From France to Spain

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To say I have been through a hell of a time the last few months is an understatement.

So an extended holiday was exactly what the doctor ordered.!

18 days of bliss, but how could we afford it!

We set about planning our summer 2015 trip wondering how we could reduce costs while still enjoying ourselves to the max and so we made our plan.

We flew into Carcassonne, a beautiful medieval town in the south of France on the 10th of September and stayed in the fabulous Maison Fortunat

(https://www.facebook.com/Maison-Fortunat-661011880682193/)

Of course it helps that my sister owns this wonderful property, check it out!

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Fully equipped with everything you need to have an amazing holiday including a pool, obviously!

A short walk from the medieval cite where you are transported to another world almost immediately, every narrow little street leads you to another gem. Torture museums, haunted houses, knights jousting on horseback, shops, freshly made crepes and juices, restaurants…. WINE!!  (As i said, everything you need)

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When you eventually want to face reality again you can walk another 10 minutes to the ‘new town’ where you will be greeted with magnificent fountains, carousels and the ultimate holiday necessity, the square in the centre Ville, where you can sit for hours sipping on a local wine and get lost people watching. (My favourite haunt is Chez Felix)

If you fancy a spot of shopping, there is literally a long street running from one side of the town to the other with everything a girl could want. Sephora,  Pimkie, parfois and many more.

Spend your evenings in The Celt Irish bar, not your usual Irish bar abroad. This one is actually owned and run by genuine Irish people and doesn’t have the usual cringy Irish bar abroad vibe. Its classy interior and even classier range of high end whiskeys sets it aside from the others. The Celt hosts open mic nights which attract French, English and Irish patrons. A diverse culture which makes for a great night.

Find them here; https://www.facebook.com/theceltcarcassonne?fref=ts 

                          http://www.theceltpub.com/

From Carcassonne you have access to Carcassonne plage, a man made lake with water activities, if you want to venture a little further, Toulouse is only an hour away, the same with Montpelier and Narbonne, both sea side towns.

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Carcassonne should defiantly be on your places to visit list.

 

So, I guess this is when our adventure really started.

We caught the 9pm train to Barcelona (extremely hung-over), but the train was super comfortable.

 Barcelona was just a place to pick up our rental car for the next part of our adventure. We figured we could fly directly into Barcelona any time but other places are not as accessible, plus you need time to wander in Barcelona and we didn’t have enough of that hehehehe

So, we collected our car and shat ourselves a little bit at the task ahead of navigating Spanish roads. Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t that bad. We then headed North, yes, back the way we came, past Girona, to the lovely medieval town, Pals.

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We stopped along the way in Decathlon to buy ourselves a tent, some foam rollers and microfibre towels.

Camping was the cheapest way and Spanish camp-sites have excellent facilities.

This is where we found paradise, Cala D’aigua Xelida

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Then Girona, another massive medieval Town, where they were filming Game of thrones might I add!

We wandered through narrow streets in the old town and then sat down and watched the world pass us by while we drank Rioja and ate patatas bravas and Nachos.

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We drove to two camp-sites in Girona and both looked unsafe so we stayed in a gorgeous hotel in the city centre, that I found in 5 minutes before check in on bookings.com. But I really enjoyed Girona Town, it felt homely and safe.

IMG_20151010_160835The weather wasn’t amazing so we decided that heading south was a good option, we stopped off at some lovely places along the way.

Tossa De Mar

A beautiful place to stop, have some lunch and take it the views.

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From there , the awe-inspiring Roman Amphitheatre in Taragonna.

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And on to Granada, it was late when we got into Granada and we had drove for 4 hours so i went on bookings.com and found this amazing hotel, for 100EURO. I still think it was some sort of mix up, we got a suite with a jacuzzi in the room!

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I was just raging that we didn’t arrive earlier.

The next morning we woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go explore Granada. A town we had heard so much about, steeped in history, on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

I had planned on going to see Flamingo dancing in the caves and the Palace in Alhambra and the Arabic shopping streets.

Sadly we didn’t research it enough and our whole, be free , make no plans ethos on the holiday back fired. Tickets for the palace were sold out for the foreseeable future and the same with Flamingo dancing in the caves.

However, we did get tickets to see the palace gardens, and we made it to the Arabic markets.

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It was beautiful there, we were so disappointed we didn’t get to see the palace, but we had to move on, we wandered through the Arabic centre and sat and had a glass of wine and then we did a spot of shopping. At about 7pm we decided we better organise where we would stay so we searched camp-sites and found an award winning camp-site up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and we made our way up. It was dark on arrival so using the lights of the car we pitched out tent and headed to the camp-site bar for a night cap.

 The air was fresh in the mountains and I actually woke up in the middle of the night freezing, my micro-fibre towel wasn’t enough so i wrapped myself up in clothes.

The next day we saw some of the Sierra Nevada national park and went and walked the hanging bridges of Granada.

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We drove from there straight to Malaga, had some lunch on the beach and pitched our tent in Torremolinos for our first few beach days xx It was so nice to finally let the sun soak into our skin, read some books and drink some cocktails.

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We rested here, went for relaxing morning walks on the beach and two hour strolls every night until it was time to check into our final destination.

Mijas

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We stayed in an amazing rental property in Calle de Mijas which was spread out over three floors.

Casa Kewuet

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When you walk into the house you are greeted with this view, amazing day or night. It was such a pity that our schedules were so hectic, we never got to sit here and watch the sun set together with a bottle of wine.

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An old style interior with a modern twist.

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The bathroom was built into the hillside rocks and this beautiful free standing bath took centre stage in the house.

We were in Mijas for our friends wedding and it was beautiful, and so central, Close to Malaga and Marbella.

So many things to do x

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I really enjoyed the holiday but I gotta say, Greece and it’s old fashioned islands still have my heart.

Spain was busy, commercialised and stressful to drive in and I just didn’t get the same relaxed vibe I had felt in Greece.

Check out my previous blog here:

https://brenda89b.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/my-love-affair-with-the-greek-islands/

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My Love Affair with the Greek Islands

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Apparently, ever since my eldest sister could talk she spoke about France. The sunflower fields, the culture, the people. It was no surprise when she eventually moved there.

For me, its always been about Greece. I never vocalised it like she did but for some reason Greece has always been in my thoughts. When I was a teenager it seemed so far out of reach as a destination. In my head it was a luxury place that someday, when I was rich and a famous singer (oh to be young) I would go to. Of course this is not the case.

Greece is a very popular destination among package holiday’ers. (Is that even a word)

So in 2013 I visited my first ever Greek Island Zakynthos (Zante) and fell madly in love with it.

Zakynthos, a Greek Island in the Ionian sea is small and intimate with deserted beaches as-well as resorts full of party goers. It has an old time, relaxed feel to it. A simple life. It is most famously know for its shipwreck bay or smugglers cove, where a boat smuggling tobacco came into difficulty while being chased by police and washed up on shore.

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Smugglers cove can be seen by boat or more daringly can be seen from the limestone cliffs above which are crumbling away more and more every day.

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I have to say, this was the most beautiful site I have ever laid my eyes on. Driving our rental car around every inch of the Island and finding this was just beautiful and still to this day, when I look back on my pictures, I cannot believe I saw this first hand. When people say that Greece has turquoise waters, believe them. We also went to smugglers cove by boat. You have to go early in the morning because as the package tourism arrives midday, it is like a D-day landing at Normandy.

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As we drove around Zante we found more and more beauty. Restaurants perched on cliff tops, looking down below to crystal clear, turquoise, heavenly waters.

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Deserted beaches with turtle’s nesting. We even got to witness baby turtles making their first steps to the ocean x

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Everywhere we looked beauty surrounded us. Life seemed so easy there. People visited their neighbours at night and sat outside and spoke to each other. Not in front of TV’s, not with smart phones in their hands!!

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The little Island behind us is called turtle island, it is shaped like a turtle and humans are forbidden on it. Turtles come there to nest every year. You can however take a boat and go turtle watching around the Island.

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Cameo Island, the ultimate wedding venue! A small Island attached by a timer bridge has all the essentials, a bar and a restaurant.

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A place where nature blends in with modern life.

(A place where you can pick a lime straight of the tree for your balcony beers)

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Zakynthos, defiantly a place to visit, defiantly a place to return to, defiantly a place to retire in. My first ever Greek love.

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When holiday decision time came round in 2014, I wanted to hit up another Greek Island and Falcon travel had just added Rhodes to their destinations. So we booked and made a list of what we wanted to do there.

Rhodes is much bigger than Zakynthos and more built up. You have to go right into the middle of it to get that left behind sense that Zakynthos has. A feeling that I love. Again, driving around Rhodes, you could see it’s beauty, but just in different ways. Because it is more built up, you cannot get that sense of desertion, you don’t feel like the only two people in the world here and you loose that ‘simple way of life’ that I loved in Zante.

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However, Rhodes is steeped in History. Rhodes old town is just amazing, getting lost here is not a defeat, it’s an opportunity! It is the oldest inhabited medieval town in Europe and as you walk through the narrow streets catching glimpses into people one bedroomed houses your perspective on life changes. 10665385_952853091397116_1617460677983253495_n From one extreme to another you can walk through the palaces of kings and they are truly magnificent. It has hundreds of bars and restaurants but to find good home-cooked food you have to get off the beaten track. xxx The colossus of Rhodes is one of the seven wonders of the world and when you walk around it you get a sense of what life was all about back then. You can almost hear the cheers and excitement of generations passed. 10628436_952849074730851_7681555233574458081_n 10639694_952849171397508_77917104531396295_n

Lindos, another beautiful old village is a must see.

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Where narrow streets leading to colourful gates greet you at every corner.

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A place where fresh fruit and veg and nature surrounds you  even in Town’s and villages.

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Both beautiful Islands. If you feel like you need a break from hustle and bustle and want to laze around, then pick Zakynthos. If you want lavish hotels, beaches smothered in parasols, friendly locals and historic buildings pick Rhodes. Either way bboth are worth a visit.

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And……… there are cats EVERYWHERE!

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I could talk about both Islands for hours and upload a million pictures too but I’ll leave it at that. Both times we booked through Thompson/Falcon travel and they delivered a top class service.

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