Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Back In Spain - Update.

So, what has been happening with our plan so far?

I arrived back in Spain, on the 29th January courtesy of a cheap direct flight from Manchester by Monarch Airlines, who have maintained a weekly flight schedule throughout the winter this year - very handy.

I then had 3 weeks of peace and quiet loneliness and hard work looking after myself until Margaret arrived back, again courtesy of last Friday. Once back here she soon got back into the swing of Spanish life....

I had arranged car hire for a full month, to start in the days before her arrival so I could collect her from the airport. We are also having visitors from England from next Friday, so the car will also be used to visit some of the many destinations around and about here in the Cabo de Gata Nijar Parc Natural, one of the most unspoilt and beautiful places in Spain.

I researched car hire here, and found from reviews that some of the "budget" car rental companies here seemed to operate what you might call "creative accounting" policies, with hidden charges and sometimes even unscrupulous charge backs to credit cards once the hirer is back home, for damage that certainly was not present when the car was returned.

A company called is associated with the campsite here, and their front office will arrange everything relating to the hire, which can sometimes be difficult due to the language barrier. They operate a fair full-full fuel policy with no hidden charges, and will also deliver and collect the vehicle, so I chose this mainly due to the convenience. The charge for a month's hire of our medium sized Seat Ibiza is €595, with a €900 excess charge should an insurance claim have to be made. (I use my own annual cover from icarhire insurance at just £39 to save me from having to fork out the €hundreds that is charged by the hirers to indemnify this excess charge for the duration of the hire only). Another favourable aspect of Kisacar is that they don't "reserve" a charge against your credit card in anticipation of charging the excess cost, as many do.

Last Sunday saw a group of twenty of us visit an American themed rock bar, who provide good food together with live music concerts over the weekend. This really is a great day out, high in the mountains near Tabernas. We are booked again for next weekend with our visitors.

Finally, yesterday we went out to lunch in San Jose, a beautiful coastal village near here. The restaurant was within Hotel Dona Pakyta, stunningly located on the headland overlooking the bay and marina. Again we have arranged a re-visit during the time our friends will be with us. Their promotional video is below, and their daily room rate should anyone wish to stay here is very reasonable. The lunch, although slightly more expensive than average for this area, at €17 for the menu del dia, (there choices from each of three courses and includes one drink), was exceptional, when combined with the window table with the view that can be seen in the video and the image below.

So far this has been a great way to escape the horrible British winter weather on a fairly reasonable budget.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

The End Is Nigh For Cheap Spanish Holiday Rentals.

When I researched the possibilities of long term winter rentals in Spain last year, I came across a piece of legislation that was about to be introduced, which for better or worse will have implications for Brits who want to escape the winter by using cheap long term holiday lets.

The law that has recently been passed will regulate the letting of property as holiday rentals. It will require owners of properties which are rented as holiday accommodation to register their property with the Junta, (county council). Owners must also ensure their properties meet a set standard of regulation which includes a list or set requirements. For example properties must be fitted with air conditioning that operates both heating and cooling, bed linen, a first aid box, fire extinguisher and clearly published rate sheets which also display contact information. Of course, now being under the official umbrella, rental income will now also become the subject of taxation.

All this of course is already in place in countries such as the UK, but this will now put an end to the cheap unofficial "back pocket" type rentals here in Spain, which should be no bad thing in many cases.

There are some exceptions to the new rules, for example those that are rented to the same person for longer than two months, and also rural property.

One ambiguity is an exception to properties that are rented free of charge and those that are rented for just a few weeks of the year. Owners now have just three months in which to register their properties and ensure that they meet the required standards.

This has long been a bone of contention between bone-fide hoteliers who have said that they are operating against unfair competition, and generally they welcome this new legislation. However, property landlords generally condemn the legislation as overly complicated and unnecessary. The people who will be most affected are the owner occupiers who let their property casually during the hot Spanish summer so that their own winter stay will be funded by the income as well as perhaps helping towards mortgage repayments.

Property rental websites will be checked in future for non-compliant owners, and fines of up to €150,000 will be payable by those who fail to comply.

Times are a changing here in Spain.

Monday, 1 February 2016

The Big Shop.

My reader might remember that on the way down to Spain by road at the end of last September, our windscreen was damaged by an errant pebble that was thrown up accidentally by a passing BMW. At that time I endured somewhat of a pantomime involving my insurer, who initially fed me incorrect information relating to their "approved repairers" in Spain, before finally admitting, after several time consuming and expensive 'phone calls, that they didn't actually have any approved repairers here in Spain, even though I hold fully comprehensive international insurance with them, which includes glass damage, as well as their premium breakdown and recovery cover. They then went on to inform me that they would only pay me £100 towards replacement as I wasn't going to use one of their approved repairers! Huh? The solution in the end , after a complaint to their customer services department was that I could arrange and pay for a repair or replacement myself and then reclaim the whole cost once back home, but what I hadn't bargained for was that we are in Spain, and could I find an auto glass repairer who would take the job on by 'phone - NO! At that time I left it, having tried my best.

Now I am back in Spain, and because the van hadn't been run on the road for a couple of months, this morning I packed things away to go for my "big shop" at a nearby supermarket. There are small local ones, where I bought a few things to see me over the weekend, but they are much more expensive than the major supermarkets. Today I chose Mercadona at San Isidro de Nijar. It is a similar distance away to the one in Almeria, but without the traffic.

I also knew, due to last year's failed attempts at gaining a Spanish glass repair - due mainly to my own poor grasp of the Spanish language, that one of the main repair companies is located on the way there. So, I took the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone, calling to assess the screen damage first.

Well there is both good and bad news. The technician was willing to attempt a repair, but warned me that it was on the borderline of being too large an area of damage to be fully successful. I didn't fancy the idea of having to source a new screen and then pay the up to €3000 myself to have it fitted, so with the usual warning that the screen might break anyway during the repair, I agreed to let him try.

The end result was that the damage was stabilised, and should not now deteriorate any further, such as a crack right across the screen, but it is still visible, although much less than previously.

That will now be sufficient until we arrive back in the UK, where a decision will be made about replacement, depending of course on how my Motorhome insurance and their UK contractor perform there.

Below is a 2 minute video clip taken from the van's Blaupunkt dash cam of part of my trip today. As can be seen, the weather here remains warm and sunny.