We were pleased to welcome Neil and Debs to Villa Florencia at the end of last week, with the added dimension that they are from Canada, taking five weeks to tour through Spain and Portugal, and doing the whole thing by public transport – mainly bus. We collected them from Gandía bus station and brought them to our home, and the emphasis of their trip was to stay away from large cities and towns, and to spend time walking and hiking in the hills and mountains that this country has to offer away from the better known tourist destinations.
Their aim was to stay in bed and breakfast accommodation along the way, planning their route a week or so in advance and staying at each place for three or four nights at a time, which would give them the opportunity to get a feel for each area and explore the natural environment. They are keen outdoor explorers and walkers in Canada, but were taking a six month sabbatical from work to enjoy life without pressure for a change and had decided to take advantage of some European late summer sunshine, as the weather in Canada is beginning to cool considerably by this time of year. They had flown in to Barcelona and spent a few days in Tarragona to recover from the inevitable jet lag, and then made their way down to Gandía in order to explore the La Safor mountains and the wonderful scenery of the northern Costa Blanca.
They stayed with us for four nights, and each day they would explore the surrounding mountains and valleys, either on foot direct from the house or we would give them a lift to a start point. They took a packed lunch with them each day, and made the best possible use of the marked out hiking and walking routes around the mountain of Mondúber. They visited the Parpalló-Borrell natural park area and information centre there to get guidance and ideas, and were impressed that Gandía was now trying to publicise the beauty of the surrounding area to the foreign traveller. Sometimes they would do a round route and return to the house, or sometimes they would contact us from a pre-arranged point and we would then collect them and drive them home. They loved the fact that they could hike in such beautiful surroundings and in superb weather, and that they could do so without having to hire a car to drive a considerable distance before setting off on their day’s walk.
At some point during the afternoon they would return to us and spend the last hour or so of sunshine in the garden, taking advantage of the warmth that they would miss so much upon their return to Canada. Each evening they dined with us, and found the whole concept of being able to have a holiday such as this based around Villa Florencia most appealing, without having to venture into larger centres and towns other that to travel on to their next port of call. And all too soon it was indeed time to leave – even though they had extended their visit to us by one night – so after consulting bus timetables they left heading in the direction of Alicante and their next rural accommodation that they had already reserved. It had been a very great pleasure to have Neil and Debs stay with us, and gratifying to find that they could spend time in the immediate surroundings of our home pursuing their outdoor walking and hiking pastimes and that they felt it compared with the fantastic scenery and surroundings of their home country.