Things to do

UKs Foul February Floods

Without doubt, the vast majority of the Costa Blanca’s Brits will have been watching the TV news, or listening to the radio, to determine the UKs worst hit areas. Most will have an association of some kind with the Thames Valley, with the West Country, or with Wales.

To say we wished we were with you, helping to fill up sand bags would be a whopping lie. Of course, there is measureless sympathy with the plight of all those knee deep in water, with property floating around the lounge. Of course, we understand that it must be extremely depressing to have rain falling every day from grey/black skies, without a single ray of sunshine to be seen.

But then, go to any café in Moraira for a cup of coffee, and fellow coffee guzzlers will confess to being delighted at no longer being located in the UK. They reckon they are blessed to be away from all the problems you are experiencing. The temperature forecasts here in Teulada Moraira for the final days of February are 14°, 18° and 16°. OK, that’s not paddling/diving in the sea weather, but it does allow you to go for a walk in a T shirt and light sweater. There are plenty of pleasant beach walks too. Behind the fine sands and crystal clear waters of El Portet Beach is a long walkway hosting 2 cafes offering morning coffee and a pleasant light lunch. Then towards Moraira, near the entrance to Club Nautico, you’ll come across Portixol Cove. It’s crystal clear waters make it perfect for diving and fishing. In fact, Teulada Moraira can proudly point out that all its beaches, spread along 8 km of coast, have been awarded the Blue Flag by the European Union. Additionally, they have been granted ISO9001 (Certificate of Quality System) and ISO 140001 (Environmental Management). These awards stem from cleanliness, unbeatable water quality, and numerous convenient services and activities available.

Continue walking south, and you’ll probably hear shouts from the "Lonja” – the fish auction held every weekday from 10.00am. Then, just by the side of "Castillo” you’ll find L’Ampolla, the busiest and largest of the town’s beaches, with bars and cafes close at hand.. Go on for a few hundred meters or so and you’ll discover Les Platgetes, two coves of clear waters that combine sandy and rocky areas, and there’s an attractive promenade viewpoint, with gardens and a car park.

Your walk will now be interrupted by cliffs that conceal L’Andrago Cove. Here the rocks and the depth of the transparent waters make it an ideal place for diving and fishing. An attractive viewpoint dominates the cove, and makes it one of the areas most photographed stretches of coast.

The going continues to be rugged, and reaches its highest point at Punta de L’Estrella. It’s called this since its shape resembles the arm of a starfish. On the other side you’ll reach and find Cap Blanc Cove. It’s the least well known of all the coves mentioned, but it’s well worth a visit. Access from the Moraira/Calpe road is good, but it would be sensible to park and proceed to the point on foot.

There are no destructive waves crashing down on the beaches, so you may prefer to spend some time at sea. If so, sailing or boat tours are available, along with outings in kayaks. If you like sea spray in your face, then a few hours on a jet ski are easily arranged.

If you've had your fill of grey skies and rain, then why not join us in Teulada Moraira. Of course, to categorically promise no rain would be dishonest, but it’s not likely to fall for long.

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Posted by on Sunday 2nd March 2014

Costa Blanca Walking

If your location for retirement is the Moraira area – look around you and you’ll see mountains. Many of them can be walked, but it needs to be stressed, in no uncertain terms, that a good level of fitness is needed.

Additionally, if you’re new to this kind of activity, it would be a good idea to first attach yourself to an organisation of considerable experience and expertise in the intricacies of mountain walking/hiking. Go to www.costablancamountainfriends.com    and you’ll find contact details.

Some of their hiking routes use recent man made paths, but in some cases, ancient trails that reach into the heart of the mountains are utilised. These take you through small Valencian villages, where the Spanish dialect is extremely hard to understand. They take you past numerous Christan and Moorish castles too.

Some of their more adventurous walks and hikes follow animal tracks and involve the exploration of river beds and hidden barrancos (ravines). These off the beaten track routes often allow you to see eagles, deers, wild boars, foxes, and goats in their natural habitat. The further inland you go, the more secluded it becomes, without sight of other people for much of the day. However you are treated to the spectacle of amazing mountain flora colours and varieties, and of course, the views are stunning. 

If you fancy walks without any formal organisation, then the Rock of Ifach might appeal, since Its Calpe location is easy to reach. The name was coined by Phoenicians and means "Northern Rock”, distinguishing it from Gibraltar much further south. It’s 332m high and the top can be reached by a zigzagging path, revealing a magnificent view along the Marina Alta coastline.

Alternatively, drive to the car park of the Bernia Restaurant, and you’ll find the start point for 6 possible walks along and around the Bernia Ridge. Don’t forget – whatever walk you embark upon, please take a good supply of energy food and water. This is a prudent thing to do, and in the case of the water, will ensure that no dehydration is suffered.

Of course, it’s important to point out that the walk/hiking options mentioned here are not the only ones available. The intention is to give you a start point for your research, if you fancy spending some of you retirement on this pastime.

 

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Posted by on Monday 14th October 2013

Eating Out in the Moraira area

People are always asking for my restaurant recommendations, and that’s very difficult advice to give since there are so many options available. To my mind, it all depends on the purpose of the restaurant visit. Is it merely to satisfy hunger without changing into posh garb. or is it a business lunch. Perhaps it’s to relax with friends and chat while eating good food in a pleasant atmosphere Equally, if the visit is to celebrate some special occasion, then that will be a factor in the restaurant decision too. You’ll want somewhere with a buzz.

Relaxing with friends and/or celebrating are surely the most pleasant eating occasions, so here are some location suggestions (naturally they are high on my favourites list too)

Ca Pepe

The restaurant is located in Calle Haya, just outside of the main Moraira town, but that provides the bonus of easy parking, even in high season. Ca Pepe is family owned and run, and their success is due to the strategy of using seasonal local produce, and to the care they take to ensure the high standards they set are met by all staff. Just look at the referrals they are able to present on their website. The menu del dia here is priced at 16.95 euros and includes a ½ bottle of wine

D’Gust

The position of the restaurant is ideal – in the corner of Plaza La Sort, in Moraira town. You can eat outside, or at one of the elegant internal dining tables. Either way, the food is presented in an artistic manner that makes the mouth water. The menu del dia is priced at 15 euros and on my last visit, the starter of salmon and the sea bass main course were superb.

El Caserio

This is on the main road out of Moraira, towards Teulada/Benitachell. The style of cuisine is best described as International/Spanish, but whatever the label that most accurately fits, everything is presented in a stylish fashion that adds to the pleasure of the meal. An evening set menu is offered at 21.50 euros, but that provides you with a choice of starter, main course and dessert, and they surprise you with a couple of extra tidbits during the meal. If I say more there’ll be no surprises for you, so no more clues. A whole host of a la carte options are available too, but whatever you choose we’re certain you’ll be licking your lips all the way through the evening.

La Masena

This is a beautifully converted, but still rustic, finca – on the outskirts of Javea. It’s actually on the Carretera Benitachell (the road running towards Javea from Benitachell). It’s open every day, except Tuesday, from 12.30 to 1600 hours and from 19.30 to 2300 hours. You can eat inside the stylish air conditioned dining room, with its beams and chandeliers, or you may decide to dine "al fresco” on the relaxing outside terrace. There is no doubt that this is a venue to celebrate a special occasion, and the house specialities endorse this view; Carpaccio of pear confit with shavings of foie gras; marinated quail salad with mango; scallops "au gratin” and suckling pig with oranges and fried bananas – these will give you some idea about the gorgeous food they serve. The a la carte menu is not cheap, but if you go for the menu del dia at lunchtime, the cost is 17 euros per head, and there is no reduction in quality. Indeed, I visited today and chicken cordon bleu and beef stroganoff were menu del dia possibilities and both were divine

Options

Again, this is a town centre location. The restaurant has a host of highly complimentary  reviews on the Internet, comments confirmed by my own experience. There is no menu del dia on offer, but  you can choose 2 courses from a set menu for 20 euros and for an extra 5 euros you can enjoy an additional course

Rodolfo

This is a genuine Italian restaurant, and although it’s a Moraira town centre location there’s a large free car park to the rear. All food is cooked and prepared under the supervision/instruction of the half Italian/German owner, Rodolfo. The pasta in particular is made to order and tastes fabulous – not surprising since he is a Member of the Federation of Italian Professional Chefs. He says his aim each day is to treat customers to the delights of Italian cuisine, with the subtle combination of flavours, colours and aromas. There is no doubt he succeeds.

Vall de Cavall

Located just off the Teulada road outside of Gata de Gorgos – food aside, the setting of the dining area is wonderful. You look across open countyside and dine beneath the gaze of the elephant shaped mountain called Montgo. The menu del dia will cost 17.50 euros per person and all the tasty courses will be beautifully presented, by friendly and enthusiastic staff.

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Posted by on Monday 30th September 2013

What to do during retirement in Spain

Like me, you probably hurtled along motorways in the years prior to retirement, trying to reach appointments with important clients. Allowance had been made for high levels of traffic, but just one accident resulted in miles and miles of stationery vehicles – yours and mine included.

It was little wonder then, that the prospect of retirement brought doubts into my mind. Would retirement in the UK or in Spain be satisfying after decades of stomach churning, adrenaline pumping rushes from one important appointment or meeting to another.

I’m writing to tell you that retirement in Spain will be, or at least can be, as busy as you want it to be. My diary is as full as it’s always been, but the big difference now is that, if I’m late or decide not to go, there’ll be no angry client on the phone or final warning letter in the post. I go because I’m interested in the activities I attend..

To anyone about to retire to the Moraira area of Costa Blanca, I recommend that you join an organisation called U3A. It’s not concerned with particular age groups. Rather it addresses itself to people whose full time employment is at an end or nearing it, or perhaps those where parental responsibility is no longer full time. Such people, and I’m one of them, still want to experience new things but these days, the emphasis is on leisure and recreational pursuits, rather than achieving academic or employment successes.

The cost of joining U3A is a modest 10 euros per person for one whole year, and some 1400 people think that the membership is worthwhile. Of course, that membership is an important source of new friendships for the newly retired. It’s open to people of all nationalities, and rightly so, but all business is conducted in English.

One of the most amusing facts about team GB’s success in the London Olympics was that the vast majority of our medals were gained in "sitting down sports” – cycling; rowing; sailing.  Not to be outdone, U3A has lots of sitting down activities too. These include backgammon; bridge; canasta; chess; cribbage; flower arranging (OK, I know this one does involve a little leaning forward and stem cutting, but it’s mainly sitting down); fortune telling (though the tarot cards have to be dealt and the crystal ball polished); dining out; jigsaw puzzle solving - actually, there are too many to list.

For those with death wish/extreme sport tendencies, U3A has arranged regular badminton; fishing; gardening; bowls; healthy walking; pilates; petanque; table tennis and yoga sessions, and again these are just examples. The list is even more exhaustive (no pun intended). Then, if you have an interest not already covered, you’ll be encouraged (but not railroaded) to start and run a new group. 

Another organisation that’s worthy of a retiree’s attention is the Teula Moraira Lions Club. With some 1.3 million members worldwide, it’s active in some 44000 communities globally. The Lions Club is a group of male and female volunteers who give time freely to humanitarian causes in and around its local community.

The Lions Club in Teulada-Moraira started it’s fund raising activities in 1994 and in the first year raised 845 pesetas. Since then, the figure has swelled to over 150000 euros. Most important, as an organisation of volunteers, every penny or cent raised by Lions Club International goes directly to charity. For example, they sponsor a food voucher scheme – administered by Social Services at Teulada/Moraira Town Hall. All admin costs are met by members. If you’d like to know how you can get involved with these activities in Moraira on retirement – take a look at their website, where contact details are shown.

Although Mark Twain wittily described it as ”a good walk spoiled” – as I’m writing about things to do during retirement in Spain – the game of golf has to be mentioned and included in the list.

Assuming, as in my case, a high level of fitness and athleticism has long ago departed your body – then the 2 x 9 hole courses near to Moraira will be of interest. For me, on a hot summers day, as long as my drives are reasonably straight, that is – 9 holes is just about the right length before oxygen, several nurses and possibly a matron, are desperately needed.

Club de Golf Ifach

Designed by Javier Arana, the club was opened in 1974. He made the course short but tricky, with narrow fairways and cunningly placed bunkers. The 6 par 3s and 3 par 4s require you to use a full range of clubs and to hone your short game skills. Even if you’re playing badly, it’s hard to spoil the good walk since the views of Ifach rock are stunning.

Club de Golf de Javea

Here’s another course where Mark Twain would have been hard pressed to make his "good walk spoiled” claim stick. The course is flanked by palm, pine and orange trees. It’s sheltered by Cape San Antonio allowing a near perfect all year round micro climate, and your shots are overseen by Montgo, a 750m high mountain shaped like the head and trunk of an elephant. Again, although the course is not long, the 1981 designer, Francisco Moreno, made it challenging – with 34 bunkers – very appropriate, since the sand of the coast is only a few kilometers away. Although it’s only 9 holes long, you can go round twice – most of the back 9 (as it were) having alternative tees. Then the greens have subtle slopes making them difficult to fathom.

It’s good to see that the management of the course insists that golfers dress and behave like golfers, and not like beach bums. The place has some style.

It needs to be stated that if you get in your car with your clubs in the boot, there are other nice courses to visit. There’s Club de Golf La Sella Denia, designed by Jose Maria Olazabal, and a little further north you’ll find the Sevy Ballesteros creation – Club de Golf Oliva Nova. Go in the other direction, and there are courses at Altea, Benidorm, Calpe and many around Alicante. Further south they can be found at Elche, Santa Pola, Guardamar, Orihuela, Murcia and Torrevieja.

Choosing exactly where to get your good walk spoiled is difficult but there is more information here. Golf

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Posted by on Friday 27th September 2013
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