James Went To Gandia

There’s going to be a few of these. James went to Gandia. James went to Valencia. James went to Benalmádena. James went to Malaga. Who knows, I might even get some more places ticked off by time my solicitors and the management company decide that I can buy the flat that I put an offer in for 7 MONTHS AGO.

Firstly, don’t go to Gandia.

The city, that is.

I had a wander through Google Street View before we went on holiday, and crowned Gandia as the “Slough of Spain”. And then I found out a TV programme that was filmed there – Gandia Shore. You can work out what that is.

You probably aren’t going there anyway, because it involves getting a train from Valencia – and British Airways didn’t want us to go either, but I’ve moaned about that elsewhere.

We were originally hoping to stay in Valencia itself, but in the time between thinking, “oooh holiday in Valencia maybe”, and the reality of booking it, the hotel prices had doubled.

And then because I dreamed of going back to Spain, and really wanted to visit Valencia, I discovered a city called Gandia, which was an hour from Valencia on the train. As I mentioned, the town itself is dreary, but the beach resort, 15 minutes away on the…urgh…bus, was quite dreamy. And with a good deal on a 4 star hotel, which was really rather excellent, then we’d found our holiday.

What to do?

There isn’t a huge amount to do in Gandia, the resort, other than do beach. Which suited me fine, kind of – I seem to always do this thing where I don’t have any time off, bar a few extended weekends, from the end of March until September, and every year by August I’m running low on energy and motivation.

And hence the idea of a beach holiday, and Gandia has a stunning beach, just about appealed. I could sit there, drink beer, and finish my 910 page book on Winston Churchill. Plus check out topless women on the beach.

So we did things like, sit on the beach, lay on the beach, go in the sea (yes I managed to pluck up the confidence to take my top off in Gandia – though definitely not in Valencia), sit around the pool, drink beer, drink Sangria, eat food, read books.

Like, have a relaxing holiday.

Kind of.

Of course, I couldn’t cope for too long with that so went on some long walks – once through a nature reserve that I stumbled across, another time up a fair-sized hill to see some ruins.

What else to do?

We’d planned to get the train to Valencia on the Wednesday, as rain was forecast. However, the forecast changed and the rain…well…thunderstorms arrived on the Tuesday. A lack of sunshine meant that we headed into Gandia city that day to confirm that it is as interesting as Slough.

And then a major thunderstorm kicked off in Valencia. Of course. I would have been there. Not to mention that the Sunday we flew out (at the second attempt) I missed the best thunderstorm in London for years. Of course.

Then in the evening, I did get a treat – a distant storm, again over Valencia, but it was stunning to watch, and we stayed there for 2, maybe 3 hours, just drinking and watching the constant lightning. In a dream world, it would have been closer, or even coming towards us – but it wasn’t to be, and never is for me and my unwanted thunderstorm protection shield. Gandia was in the most-prone area for thunderstorms that day in the forecast, but nada overheard, bar a spot of rain.

Gandia was a whole hour on the train from Valencia – which is probably why we heard about four other English people all holiday, though the resort was quite busy. Lots of Spanish people here on holiday, especially at the weekend, but also some Germans, Dutch, Scandinavians – hardly any English. Train? Gosh no, not for us Brits.

Which also meant that there were no English menus, hardly anyone spoke English, and at first nobody understood me, even when asking for a “cerveza grande”. Though I did get into my Spanish, and people kind of understood me – I could just about ask for anything I wanted, and sometimes understand the response. It actually helped us, believe it or not. Bravo, Duolingo.

One of the few times that I got it wrong, I thought that the waiter had asked if he could take our empty jug of sangria. A few minutes later, more sangria turned up. Gosh. Disaster.

We also went to Valencia twice, though I’ll talk about that on a separate, James Went to Valencia post. It’s a stunning place, and deserves its own post. And a revisit.

Other than that…eating and drinking were the main goals of the day.

Best food in Gandia

The opposite of where I am situated as I write this, Benalmádena, I couldn’t find any decent beer – until we went to one Italian restaurant. Every single place was a choice of Cruzcampo, Amstel or Mahou. Sigh. On the flip side, almost every meal we had in Gandia was very good, and occasionally superb. Very much also the opposite of where I am now.

The tostada scene is captivating – a coffee, an orange juice and a tostada for something ridiculous like €2.50. Plus one place had a homage to Lady Di – what’s not to like?

They loved tempura vegetables in Gandia – and so did we. Deep-fried vegetables is just the perfect mix of healthy food and Hull-ness.

My favourite meal in Gandia was possibly the one I had on my own after my walk up the hill – tuna and potato salad, topped with prawns, on a ryvita.

Though the last night T-bone was superb too…well…supposedly our last night except that air traffic control at Gatwick had other ideas.

And the bread we had there was some of the most gorgeous bread I’ve had in my life.

Would I go again?

Would I go back to Gandia? Probably not, but if you want a beach holiday with good food, don’t mind getting a train, and are comfortable with almost nobody speaking English, then the beach resort in Gandia is pretty excellent really.

If they improved the train service (or maybe stopped it being free and hence rammed) then it could be the kind of place I could imagine having a holiday apartment. The food really was rather excellent there, which is always key for me.

Our really rather excellent hotel was £484.39 for 7 nights – there were cheaper places there but I’m older and I want a quality bed nowadays. Our flight there that was cancelled was £118.68. Our flight back that was cancelled was £137.69. Our replacement flight there was £179.85. British Airways haven’t refunded us. Scumbags. Vuelling on the way back, did look after us – giving us a hotel, food, transport and wine, even if the journey back via Paris, with a 3:30am alarm was horrid enough to make me feel like I needed a holiday for the rest of the week. Beer and breakfast was ridiculously cheap, dinner less so but reasonable enough – especially when comparing to London.

And when I was back, I had my motivation and my zest for life back. Though I also had an eviction notice, and a dream finding a Spanish wife and living in Spain.

The holiday worked. Gracias, España. See you…now.

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