Torquay, Devon is situated on the South Coast of Devon. We went there in October 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic. There were a number of restrictions in place, but with all that, this was a great few days.
We booked into the Babbacombe Hotel.
Babbacombe is a small town which has now merged, and become part of, Torquay.
Dealing with the Babbacombe Hotel. We arrived and were allocated a ‘broom cupboard’ overlooking a fire escape. I went to reception to be told that they didn’t have many guests in at the moment, and without fuss allocated us a sea view on the top floor. Why they didn’t do that beforehand, and make an instant good impression? I am not sure.
The Babbacombe Hotel caters for coach parties mainly foreign tourists, and the signage reflects that. When we were there, there was a small coach party on their last evening. The hotel appeared almost empty.
The hotel is an old Victorian building with a commanding presence overlooking the promenade and the sea. We had the strange sight of being able to see a number of disused (Because of Covid) cruise liners lying at anchor off the coast, including the Queen Mary 2. Very majestic.
The rooms were clean and tidy and the staff were very helpful.
The hotel clearly caters for elderly guests, and the sign outside the lift reflected this!
Babbacombe Hotel Facilities
Bingo also appears to be all the rage at the Babbacombe.
The Babbacombe has 2 bars and a large restaurant.
They did a nice beer made by Rothhammer, Brave Red Ale. Looking on the internet it says Chile origin. Very nice wherever it came from.
We arrived mid morning, so walked the 2 miles into Torquay for a spot of luncheon. The first place we found was Burridge’s TeaRooms,
I had the ‘Cheese’ cream Tea, and Sue had the traditional cream tea. It was absolutely lovely.
Torquay, like a lot of seaside towns appears a bit run down in certain quarters, and we were not disappointed here! But there didn’t appear to be any trouble throughout our stay.
We took dinner that evening in the Buccaneer Inn, just down the road from the Babbacombe Hotel. A traditional pub serving great food. I had the bangers and mash. Lovely! Washed down with a few pints of stout. I slept well that night. In fact I enjoyed the place so much I went there every night!
Babbacombe to Teignmouth coast walk
The following day we went for a walk along the coast to Teignmouth, a distance of about 6 miles.
When we were there in October 2020, there had been a number of landslides. The initial part of the walk was disrupted, but eventually we found the coastal path. Just be aware that although Google maps shows a distance of about 6 miles, you can easily double that, then in addition there are the sheer climbs and descents. The walk took around 4 to 5 hours, it was not a hard walk. We both completed the walk in trainers.
Babbacombe Cliff railway and Babbacombe miniature model village.
There is lots to see on route, including the Babbacombe Cliff railway, and Babbacombe miniature model village. Needless to say we only passed them! But if that floats your boat then these are great few to while away a few hours.
Teignmouth & Shaldon Historic ferry
Following the coast path we came out at the Shaldon end of Teignmouth. Walking along the beach we found the Teignmouth & Shaldon Historic ferry, https://teignmouthshaldonferry.co.uk/ which was a unexpected great result as it looked like we had a few more miles to get across the peninsula.
The ferry is simply a small open boat, driver and engine. For £1.60 each person, each way, you go on a 5 minute crossing to Teignmouth Back Beach, which is situated a few hundred metres from the town centre. Great value.
A quick mooch around town, and then we got a local taxi to take us home. This cost around £15.
Dinner at the Babbacombe Hotel
That night we ate in the Babbacombe Hotel. They did an excellent dinner rate for 3 course meal for a very reasonable amount. I cant remember the exact amount. We paid earlier in the day, and when we went to go in it seems we weren’t expected, and the chef had thrown the soup away. However all was good and the head waiter had to be thanked for rescuing the situation, not the soup of course! The hotel was fairly empty as the last coach had left town for the season and the hotel was closing the following Sunday night. But there was some entertainment that evening, a singer who did his best with a rather small audience. But they tried, all was good.
Oh and don’t forget there is bingo if you are really bored.
Train journey through Dawlish and Dawlish Warren
Following day we went to Exeter by train. It is not my intention to talk much about the trip, except it is worth going to Torquay station, it has a certain great feeling of the English Riviera, with steam trains in the 1950s travelling there full of holiday makers from different parts of the UK.
Part of the train journey travels along the actual beach between Dawlish and Dawlish Warren. This part of the track collapsed recently due to high winds and flooding. It has since been rebuilt. Well worth a trip, if just for that part of the rail journey.
The following morning involved a drive of about 17 miles to Haytor Rocks. Situated on Dartmoor, these clumps of rock stand majestically at the top of the hills. The whole complex is situated within a small walking distance. It is very safe (Unless of course you climb to the top of the rocks!) to wander. People take their dogs, children and other prized possessions up there.
There are people walking, cycling, mountaineering, having wedding photographs taken, all sorts of things. Take a big coat and some walking boots as it does get a bit muddy. Just have a wander around. Unless the fog comes in you can see the road from most areas. Lots of fun, and the best bit was there was an ice cream van selling the best ice cream I have had in a long while.
Watch what you can step in, it would make the ice cream taste a bit funny.
A short drive away is the legendary Dartmoor Prison. Ooh that place looks bleak, no wonder not many people try to escape from there. The prison is situated within the village of Princetown. In Princetown we found a lovely café called The Old Police Station. Several cups of coffee and a couple of pies were eaten there to get the circulation back in our bodies. It was freezing.
Mirch Masala Indian Restaurant
Returning to Babbacombe we went to a local Indian restaurant, Mirch Masala, 44 Babbacombe Road, Babbacombe, Torquay, TQ1 3SN. http://mirchmasalatorquay.com/ situated just around the back of the Babbacombe Hotel. Dinner for 2 with beer and wine was a very reasonable £35 for the two of us in total.
Pentire Hotel is a nice 3 Star type hotel, which appears to cater a lot for coach parties. We arrived there in October 2020 during the Covid 19 Pandemic and there, like everywhere else, everything regarding the service at the hotel was different. One thing being no coaches!!
Cleanliness of Pentire Hotel
We have been to a number of locations during the pandemic and we found that this Hotel was by far the best the best for ensuring appropriate measures were in place to keep the Covid 19 at bay. For example, bedroom doors were sealed prior to occupation, room keys were sterilised in reception. All staff had security screens, and waiter service in the bar and restaurant. Overall we felt very secure from Covid at the Pentire Hotel.
Our room overlooked Fistral Beach, and surfers could be seen from daybreak to dusk from our room, and also from the bar and restaurant.
2 Days in Newquay
We were only there for 2 full days.
Day 1 we walked into town, a walk of about 30 mins at a good pace. Obviously being a seaside town, and us being above the town, everything involves hills.
First stop was the area between Fistral Beach and The Atlantic Hotel. A fantastic look out point from a white stone building. Don’t go there if you wear a wig! Very windy.
Atlantic Hotel Newquay
From the lookout point we made out way past the Atlantic Hotel, stopping off at the war memorial, past the Huer’s Hut (Dates back to the 14th Century), and was used as a lookout point for a number of reasons over the years.
Then down into the harbour. This is still a working harbour, so be careful!
Newquay main area
Leaving the harbour, go up to the main street where there are many shops, varying from small independent Cornish Pasty food shops to large High Street shops. Get a traditional Cornish Pasty, they now do vegan and vegetarian varieties.
One iconic sight of Newquay is the Headland Hotel, set (As it says on the tin!) overlooking the whole of coast surrounding Newquay. Not cheap to stay in but well worth a visit.
House on a rock
If you get time, try to see the house perched on top of the rock (Towan Island) at the far end of the town. You cant miss it. I see it is for hire at the very reasonable rate of £1,700 for a long weekend!! Ouch!
For dinner we went to the Fort Inn, https://www.fortinnnewquay.co.uk/situated just above the harbour. Great food and drink. A few pints of Tribute also goes down well. I had one of the ‘Specials Board’ meals, keep an eye out for them. Alas another 30 minute walk back to the Pentire Hotel, full of beer and food!
At the Pentire Hotel, the lounge bar was open, serving nice wine and beer. I went in the bar every evening and discovered Mena Dhu Stout and Betty Stogs Brazen Cornish bitter. Both excellent beer. I slept well on all occasions!!
Coastal Walk Padstow Newquay
Day 2 we drove along the coast to Constantine Bay, near Padstow. We parked at the ‘top’ near to the Constantine Bay Stores. It is about a 10 minute walk to the beach, there is a small car park there which tends to get rather busy. At the beach, Constantine bay is a great place for families to spend idyllic summer days body boarding and eating ice creams.
For the walkers amongst us I suggest you turn left and hug the coastline for a few miles. Fantastic rocky coves, sandy beaches and the occasional tea hut along the way.
YHA Treyarnon Bay
About 10 minutes along the way, having turned left at Constantine Bay and heading in the direction of Newquay, you come across Treyarnon Bay. Set back from the beach is a Youth Hostel where you can get all sorts of snacks, tea and coffee. Again, we were there in October 2020, at the height of the Covid 19 difficulty so snacks were restricted at the YHA Treyarnon Bay.
We walked along to just beyond Porthcothan Bay, a distance of about 4 miles. A handy hint is that in one directions you follow the ‘walkers’ footpath, and the other direction you will see various short cuts appearing in the form of well trodden paths used by the locals. This saved a lot of time on the return route.
Scarlet Hotel, Mawgan Porth
We returned to Newquay, but stopped off first at the Scarlet Hotel, Mawgan Porth, https://www.scarlethotel.co.uk/ for a look. Some family members had recommended the hotel for a future stay but this hotel was a bit above our ‘Pay Grade.’ Well worth a look though.
Our stay in Newquay, although the weather was raining, and we were in the middle of Covid 19, was a great stay and we shall visit it again.
Tomorrow we make our way to Torquay for a few nights.
To be fair, this room for the night was £33, the one at Premier Inn Weston-Super-Mare on the sea front was about £90. So an excellent saving. Parking is free and ample.
I took a photo out of the window, you don’t exactly get a Seaview, but for £33 I don’t mind.
We walked into WSM, it took about 45 minutes, and that included getting lost.
As we walked into town the general area became very shoddy, and the people there were not much better. Oh dear this will be a lovely evening, not!
Grand Pier, Weston Super Mare
As you find the beach, a glorious sandy beach, you bump into the pier. There is everything you want there, kiss me quick hats, candy floss, amusement arcades, the whole lot.
Be aware in the winter, the pier closes at 6pm. We were there on a Saturday in mid October during Covid, and there was not much open. Don’t be put off there are bars, and theatres all over the place.
Looking at the sea we turned right, and walked up to Knightstone Island. This appears to be manmade with a circular walkway. In the past this was a military installation, but now is a residential area. Attached to the island is what appears to be a seawater infinity pool. I should imaging when the tide is out this would be a great swimming location, safe and salty.
A number of my friends indulge in saltwater for their skin. What a lovely way to soak yourself whilst looking out from the infinity pool.
Old Thatched Cottage, Weston Super Mare
Moving along there was not much to do, but the evening was getting late, time for a spot of light refreshment. We popped into the Old Thatched Cottage, Weston Super Mare almost opposite the Knightstone Island.
What a great place! You can sit outside by the gas burners to get some heat (Not for me), or have a lovely seat in their restaurant and drink some beer, and , or, eat. We were there early on a Saturday night, and we could have drinks only. Having seen their specials menu, I wish we had stayed to eat, but alas had arranged elsewhere.
As you can see there was a fantastic seafood selection.
What a brilliant place, I could have stayed there all evening.
Beefeater, Weston Super Mare
Dinner tonight is to be the Beefeater, Weston Super Mare attached to the Premier Inn Weston Super Mare
As I said earlier you get what you pay for, and what you get is well known. We only booked at the Beefeater because we were worried the restaurants may be closed due to Covid 19, and didn’t want to miss out.
I had a very expensive ‘traditional’ fish and chips. Chunky chips and mushy peas. It was ok, washed down with several very nice pints of Doom bar, so perhaps everything about the restaurant is not bad after all. The whole bill came to about £50 which is expensive for what we had, but hey ho.
Back to the room for Match of the day and a beer. Good night.
Weston Super Mare
I mentioned earlier that the population in the centre of WSM is something to behold, and therefore I was grateful to turn right at the pier and discover a really nice town. Well Sunday Morning, we drove onto the seafront at WSM, turned left and again it seemed a really nice place, albeit a bit quiet because of the time of year and Covid.
Weston Super Mare has a great sandy beach, with plenty to do during the summer.
I would go back there again for a night, but not a holiday unless it was the height of summer.
On route to Newquay
Today we make out way slowly down to Newquay.
On Route to stop briefly at Burnham On Sea. What a lovely beach overlooking in the distance, Barry Island and Wales. If you want a nice beach, and what looks like a quiet relaxing area, go to Burnham on Sea.
From there we went to Minehead for a bit of breakfast., We discovered a lovely place, Toddy’s Restaurant 9 The Parade, Minehead TA24 5NL
What a great find. The food was good, the atmosphere good, and the staff really helpful. We had not booked a table, they were busy, but after a few minutes a table was found and we had probably the best breakfast for a long while.
If you are in Minehead try to get to then local Victorian village of Dunster. Featured on many a good Victorian crime TV programme, including Poirot. Parking is a problem but the ambiance of the whole village is electric. Dunster is worth a visit.
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The town is situated either side of the River Esk, which flows out into the North Sea. It seems most of the town is on the opposite side to the Whitby Abbey which sits majestically above the river.
There is plenty of out of town parking. In town parking can be challenging in the high season.
Yellow Boat Whitby
First stop is a 20 minute boat trip around the harbour, and subject to good weather conditions, the boat goes out of the harbour walls for a high seas adventure, well sort of you are only on it for 20 minutes.
What is there not to like about this trip? It costs £4 an adult, and under 5s go free. A good old fashioned harbour boat trip.
One of the magical aspects of Whitby is the cobbled pedestrian alleys, with quirky shops.
If you want a’ kiss me quick’ hat, or a stick of Whitby rock, then this is the place to go.
There are 2 things I like in life, these are beer, and fish and chips. Whitby ticks the boxes on both, multiple times.
So first stop is the Whitby Brewery, next door to the Whitby Abbey, set up on the headland overlooking Whitby. You cant miss the Abbey, this is a rather imposing ruin on the hill, next to the The St Mary the Virgin Whitby, Church, also up on the hill.
To get to the brewery there are 199 steps, apparently, uphill. If you need to stop for a camera shot (And to get your breath back) there is room on the stairs. Walk past the Abbey to your right and the church to your left. And voila! The Whitby Brewery.
The brewery and shop are easy to find. Buy your beer, or wine, or soft drinks, and you can sit either in the converted barn, or on the benches outside.
There were about 4 real ales on sale in draught, and their equivalent sold in bottles for consumption there, or takeaway. I had the Jet Black and the IPA. Both were excellent.
The St Mary the Virgin Whitby
At the brewery we walked alongside the Abbey and stepped into the churchyard of The St Mary the Virgin Whitby.
What an interesting place. It was previously falling into the sea, so there are some areas blocked off.
This is also a great place to look at the opposite headland, and also down to the next town along, heading North, Sandsend.
Centre of Whitby
Walk back down the 199 steps, or there is a tour bus that goes up there.
We didn’t take the bus on this occasion.
Down in the town we popped into the Jolly Sailors Pub on the front, just by the jetty for the Yellow Boat. A couple of pints of Samuel Smith’s beers went down very nicely, thank you.
Papa’s Fish and Chips
Time for some food. We both like fish and chips, and where better than to pop into the legendary Papa’s Fish and Chips, right on the front, overlooking the bridge, and the Abbey.
The only downside was that because of the CoronaVirus they were unable to supply alcoholic drinks. Never mind. I had the Fishcakes, Chips and Mushy Peas, washed down with a diet coke.
I know I am a London boy, and therefore use to paying high prices, so I was very happy with the £10 a head cost. Talking to a local they say that is expensive. I was impressed with the service and the food.
From the centre of town, it is about a 60-90 minute walk along the cliff tops to Sandsend.
Sandsend is a sleepy little coastal town, which requires only a day trip. Anything more I think would be tiresome. But due to its close proximity to Whitby, this should not cause a problem.
Parking was fairly easy, there are metres along the front for parking payment. But as I said it is but a short walk from Whitby.
As you approach Sandsend with the sea to your right there are a number of cafes for sit in and take away.
The public toilets are well kept.
The beach is good, with good access along its length. Dogs are allowed on certain parts of the beach.
The beach is beautiful and sandy, with ample room, especially when the sea is out.
Approaching with the sea to your right, go over the bridge (East Row Beck) and turn left into the car park. You can then walk up to a castle which is about a 30 minute walk.
A very nice place for a spot of luncheon is The Hart Inn. You can sit outside with the dog or go inside alone.
Whitby is a beautiful little town for a short visit. Of course if you have a car then you can drive onto the Yorkshire moors and explore from there.
Well here we are, the Co-Vid restrictions have been relaxed, and we find ourselves in Oxford for 24 Hours en route to elsewhere.
Jurys Inn, Oxford
Booking the hotel earlier that morning, through their website, we stayed at the Jurys Inn, Godstow Rd, Oxford, OX2 8AL, firstname.lastname@example.org +44 1865 489 988 https://www.jurysinns.com/hotels/oxford
The hotel is located about 3 miles North of Oxford City Centre.
The cost was about £90 a night, plus £6 car parking. We checked in at midday, parked the car, checked in and dumped our bags.
The views from the windows were stunning!
Walk into Oxford
As you come out the main entrance, turn right onto Godstow Road, and just before the river turn left. Follow the footpath, along to the Plough Pub, over the river, and then walk down the Oxford Canal into the centre of Oxford. Wonderful properties along the way.
Took about an hour to the end of the footpath, and there we are in Oxford!
Turning left as you leave the canal we kept walking for about 200 Metres to Gloucester Green where there was an open air food market.
Lunch was taken at the outside food area. I had a kebab, and Sue a Falafel. Be careful where you sit, I managed to get a bit of good luck by the local pigeon pooing on my shirt. I am not sure if any of it went in the kebab as I had garlic mayo with it. Tasted OK though.
From there we googled the hop on -hop off bus, and found the stop by St Aldates junction with Pembroke Street. Bus Stop number 7. https://www.hop-on-hop-off-bus.com/oxford-bus-tours The buses run every 20 minutes or so. The fare was about £15 each. It was quite a good tour so well worth the money. We do make a point of getting the sightseeing bus wherever we end up. Normally expensive, but you get to have a flavour of the area prior to setting off on foot.
The trip took about 90 minutes, after which we set off on foot for a deep explore.
If you have ever seen either Morse or Endeavour on television you will immediately spot some of the iconic Oxford sights.
5 O’clock on a Friday evening so it must be time to sit outside a pub and watch the world go around. We went to the ‘The Plough at 38,’ 38 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3HA, http://theploughoxford.co.uk/ Located on the corner of Cornmarket and Ship Street. There is a very old building just opposite.
The attraction about ‘The Plough at 38’ is you can sit outside and watch the world go by. Beer and wine were good, try the local IPA, very nice.
Pubs, George Street, Oxford.
Around 6.30 it started to get a bit cold so we retraced our steps to the end of the canal path in the centre of town, George Street, and found the local ‘Spoons.’ For our non UK readers, ‘Spoons’ is the chain of public houses called JDWethespoons, dotted all over the UK, that sell great, cheap alcohol. The difficulty is that some places attract the wrong sort of clientele and as a consequence then place gets into a bad state. Well we walked into the Four Candles Pub and back out again! It was a bit of a dump, shabby, noisy, with some nasty looking characters in there.
Wig and Pen, Oxford.
We retraced our steps and went into the Wig and Pen. A fantastic pub selling great beer and wine. The atmosphere was friendly and we spoke at length to the staff and customers. We left around 9.30pm and got a cab back to the Jurys Inn.
Back to Hotel
It is fair to say that the Jurys Inn is mainly a business person hotel and geared up accordingly. The main Pierre Marco White restaurant was closed because of the Co-Vid 19 virus but the remaining bar served ‘bar meals’ albeit with a limited menu.
I had a toasted sandwich, it was OK, but then I was paying about £10 for it. The choice of beer was dire. No bitter, only Stella Artois lager, cider or Guinness. But that was the type of hotel we booked so can’t complain.
The room was nicely appointed. Breakfast was not included in the price, so we left once we got up.
We drove to the petrol station across the road for breakfast where there was a Marks And Spencer supermarket. Worth remembering if you end up at the hotel and want take away food and drink.
A lot of our trips we have not entered onto the blog yet, but there have been a few bad hotel views around the world. I shall show a few here. My friends say to me that we cant always get bad views, well we do, and here is the evidence! It may help if we paid a little more for the room of course.
This is an ongoing blog update.
(Dicks notes of views still to come) Chino, Seattle, Tokyo, London, Trabzon, Tbalisi, Istanbul, Belize City video, South Africa, Doha.
Wyndham Hotel, New Orleans.
I know the brochure didn’t say we had a sea view but this was ridiculous, a view of the inside hall, nice!
Baymont, by Wyndham Inn and Suites, Hobby Airport, Houston, Texas
Within the grounds of Hotel Del Patio is a very nice courtyard with the rooms surrounding that wouldn’t be out of place in Italy. The only problem was we didn’t look out onto the courtyard, we overlooked someones washing line. Hotel was nice though.
Travelodge, Chippenham, England
If you like a nice gloomy view over a roof onto a disused car park, you cant do much better than the Travelodge in Chippenham, Wiltshire, England. To be fair, the actual hotel is new (2020) and the location is fab, but we just were unlucky that the room was not the best view. But Hey Ho, it was fairly cheap, and you don’t go to hotels to stay in the room. Well if it is by the hour then that is a different situation!
The Highland Inn, Atlanta, Georgia
The rooms are small and in need of a lick of paint, and the leg room when seated on the toilet leaves a lot to be desired. But to be fair, the place was ok. http://thehighlandinn.com/
But the views are exceptional. Of course there are nice rooms overlooking the Main Street, but alas!
Best Western Grant Park Hotel, Chicago
Best Western Grant Park Hotel, Chicago, 1100 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL, 60605
We had a quick night at the StarHotels Grand Milan Hotel, Saronno, Milan, Italy. Again we got there in the dark and did wonder what the view was like. Next morning we were not disappointed.
Great hotel, but not sure about the view!
Sometimes you just need to know that the air conditioning units (Or whatever they are!) are not the best view in a city as wonderful as Vancouver. We stayed at the fabulous Georgian Court Hotel. https://georgiancourthotelvancouver.com/
The actual hotel was wonderful, just a shame about the vista!
I best Prince Harry doesn’t get such a magnificent view!
But hey, ho, it was easy to get an early morning flight back to London, and the transport into the centre of Boston was ok. Great hotel, terrible view. Unless of course you count the fact that we can look into the other rooms late at night and see all the goings ons! I must admit the beer was so strong I just slept, perhaps they were watching me!
Kawada Hotel, on 2nd and Hill,
Sometimes you just accept that today your view is not going to be iconic. In fact it may be one of the best views we have encountered. We were in LA for a couple of nights. Not worried about location or view, as long as it was downtown. As you can see we were not disappointed. We stayed at the Kawada Hotel, https://www.kawadahotel.com/ which was close to Union Station where we were taking the Amtrak a few days later to New Orleans. Now the New Orleans hotel view is an absolute cracker! To be fair t
The Kawada Hotel was great, except for the view.
Travelodge, Caterham, Surrey, UK.
It is bad enough having to go to Caterham in Surrey, UK without having this for a view. I left some of the bed in view for authenticity.
Travelodge Bromsgrove UK
Just when you thought the views from a Travelodge window couldn’t get any worse, they did! We went to Bromsgrove, United Kingdom.
Call me old fashion but the only view I got from this place was people having a wee on the jumbo jet flying overhead. One of my favourite views, comparable to the one in Wyndham Hotel New Orleans (See above).
Flying from the UK, Malaga airport is the closest and best served air connection. However although Granada airport is just over an hours drive from Nerja, the flights into the airport are not as frequent as Malaga, and as a consequence tend to be more expensive.
Getting to/from Nerja from Malaga Airport
Malaga to Nerja bus
Alsa Buses operate a good service from Malaga and Malaga Airport.
There is a main bus stop area in Central Nerja, on Calle Avda Pescia. It serves both the Frigiliana and Alsa buses. There is an Alsa ticket office, which looks more like a garden shed, on the Malaga and Frigiliana bound side of the road. IE going downhill.
Travelling to Malaga Bus Station to catch the Alsa bus
To get to Malaga bus station from the airport, take the airport shuttle bus. This bus stop is directly in front of you on leaving the terminal building. Shuttle bus is about 3 Euros, single. There are limited stops on route to Malaga bus station. The bus runs every 20 minutes. Journey time of about 20 minutes.
Go by metro to Malaga bus station. The metro is located across the road directly in front of you on leaving the terminal building. The metro is slightly more complicated but easy enough. I always get the metro. A single ticket is just under 2 Euros. The metro runs every 20 minutes and is quicker than the shuttle bus. Once you have your ticket take the left hand escalator following the signs to Malaga Centro. The journey is approx. 5 minutes involving 4 stops. You must get off at Maria Zambrano. There is only one exit. Once through the ticket booths go into the shopping mall and turn left. Keep the shops to your right and follow the overhead signs to the bus station (Estacion de Autobuses) in Spanish. You will pass a shopping mall café to your left, keep walking until you get to the junction. Turn right and leave the mall. Walk straight, cross the road, the bus station is to your left. Sounds confusing but is quick and easy.
At Malaga bus station you will need the Alsa desk. There are self service ticket machines in English next to the booths. If using the ticket machine you will be asked for a post code prior to payment. Type in 29780. The post code for Nerja! Buses run every 30 mins. Dependent upon the bus taken the bus will take between 50 and 90 mins. Generally platform 20 is the fast coach, and platform 38 the slower ones. The bus will stop at the only Nerja bus stop. Taxis are available from this location.
In the winter I generally hire a car. Having used a number of different companies I find the best company is Malagacar.com. http://www.malagacar.com
The reason I use this company is that generally there is no fuss on collecting the car, the vehicles are of good quality, and the price is comparable to other companies. The majority of the staff speak English. During the winter small basic cars are about 5 Euros a day plus optional additional insurance.
The aspect of insurance is hotly debated. I take out the extra, Full Package insurance. It tends to increase the final bill but you are covered for almost all eventualities. However a friend of mine has ‘excess insurance’ where he pays about £50 per year to a company, eg Icar insurance or AA and they will pay your excess bill if you have a crash.
Dependent upon the company used you meet the representative either just before you leave customs, or in the public arrivals hall after clearing the large double doors, prior to leaving the terminal building. Your booking email will explain this.
Taxi to Nerja from Malaga Airport
Taking a taxi from the airport is rather the same around the globe. If not previously ordered it will cost a fortune. In this case around 100 Euros, single.
However if the taxi has been ordered then the rate is 65 Euros, single (60 Euros in the winter).
Radio Taxis Nerja Telephone number, +34 952 52 05 37
The main taxi rank is situated in Calle San Miguel about 200 metres down the road from Mercadona Supermarket. There are several other ranks, including one opposite the Alsa Ticket office.
Transfer Malaga Airport.
There are a number of transfer companies. www.resorthoppa.com and www.travelrepublic.co.uk to name a few. Transfers are around £25 per person each way. This is ideal for 1 or 2 people as a great way to save money for more beer, but the catch is that you may end up in a car/minibus with complete strangers. Obviously if they, or you, are on the ‘curvey’ side then it will be a bit cramped. In the past Travel Republic have sent a driver for my sole use.
All companies will demand you be picked up at a hotel. This makes their life easier rather than collect from a gated complex with all the inherent difficulties that will cause. If you are at a villa this will cause you difficulty. I generally give an address of the local church, garage, even the police station. This is usually accepted as a pick up/drop off point.
Driving/Parking in Nerja.
Driving/Parking in Nerja.
Be prepared for the locals to make up their own rules at roundabouts. They will stay in the inner lane on a roundabout, and without any indication, suddenly pull off the roundabout.
Parking in Nerja
Parking is not too much of a problem in the winter. However the summer months can be difficult to find a spot. For the town centre, I suggest the ‘dust bowl’, which is accessible just before the bus stops in Central Nerja in Calle Avda Pescia. This is a huge area with free parking overnight for cars as well.
If going to the East of town then consider the underground car park at Plaza de Espana. This is accessible from Calle Animas or Calle Cruz. There is also a huge fee paying open air car park between Calle Los Huertos and Calle Carabeo, accessible from Calle Frigiliana.
In the summer the rather overpriced Burriana Beach car park opens.
Caves of Nerja, Cuevas de Nerja
Discovered in 1960 by a group of boys living in the area, the caves of Nerja became a Heritage site.
Such are the attraction of the caves that people travel from miles around to visit them. Indeed I am aware that a number of cruise ships that dock at Malaga, about 50 Kms away, have the caves as a day trip.
A ‘must see’ if you are Nerja.
Being about 4 Kms from Nerja, to get to the caves is relatively easy, by bus, car or even walking.
The caves are located on the N340, just outside of the neighbouring village of Maro. Also adjacent to the A7 Motorway, junction 295.
Parking is one Euro in the official car park, or you can park on the wasteland shortly before arriving at the caves.
An Alsa bus goes to the caves regularly, and bus tickets can be purchased from the ‘shed’ ticket office at the main bus stop in Nerja. Tickets for the return journey tickets can be purchased on board.
If walking, then follow the N340 from the bus stops, heading with the sea to your right. It is well signposted and will take about 1 hour. There are no shops on route so please ensure you have enough water.
These caves do not appear to be disabled friendly so be aware!
Once entrance has been gained through the narrow corridor, the caves are spectacular. The caves are huge, with good signage, walkways and information points.
If you time the visit correctly there are often concerts held within the caves.
The hotel is central within the old part of town, located on Calle Los Huertos, about half way along. This is a small family run hotel, offering a great location, nice rooms (Even with a fridge), and breakfast included. A 3 star (Spanish) rating it has everything you need. We paid about £312 Gbp for 8 nights.
Eating and drinking Nerja
Food and drink here is very cheap.
First night we had dinner just up the road in a restaurant called Joanny in Plaza Del Olvido.
The food is excellent. Try the fish skewer. Fantastic.
Washed down with a few glasses of wine at Esquina Paulina in ‘Post Office Street’.
A traditional breakfast in Spain is the toasted bread with oil and tomato.
If you are feeling adventurous try rubbing some garlic cloves into the bread first. I took this at the
where on certain nights they have live Flamenco dancing, great tapas and wine.
Good Stuff Cafe Nerja
There is a great coffee and pastry shop run by an Irish couple in town, named the ‘Good Stuff cafe.’ https://www.facebook.com/goodstuffnerja Here you have all kinds of homemade cakes, flans and even ‘Cornish Pasties’ freshly prepared. I like mine with brown sauce! Always busy but you will get a seat and a friendly welcome.
If you want a great English Breakfast (Meat or vegetarian) then try the Coach and Horses.
Places to visit within Nerja.
The Balcon, known as the Balcon De Europa, named by one of the Spanish Kings because of the great view from the viewing point in the heart of Nerja.
Whilst on the Balcon go to the Upstairs bar at Cochrans, with the magnificent views,
or just down the road at the Marbella Hotel.
Beach Fun Nerja
The main beach with activities in the summer is Burriana Beach a short walk to the East of Town.
Great manicured beach, and you can take up yoga in the mornings if you feel up to it.
Fitzgerald’s has had several locations over the years, and I prefer this latest venue. More open and airy. There are some great acts here covering all genres, try to take in the Flying Dolphins. Adrian and the team will try to accommodate all requirements.
Buskers runs with their live music until around 1am. Buskers has a late night atmosphere with great bands, great crowd, and an all round great evening.
Club music can be found at Tutti Fruti Square.
All in the centre of town.
Nerja Old Town
Spend a while just walking around the old town. Particularly after dark, and see all the locals sitting outside their houses chatting, and try to get a glimpse into their lifestyle through the open windows and doors.
A fascinating town, where the ‘old’ Spain still exists.
Frigiliana dates back to the time of the Moors, about a zillion years ago. Set up in the hills, about a 10 minute drive (Or 2 hour walk along the Rio Chiller), this is a fully functioning white washed walled village. If you have been to Mijas village along the coast they are similar. Many deliveries are made by mule as the cobbled roads are not suitable for modern day traffic. Some fantastic vista points from up high.
I first discovered this village when I went on an organised hike with John Keo, http://www.hikingwalkingspain.com/ give him a try, he meets in Nerja most days and he will show you all the area. Well worth contacting him for a hike.
A trip to Nerja would not be complete without a tapas tour. For the uninitiated, tapas date back a number of years where the drinker would be given a small plate of food to accompany their alcoholic drink. To ‘soak up’ the booze! Many parts of Spain serve Tapas, but the difference in Nerja is that the Tapa is free. Now at about 2.5 Euros for a big glass of wine and some food, this makes a great and cheap night out.
Bars are regularly changing and route are as well. The rule of thumb is about 5 bars an evening if you respect your liver! Here are a couple of my favourite routes.
Tapas Route 1
Start at the main Balcon square in front of the church. With your back to the sea turn right and walk towards the 3 way junction of Calle Pintada, Calle Carabeo, and Calle Del Almirante Ferrandiz. Go up the middle road with the cigarette shop on the left. After about 50 metres you see the post office (Correos) to the right.
After about 100 metres find the large bar on the right Bar Restaurante El Pulguilla. This is a ‘traditional Spanish tapas bar’ dealing mainly in fish dishes. Although a popular bar I find it a little noisy, but great food.
Bar Restaurante El Pulguilla
Leave the bar, turn right and keep walking up the hill. On the left , on the corner of Calle De Las Carretas is one of my favourites, El Nino. This bar is split into both Tapas and main restaurant. The tapas part is fairly small and in peak season it may not be possible to accommodate large parties. However, having said that, persevere, as it is a lovely place. Try the Russian salad, very nice.
Next on this route is mine, and most of my friends, all time favourite! Leaving El Nino, turn left and continue up the hill. After about 200 Metres you come to Calle De Alejandro Bueno. For reference there is the Martin Ferreteria (Hardware Store) on the right hand side of the junction. Turn left and after approx. 50 metres is a small bar, Los Bilbainos. From the outside you will be thinking ‘What am I doing here?’ The table clothes are plastic, the whole place needs decorating, and the toilets are dodgy. However this is a traditional Spanish bar serving great tapas and the locals treat all visitors with a friendly smile and will assist as much as they can. There is not much English spoken in here, but nothing a bit of ‘point and order’ can’t sort out. A favourite in this bar is the egg and bacon (Huevos Y Jamon) sandwiches as tapas. The eggs are quails eggs and are served between 2 small pieces of French bread. This is also one of the cheapest bars in town.
Tapas Route 2
Lets start off at the La Mariposa (Butterfly) restaurant.
Butterfly thankfully is not on the recipe tonight. Mind you with some of the stuff the Spanish eat, who knows, but let’s not go down that route.
To finds the Mariposa, turn right out of the Los Bilbainos, and left into Calle Almirante Ferrandiz, The Mariposa is infront of you on the right hand side. The outside terrace fencing may not be there, it comes and goes. This place appears to have changed hands a few times in the last few years, and is mainly an authentic local bar with a few tourists. Nevertheless a nice bar with a fair selection. Try the Chorizo sausage.
Leaving the Mariposa, turn right and head up the hill. First turning on the right is Calle La Habana, junction of Calle De Garcia Alted is Bar Cangrejo. Wow, this is one of my favourites on the Tapas run. If you think La Mariposa is authentic then visit this place. With the complete lack of English being spoken and populated by locals this is a ‘point and eat’ experience. Just remember ‘Pescado’ is fish and ‘Carne’ (As in Chilli) is meat. Don’t even go down the Veggie, gluten free, road. Tapas can be anything from some sort of Russian salad to whole fish. There are tables outside at the side of the bar with local old ladies sitting on their chairs outside their houses, with spindly legs and why do they insist in having their knees apart? Anyway, now that you have been put off your food, you must go there. Excellent tapas. I like the Black pudding, morcilla. As you can see although a fish trail, I prefer the carne options.
Leaving Bar Cangrejo, turn left and head down Calle De Garcia. This is a narrow, almost an alley with cars parked alongside the house. At the bottom, turn left and opposite you will see an even narrower alleyway. Calle Santiago. Go down about 50 Metres and on the left is a small turning. This is Calle Bolivia or Calle San Pedro, they roll into the one! Almost immediately you will see 2 bars in front of you. Opposite each other. The alley is so narrow that the sun blind from one covers the other. Both bars are owned by the same person and called La Puntilla. You want the bar on the right, going down the hill. The one on the left is for the posh people that want a conventional restaurant. What can I say about La Puntilla? Well is it populated by locals and tourists alike. Very busy. Very noisy. Especially if you can get in there when Malaga FC are playing on the TV! Wide selection of fish dishes. I like the Gambas (Prawns) cooked with garlic in oil. The wine glasses come quite full as well which is always a bonus.
Come out of La Puntilla, and turn right, heading down the hill. After approx. 2 minutes you will see on the right hand side Bar Dolores El Chispa. Again a noisy local bar (Especially football night), full of fish tapas, children running around, Grandad sitting at the bar, and an all round great authentic Spanish bar. As always there is a friendly smile and fast service.
Bar Dolores El Chispa
On the basis you can still stand and have reasonable eye/leg co-ordination turn right out of Bar Dolores El Chispa and head to the junction. You should be in Calle Ruperto Anduez. Turn right and head down the hill. Her we find the last bar on the tour, Rincon Del Sabor (Corner of flavour). I am not sure what to make of this place. The tapas and drink in here is excellent. The actual bar reminds me of some sort of ex pats, with Spanish influence, from the 1970’s. I cant put my finger on it. Anyway the TV, in Spanish (What else) is always on showing some game show, the friendly ex pat drunk (Not me) at the end of the bar, and this place is great! Just not sure why I like it so much. But as I say fantastic food and drink. Thoroughly recommend it.
Just lately we appear to have stopped travelling to exotic places and are leaving our carbon footprint in the UK. For various reasons we found ourselves in the sleepy ambience of Chippenham in Wiltshire, about a 3 hour drive from East London, where we live. So things to do in Chippenham
What things can we do in Chippenham? We were not sure, but with the help of a local inhabitant we had a bit of a look around.
This is by far, just touching the surface of things to do in Chippenham, as we were only there overnight.
We were staying at the newly built Travelodge, which is situated by the train station. There are regular trains into London, the journey takes about an hour to West London.
The Travelodge is situated outside of what I regard as the main town, but it only involves a walk of a few minutes and you are in town. Next door is an Aldi supermarket for all your overnight needs. The Travelodge Chippenham has a very firm policy of no checking in until 3 pm unless you have pre booked early checkin. They will store your luggage if required. There is a bar and restaurant there, and we easily got a late drink from the bar around 10.30 pm. Staff were very helpful. We were situated on the 3rd floor and the view was as expected!
Lunch at Allington Farm shop
Lunch was taken just outside of town at the Allington Farm shop. https://www.allingtonfarmshop.co.uk/ This has a great farm market and restaurant. We were there on a Sunday and the restaurant was packed but we got a table and served very quickly. I had a pie, and Sue the fish. Washed down with a rather different pink hot chocolate!
It was nice, the bill came to about £29.00p. Quite expensive for a lunch but the food and drink was excellent.
From there we drove for about 10 minutes to the picturesque town of Castle Coombe. Local knowledge is the key, and in particular where to park. As you approach Castle Coombe from Chippenham you drive down a rather long hill. There is a car park at the top and street parking on the way down. We drove to the very heart of the village and the was parking there, for free.
Castle Coombe is a ‘chocolate box lid’ type of village. In my opinion, great to visit but rather too quiet for me. There did not appear to be any useful shops, more a tea and scone type village with a the occasional place to buy some form of ornament/Junk.
Worth a visit is the Castle Inn, one of the two pubs in the village. A great selection of beers. I think you can stay there, but looks expensive, like the rest of the village.
A very nice hotel, but also expensive, is the The Manor House Hotel and Golf Club. This hotel is set on a huge expanse of land, with outhouses converted into hotel rooms, and various gardens to look around.
Castle Coombe is well worth a visit.
Food and Drink Chippenham
By the time we got back from Castle Coombe it was late afternoon. So what better idea than to take a few glasses of beer in Wetherspoons! For the newbies to the UK, JD Wetherspoons is a chain of pubs that sells great beer at cheap prices. If you travel around the globe you will look for an Irish bar, if travelling around the UK you look for a Wetherspoons.
The website tells me that it is amongst the top 4 in England, and I tend to agree with them. I had a wonderful King Prawn Biryani which was different to anything I have had before. They also have a wonderful system of ‘bring your own booze’, which cuts down the bill a huge amount. Weirdly though they have a full bar service so I am not quite sure why you are allowed to bring your own booze.
Both the pub and the restaurant are within about a 5 minute walk back to the Travelodge Chippenham.
Back at the Travelodge as stated beforehand we were able to get a late night drink before going to bed to begin a new breakfast adventure the following morning.
Jolly’s Irish cafe Chippenham
It’s breakfast time, we had been told of a great place in the centre of town, Jolly’s cafe. https://www.facebook.com/jollyirishcafe/ Well I was not disappointed. What a great find. We drove the 5 minute route from the Travelodge and parked in the Emery car park at the back of the Tesco Supermarket. A short walk from there.
This is a cash only restaurant.
The choice of breakfast is huge, catering for gluten free, vegetarian, Vegan, etc. You can have a set, or design your own breakfast. Two Breakfasts with coffee was about £16. This has got to be the best breakfast I have had for a while.
Seating is both tables and booths.
When I go back I shall definitely eat at both The Raj and Jolly’s.
We have booked a three bedroom woodland lodge from Friday until Monday for the princely sum of £750. Seems a bit expensive
Guests are allowed to use the facilities of the park from 10am, so we aimed to get there round about 1pm. The lodge will be available from 3pm.
Everything was going great until we got to the entrance of CenterParcs. The car queue must have ‘snaked’ about 300 cars. All eager to do as we are and use the facilities to maximum effect. To be fair it didn’t take long for the queue to go down. Armed with our rubber ID/Front door/ Swimming Poll locker wristbands we were parked at the main car park.
You suddenly become aware of the huge size of the parc/park. There is ample parking, albeit the early ‘arrivees’ got to park close to the main facilities. On your last day you can use the facilities throughout the day so there may have been more cars than usual where people have stayed on.
It is now about 1.30pm so the idea is to have a quick familiarisation around the Plaza, and sub tropical swimming paradise (Their description not mine) and then drive to our lodge.
First impressions are important, and I was impressed! I did wonder if the supermarket, Parcmarket, would be overpriced, but not at all. Yes the prices were slightly higher but then CenterParcs are aiming at a certain level of customer. Not sure what I was doing there! There were burger bars, bars, restaurants, shops, and an amusement arcade to keep everyone amused throughout the weekend.
3 O’Clock came and I, together with about 7,000 other cars joined up as a ‘snake’ and drove to our apartments. That was when I really appreciated how big the complex is. We were staying at the Firs complex, on the left hand side as you view the map. We were about 1.5 miles from the Plaza (See above, the main area of entertainment). I was concerned how we would get back to the plaza, however my worries were lifted later that evening when I realised there was a train/bus.
The lodge we had was a three bed, 2 toilet/1 bathroom unit. The kitchen area had everything you need to manage family meals. There was good central heating, washing machine, ironing board (And iron), even a blackboard that the children or adults can draw on. TV and subdued lighting completed the lodge.
The main communal area was a good size with even an eight seating dining table. Perfect.
The idea is that once you have off loaded the luggage, you park in the main car park, and collect shortly before departure several days later. We took the decision as it was cold and rainy to go swimming, then drop the children off and later take the car back.
The sub tropical swimming paradise was really everything a young family could ask for. It was heated in the pool, but to be fair it was a bit cold when you were walking around. There are a number of individual pool areas, a baby pool with slides and fountains, a young child pool with spurt fountains and slides, adult area with wave machine. Also slides for all ages, and an excellent outside heated wild water rapids.
The changing rooms were a bit chaotic at times due to the amount of people and some changing room doors not locking.
Later that afternoon we returned to the lodge, fed the children and then a couple of adults took the cars back to the main car park. This gave us the opportunity to research the bar area! The bar we went to was situated on the lower level of the Plaza. Within the bar area was a 10 pin type bowling area for all ages. It looked great fun. The bar was very much a ‘plastic corporate’type bar selling an array of lagers, but decent bitter was not available. I had a bottle of Doom bar which was fine. I suspect the bar is presented this way, ie lots of lager, as perhaps the turnover of staff means no one can look after the ale pipes as in a normal pub. But I appreciate that, and there is a good selection of beers available in the supermarket. Even some local beers from the ‘steam company.’ Of course this is a family theme place and emphasis is probably put more on looking after people who retire to their lodges each evening with products form the supermarket.
Also within the Plaza is a very busy ‘Bella Italia’ Italian Restaurant and a Cafe Rouge.
To get back the 1.5 miles to the lodge is easy in that you take the shuttle train/bus which runs every 20 minutes. There are ample, well placed, train stops near all the accommodation.
Saturday morning brings sunshine, but still very cold, and a trip on the train. Today we are going to hire bicycles from the main cycle centre. This is not a cheap pastime. I hired a mountain bike for the weekend and this cost £33. Helmet and lock was included. We also hired a bike with a child trailer, which just about accommodated a 4 year and a 1 year old child together, this was £66 for the weekend. All the bikes were of good quality. There is facility to hire an electric bike, but these were all pre booked, so be aware if you are thinking of an electric bike.
Along with the bikes are maps showing the trails. Although CenterParcs Longleat is hilly, the paths meander around the areas on a longer route with slight inclines.
The weekend pretty much involved cycling and swimming, with the occasional visit to the Plaza bar.
The weather was dreadful so more swimming than cycling.
Lake, sports plaza and spa
Close to the Firs accommodation is the lake, sports plaza and spa.
In better weather you can hire a small dingy, but not this weekend. The sports plaza has badminton and tennis courts, sports complex, etc. Also further bars, and even an Rajinda Paresh Indian Restaurant. There is a climbing wall if you feel adventurous.
I did come here with reservations that we may get ‘ripped off’ but not at all. One of the adults in the party went for a spa costing £50, expecting not a lot, but was pampered throughout and was pleased with the price.
I would go again, but perhaps when the storms are not going through the area.