21 Reasons To Visit Ladram Bay Holiday Park

Last week my family and I had the amazing fortune of being in Ladram Bay, in Devon on England’s South Coast. I say amazing fortune because the weather was incredible. Our first two days there were shrouded in mist and the final four were beautiful sunshine, so we got to experience the best of both climates.

I had trepidations, heading off for a caravan holiday in a holiday park. I’ll be honest – I didn’t think it’s my kind of thing. To me a holiday involves a backpack and a passport, and maybe a youth hostel (I still think I’m 18, clearly), so I went ‘for the sake of the children’. Ladram Bay, however, can have me back any time. We had such a fantastic time, and here are our top 21 reasons why:

  1. The views are spectacularLadram Bay Views

    Ladram Bay ViewFrom the moment you enter the park and head down the hill, your breath is taken away. You enter the park at the top of a mountain, and it’s downhill all the way to the cliff edge, where there’s a wedge that leads to the sea. I think you’d have rotten luck to not have a single glimpse of the ocean from your caravan, as they’re all on a slope. We were in the front row, with a balcony and it was the most beautiful view to wake up to and have dinner to in the evening.  To one side you have high open fields, to the other a beautiful cliff face and in front the ocean. There’s nothing not to love.

  2. The facilities are brand new
    Ladram Bay Facilities

    They’ve had a huge renovation recently, so when I was chatting to regular visitors they were saying that some of the facilities, like the new mini golf area, weren’t even finished two weeks before our visit. The gym was still under construction during our visit, and they were extending the balcony on the restaurant so that more patrons can enjoy those amazing views I mentioned above.  The swimming pool is fantastic, clean and with a squishy ‘bladder’ that I’m sure helps insulate and keep it warm too. It’s the first holiday park heated pool I’ve been in that’s actually been warm enough to swim in, even in cold weather.

    The showers, sauna and steam room are almost spa-like in their appearance – you certainly don’t feel like you’re in a state run swimming pool. Add a dash of aroma therapy to the steam room or some sandalwood to the sauna and you’d think you were in a spa.

  3. The facilities include a pool and pool play area…

    There is so much to do. After previous visits to holiday parks, I’ve learnt to pack a craft box, some story books, a few DVD’s.  On this trip, in six days, we didn’t even open the Trunki. There wasn’t a gap where we had nothing to do – unless what we were doing was nothing, by choice. And we didn’t even get to do everything.

    The pool is almost Olympic sized with a bubble section on one side. It also has a brand new kids play area, with toppling water buckets, a water feature, spraying worm, slide for smalls and larger slides for kids of all ages, or just kids at heart.

  4. and a spa and a sauna…

    I’ve already mentioned this, but for tired and worn out parents, it’s worth a separate mention. There’s a sauna and a spa and they don’t allow children under 17 in them. Yayness. I still think they could add a few drops of essential oil and turn it into a spa experience, but it’s not billed as a spa, so fair enough.

  5. and an adventure play area, arcade area, soft play & mini golf….

    The adventure play area is something we meant to get to, but never quite made it to. There’s a pirate ship, a zip wire, swings and more. There were pretty much always children in that park! There’s a games arcade and a small soft play are and dinosaur themed mini golf too. I found the arcade a little pricey, but it’s not their fault I can’t stop once I’ve set my mind on a specific number of tickets!

  6. and a a full schedule of Start and Ozzie’s Crew Activities

    Start Activities Ladram Bay

    The highlight of ‘things to do’ at Ladram Bay, however is the activities. Between the paid for activities run by the Start Team (and by paid for, I mean around £3.50 an activity, not near £10 like a place we visited last year!) and the free activities run by Ozzie’s Crew (the Greencoats) there was never a shortage of something to do.

  7. The kids entertainment is excellent

    Ladram Bay Facilities

    The only way I can really describe the people running these activities is by saying that they were born for these jobs. They were so engaged with the children. They made you feel like you wanted to be there, they wanted you to be there and more importantly, they wanted to be there. They very quickly got to know the children’s names, and used them. They went above and beyond with entertaining the kids, even if we happened on a member of the teams on their lunch breaks.

    These guys (and girls) made our holiday! (Shout out to Greg, James, Lee, Dan & Ryan – my girls normally ‘don’t like boys’ and they loved you guys!)

  8. The accommodation is luxurious and comfortable

    8I can’t speak for all the caravans, but we were blown away by the one we were in. It had more storage space than our house does (I’m not kidding. We have no cupboards.) It is well stocked – I brought a sieve and funnel for my Kefir, but that’s not something most people take on holiday – with everything you need for self-catering, had a microwave, oven, stove and large fridge and freezer (again, more than we have at home!). There was even an airing cupboard (I know you’re imagining my house right now, but yup, we don’t have one of those at home right now either!)  Oh, then there’s plenty sofa space, and a fire place (my house is starting to sound positively grim now – it’s not really), and a balcony with outdoor seating. On and not one, but two toilets. The kids were stunned by this luxury!

    The beds were comfortable, the linen was cotton and pleasant, and the heating was really useful for the first two days once we figured it out.  There’s a reason my two year old wants to go back to the caravan instead of being at home! Oh and a decent sized TV with what I think was Freeview channels.

  9. There’s also a choice of accommodations

    Ladram Bay offers a choice of accommodations, so a large party can sleep in the luxury cabins, or a group of four can  have a budget caravan. You can have a caravan with or without a balcony, or with a jacuzzi on the balcony. Or a touring caravan pitch if that’s your thing. There’s a vast range of choice and related price options. You can use the facilities whether you’re there in a camper van for a night or a static van for six months.

  10. They offer great value last minute deals

    If you’re like me and like to do things on the fly, Ladram Bay’s website is a good one to check for last minute offers. The prices are really reasonable. Off peak they don’t have quite the same number of activities on (i.e Start activities are only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays off peak, if I recall, and the shop has shorter opening hours, but still completely acceptable!)

  11. Ladram Bay has a beach and a forest and a mountain

    I love the beach, but I don’t like lying on it in the sun, so for me having variety is a bonus. There’s a forest you can climb up the mountain to, there’s a mountain you can climb, and there is a beach. I think it’s wonderful having a variety of options so you can please everyone. I took the children rockpooling while my husband climbed the mountain – we were all happy!

  12. You can tick off some of your #50things

    You know we love our National Trust #50things campaign, and on this trip we ticked off explore a cave, hold a scary beast, discover the creatures in a rockpool,  and build a raft and you could also do a few others, like canoe down a river except it would be the sea or if you’re small like mine, the pool.

  13. The staff are happy to be there

    I’ve said this before, but it really struck us: the staff are happy to be there. When I asked Ben, the Pebbles Restaurant manager if he thought that was true, he pointed at the view and said ‘How could we not love working here!’

    I asked a few of the staff what made working there good, and they all said the management really look after them. For example, when they designed the kitchen they specifically opened it up so that the chefs could still enjoy the view rather than being stuck in a windowless box all day. I think that’s awesome.

  14. Ladram Bay StaffThe staff are really attentive

    I’ve mentioned how good they are with the children before, but I was really struck by how good they were in looking after everyone. Even if there were just the three of us in the pool, there were three life guards on duty – and they all seem to rotate position every 15 minutes or so to keep fresh, I suppose. When the pool was really full and the sauna and steam room were being over run by a group of about 20 15 year old boys, it didn’t take long for one of the life guards to stick his head in and make sure all the under 17’s were out quickly. No one is left to run riot, so the holiday isn’t ruined for everyone. I love that.

  15. You can eat decent food on site

    We’ve all bought over priced, terrible food. We accept stale chips, dry burgers and limp lettuce as part of holiday park food. You don’t get that here. We didn’t eat from the take away, but we did visit Pebbles Restaurant twice – read the full review here – and the food was amazing. The children’s options were what I would call standard, and not overly exciting, but the rest of the menu is fantastic. I had the most amazing, locally sourced rib eye steak with melt in your mouth dauphinoise potatoes. It was incredible. And that’s just one of the meals. If we were in the area and not at Ladram Bay, I’d still drop in for a meal!

  16. You can do all your grocery shopping on site

    There’s a little shop on site that stocks pretty much everything you need, though we found the selection of nappies to be on the slim side. There was everything else though, especially if you’re camping and find yourself short of anything. There’s a fab range of food stuff, and fresh food, as well as freshly baked pastries and while they could charge whatever they want, really, we didn’t find the prices to be over the top – it certainly wasn’t worth driving the 15 minutes to Exmouth instead.

    You can also send and receive mail from the Reception if you need to.

  17. There’s limited internet

    There’s communal internet in the Waves Bar, but that was down for two days. There’s also an option to pay for wifi in your caravan. At £20 for one week, it isn’t ‘cheap’ and it didn’t always work well. Vodafone doesn’t get signal all the time, but EE was fine for syncing my laptop to a phone internet. My advice: unless you’re like me and have to work even on holiday, embrace it. Leave the phone and enjoy the time with your family. Forget about the internet. Just spend time.

  18. The whole family is catered for

    We’re a man, woman and two girls under 10 so maybe we’re not the widest demographic to judge by, but I think every age, size, preference, is catered for. There wasn’t a thing lacking the whole week and not once did we think “oh, I wish we could… “

  19. You manage your budget


    One ice cream or one a day, restaurant dinner once or daily, activities once or daily, it’s all up to you. You don’t have to spend more money than you would do at home. Between the beach, pool, soft play, adventure play ground and taking your own bat and ball onto the lawn area, you don’t have to spend money. It’s not like you’re being milked dry at every corner.

    Cook in the caravan, eat at the restaurant, grab a takeaway, it’s up to you.

    Pay for activities, do the free activities, your call.

    You spend what you can afford and you’re unlikely to feel too left out if you don’t do everything

  20. It’s a family owned site

    The site is family owned, and has been for 70 years. They have an allocation of Hoseasons caravans which allows them to ‘compete’ for awards, but for the rest Ladram Bay is family owned and run, and you can feel it. While it has all the hallmarks of a UK caravan holiday site, it doesn’t feel like you’re in a corporate machine.

  21. There’s plenty to do off site

    If you want to leave the site, there’s so much to do in the area. From a historic fishing village called Beer to a fun family day out at World of Country Living you could not spend a single day on site, but that would be a waste – and that’s huge for me to say. Normally I’m all about getting out and exploring, but we had so much fun and were so busy, and yet so relaxed at Ladram Bay we didn’t even want to go off site and even extended our holiday for an extra day – both brand new experiences for us!

To be fair and balanced, I should add a negative, so one thing I would like to see more of is a focus on local food in the shop. The owners of the site also own a butchery, I think, so having a ‘Devon Local Food’ section would be nice. The fresh meat in the shop is delicious, but it could be from anywhere. You can buy local chutney, jam and mustard in the shop too, but again some local produce and local specialities (cheese, for example) would be nice for foodies like me. It would probably just require a change in marketing, rather than produce!

So those are our reasons to visit Ladram Bay. We hope to be back again soon and would love to see you there!

We were given four nights at Ladram Bay for review. Thoughts and opinions were entirely our own. 

Turkey For Travel With Kids

We’re in the throws of planning our travel adventure for next year, and a name that keeps coming up for me – or a country, rather, is Turkey. Largely because I have this picture of a Turkish cave house on my screen saver, and have always been intrigued by the idea of cave houses, and I’m working hard on my other half to convince him that we need to include a trip to Turkey in our plans.

UntitledOf course the girls aren’t going to be entertained by looking at cave houses for too long so here are five other things in Instanbul that I think would make Turkey holidays a perfect travel options for families.



The Miniaturk Park is a great way to kick of your Turkey Holidays, located on the Golden Horn banks and contains more than a hundred scaled models, which are 1/25 of the original Anatolian, Istanbul, and Ottoman structures. Spanning an impressive 60,000 metres square, it is the largest miniature park in the world. To top it all off, it features a labyrinth, playground, and life-size chessboard, making it an ideal venue for the kids. The park is usually open daily from 9am to 5pm.

I know how much my girls love LEGOland’s mini park, so I’m pretty confident this one will go down a storm – added to which it gives us a glimpse of Turkey through the ages without having to travel the whole country. We can literally pick any spots to find out more about.

Istanbul Dolphinarium
The sight of dolphins and other sea mammals is enough to light up anyone’s face, and the Istanbul Dolphinarium offers just that. It hosts dolphins, playful seals, the white whale and walruses, and is a great venue for the whole family to enjoy the time in Istanbul. There are great activities for visitors of all ages, which range from scuba diving for adults to dolphin therapy sessions for kids with special needs and a range in between. It sounds like an amazing day out.

We’ve visited some amazing aquariums in Cape Town, Perth and even a tiny one in Brighton, but few have the amazing interactive experience that aquariums like the one in Durban, and seemingly this one offer: an actual show with the sea-mammals. It’s mesmerizing!

Turkish Baths


You can’t go to Turkey and not have some spa time, so it’s worth looking to see if you can find a spa that accepts children. Suleymaniye Hamami will welcome children over four, and up to six they are free. Over six they pay adult fares. You may be more limited to when you can come with children, timings wise, but it’s worth looking at. I know my Ameli would feel like a princess if she was able to visit a spa or Turkish bath!

Play n Learn

Play n Learn looks another great venue for the kids and as a home schooling family, I love that we can escape the heat and have a learning experience at the same time. This spot is designed for kids of up to 6 years old and has lots of things to keep them amused,  including dramas, dimensional toys, puppet shows, art and craft, and play dough. It’s also only  5 minutes away from Taksim Square and situated right behind the German Hospital, so there’s plenty of tourisim opportunity to sandwich between the play.

From the delightful sea creatures of the Istanbul Dolphinarium, the miniature models at Miniaturk to the captivating activities at Play n Learn, Istanbul is a great city if you are travelling with kids. They are bound to enjoy every moment due to the wide range of activities. On being a memorable place for them, Istanbul, easily makes the list and I have a fair bit of arm twisting to do!

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! London – A Great Day Out In London

Ameli and I spent a day out in London today, with a visit to Hamleys Toy Store (more on that later), lunch at Planet Hollywood, and then a first-for-us visit to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Ripley was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist, who created the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, radio show, and television show which feature odd facts from around the world. He himself explored  over 120 countries of the world, collecting the weird, the wonderful and the down right bizarre.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! certainly contains a collection of eclectic things, from the portrait of Brad Pitt made entirely out of cigarette ash, to the somewhat disturbing picture of Kennedy made out of butterfly wings, to the really clever snake effect portrait of Mrs Obama, made out of bottle tops.Ripley's Believe It Or Not! London

Read more on our new travel blog Giving Up Normal

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Day 26 – Sintra to London

For some reason the full circle of life has to also apply to holidays, and good things too, have to come to an end.

After an early morning cab ride to the airport, we boarded a very full plane to London Luton airport and had an uneventful flight. After waiting for what felt like forever for our checked in luggage to arrive we left Luton for London, Marble Arch where we sat for a few hours having another sandwich lunch before making our way for the last time as a foursome to Hyde Park Corner tube station. Edu and Simryn took the westbound train to Heathrow for their onward journey to Dubai, while Martin and I took the northbound train to Cockfosters to our friend Brendan’s house where we ended up spending the night.

Exhausted from not only a day’s travel, but also a very busy 26 days we had dinner and went to sleep.

I think it will take a few weeks for the past three and a half to really sink in, and I think we’ll have many days to come where we’ll have flashbacks and thoughts about the whirlwind that was our European holiday.

Of course, the best way to mourn the passing of a great vacation is to plan another, and Martin and I are already beavering away on plans for the next, so keep your RSS feed active or check in from time to time, cause we’re not packing those backpacks too far away!

Day 25 – Sintra

Sintra. Well… it is like stepping off a train and in to a fairy tale, really. Like most of Europe there is Sintra, then there is Old Sintra. We, of course, were interested in Old Sintra. A World Heritage Site whose name means “Mountain of the Moon”, Sintra was made famous by the English poet Lord Byron who referred to it as a “glorious Eden”.

Built on hills and their valleys, there are quite a few castles, palaces and stately homes in Sintra as this used to be the summer home of Portugal’s royalty. From the 8th Century Moorish Castle, to the magical and mysterious Quinta Da Regaleira (a manor house built by a very crazy mind, with caves, tunnels and more) and the Disney-like Pena Palace, there is more to explore in Sintra than we had time for, especially with me hobbling up hill and down hill.

Edu and Simryn tried to squeeze as much in to the day as they could, but we decided to take it easy and make it one of the very first destinations for our next holiday, so we walked from the hotel Pensao Residencial (http://www.residencialsintra.blogspot.com/) to the Liberdade park, where we walked around looking for one of the famous fountains, which we only found, in the end, on our way back, but we had a great walk through the gardens. We found our way very indirectly to the National Palace which had at its origin an Arab palace, but today is a museum where concerts and exhibitions are regularly held.

We spent some time walking around the shopping area of the ‘Old Town’ admiring the ceramics which are produced on site. We looked at and photographed such structures as the Clock Tower, and St Martin’s church, and then took the 434 bus to Pena Palace. On arrival we decided that we would walk directly up to the palace and then take the scenic route down. With all the stairs I wasn’t really up for going inside with my sore foot. The walk down was fantastic. The palace was started as a monastery in the 1400’s but after it was damaged by lightning in 17 something and then almost destroyed in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 it lay in ruins until it was built in to an amazing cake frosting looking castle in 1838. The grounds still have two chapels and a herb garden on it, as well as various other weird and wonderful structures, like a Turkish Bath looking fountain, a Water Wheel which would make an awesome wedding chapel, a ‘Valley of Lakes’ which literally is a valley down the mountain with landscaped lakes and duck shelters on two of the lakes that look like mini palaces. We took about an hour and a half to walk the intricate network of paths towards the exit.

In the evening the four of us went for dinner at a wonderful restaurant that had a fantastic Portuguese flair where we ate delicious duck, steak, sea bass and cod, and Simryn and I had absolutely phenomenal deserts of Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla Ice cream (Simryn) and I had the best chocolate mouse I’ve ever experienced! Perhaps not the cheapest meal at E95 for the four of us, but certainly in the top three meals of the holiday.

I for one, cannot wait to go back to Sintra to really do it justice.

Day 24 – Spain to Portugal

We woke early this morning, had breakfast and walked outside to see that the beautiful sunshine of yesterday was hidden behind rain clouds. We cancelled our plans for a stroll to Columbus’ castle as the rain began, quickly loaded up the car, went to the toilet and began the journey to our final destination, Sintra.

You might have wondered for a second why I felt it necessary to tell you that we went to the toilet, right? Well, about half an hour away from Benalmadena, having out driven the rain and for no particular reason I suddenly realised that I no longer had my camera with me. We searched the car before turning around and driving back in to the rain to hopefully find it again. By the time we got back, now just on an hour after we left, the roads were flooded under about 20 cm of water, water was gushing like fountains out of cracks in the road, storm drains spurted like cartoon fountains with their lids hovering above the road, and rain pounded the earth with the force of hailstones. Martin and I ran back up to the reception desk, and from the desk to the flat where I recovered my camera (gratefully) and then back to return the key. By the time we got back to the car we were both soaked to the point that we could wring out our clothes and probably fill a litre bottle! It is interesting how things sometimes only become valid in retrospect. This is the same rain we had two days ago, but as yesterday was so beautiful it didn’t seem to matter, but now we feel exceedingly blessed with the weather yesterday!

Fortunately, even though we stayed wet for some time, we did out drive the rain again, and enjoyed a beautifully scenic drive through some really remote parts of Spain for the next few hours. We drove past some stunning villages, as quintessentially Spain as you could imagine, before the invasion by the tourists and a landscape dotted with ancient castles and ruins.

We eventually arrived in Badajos where we left the car and took a coach across the border to Lisbon in Portugal. From there we took a (very very cheap!) train to Sintra but by the time it arrived it was dark. We checked in to our hotel, which we’ve all agreed was the most beautiful of the trip. It is an old villa in the hills of Sintra with 20-odd rooms, large landscaped gardens, a swimming pool and lovely breakfast room. The rooms themselves were spacious, gorgeously decorated and extremely luxurious, and room service is a definite added bonus!

Day 23 – Ronda

With yesterday being as much of a non day as it was, partly due to our exhaustion and partly due to the weather (I forget, did I mention the weather yesterday? The mist was so thick we weren’t aware of the gardens across the road from our apartment till this morning!) we were very happy to find that today’s weather forcast was wrong and not only did it not rain all day but it was in fact rather hot!

After breakfast we drove away from tourist riddled Benalmadena (near Malaga) and the coast line and made our way inland to the town of Ronda. We took the scenic route there and scenic it was. Inland Spain certainly ‘feels’ a lot more Spanish! Beautiful, dry landscapes, mountains, rundown villas, ruins, rock formations, stunning modern villas, olive groves and terraced fields kept us entertained on the +- 100 km drive.

Ronda is divided in to two parts, Old and New and the two are separated by a huge bridge called Puente Nuevo over an equally huge gorge. We walked across the bridge and along the edge of the cliff stunned at such a fantasic view in the middle of ‘town’. We then went in to the Bullfighting ring which was the first to have fighters fight without being on horseback (i.e modern bullfighting) Unfortunately for us, although not for the bulls, fights only happen once a year now, in early September, which we missed. We walked around the grounds, seats and museum within the ring, and the stables etc outside.

A few days ago, I somehow hurt my foot and sprained my big toe, so when Edu, Simryn and Martin decided to climb down the gorge to take pictures of the bridge from the bottom, I went to Ronda’s wine museum instead. It was a really exciting experience, actually, with the little bits they translated in to English and the even smaller bits of Spanish I could piece together.

At the end of my walk through the twelve informative rooms, I went in to the courtyard for my tasters. The lady gave me five 100 ml wines: A local red wine produced in their cellars, very dry but good, a local sherry that tasted a little too much like Aquadent ( otherwise known as Portuguese Fire Water, a totally different story!) for my liking, and three delicious desert wines, one sweeter than the other. I chatted to a German couple about South African wines at the time and was really pleased I had stopped in there.

We took the highway back towards Benalmadena, a quick dip in the ocean and a kilogram of calamari for dinner.

As much as we loved Ronda, and I’m sure we’ll go back, I have to admit that the Costa Del Sol itself is too packed with holiday flats and tourists for me, and I think we’re all agreed, this is one of those places you go once to see what the fuss was about then leave as fast as you can to somewhere beautiful and intruiging, like Ronda.

Day 21 and Day 22 – Obertraun, Munich and Malaga

I suppose that no backpacking holiday would be complete without someone sleeping on the floor of a train station. But that is way ahead in the story.Let me start at dawn, day 21.

We had an early departure from Obertraun this morning, wanting to get the car back to Salzburg on time for us to catch a train to Munich. Everything went well and there was a spectacular view all the way.

We arrived in Munich with plenty time for some walking around before going to Theriesenwiese for the Oktoberfest. Martin had some left over freelance work to finish so he went to the internet café for what turned in to a bit of a technical saga while Edu and Simryn went for a walk around Marienplatz and surrounds and I did some shopping for closed shoes and long sleeves as it was very cold!

We eventually made it to the festival where we walked around the grounds eating pretzels and looking at the overpriced rides, souvenirs and curios. We had not made any reservations so we walked from tent to tent till we found a seat outside the Lowenbrau tent where we sat down and ordered four steins. It must be mentioned that Simryn and I are not beer drinkers, but we definitely gave it a fair shot!

On route to our second tent Martin and I were tempted by one of the rides. It is a straight pole structure with chairs attached to the bottom. Without warning you’re shot in to the air, bounced around at the top for a bit before being plummeted to the ground again. It is exciting and provides great views!

We found another tent and managed to find somewhere to sit,although not much sitting was done! By this time of the night, everyone was dancing and singing with the oompa band and every rendition of ‘Ein Prosit’ is heartily agreed and cheersed and clinked. The atmosphere is great, everyone is happy and friendly and everyone is everyone’s friend. (I wondered to myself what would happen if the UN summit in New York was moved to a table at Oktoberfest)

At 23:00 the music dies and the security guards come around encouraging you to leave immediately, so everyone pours out into the grounds making their way back to wherever they go. We found some stekkelfisch, fish which is skewered and slow roasted over open coals and is totally delicious.

We walked back to the train station with plenty time to spare for the 00:58 train to the airport where we were planning to find a place to snooze while we waited for our 05:30 flight. Unfortunately the scheduled final train to the airport decided not to go there but in fact to stop 3 stations short, so there we sat, 1 something am at a train stop in the middle of nowhere with not a thing to do in the area, freezing cold, all our luggage with us and two hours to wait for a train! We did all try to sleep a bit, especially Martin who I neglected to mention has a stinking cold! Curled up on the station floor covered in towels, scarves and jerseys and using my swimming costume and sarong as a pillow (it’s only use so far this holiday!) and the rest in similar conditions, those were two very long hours. The train finally arrived and we thawed out en route to the airport.

By now exhausted and desperately thirsty we thought we’d check in and then try for some sleep, but Condor Air had different ideas! We arrived at the check-in counter to find about 300 people waiting to check in! There were 6 open desks, but that airline had three flights leaving for different Spanish destinations within 30 mins of each other, and no indication of which desk to use for which destination! It was not only utter chaos, but incredibly slow too taking us over an hour to check in!

We passed through security, where as it happened both my and Simryn’s bags were checked and unpacked! We finally got on the plane and I don’t know about the others but I was asleep before take off. Later today they were discussing the worrying take off, extreme turbulence and shaky landing and I was very surprised! I missed it all!

We seem to be catching the tail end of all of Europe’s bad weather at the moment because we landed in Malaga in torrential rain and driving to our hotel saw storm drains overflowing, water bubbling up through manholes and rushing in torrents down the road! We stopped for some groceries and very soon after, Martin and I went to sleep while Edu and Simryn went for a walk.

Waking up remotely refreshed Martin made a delicious chicken and proscuitto with mozzarella salad and now I think we’ll finish the dishes and go back to bed!

Day 20 – Grundlesee

We woke up early this morning to another bitterly cold and very overcast day. After a hearty breakfast of bacon, sausages, eggs and toast, and making cold meat, cheese and lettuce king’s cross buns for lunch we braved the cold for Grundlesee. The idea was that we would get there and take the three lakes tour which takes you on three different boats around Grundlesee, Toplitz See and Kammer See. Unfortunately, when they said nothing is open on Sunday, they meant nothing is open on Sunday, including boat trips! It was utterly disappointing to me, but there was nothing for it, so we decided to drive to the three lakes instead.

We got to the top of the beautiful Grundlesee, and followed the signs for the other lakes, only to find that we couldn’t actually drive there. The waterfall and lakes are only accessible by boat or foot, so we decided to walk the 2km to the waterfall, at least. We parked and paid for a few hours of parking, stopped by the public toilet and went on our way, when not 100 m down the road it started raining, accompanied by a blistering wind!

We turned back and hopped in the car with the heating right up! We drove around the lake as far as we could, before turning around again and driving back towards Obertraun. It is just such a beautiful country side that we couldn’t really get enough of it! We stopped in a little town called Bad Aussie at the one open place, a cafe. Edu and Simryn had Apfel Strudel and Heidelbier Strudel, while Martin and Kirschtorte and I had Biskotten Torte. Four hot chocolates (between us) and our delicious cakes, later, we felt less frozen and drove back to Obertraun.

Unfortunately the weather was not conducive to any of the things one would do on the lake, such as cycling (around it) or canoeing, so Edu and Simryn went for a walk, and Martin and I curled up in bed for a two hour snooze.

When we woke up it was time for dinner, so Simryn and I went through the fridge and created a dinner our home ec teachers, if we’d had them, would have been proud of. Chicken stock turned in to a chicken and potato soup, with the help of the leftover potatoes from last night, flour and left over eggs from breakfast turned in to pancakes and the chicken was shredded for chicken stuffed pancakes. Now at the end of dinner, blog written, tummies full and eyes heavy, we will quickly clean and pack, and then sleep in preparation of a full and fantastic final week.