So, the dreaded journey to go and see the Spanish family finally took place earlier this month. We were there for 6 days, and trust me, it was more than enough.
Our flight was very early in the morning, and we left the house at 5:30 am. We moved the kids from the cots into the car, still in the PJs. The plan was that they wouldn’t wake up and sleep until we arrived in Gatwick at about 7am. But they woke up and were awake the whole journey. But they were ever so quiet! It was like they were asleep but with their eyes open. They stayed in their PJs until we checked in, and I couldn’t help people look at them funny. There were many other children around and they were all fully dressed. I bet the other parents were either judging me for not changing them, or jealous for not having thought about that themselves 😉
This time we flew with Easyjet and I must say that we were quite pleased with them. As we were flying with infants we were given automatic “priority boarding” which meant that the queues were smaller (although we jumped a couple too, hehehe). Before the flight, still in Gatwick, I was pleased to discover a “family area” with a small soft play area. It was good, however not so good that the twins didn’t feel the need to run away into Boots or into the general seating area. Still, it gives parents a more enclosed environment to let the children loose and keep a close eye on them.
The flight there was good. There was no crying from E&E and they had a good time running up and down the aisle. We were sitting at the front (we chose the seats beforehand) so we had plenty of space to let them run in the little “lobby” where the toilet is, without disturbing a lot of people. Both of them also slept a bit on me (not at the same time!), but not lots and they were pretty well behaved with our seat neighbours.
Would we do anything different? No, I don’t think so. We had snacks with us and a bit of entertainment in the form of Pocoyó on our iPhones. We also packed a couple of puppets but we never got to use them.
The flight back was also good. They were a bit more cranky but they didn’t cry either. We chose the same seats and they also got to run around for a bit. Arriving in Gatwick, though, they were very tired and we had to walk a very long way with them in our arms. I saw a sign that said that there were pushchairs that you could borrow and then give back at baggage reclaim, but when we got to that area there were no pushchairs available. And then the queue for passport control was massive and they were getting very cranky indeed. For me that was probably one of the toughest parts of the whole journey. Because you’re almost home, but not quite there… the multi-storey car park is only a few metres away, but you still have to queue while holding cranky children.
Parking and hire-car.
Again, we chose to park at the Valet parking in Gatwick. You arrive, leave your car and somebody else will park it for you and then when you arrive, it’s only two minutes away from Arrivals. No waiting, no transfer bus, no trying to remember where you parked it. Something new this time as well was that a lady approached the car as we arrived and did the “paperwork” then and there, which saved us having to go to the desk. All very quick and efficient. Pricey, but so worth the money when you’ve got two small children!
Once in Spain, we had prebooked a hire car with Enterprise. Well, that was the worst experience ever. First of all the queues were horrible. We were queueing for a good 30 minutes before it was our turn. And then things got even worse!! There was a bit of miscommunication and the girl at the desk tried to upsell Jon some extra insurance. Jon either misheard her or she didn’t explain it properly, but when he was given the total bill and he saw the extra €70 at the end, he asked for that money to be taken away and refunded. This took a very long time. And whereas this long wait wouldn’t be a problem if you’re travelling on your own or with your couple, almost and hour of just hanging around with two toddlers can be burning hell. There was lots of screaming and crying…
Finally in Motril, we parked in a parking area near my mum’s house. It is a pay and display area, but you only have to pay from 5 to 8 in the afternoon/evening. We arrived at 4:20pm and the machine wouldn’t take my coin, so we decided to leave the car with the big suitcase and we would go to pay and collect the suitcase at 5. Well, we got to my mum’s house and we got talking with her and my uncle, and by the time we got back to the car, it was 5:20 and we had already been given a parking fine. Doh! My uncle, though, grabbed it off Jon’s hands and threw it away. If we receive a ticket through the post all the way from Motril, I swear my uncle is paying for that.
The weather was hot. I mean, it was great that we still got fantastic summer days in the middle of September, but it was way too hot. Funnily enough, I think Jon coped better with it than me. But the poor kids really struggled, especially Elisa, who was sweating so much we had to resort to just have them in their nappies when we were in the house. I think the temperatures averaged 30 degrees, but being so near the coast, the ambience is very damp and muggy and it was just uncomfortable. At night, the baby monitor said that it was 28 degrees in the kids room.
Still, despite it being so nice and warm, Motril was empty. Especially the beach. We went one day so the kids saw the Mediterranean Sea up close and personal, and the beach was completely empty! Not a single person around. Crazy.Had that been Brighton, it would have been full, even on a Tuesday.
The food was good, but maybe not crazy good as I was expecting. My mum was not feeling great so she didn’t cook much, she used up lots of frozen dishes (not bought frozen, but homemade frozen). We ate out in one of the family’s favourite restaurants and I ordered my usual “arroz caldoso” (I always order the same there, it’s delicious!!), but Jon says that the rest of the fish / seafood was not that good. Even my niece and nephew complained a bit, which is unusual as they are the type of kids that eat everything.
The twins ate very well everything considered. They ate my mum’s frozen dishes and ate ok when we were out and about. I must say that I am very proud of them, because our schedule was a bit all over the place. Lunch time in England is normally 12-12:30, but in Spain we would eat later (the day we all went to the beach restaurant we didn’t start eating until well past 2:30). But they didn’t complain and then ate well.
We had lots of Leche Rizada (one of the things that I miss the most about Motril – it’s a frozen milkshake that tastes of cinnamon and lemon). The twins also had lots of leche rizada and lots of ice cream too! You can tell where they get their love for ice cream from 😀
I can not believe they slept so well. Except one night when Eric woke up early and I had to hug him, the rest of the time the slept so soundly! Even with all the noise (where I come from is very noisy in the streets until very late at night). I mean, nothing would wake them! They must have been so exhausted after all the action everyday…
They slept with only a short sleeved body suit on, and that was more than enough! We packed our 1 tog sleeping bags with us and never took them out of the suitcases. Lesson learnt there for the next time!
The twins were FANTASTIC with everyone. They had seen my mum and niece briefly when they came for their birthday, but they hadn’t seen the rest of my family since they were five months old, and still, they behaved with them like they had just saw them last week! They were warm and very sociable, they let everybody hold them and play with them, they were smiley and playful, and everybody just loved them! They were very well behaved angels!
Jon and I managed to get a a few minutes to ourselves a couple of nights, going to the bar just down from my mum’s house for a couple of rounds. I was very concerned about leaving the kids on their own with my mum and uncle, as they wouldn’t know what to do if they woke up. But on Monday, seeing that they were sleeping beautifully, I had the strength to ask my uncle to not go to bed straight away so Jon and I could have a drink… and on Tuesday my mum stayed! So we got half an hour on each night. Not a lot, I know but better than nothing! We could have stayed longer, I suppose, but my own “mum’s nerves” were getting the best of me. I was worried sick!
All in all it was an ok visit. There were family issues – LIKE ALWAYS. It was uncomfortably hot at times, but we managed. The food could have been better but we brought some tasty stuff with us as well. The kids were great, though. The important thing is that I have fulfilled my duty and I don’t have to worry about this whole thing again for another year…