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Espana – parte segundo

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We spent Xmas in Chiclana de la Fontera, in the South of Spain, near Morocco, with my aunty Gigga Jenny, Aunty Vuina Sally and Uncle Chich George.

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They have those names at the start of their names because they mean aunt and uncle in Macedonian. Gigga Jenny is not a real word for an aunt but I couldn’t say ‘Thitsa’ (which means ‘loveable aunty’ in Greek) when I was little so I ended up calling her Gigga – now all the family call her that.

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We also had friends from Australia – one of them was a friend from Australia who we’ve seen many times – Millie Parkes – she was travelling around Europe and wanted to spend Xmas with us. Also her friend Darcy came to spend Xmas as well. Darcy is really really good at drawing – especially letters – she drew us some ‘Merry Christmas’ signs and it looked like it was printed. She also plays AFL women’s football and was very very good at catching. She taught me how to do dives when catching balls like in cricket and I got very good at it in just one day – we did it at the beach, so it was easier on the sand than on the hard dirt!
On Xmas Eve we had the best Xmas Eve you could imagine. We went ice skating in Chiclana. It was really really fun – I fell over a lot but I was really good at getting up once I fell and I became quite good at skating.

One funny thing was – it happened a couple of times too – when someone fell over and made a big noise I was concentrating on the ice but I would look up and then fall over myself. There was music that you could skate to and the blades were really cool. I was really fast at ice skating but I fell over lots so I need to do some practising.

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After ice skating we went and saw big Xmas lights and we even went to a cafe that we knew had WIFI. Even though the shop was closed (because it was Xmas Eve and the town was very quiet because the Spanish celebrate with a big meal on Xmas Eve with their families).

We went into the sheltered bit of the outside part of the cafe and they had left their WIFI on and we got to watch our email videos that Santa Claus sent (or Papa Noel in Spanish) – they were really fun to watch – the elves were so funny – one of them was so funny that when they were saying goodbye he would make himself look really strong and have a naughty laugh.

Everyone got on Santa’s nice list but I’m sure that Yasi and Kalika almost got on the naughty list. We were all given a thing to focus on to be even better kids – mine was to be nice to my brothers and sisters. We got home pretty late and we all got ready for bed.

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Before bed I put some milk out and a piece of cake and biscuits for Santa and some lettuce and tomatoes for the reindeers. I even wrote him a letter and he replied in mainly Greek!
There were so many questions that you want  to ask and we only get to ask him once a year – some of my questions that I wanted to ask him next year:

How do you get your elves and how many are there?
What do you do apart from watching your elves make presents all year round?
In your videos you show us a book about us and I want to ask if you have just a few things written down or if you have a book for every child with pages full of all you know about them.

I’ll have to try and remember to ask these things next year at Xmas.

On Xmas day I woke up pretty early. All the adults were given an 8.30am wake up call – we had give them a one minute warning call and then at 8.30am we shouted the place down saying 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1!
Everyone came down and we were excited that Santa had been – he wrote a letter (mostly in Greek) and said the chocolate cake was delicious and the reindeers loved the tomatoes and lettuce.

We opened our presents – my first present was some plain black jeans and I also got a pack of dominos and a scrabble card game. The other two presents were monopoly in Greek in a beautiful wooden box and I also got chess and backgammon game (in Greek it’s called Tavli) with the most beautiful bits of detail I have ever seen on wood.

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From my Vuina Sally & Chich George & Gigga Jenny I got an iPod case (but unfortunately it was the wrong generation and didn’t fit my iPod) and a onesie – a onesie is pyjamas in one piece and it had a skeleton print on it and it even glows in the dark – it’s so cool.
One time I was wearing it when the power went out and the onesie glowed and gee how it glowed – so bright. I also got a pencil case and a note pad from Mille and her mum Jeanette Parkes from Australia.

And I got the best things ever from mum and baba – a Barcelona FC T-shirt and shorts and my very own gel for my hair. Wasn’t a big packet but it will do as I only use it on special occasions like Xmas. After we opened our presents we called my Grandma & Pa in Australia – it was 7 pm at night there and I spoke to everyone and they also got one of the best presents I can ever imagine – my Grandma normally gives all the kids a big sack of presents but this time instead, my Pa and Grandma got everyone a pool table to use at Somers. They were even give a table tennis table from one of their friends. It was really exciting to hear their voices. I couldn’t believe that when we went to bed at 10pm on Xmas Eve they were already opening their presents.

We had breakfast really late – I called it brunch – we kind of had two brunch a – the first was at 10am and the 2nd was at about 11.30am. For first brunch we had fruit platter with croissants – chocolate and normal ones. 2nd brunch we had scrambled eggs, with salmon and bread and other yummy things.

We also had a very very late lunch – I called it ‘lunner’ cause we had it at 4.00pm.
For lunch we had lots of things like mushrooms with cheese on top, roasted potatoes, potato salad, rice, chicken, calamari, prawns, peppers. For drinks the adults had a Spanish alcohol drink called Sangria which tasted like cordial. We were allowed to have a little bit of  lemonade which was left dorm making the Sangria.

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For dessert we had lots of things – summer pudding, chocolate ripple cake, Italian Panattone, chocolate coated pears and of course chocolate coated strawberries. Zoi and Darcy made the chocolate coated strawberries. Everyone helped to cook on the day cause we did it all in stages.

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This is the first year that I made the summer pudding mostly on my own. Summer pudding is something we make every Xmas.

I played a couple of games of backgammon (Tavli). We played games and had lots of fun on Xmas day because it was raining outside. After dessert we all sat together and watched ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’. It was really funny – sometimes when Ian asked the brother how to say somethings in Greek he would teach him naughty words. Like at the lunch table he asked him how to say ‘thank you’ in Greek and the brother made him say ‘nice boobs’ to his mother. The other time the brother and cousin taught him to say ‘I have three testicles’ but he thought he was saying – ‘let’s go in to eat now’. So funny. The father was so funny when he was doing his speech at the wedding he said the family his daughter was marrying into was called Miller and that is short for ‘milo’ which means ‘apple’ in Greek. Their name is Portokalis which comes from the Greek word for ‘orange’. He said that ‘apples and oranges are different but at the end of the day we are all fruit’. It was funny.

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We also made up a play with my Uncle Chich – we called it ‘The night the Milikings saved Christmas’ set in Chiclana-Cadiz. We wrote the lines and scenes with my Chich. We had it planned for Xmas day but as I thought we were so busy that we actually did it on Boxing Day. Great fun -But that is another story told by another kid – bye for now.

By Tobes

On Boxing Day we went to Barossa beach which was about 5 mins by bus from the house we were staying at.

We played on the playground equipment which was right on the sand at the beach. The beach was on the Atlantic Ocean.

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We had a picnic lunch of sandwiches and leftovers from Christmas Day on the sand.
After lunch we played on the swing with my aunty Sally and uncle George – we were on the swings and got on sideways and swinging sideways and then the others had to run through without being caught – it was so much fun. I got caught lots of times. Sally was probably the best at it cause she was sneaky and got through.


The adults had a coffee at the cafe while we still played at the beach as the sun was going down over the water. There were lots of big waves and there were people doing stand up paddling surfing. About 5pm we started to go home and packed our bags so we can leave in the morning. My aunty Sally and Chich (uncle George) made seafood and chorizo paella and mushroom risotto for dinner. It was delicious and we ate lots.

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After dinner we performed a play that we wrote with my Uncle Chich – it was called ‘The night the Milikings saved Xmas’. Mummy was the narrator- cause every great play needs a narrator. The story was that Santa (Papa Noël in Spanish) got stuck in the Atlantic Ocean which we pretended was the pool in the Chiclana house. Baba got a text message from Papa Noël cause we were so close that we might be able to help or Xmas would be ruined forever. We didn’t have a car to go to Cadiz (which was the palm trees near the pool) so magically there appeared a car in the driveway with the most beautiful angel – Sally. She drove the car with baba and all of the kids to Cadiz.

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On the way we saw two wise women with some signs hitch hiking and baba said – ‘ that’s a sign’, so we picked them up and they came with us to save Papa Noël. We didn’t know how to swim out to the ocean in the rough waters. The two wise ladies said they could help because they knew a special sea angel called ‘Gigga Maroni all fishy and bony’.

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She appeared from the water and helped but she couldn’t swim out alone so Sally and my baba helped her. They saved Papa Noël, the reindeers and the sleigh and all of the presents.

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The wise ladies gave special gifts to baba, Aunty Sally and Gigga for saving Papa Noël. Giggs’ prize was a gold card with a heart she would share with someone this year. Baba got a lifetime gift voucher to the Apple store and aunty Sally got everything she ever wanted (this is really true about what she wants) – an England visa, a new job and £100,000 gift voucher to the Selfridges department store. So we saved Christmas forever.
It was lots of fun.

In Granada we went to a very very old palace called La Alhambra and it was beautiful. There were lots of art and tiles on the walls. There were lots of gardens and footpaths and plants. It was a pretty cold and rainy day. There were lots of autumn leaves on the trees.

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In Granada the streets were old, small, slippery and quite wet, not many cars could go on them.

We had tapas a few times in Granada – like calamari, potatoes, prawns, bread and croquettes with a fish called bacalao.

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For Christmas I got some purple jeans, a Greek book called ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ in Greek – it’s the first book I read by myself in Greek, dominos and a red puffy vest. My Uncle Chich, Aunty Sally and Gigga gave me a pink bracelet and a One Direction T-shirt which I really like. Mummy and Baba gave me some peach trackydacks and a necklace beaded with my name in Greek. Millie and Jeanette gave me a pink sponge bag to keep my stuff in. It was a really good Christmas. We had a really late lunch but I enjoyed it.

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Millie and Darcy our friends were travelling in Europe and it was their first Christmas away from their family, so they came and had Xmas with us. It was really good having them there, they were fun to play with and I liked going ice skating with them.

By Yasi

Hello people

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I’ve got a Spain team tee shirt and I’ve got a Morocco country tee shirt. It’s not a team, it’s a flag tee shirt.

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My Lego was my favourite present, it’s a service station in a carry case, I can take it on buses and to cafés, it’s so fun. Our Santa sacks weren’t with us so we put 5 big sheets tied up for Santa to put things in, with our names. There was a letter for Santa, and Toby put milk out, I put cake out and Zoi put the nuts and Yasi put lettuce and Kalika put tomatoes out.

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Baba got a new man bag for Christmas so I asked for his old one.

In Australia it’s night time now. My favourite food in Spain was the yellow rice (insert seafood and chorizo paella) that Sally made, and chocolate croissants.

That’s enough, Hasta la vista baby!

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Αιμιλιος
Emilio
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1

Espana – parte primero

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When Gigga got to Crete I said to her ‘I will never let you go, I’m going to go everywhere with you’. I said that because I love her.

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When Lilliana and Fran came with their girls we played lots of hide and seek with them. They spoke a little bit of English but no Greek. We played at the park after lunch. We played special games like racing games. I was sad when they left because I wanted to play more.

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Santa came to our Spanish house. He brought me some a toy Lego pony and some big girl Lego in a carry box. I also got some purple cords. I also got some pink hair chalk that you can make your hair pink with. Christmas Day was really fun and lovely cause it was very good that we had our aunties Gigga and Sally and Chich and Mille and Darcy.

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Darcy and Millie did lots of drawings with me and I got to make chocolate strawberries with them. It was fun.

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Chich and Sally were lovely and kind. They gave us lollies when we picked them up from the bus station. Chich helped me a lot with ice skating and at the end I could do ice skating by myself with no holding on. Chich and Sally and Giggsie gave me a onesie jammies and it is very very warm.

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I liked Spain cause it was pretty and it was Christmas. There were lots of Christmas lights.

By Zoi

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We had to get up soooooooo early on the 18th of December because we had a very early flight to Athens and then we changed planes to go to Madrid. We had to get up at 4am because we had to get dressed and drive a hire-car to the Heraklion airport. The Heraklion airport is about 1 hour away from our house in Agios Nikolaos.

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Our flight was at 6.30am and we were all fighting over who was going to sit with our Gigga Jenny. Emilio and I got to sit next to her in the end. When we were above Athens, Emilio and I played a game – we had to have one guess of what place down below was the airport and we only got one guess. I was right.

When we arrived at Athens airport there was a very big runway and it was a while rolling along the runway till we stopped. The people didn’t do what I expected. I expected that they would clap like they did when we flew into Crete the first time.

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Then on the next plane to Madrid we had breakfast – we had cheese pie (tiropita) and yoghurt – in a second compartment of the yogurt container there was honey and if you wanted you could mix it in. There was also bread rolls with jam and butter.
There was only two of the vegetarian meals for the three adults so Mummy and Gigga got them and Baba had to have a normal one but there was no meat in it so he was happy. The vegetarian meal was a couple of veggies like cooked tomatoes and things like that with egg.
We landed into Madrid and then Mummy and Baba hired a car for us all to drive to Granada. It took 4 hours of driving to Granada – it was comfy cause it was a 7 seater and it was a brand new car – it was only driven from the factory 20 kms away. When we arrived in Granada it was still daylight but the sun was setting so it got dark.

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It was really difficult to park in Granada cause of all the small streets so went in a underground parking spot. Then we went to a place where we had to meet a man that showed us where our airbnb apartment was.

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He was really late coming to us but he had come before and gone cause we were later than we said.
While we were waiting for him we left Baba at the spot and we went to a tapas bar near there for some food. It was delcioso – (nostimo νόστιμο in Greek). We ate pasta, potatoes, mushrooms, croquettes with spinach, eggplant. When the man – Christian – came with Baba, he showed us a few places to go and then we went to bed cause it was pretty late.

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I slept in an apartment with Gigga, Zoi and Toby and the others were next door. It is hard to find something big enough for us all.
The next day in Granada it was raining and it was pretty cold. We walked to the same restraunt again and we had breakfast omelettes and they had delcioso bread with the omelettes and we had hot chocolates but Yasi didn’t like hers, so we shared it. We went up the hill to the Alhambra – the old palace. We didn’t get really wet cause we had our rain jackets and it wasn’t very heavy rain.

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There was a path to walk on and there were lots of autumn trees with leaves falling down.

It was a big palace and they had lots of beautiful patterns in their walls and roofs and also the ground. There were lots of hedges in the gardens. They started building it 800 years ago when Spain was a part of Arabia.


After the Alhambra we went out for lunch to a tapas restraunt and had lots of little plates of things – like croquettes with fish, anchovies on bread, potatoes, cheese, green olives, tuna and calamari. On the way home we went to a special lookout called ‘Mirador San Nicholas’, where we could see the Alhambra. You could see the whole palace and it was a very good view. There was a band playing and there was big huge Christmas balls and we tried to balance on big huge humongous chains.

The day after we got to Chiclana we had some visitors. My mama and baba met an Itialian girl in Australia back in 1999 called Liliana. She moved to Spain after travelling met a Spanish man called Francisco. They had two daughters called Lucia and Ainara – and they came to visit us for the day from Malaga which was about 2 and 1/2 hours by driving.


First thing I did with the girls was to play Jenga which they brought over. It had a dice with colours and you had to pull out that colour. They would say them in English to me. They knew just a little bit of English, but I know less Spanish than they know English. We played hide and seek and catching the balls we had. The balls were falling in the pool a lot. No one swam that day except for Toby – the water was pretty cold but it was a really sunny day.
After a bit we went out for lunch to a Seafood restraunt. At the Restraunt we had chips as usual and calamari and prawns. It was very yummy. After we ate the kids started off to the park with mama and Lilliana. At the park we played on the swings and on the rides. We also climbed up to the roof of the little kids train.

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Then when we got back home we played hide n seek again and then we had some of the yummy cake that Lilliana brought with her. When it was getting dark they went back into their car and drove off back home. So they could get home and get ready because the next day Lilliana and Fran were going to go to New Zealand on a holiday and the girls were going with their grandparents and all their 14 cousins. Their grandparents live on the other side of Spain near Valencia. It was so much fun to meet them and I hope that they come and visit us in Australia.

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On Xmas Eve we went ice skating in Chiclana town which was about 1/2 hr walk from our house. I liked ice skating – it was the first time I ever went –  after the fifth time I fell I was crying and in the whole time we were there I fell over 19 times. Baba told me that the first time he went ice skating he fell over 10 times – he didn’t want me to beat him but I did! I got so much better at it by the end.

When we were walking home mama said the kids in Australia would be opening their presents now. It was still the night before Xmas for us.

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When we got home mama read us two chapters of ‘Famous five’ while we got ready for Santa (Papa Noël in Spanish) to come. It was 10 o’clock by the time we went to bed.
The next day was Xmas – we had to wait a bit for everyone to get up before we opened our presents. At 8.30am we got to shout the house down for the slow coaches to wake up. We said 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0!

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I got a keyboard with a pipe that attaches to it and fits in your mouth and you have to blow and play. I also got some red jeans and blue tight leggings (sort of like stockings but don’t go over your feet) and dominoes. My present from Chich and Sally and Gigga was a onesie which is so warm to sleep in. From mummy and baba I got a Mandala drawing kit and a necklace that says my name in Greek, which is ΚΑΛΙΚΑ. Also they gave me a Xmas bracelet. When Mille and Darcy were up Millie gave us our presents from Jeanette (Millie’s mum). I got a purse and a little diary. Then we had ages of time to play with our Christmas presents and build Zoi and Emilio’s Lego. Oh I also got some Lego from Santa. It is a space shuttle, a man and a planet that you can keep everything in together. We played almost the whole day because it was raining outside.

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For lunch we had potatoes and chicken, rice and calamari, prawns and so many other dishes. I ate so much cause it was delicious. It was a great Christmas.

On Boxing Day we performed a play.

By Kikibelle

Here I am sitting on another overnight train and I just love it. I have really missed them lots – it’s our 13th night in a train this year. The ride is from Tangier in Northern Morocco to Marrakech in Central Morocco near the Atlas Mountains. I have always dreamt of coming to the Atlas Mountains – and I love the movie – Kundun – about the Dalai Lama – which was filmed there.

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So far our Christmas trip to Spain has been a huge success. So lucky that we found cheap 100€ flights from Crete to Madrid back in August. When my sister decided to come over to Europe for Christmas and my brother and his wife Sally are living in London we thought that we would meet in the middle (sort of) and have a lovely family Christmas. We originally thought that we could fly into Madrid and then get trains to the south of Spain but when you multiply anything like a western train trip by 7 it becomes prohibitively expensive and after a long search on the net we managed to find a super budget car company that would let us get a car from the airport and then drop it off in Cadiz a few days later. It was all so much cheaper than the train.

When we drove out of the airport and ventured south it was quite dry and industrial for such a long way. Not the Spain I remembered from my magical trip here in 2000 with my cool Japanese friends Hiro and Chiya. We drove and drove through more and more drab dry land. Then it started to change to dry rocky hills. Then we get to Andalucia, with the Sierra Nevada mountain range and I was reminded of what I fell in love with back in 2000. We drove into the city of Granada (I won’t talk much about the nitty gritty of our trip as the kids have covered lots of that though I would like to share some of how it felt for me) – and I remembered just how beautiful it was – especially the Arabic influenced Albaicin area. We had booked our Christmas week long family accommodation in Chiclana de la Fontera near Cadiz though it started from the 20th of December. We flew out of Crete on the 18th cause of the incredibly cheap flights which finished for the year on that day. So we thought – what better way to spend two days acclimatising to Spain than in Granada.
One of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to – with it’s amazing thin streets in the Albaicin area, the Alhambra, the Arabic tea rooms and super tapas food. The first day it drizzled with rain in the morning and was quite misty but it gave the city a special charm as the autumn leaves fell off the trees in the light wind. Quite beautiful.

I went running at about 8am and it was still pitch black – I’m sure Spain is in the wrong time zone – it is on the same time zone as Italy though it is further west than much of the UK. Sunrise is super late. Not many street lights either so it was all quite mystical.

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I really loved Christmas – it was so nice to spend it with my sister Jenny and brother George and s-in-l Sally. It really made it feel like we brought home to Spain. Having our friends Millie and Darcy was the icing on the cake also. There was lots of fun and exciting things for the kids to do and amuse themselves with so many adults.

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One of my highlights of our Spain trip was the visit from our wonderful friends Lilliana, Fran and their daughters Lucia and Ainara. They drive 2 and 1/2 hours from their home in Malaga to visit us in Chiclana and our kids just loved playing with their daughters. They even took us out for a fabulous seafood lunch. And all this was the day before they were driving to the other side of the country (Spain is the second biggest country in Europe) to drop off their girls to grandparents before they flew to NZ for a trip. Pretty amazing!

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Sandy and I met Lilliana about 50kms outside of Kunnunnara when we were hitchhiking out of El Questro station and she and an Israeli friend picked us up. She visited us in Melbourne, then I visited her and Fran in Madrid in 2000, and now reconnected again after 13 years. Wonderful people.

Another highlight would definitely have to be our day trip to Cadiz and a glorious – albeit cold swim in the ocean. Impossible to get to a new ocean/sea and not at least have a dip!

Fish and chips by the beach was also very ‘Australian’ in Spain!

We have stayed in quite a few Airbnb places over the last few months and have never had any issues really – some of the places were even better than they looked in the pictures. Not the Chiclana property unfortunately! Quite comical now looking back at it. Firstly it was so hard to find as we didn’t have wifi or maps on our phones. The street we eventually found but was split into two and there were so many one way streets that it was difficult to get to the right side. The house was owned by a woman called Giovanna, but the maintenance guy who looks after it was Miguel who didn’t know a word of English so when I called him to ask further directions he was trying to type in what I was saying to Google translate but it was all very comical. We found him in the end. He was really lovely and friendly and someway we managed to communicate – and he was quite apologetic about the house which wasn’t his fault at all.

Now the house – where do I start? Firstly there were no towels – we would’ve brought our own (actually we wouldn’t have, cause we only had cabin baggage – once you add checked baggage x7 it’s not a cheap trip anymore!) if we were told but we haven’t stayed in an Airbnb place that didn’t supply them before. Secondly there was only a small pot to cook enough rice for about 3 people – even though we booked a 10 person house! Miguel saved the day with the towels and cooking pots …….. And if only the house issues ended there! There was only enough hot water for 1 (or possibly 2 if it was quick) to have a shower. Since it was winter- and despite being T-shirt weather in the daytime sun – pretty hard to have cold showers!

Furthermore the biggest issue probably was the power – if more than two stove elements were on then the power cut out. If the washing machine was on with anything else the power cut out. There were only 2 wall heaters that worked (in a 5 bedroom house) and two little blower heaters …….but……. If they were all on the power cut out, if they were on with the toaster, the power cut out. Actually if the toaster was on with anything else the power cut out. It was a bit late to try to look for something else so we made do – it was almost comical in the end. Oh – I almost forgot – the oven didn’t work at all – just the grill element! It made cooking Christmas lunch interesting! We did it in lots of shifts and it was actually fabulous cause it was raining for most of the day (though stopped when we had to use the BBQ) and it meant we had an inside day with lots of game playing and cooking – we had 2 breakfasts, lunch at 4pm and then dessert at 6pm. One of my best Christmases really.

By Baba Miliking