Our next visit to Spain after the May 2016 trip was originally intended to be October 2016, for the accursed residents committee AGM. Unbounded joy! Recently, however, we discovered that some long lost Dutch friends had rented a villa not so far from Casa Libélule and wondered if we’d be in Spain. Sadly not but, not wanting to disappoint, we shoe-horned in another trip beginning at the August Bank holiday weekend. Well, we like to be sociable and the fares were reasonable.
What was a little less than reasonable was easyJet’s departure time of 6:10 AM in combination with:
- our usual taxi firm being unable to accommodate our journey to the airport;
- tales of stationary traffic jams taking 90 minutes to get from the final roundabout, into Luton airport and back out again to said roundabout – a distance of less than a mile;
- dire warnings from easyJet about very heavy bank holiday traffic.
I elected to go for the long term car park solution [been reading management manuals again]. I was even prepared, should the traffic be such that it merited it, to walk the two miles from the car park to the terminal. If you look at Google Earth, the car park is probably less than half a mile from the terminal building but there’re lots of security fences and a runway in between, so it’s two miles around the edge. We set the alarm for 2:15 AM. Francine told me that, were I still to be awake at 2;00 AM, I should just wake her. I was certainly still awake at 11:30 PM. The next thing I knew was the clock reading 2:00 AM. I took my life in my hands and woke Francine – and survived!
We hit the road at 2:35 AM. Three minutes down the road we flipped a quick U-turn and headed back for the piece of Scottish cheddar that we’d bought for a Scottish friend in Spain, which was still in our fridge – the cheddar, that is, not our Scottish friend. We hit the road again at 2:42 AM, this time complete with the Scottish cheddar.
Luton airport’s bête noir roundabout was clear at 3:10 AM and we were parking at 3:15 AM. A transfer bus had followed us into the car park. We skipped across to its final pick up point and caught it.
EZY2223 is the 4th plane out of Luton in the morning. We “picked up a 40 minute air traffic control delay”, our captain informed us. How? Nothing’s happened, yet; the weather looks perfect and the day is new. Bizarre. Captain EasyJet made up a bit of time en route and landed at Alicante just a tad behind schedule. Not only that but the infernal passport reading machines were not backed up with a sea of humanity. We were through in a relative trice and collecting our rental car, a FIAT [Fix It Again Tomorrow – YUK!] Tipo that is at least a decent size, even if a little gutless up hills, and began heading for our first stop, a food shop.
We don’t normally arrive on Sunday, when many Spanish shops are closed. However, we’d discovered that a Carrefour hypermarket would be open all day in Benidorm. Yikes, our first brush with Benidorm! The shop is about the size of our home town – just the fish counter was nearly as big as our Waitrose – and its range of food had me salivating. We chose a paletilla de cabrito [shoulder of kid goat] and a Wagyu steak, about which I’ve heard much so it has to be worth a try. (At ~12€, the latter will be a cross bread, not the pure bread article.) What a great checkout arrangement this Carrefour had, too; a single line of customers with a display telling the next customer which till to proceed to as the tills cleared. No fretting about getting into the slowest of several lines. With 10 or so checkouts in operation, the single line , which was naturally quite long, moved briskly. Marvelous!
We survived Benidorm and arrived in Jalón in time to unload before lunch. The local supermarket was, in fact, still open but we wouldn’t have found either goat or Wagyu steak, there.
Lunch was easy – calamari, salad and bread with alioli. More difficult was the drink. We’re having a dry August and thus far not a drop of alcohol has passed our lips. We girded our loins, forwent the rosado, and opted for zero alcohol beer. Well, at least it’s not sweet. Well done us!
In the evening, the cabrito was quite good too, with more near-beer and fruit juice diluted with agua con gas. Never mind, it’ll soon be September.