Holiday-ed Out

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

It doesn’t usually happen that I go away for a week, then go away again a week later, but that was just the way things went over the past couple of weeks. I gotta say Maggie & I were very lucky we chose to travel to Spain when we did, as the newspapers this week have been filled with pictures of airports there in total chaos and families waiting 3-4 hours to board flights. But this happens every August in Europe now, as most families are only able to travel then, since it’s the only month kids are out of school.

For us, the only chaos in Spain was a navigation app that completely sent us into turmoil on our last day in Malaga. We were about 50 yards away from our hotel after filling up the car when the voice told us to return to the route we had been on. This began a journey into darkness that kept us going for two hours, passing by the hotel a couple of times, but the app wasn’t having it. About five times in succession, the voice would say “make a U-turn at the next roundabout,” and we’d follow its direction, but we seemed to get nowhere.  We stopped at a service station in the hopes that someone there could speak enough English to direct us, but no luck. Then we re-programmed the address we wanted to go to, but got one number wrong in the postal code, and found ourselves in the middle of a residential area of a nearby ghetto-ish town called Tormellinos. The app’s response: “You have reached your destination!” It was at that point that we programmed the app to take us to Malaga Airport, where we turned the car in and took a cab to the hotel. A total waste of 20 Euros, but sanity is at least worth that.

It was a far cry from our first day in the resort town of Ronda, where the app was telling us to turn at Calle de Velasquez or something like that as though we were local residents and knew what the hell it was talking about. We very much lucked out, as we saw a man sitting outside a pub finishing up a beer. We asked him first if he spoke English, which he did, then asked him if he knew where our hotel was. Not only did he know, but he volunteered to go to his car and escort us there. I’m sure in some South American countries, this scenario would be the last anyone would ever hear of us, but something in his manner said he was genuine. It turned out he owned a restaurant that was about 100 yards from there, the food at which was so excellent, we went twice, and the photo we published on FB a couple weeks ago was from the patio. If you’re ever in Ronda, the La Pilastra has excellent food to go with an amazing view.

We spent the following weekend in the Sierra Nevadas (no we didn’t go to California) for the wedding of two of my housemates, which was the reason we were going to Spain in the first place. The wedding was in a village called Picena, just a couple kilometres down the road from Lazores, and another six km to Mairena, where we were staying. I’m sure you’re familiar with all three. I think the population of all three villages is about the same as my block in London. The wedding and the parties were all charming, and the whole trip, except for that day in Malaga, and my ridiculous wait through customs at Stansted Airport (which took an hour when 10 years ago it was always about 10 minutes), was totally lovely.

This past week we met up with Maggie’s daughter, husband and grandkids, who make an annual trip to Camber Sands on the south coast of England every August for about the last seven years. Last year, some swimmers drowned there while the kids were on the beach, but this year, the weather was too crap for people to even hang out there, let alone swim. They stay in a chalet each year, but this year the chalet was too small for us, so we got a hotel in the nearby town of Rye, where we’ve stayed a few times before.

We chose a smaller accommodation, and will never do that again. The hotel management called the room a “small double,” but that was being kind. God forbid either of us should be tall, overweight, or disabled, or we may not have been able to shut the door. How they ever got the bed in there is amazing enough. The bathroom, with sink, shower, and toilet, was equal in size to your average broom closet. The TV got exactly ONE channel, and the radio only worked sporadically. The breakfast was a typical melange of fruit, toast, and cereal, but they also offered cooked breakfast. If you want undercooked, runny eggs and bacon that still oinks when you stick a fork in, I’ve got the place for you!  And maybe just to get us out of there early, the curtains were light coloured, so shielding out the daylight which at this time of year begins at 5:15 AM was a lost cause.

Since we were staying for two nights, we tried to remedy the situation for the second night. We told the manager of the situation, and after he’d said for about the fourth time, “I can’t recall anyone complaining about this before,” he offered to bring up an extra blanket to hang over the curtains and block out some of the light. That he did, but then didn’t offer to do the setup himself even though he was clearly younger and more fit than either of us. Left to our own devices, we didn’t get it right the first time, and while standing on a precarious stool, it fell out from under me. I wasn’t hurt, but Maggie aggravated a shoulder injury by attempting to break my fall. Still I got it up there, and we did sleep better, but her pain stayed on through the drive home the next day.

Good news is, we listed all the complaints, and the lady who helped us with check-out was very kind and apologetic, taking £40 off the room charge. We are safely home and chilling for this weekend, with plans to stay put for a while. Though there’s a California trip proposed in October…


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