar, as well as a boat trip on the lagoon and a quick visit to the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia City! Well-travelled dogs indeed and perfectly behaved all the time!

Pet Friendly Accommodation Spain
Another family from Belgium, Herwig, Lut and their daughter Isa, were visiting us at the same time – in fact this is approximately their fifth stay here. The pet-friendly accommodation that we offer was even taken up by them too. They did not arrive with a dog, but they found an abandoned puppy on one of their day trips to the surrounding countryside. They brought her back here with them, and of course were totally won over by her and soon decided to do whatever was necessary to take her back to Belgium with them. Julia, as she was soon named, also settled in amazingly quickly and loved playing with our dogs, learning so much from them in a very short space of time.

Herwig and Lut made veterinary appointments to vaccinate Julia and thereby obtain the necessary papers for her to be able to travel with them back home. Due to restrictions on their airline they could not simply take her with them on the flight they had already booked, so Herwig stayed with us for an extra night and booked himself on a pet-friendly airline the following day and was able to take Julia back to Belgium with no problems at all. We have since had news (and photos!) from them to show that Julia had a very uneventful trip and is happily settled in her new home with them in Belgium. It seems they had been thinking of having a dog anyway, so it seemed that this was somehow simply meant to be – a happy ending for everyone!

Aug 162012
Cycling for families in Spain

A Family Holiday and Birthday Biking Trip

We were really pleased to welcome the Cameron-Jones family when they stayed with us recently, as they were not only spending part of their family holiday in Spain with us here on the Costa Blanca, but also celebrating the 18th birthday of one of their sons, Max. They had booked four nights with us, and planned to spend one of their days on a guided mountain bike tour of the area as well.

Tim and Samantha wanted to have a mix of rest and relaxation along with seeing some of the countryside in this beautiful region of Spain, so decided to spend part of each day relaxing around the pool as well as exploring some of the towns and beaches within easy reach of the villa. On the day of Max’s birthday, Tim and Max, along with his brother Alistair, went for a morning’s mountain-biking with Dave Warrington and had a great time taking in the fabulous scenery and discovering unspoilt mountain villages and hamlets, before returning to the villa for a very welcome lunch. After a well-earned rest in the gardens they set off again, this time with Samantha as well, and took in the whole of the valley opposite us, going as far as the monastery at Sant Jeromi before returning in time for evening meal. They all agreed that it was considerably less effort than they had expected, and that the high quality and technical advantages of Dave’s bikes helped considerably to make it a thoroughly enjoyable day for everyone.

Their other days were spent exploring Playa de Gandia as well as the main town of Gandia itself, enjoying the beaches of Oliva and Gandia, and of course relaxing in our gardens and pool in the truly beautiful weather that they had during their visit. As well as dining out in a couple of the excellent restaurants nearby they also took advantage of our evening meal service and were more than happy to spend the rest of that evening sitting outside in the cool of the garden. However, all too soon it was time for them to move on, and they were travelling a little further south along the Costa Blanca where they intended to visit relatives they had not seen for some time. They had had a good combination of relaxation and activity during their stay with us and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know our part of the La Safor region. It was a pleasure to have them visit us, and hopefully they will return in the future and enjoy another family holiday in the sun at Villa Florencia.