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Summer/Autumn 2010, June to December
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Sunday 20th June could not come soon enough. We drove down to Plymouth and onto the Pont Aven, Brittany Ferries ferry to Santander. The Bay of Biscay has a reputation for being a bit of a rough crossing but, as last time, it was a calm as a mill pond. It's a bit boring on a ferry if you aren't into sitting in a bar, drinking and watching the 'turn' - and we aren't! So we wandered about, had a nice meal, wandered a bit more and then slept.
We were breaking the drive through Spain by staying for a couple of nights in Toledo, about 70km south of Madrid. Having managed to hit Madrid at the evening rush hour, which happens much later in Spain than in the UK, we were relieved to find that lastminute.com had done us proud again and the hotel was shear luxury - if a little quiet as we hardly saw another guest the whole time we were there.
Toledo is stunning. As you will see below, our room overlooked the old city which was about 20 minutes walk away. We bought one of those jump-on-jump-off tour bus tickets so we used that to get around right up into the evening, good value at 5€. We only had one full day there and that's hardly time to do it justice so we may return one day.
Arriving in Saliente, we had a day or so to sort ourselves out then Darryl's mum and dad came for a few days. We had a great time and, no sooner had they gone than the builders moved in - and that's a whole other set of photos!
           
We were a bit weary as we checked into the room but, apart from it being luxury itself, this was the view that greeted us from the balcony. The hotel garden and across to the city of ToledoNight time photographs never do a view justice so you'll have to take our word that this was superb.The next day we walked down to the river to cross into the old town. This building is an old water mill taking advantage of the weir in the river.
The Bridge of St Martin, originally a roman bridge and a spectacular way to enter the old town.We decided to wait by the bridge and catch the tourist bus but, when it arrived, it was full so we had to walk any way.As we walked up into the old town, this was the view back to our hotel which is the terracotta coloured building in the distance.
Another view to the hotel across the rooftops of the townAs in many cities in Spain in the past, the Moors, the Christians and the Jews all lived happily together, each building their own churches and mosques. Why can't it be that way today?And one even boasts a Christ the Redeemer style statue
We were now on the tourist bus and, being on the top deck of a double-deck bus made for some stunning views and photo opportunitiesWe presume (?) this was once one of the gates to the cityAnd these are the city walls.
The tourist bus climbs up the hillside opposite the town to provide many good views across the riverAnd down to the riverWe stopped at one point in a lay by to let the traffic pass us. There was a long queue built up behind us!
This is the military academyAnd, whilst having a coffee and tapas in a square a little later, about 40 young and handsome (and a few that were less so!) Spanish soldiers joined us, sort of, in the same square.Again, ignorance as to which church, but we were intrigued by the shackles so high up on the church wall. Maybe it was some medieval punishments to be suspended there?
Toledo cathedral is beautiful outside and said to be so inside. Unfortunately they are a little greedy when it comes to charging an entrance fee and we balked at the 10 euro each so we never did see the inside.And we made do with viewing it from the outsideLater that evening we walked back into town, over the river, and went for a meal. We found a lovely bar/restaurant a bit off the beaten track and Stuart had his first ever Gazpacho. And certainly not his last - how can cold soup taste so fantastic!
We caught the tourist bus back to St Martins Bridge to walk the rest of the way back to the hotel. And the stonework seemed to be alight with the evening sun. That as Toledo and the following morning we left for SalienteSaliente greeted us with something neither of us had seen before. A cactus in full bloom. The flowers last for less than 24 hours so you have to be quite lucky to catch themAll that effort into a beautiful flower, just for it to fade and drop off 24 hours later. Amazing.
Iris and Pete came for a few days and we took them to Mojacar Pueblo. High on a hill above the tourist resort of Mojacar Playa it is a quaint, if a little touristy, town with stunning views to eat your lunch and look out overSo that's where we ate; in the sun (under a parasol) and watched the world go by from a great heightAnd for a tourist place, the food and the prices are not too bad
Walking around the town we found the church gardens - it must be one of the most floral entrances of any church in SpainSo we made it a photo opportunityAnd then walking back, more of the same high level stunning views.
But there's always the lure of the pool back at homeThat's what it's all about!One Saturday Gill & William invited us to go for a picnic - Spanish style so we headed for the cost and found a stunning headland with a really steep path to the sea.
So we ate at the top and then drove down to here, a fairly quiet beach where we could swim in the MedUnusually, there were some very large waves and swimming, for us, was not an option so we lay down and let the Med wash over us!>And amused the local Spanish who were there by tumbling in and out of the breakers. We had a great time.
Whilst it was not the most picturesque bay on the coast, I bet there were few people who laughed as much as we did that day.No excuse for this shot - it's Gill & Williams cat, Tio, he's just gorgeous!Our neighbours from the UK, Rod & Mary, came over for a few days with us. Here Mary's saddling up for a ride out on Gill's horse, Nisha.
Mary said it was a good few years since she'd ridden but, as you can see from her positioning on the horse, she'd obviously not lost the knack.It wasn't a very long ride, the sun was getting up and the day was getting too hot for the horse, but I think Mary enjoyed herself very muchAnd once back at Gill & Will's it was time to thank the horse too.
Yes, I think Mary enjoyed it!We popped over to Darryl's Mum & Dad's on the coast to have a couple of days with them and to help Pete install a satellite dish. We failed!So we headed for the beach at Santa Pola and had a coffee and tostada in the sunshine.
Back in Saliente, and it was time for the official opening of the new patio and front garden ... so we invited a few good friends round to christen itJumping forward quite a few weeks now and it's New Year's Eve so we put on the food and Gill & William and Denise & Stewart turned up to provide us with the entertainment.Denise & Stewart's youngest son was there too. It's no use hiding Jordon, we've spotted you!
 

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