Mar 242014

Gandia Las Fallas 2014Guests for “Fallas Fortnight”!

Quite a few months ago we received a booking from Sandy and David who wanted to stay in our self-catering apartment for nearly a fortnight, to coincide with the local fiesta of Gandia Las Fallas 2014. Las Fallas is the famous Valencian fiesta which sees enormous satirical effigies constructed in each town (or in each area of larger towns). These are then judged on their merits and finally burned to the ground on the night of March 19th – St Joseph’s Day, the patron saint of carpenters. In the run-up to March 19th there are daily parades with marching bands and local ladies and young girls bedecked in the most elaborate of traditional dress.

Sandy and David are very keen on the whole tradition of the Fallas fiestas and have been coming to the Valencian region to view the spectacle for a number of years. However, this was the first time they had decided to spend their time in Spain with us and we were delighted to welcome them and show them to the self-catering apartment that would be their home for the next two weeks. They were of course very familiar with the area already and so very soon felt at ease in their surroundings and knew exactly where to go on each day to view the different parades and celebrations in many different towns in the Valencia region.

Although they were staying in our self-catering apartment, this was a choice they made in order to have a space they could truly think of as their own, rather than from any great desire to cook their own meals have a self-catering holiday in the true sense of the word. They were therefore delighted to learn that they were very welcome to take advantage of our evening meal service – and they even joined our other Bed & Breakfast guests for breakfast on the terrace too!

Every day they went to a different town or village and really did their preparation when it came to knowing what parade was going to take place, where and when! In the past they had stayed near Xativa and on one day of each trip would take the train to Valencia city to see the magnificent effigies that are built there. This trip, however, they were so impressed with the offerings on display in Gandia that they decided to forgo their Valencia visit (and all the crowds of people there too!) and spend their time in the smaller towns nearby, with their main focus being Gandia. The “Mascleta” (or fireworks display) was a must for them of course, and this takes place each day at 2.00pm in front of Gandia’s railway station. In line with most fireworks in Spain, it is much more about the noise than a visible display in the sky – and a huge noise it is indeed! Sandy and David only went to the “Mascleta” a couple of times, but loved the whole general atmosphere in Gandia. They involved themselves in watching parades and bands, and especially enjoyed the day of the main parade in Gandia, which culminates in the presentation of flowers to the statue of Mary at the main church.

After very nearly a fortnight’s stay with us, it was finally the night of March 19th and all the beautiful constructions literally went up in smoke, and Sandy and David had only a couple more days left with us. They had genuinely enjoyed their visit to our self-catering apartment very much indeed – and made a great fuss of our pets too! We were very sorry to see them leave, but absolutely delighted that one of the last things they did before checking out was to make a reservation for the same time again next year! We thoroughly enjoyed meeting them and very much look forward to welcoming them back to Villa Florencia again in 2015!


Mar 242014

CIMG4712Spain or France for Property?

We have recently been aware that more guests have been visiting us for the purpose of looking for a Spanish property on the northern Costa Blanca. Spanish property prices are now at a very realistic level compared to many other places in Europe (northern Europe especially), and this has been reflected in a gradual increase in the number of property hunters – once an almost extinct breed!

Colin and Helen arrived to stay with us on one of our Property Hunters Packages, and booked with us for five nights recently. They are very taken with the idea of a home for their retirement and would love to find somewhere that offers a good and healthy lifestyle, reasonable living costs, and of course better weather. They have been turning the idea over in their minds for some time, and are torn between either France or Spain for this big life changing decision, so this trip was very much a preliminary reconnoitre – basically to see what this part of the country is like and whether it is somewhere they could add to their list.

They had not contacted any property agents, but rather wanted to get a feel for the area in general and so each day they went “out and about” to see what sort of towns and villages they might like, and what property was available in different locations. They had decided to come to the La Safor region on their property search on the correct assumption that this area is still not one with a particularly high ex-pat population – they wanted an area that is still predominately Spanish in its flavour and atmosphere. They liked the area very much, but of course finding the right combination of the type of property that would suit them in a town that also met their requirements can always be challenging.

However, they asked us for pointers as to which towns might be to their taste and every day went on trips to check out different areas. Towards the end of their stay they explored the coastal region in the Moraira area, and loved the town and its port. For them it felt like a place they could imagine themselves feeling comfortable in – and such an initial impression is very often the one that stays with you. However, this was very much an initial exploratory exercise, but one that they found very valuable. They now feel that it would be well worth their while to return to us and focus their energy on that specific part of the coast – maybe arranging a few viewings of suitable properties at the same time.

After leaving us, they were going to spend a couple of nights close to Alicante to gain a better impression of that general area and to be able to make a comparison between the northern and southern parts of the Costa Blanca. We thoroughly enjoyed having them stay with us and would be delighted to welcome them back again to continue their search. By the end of their visit, they had decided that Spain would suit them better than a home in France and now it was probably a question of narrowing their search to the Moraira and surrounding area. We very much look forward to seeing them again soon.