Oooops! Missed the Last Bus AND the Last Train!

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Oct 16 ~ Day #159
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$15900
$312.18
$14086.12
$88.59
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15190+73=15263
6378.9
6752+910=7662
119+29=148
29451.9

Current Location: San Miguel Hotel, Altea, Alicante, Spain

Today’s Total Expenses: $312.18

Transportation: $201.20
$174.00 (Flight from Bristol to Alicante)
$7.00 (€5.20 – bus from Alicante Airport to train station)
$12.12 (€9.00 – train from Alicante to Altea)
$8.08 (€6.00 – cab in Altea)

Accommodation: $80.54
$28.14 (timeshare)
$52.40 (€38.90 – Hotel San Miguel)

Food: $30.44 (€22.60 – Greek Restaurant in Altea)

Miles Traveled Today:
Road Miles: 73 (Burry Port to Bristol)
Air Miles: 910 (Bristol to Alicante)
Train Miles: 29 (Alicante to Altea)

Saying Goodbye to Friends

This is the day we have to say goodbye to our good friends and traveling companions, T & E.

E has graciously offered to drive us to Bristol airport so we can catch our plane to Spain, even though it is almost a four hour drive for her – two hours each way!

We have enjoyed the time spent with these friends both at their home in Wales and traveling with them on the narrowboat and throughout Italy, Greece and Croatia.

Although goodbyes are always difficult, it’s always good to get back to your normal routine and way of life. Thanks, T & E!

Flying With EasyJet

This time we chose EasyJet to fly with. We had booked the flight before we flew with RyanAir. After the pleasant experience with RyanAir, we may have chosen them again, but at the time we were booking, we had not heard very good things about RyanAir.

Truly, I don’t know if they would have been any cheaper. When you have to travel on a specific day, the super-cheap flights may not be available.

Also, this was a one-way booking, not return, and that often makes a big difference, too.

No point in speculating. We chose EasyJet and the flight was on time and comfortable.

Bus or Train?

I had checked, quite a while in advance, about buses available from Alicante airport to Dénia and thought, given when we were arriving in Spain, that we would have two or three choices of times.

As it turned out, the bus we were planning to take had summer and winter hours and we were now in the winter season. So the choices became more limited.

We found the stop for the ALSA bus to Benidorm, where we could make connections to Dénia. It was about 7:40pm and, in the summer, there would have been a bus at 8:00pm, however, the next bus in this season was 9:00pm – a wait of 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Okay, well, I also thought that the last bus from Benidorm to Dénia was at 11:00pm – stay tuned, I was about to be proved wrong.

Our Own Personal Travel Guide

There was another person waiting at the ALSA bus stop who was traveling to Benidorm.

As it turned out, Jan had lived in Spain for the last seven years as a travel guide for the Costa Blanca area, and had only recently returned to England.

She was back to visit a friend in Benidorm.

She was also surprised that there was no bus to Benidorm at 8:00pm and told us there were other options.

She said we could take a local bus to the train station in Alicante and from there we could get a train to Benidorm and then on to Dénia.

Just after she said that, the local bus arrived and we all, Jan included, made the decision to head for the train rather than wait well over an hour for the bus.

No Train to Dénia?

When we were getting our trains tickets, our new friend, who spoke Spanish, asked for tickets to Dénia for us and the ticket agent just shook his head – not a good sign.

Jan was certain that there would be a train from Benidorm to Dénia and so we bought tickets to Benidorm.

During the trip from Alicante to Benidorm, Jan was in touch by cellphone with her friend in Benidorm who checked about the train to Dénia, as well as the bus, just in case.

Not Good News

The news was not good.

The last train to Dénia was at 8:00pm, so that was totally out.

The last bus was at 10:00pm and the train we were on was arriving at 9:53pm – not enough time to get from the train station to the bus station.

Now what?

The options were to take a taxi from Benidorm to Dénia – way too expensive; stay overnight in Benidorm – again, way too expensive; or, continue on to the last train stop which was Altea (pronounced al-TAY-ah), about a third of the way from Benidorm to Dénia and perhaps get a cab from there.

Altea Here We Come

We opted to continue on to Altea and hugged Jan goodbye and hopped on the train which was about to leave.

When we arrived in Altea we felt kind of lost. The train conductor tried to direct us to the local police who he thought might be able to help us. There were no taxis at the train station (well, actually, just a train stop, not really a station).

We weren’t able to find the police station and walked down the main street a bit and stopped outside a cafe that was still open – everything else seemed closed.

A gentleman who was just leaving the cafe asked us, in perfect English, if we needed help.

We explained our situation and he said he knew of a inexpensive hostel where we could get a room for the night.

Well, that sounded pretty good to us and he started to give us walking directions. Well, we were exhausted and didn’t relish the idea of lugging our backpacks even further than we already had. He offered to call us a cab saying it wouldn’t cost much as it wasn’t very far. We accepted his offer and the cab arrived very quickly.

We arrived at the Hotel San Miguel in just a few minutes after a cab ride that cost us only €6.00.

Before checking in we asked the price of the room and were told it was €36.00. That seemed really reasonable, so we checked in and were shown to our room.

It was basic but clean and had its own bathroom. As we had been told this was a hostel, we had expected just a bed with a communal bathroom, but this place was great. It even had a small balcony.

Almost 11:00pm – Time for Dinner

It was certainly time to grab something to eat. We had a wonderful breakfast with T & E this morning, but since then the only thing we’d had to eat was a chocolate bar.

After dropping our bags in our room, we headed out into the warm night and wandered past several restaurants.

We chose a Greek restaurant that had a rather extensive and pretty reasonable menu.

We both opted for a Souvlaki dish and ordered a pitcher of beer to wash it down. The meal was fabulous and very filling.

More Serendipity?

During our travels we have found that a lot of mistakes turn out to be happy accidents and this was one of them.

Would we have made it to Dénia if we had waited for the ALSA bus at 9:00pm? Maybe, maybe not. The connection in Benidorm was not guaranteed.

However, by missing both the last bus and the last train, we got a chance to experience Altea, which is the type of town that we like. Not too touristy, not too big. Even though our stay here will be short, we know we’re going to enjoy it and it is a place that we will remember for a long time.

Back to Hotel San Miguel

Well fed, we returned to our hotel and basically just fell into bed and into a sound sleep.

Only One Downside

The only downside to this detour was that we had already paid for the same night’s accommodation at our timeshare in Dénia but even with adding both costs together it still wasn’t too bad, considering.

Packing, Weighing and Moving Furniture

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 27 ~ Day #140
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$14000
$0.00
$11770.38
$84.07
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14364
4515.8
5180
119
24178.8
Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 28 ~ Day #141
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$14100
$22.15
$11792.53
$83.63
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14364
4515.8
5180
119
24178.8

Location: Burry Port, Wales

Today’s Total Expenses: $22.15 (Sept. 28)

Food: $22.15 (£14.00 – fish & chips – Sept. 28)

Miles Traveled Today:
Zero

Combining Days – Again

We have, again, combined a couple of days. Putting them in separate posts would make for very short posts.

Packing and Weighing

As we mentioned earlier, we found perfect carry-on bags that met RyanAir’s restrictions. We are now in the process of deciding what to take with us for the two weeks we’ll be in Europe.

It’s tough to pack two weeks worth of clothing, toiletries, etc into a carry-on bag, but that’s exactly what we need to do. And, we need to stay within the weight restriction as well.

Fortunately, T & E have a scale for weighing bags and we are certainly putting that to good use as we try different combinations of items to take with us.

We think we’ve got it cracked, but I’m sure there will be last minute substitutions and/or additions before we actually leave for the airport on Wednesday.

Moving Furniture

This may seem like a strange entry for our blog, but while we’re away, T & E are having their hardwood floors refinished. In order for that to happen, all the furniture needs to be removed from the floors that are being refinished.

So, we spent time both on Monday and Tuesday moving furniture to other parts of the house to make sure all the floors are clear.

Fish & Chips

On Tuesday evening we opted for fish & chips from the local “chippy”.

Okay, okay – hey, we’re in England and we just can’t get enough fish & chips.

Burry Port Harbour

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 23 ~ Day #136
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$13600
$0.00
$11770.38
$86.55
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14290
4515.8
5180
119
24104.8

Location: Burry Port, Wales

Today’s Total Expenses: $0.00

Miles Traveled Today:
Zero

Burry Port Harbour

It was a beautiful sunny day so E suggested that we take a long walk and see Burry Port Harbour.

There was a bit of a chill in the air – it’s September, after all – so we dressed appropriately for our outing. We all had good walking shoes, long pants and jackets.

The tide was way out but E warned us that, when it comes in, it can come in very quickly, so we always had an eye to the water as we explored the shoreline.

The sand, which was wet but solid, seemed to go on forever. It looked like you could almost walk over to the Gower (a peninsula directly across from the harbour).

Millennium Walking Path

The town of Burry Port had built an extensive walking path along the harbour and shoreline as their millennium project.

We certainly took advantage of it, as many other people were, too, to explore even further.

As we walked we noticed that even here there were still lots of wild blackberries on the bushes, but we didn’t pick any this time.

Stone Monolith

We came across a stone monolith, in a stone circle, while walking the Millennium path. It was quite impressive and obviously erected recently (meaning not an ancient artifact). But there was nothing to say what it was for, or why it was erected and by whom.

Nonetheless we enjoyed discovering it.

Visit to a Hospital in Wales, UK

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 22 ~ Day #135
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$13500
$0.00
$11770.38
$87.19
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14290
4515.8
5180
119
24104.8

Written by Geoff Wells

Current Location: Burry Port, Wales

Today’s Total Expenses: $0.00

Miles Traveled Today:
Zero

Ear Infection

I seem to have a tendency to get ear infections and just before leaving the US I started getting the symptoms. To make matters worse, both Vicky and I caught colds on the flight over. Being cramped up with a couple of hundred strangers all night is a wonderful germ-spreading environment.

We have been in the UK for about three weeks now and the colds are a little better but my ear does not want to clear up. Since I don’t have a doctor here the only alternative is the hospital emergency department.

Visit to UK Hospital

Surprisingly all the nurse at the desk wanted to know was my name, date of birth and allergies. She did not need any health insurance or credit card.

After waiting for about 90 minutes a doctor called my name. He examined my ear and prescribed some drops. I had had these drops before in Florida and a tiny bottle was over $80.

No Charge Hospital Visit

The pharmacy in the hospital took the prescription and handed over the medicine. When I asked how much the girl just said, “There’s no charge.”

Bottom line – the doctor and the drugs cost absolutely nothing. Living most of my life in Canada I was used to free health care but we have a photo health card ID and drugs are only free to those over 65.

Health care in the UK is a basic human right. So different from the US where someone’s sickness is just another opportunity to make a profit.

Getting My National Insurance Number in the UK

I left England when I was seventeen and had never been back. After graduating from school I had a couple of jobs to earn the money to move to Canada.

I don’t remember getting a National Insurance Number but I know I had to have had one. Since we are considering the possibility of moving to the UK, I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could get my National Insurance Number.

We walked into the local Job Centre Plus office and I explained to the receptionist what I wanted.

A councillor asked for two pieces of ID and typed my name into her computer.

After 47 years my info popped up along with my address in Edgware.

The councillor wrote down my National Insurance Number on a Post It note and handed it to me.

That was it! I could now got out and get a job, pay taxes, etc, etc. I was now officially home.

We are still not sure if that is what we want but the process was remarkably easy.

It will be more difficult for Vicky, of course, because she was born in Canada. But, there are still strong ties between Canada and the UK so I don’t expect it will be too difficult.

Days in Wales

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 20 ~ Day #133
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$13300
$0.00
$11770.38
$88.50
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14290
4515.8
5180
119
24104.8
Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Sep 21 ~ Day #134
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$13400
$0.00
$11770.38
$87.84
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
14290
4515.8
5180
119
24104.8

Location: Burry Port, Wales

Today’s Total Expenses: $0.00

Miles Traveled Today:
Zero

Combining Days

As you can see, we’re combining a couple of days in this post.

The reason for that is because these days were pretty much just relaxing days without much to report.

Booking Flight to Alicante

One thing that we did accomplish was to book our flight to Alicante, Spain for Saturday, October 16th.

After looking through a lot of websites, we chose to book with EasyJet – we’ll report the expense on the day we actually fly.

It seems a bit odd that we will be flying to Treviso, Italy on September 29th to spend some time in Italy and catch our Greek cruise. We’ll then be coming back to Wales on October 13th only to leave again for Spain on October 16th.

That’s just the way things worked out.