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car hire

Car hire at Murcia airport or at Alicante Airport is considerably cheaper than in the UK, even at the lower pound these days. I have been advising checking out Goldcar. They  tend to be cheaper than rivals, often considerably. But it is very basic in terms of what you get, so there are disadvantages. If you drop the car at a different airport (which I use a lot)  they are charging a supplement of currently €30 (to be fair most/all others charge the same).  They do not offer breakdown cover (I think this is new). The insurance offered is minimal - as far as I can gather pretty much just 3rd party plus scratches to the bodywork. For €5  a day you can get it extended to full (min. charge €30). There are companies that will offer to insure the excess- typically up to about £2000 but some do more (see moneysavingexpert.com for companies that do this; for around £20-£30 you can get annual Europe insurance). However last time I tried (Sep10) they were much cheaper for a short hire than the competition, €43 for 3 days Ford Kia, whereas most of the others were over €100. Actually Carjet routed me through them last time I used Carjet, and I ended up paying €10 more, but with the same cover, so I'll go back to Goldcar direct. Another drawback is you're likely to have to queue because they are so popular (the trick is to get off the plane first and make a beeline for their desk, leaving the luggage for someone else to pick up.  Also they now tell you not to fill up on a three day or shorter hire - you get credited with the remainder but you have to pay up front for a full tank, and I haven't yet worked out whether this works out as a hidden charge - you have to trust their reading of the tank. For longer they still say bring back empty. Finally they now insist on a credit card, so I can no longer get away with using my euro Citibank debit card which saved me money on exchange rates.

(Slightly out of date:)  Previously I had been using carjet for about two years, I have discovered that Goldcar (as they now brand themselves; previously Europa, then Goldstar) has a number of advantages, especially for short and last minute bookings. You can book online at the last minute (frequently the night before in my case, right up to midnight Spanish time at least, and you can call their office on the day, but calling the main number on the website gave me a better deal than calling the local office last time) whereas usually carjet requires more time (I have done this a number of times recently). You don't have to commit to pay or anything. It was cheaper for bottom of the range 3 day hire (57€ vs 66€ from Murcia Airport returning to Alicante in 2006; prices have gone up somewhat recently; in Aug 08, peak season, I am paying 62€ for a Ford KA, 3 days, while Carjet is quoting 68€, so Goldcar is still cheaper).  Their philosophy seems to be to price low and go for volume, and not to fuss about anything, making upfor scratches etc. by sheer turnover. As the insurance currently covers bodywork as I understand it, they never seem to worry about anything much. I recently used Europcar, which took ages as they fussed over all sorts of things (although otherwise was fine). You are less likely to have to queue if all the Carjet etc. people are sent elsewhere, although as it is very competitive there is often a queue nevertheless. 

My previous advice: I have found www.carjet.co.uk - Alicante Airport or www.carjet.co.uk - Murcia Airport to be a good and cheap way of renting a car (thanks to Paul for suggesting this site a few years ago, which I wasn't aware). Prices are inclusive. The site is very clear about what's included (maybe less now than used to be) and what's not included, especially on the insurance side; you can cancel up to 24 hours before. I have used this site a number of times, and have varied hire period very easily by ringing their main number. They use different main terminal companies. I have been very impressed. You may find something cheaper if you hunt hard, but not by much. Note that if you are given a quote with Auriga at Murcia you will have to get a courtesy bus a couple of km to their office unless they have relocated since 2006; it is pretty quick though.

You can also hire direct from the bigger companies which operate from Alicante or Murcia airports (e.g.  Sol-Mar), or go to one of numerous companies which operate out of the car park at Alicante in particular. One which I have found reliable is Star (http://www.rentspain.com/ Tel. 0034-902 180 808). They need to know when you're arriving as their vans are not permanently manned. Star operate at Murcia airport as well as Alicante. Centauro is another I have used in the past. Another I have used is Lara (http://www.laracars.com/, Tel. 0034-966 796 029). Other companies which I have not used include Victoria , Javea Cars. Connect, who are located inside the terminal building

bulletTIP: If you are given the option of paying in euros or in pounds when you pick up in Spain it usually means that the hire company's euro prices will be converted to pounds using their bank's exchange rate which is usually undisclosed. The advice is to go for euros. According to BBC Moneybox  20.6.2009 Centauro sometimes charges in pounds without consulting - which it is not supposed to do (in theory you can ask your credit card company to reverse this).
bulletTIP: Check whether the company requires you to return the car empty or full. Usually if you are hiring up to three days they say return full but otherwise it's empty. If given the option, returning full is probably better in that you don't end up paying what they think a full tank costs. If full, make sure you do so, or else you will probably be charged far more than the fraction of the tank left empty. If empty,  this will not be such a good option if you will not be using a full tank during your hire. Very recently (2011) , for short hires Goldcar (not sure about others) just tell you to bring the car back without filling up and they credit you with the fraction remaining. This is easier but of course you have to trust their judgement (looks Ok to me when I have used them).
bulletTIP: A disadvantage of the within terminal car hire companies is that you can get stuck in a very long queue at busy times, particularly with Goldcar as they seem to be the most popular. On the other hand you can be sure someone will be there, not true of the airport parking vans if you arrive at a time other than the one you said.
bulletYou normally need a credit card when hiring in Spain; a Visa debit card used to be OK but not now with Goldcar, and apparently not Switch/Cirrus, as I found to my cost recently!
bulletTIP: Articles about car hire always stress the danger of being ripped off about small scratches etc. They advise that you very carefully check the car before you drive away to make sure that all existing scratches, bumps etc. are accounted for on the contract document you get. Otherwise you might get charged a lot after you drop the car back. Check whether this is covered, although my impression now is that most companies give you insurance against this but little else.
bulletYou are usually advised to keep your hire documents in the car with you. I understand that the reason for this is if the police stop you, they can tell you haven't stolen the car as your hire document will match your passport.

You can also use one of the bigger sites such as holidayautos or Rhino Car Hire which offer competitive prices whenever I have checked them out (you can also pay in sterling so you don't lose on  the exchange rate).

Don't forget your driving license! (Unlike UK car hire, I have never been asked for the paper counterpart to my photo driving licence, but it's probably worth bringing, just in case.)

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                                                                                          The Owl and the Sparrow


                                                      Revision 2012


 The Owl and the Sparrow is a book about a battle that takes place in a forest. The battle is between the birds on one side of the forest,  which they themselves  call the good side of the forest, and the birds (vultures) on the other side,  the dark side of the forest.

 Owl is the leader of the good forest and his adversary is the Condor, reputed as being the darkest force in the forest.  Into  the story enters an apparently naive sparrow who is seduced by Condor into the dark side of the forest against the rulings of Owl. Owl refuses to send help because he does not want to endanger the lives of more birds, but also because he is furious with the sparrow. He says that  sparrow was asking for trouble.

 Also on the good side of the forest are an incredibly silly group of finches who like to play games and torment the vultures. But their silliness  and game-playing skills are no match for the profound darkness of the vultures, and some are captured, and terrorised.

  Golden Eagle rules over the whole forest, but he gets little involved because he has left Owl a set of rules. Finally he gets angry with what he sees happening on both sides of the forest, and  realises that rules are not enough. So  out of his concern and love for the birds , he sends his  son, Silver Eagle, to the  forest.   The book covers the events that follow including  a bitter battle and the discovery that there is an unknown traitor within their camp.


Author Ruth Thomas

Editor Joan  Mitchell

First version typed up and suggestions made by Deborah van Welie



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