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.