Living in Oliva, Spain – A Charming Valencian Pueblo


Oliva, Spain.

Not typically the first place that springs to mind when people think about living in Spain – in fact, most people moving to Spain have never even heard of Oliva – but this small town is increasingly becoming a popular place for foreigners to buy property.

My parents decided to buy a house in Oliva in 2016.

They wanted to find a place that was nothing like the typical gated community that retired Brits often flock to. They wanted to live in Spain, not just England with more sunshine.

They wanted to fully integrate into a Spanish community where they could eat Spanish food, drink Spanish wine and embrace Spanish culture.



That said, they also wanted a place with at least a small expat community to make the move as easy as possible and so that they would have some English-speaking friends there to help them with anything they might need.

On a short trip to Valencia, they fell in love with Oliva and immediately decided that this was the place for them, quickly snapping up a two-bedroom house in the heart of Oliva’s old town.

Once the sale had gone through, I decided to visit Oliva with them to see just what had made them fall in love with this little-known Spanish town.

Although my first trip was a short one, I actually ended up returning to Oliva to be with my family during the pandemic, and living there for 6 months!

Here’s everything you need to know about the pueblo of Oliva, Spain, if you’re considering moving to Spain as an expat.


Living in Oliva, Spain


Where is Oliva in Spain?


First things first, where is Oliva in Spain and how do you get there?

Well, Oliva is part of the Costa Blanca, and is close to 10km of golden coastline. It is in the province of Valencia.

The closest airport to Oliva is Valencia Airport, which is actually 70km away!

To reach Oliva you will have to take a metro from the airport to the centre of Valencia, before taking a train to Gandia and getting a bus or taxi from Gandia to Oliva – you can use Omio or Trainline to check timetables and book tickets.

Of course, this is quite a lot of messing around, and so the next best option is to hire a car, as taxis are super expensive (around 150 EUR from Valencia to Oliva).

The second closest airport to Oliva is Alicante which is 80km away.

oliva spain
Oliva’s Old Town


Living in Oliva, Spain


If you’ve landed on this page because you are thinking of moving to Oliva then I have good news for you – houses in Oliva are cheap. My parents paid โ‚ฌ40,000 for a 60m, two-bedroom house with a roof terrace right in the heart of the old town – muy bien!

Oliva is a small town, meaning that you can walk anywhere. It is a little uphill in parts, but it is definitely manageable for most people. If you have mobility issues, I recommend living in the new part of town, because Oliva Old Town has lots of hills and uneven streets.

There are many large supermarkets in Oliva, including Mercadona, Aldi, Consum, and Lidl.

There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants in Oliva serving up traditional Valencian food, as well as Indian, Italian and English classics.



There is a market every Friday morning selling clothes and fresh groceries on the main promenade (paseo).

The cost of living in Oliva is very low, and eating out is not expensive, especially if you go out for lunch – most restaurants on the promenade have a menu del dia for less than 10 EUR, which includes 3 courses and a drink. A glass of wine will cost you around 1.70 EUR.

Oliva is home to lots of orange and tangerine plantations, as well as avocado, loquat, fig, banana, prickly pear and olive. Yum!

Oliva has a population of 25,000, with a large expat community (over 25%).


Many bars in the old town are geared towards expats.

The population in Oliva tends to be middle-aged and above, with lots of people moving to Oliva to retire.

A great English-speaking hairdresser in Oliva is Mj Lloret. You can contact her on Facebook. I always come here when I am in Oliva.

Oliva has great weather, with more than 230 days of the year being above 20C and more than 300 days of sunshine!

Oliva is a safe town with very little crime. With that said, there are the same nuisances that you will find anywhere in the world, and you should always keep your doors and windows locked and your valuables close.

oliva spain
Oliva, from the top


Things to Do in Oliva Spain


For such a small town, there is always something to do in Oliva, mainly because Spanish people love to celebrate and host parades and festivos every other weekend!


Oliva Old Town


One of the best things to do in Oliva is to wander around Oliva Old Town, which has many pretty churches and quiet streets waiting to be explored.

Head to Bar Amigos on the beautiful Plaรงa de Sant Roc for a coffee or glass of wine, before heading behind the church to some of Oliva’s prettiest residential streets.

oliva spain
The old town in Oliva


Oliva’s paseo


Oliva Old Town gently slopes down, ending at the paseo, or promenade – this is the centre of life in Oliva, and is where you will find people drinking coffee and smoking, children playing, and elderly people sitting on benches and watching the world go by.

Stop at one of the cafes for an ice cream (a very common pastime for Spaniards!), hunt for bargains in the Chinese bazaars, and take your pick from some of Oliva’s best restaurants.


Oliva Castle


One of the main things to do in Oliva is to walk up to the ruined castle, Castillo de Santa Ana, and admire the gorgeous views over Oliva from the top of the hill.

The beauty of Castillo de Santa Ana is that aside from the odd dog walker, you probably won’t run into anyone, and so it’s the perfect place to go and relax, read a book, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.

oliva spain
Almost at the top of the hill – couldn’t resist a photo op!
Oliva Spain


Oliva beach


Oliva’s white sand coastline stretches for 10km, meaning that if you are prepared to walk far enough, you will be sure to find a quiet spot to sunbathe.

Oliva’s beach is around a 30 minute walk through the orange groves from the paseo, but with the stunning views, cute little ducks and even a resident donkey, you’d be forgiven for taking longer!

My mum and I used to take little snacks to feed the ducks (remember that bread is bad for them – they enjoy leafy greens and raisins!), and it made the walk fly by.

When you get to the beach, there are a few local bars and restaurants. This means that even in the cooler months, when it’s warm outside but sunbathing isn’t an option, it’s worth walking down to the beach, stopping for a drink or a bite to eat, and ambling home again.


Oliva market


Every Friday morning, Oliva hosts a large market on the paseo, where you can buy all of your fruits and veggies, as well as clothes (new and second-hand), shoes, bags, kitchen equipment, tools, and anything else you might need.

I always have great fun rummaging for bargains on the second-hand clothes stalls!


Best restaurants in Oliva


In Oliva, you’ll find tonnes of great quality affordable restaurants. The best restaurants in Oliva include:

El Llok specialises in Mediterranean cuisine, with lots of seafood, pasta and paella. If you want to treat yourself then be sure to get the gigantic T-bone steak – it’s absolutely massive and so tasty.

Colors Bar is the place to go for a menu del dia. It is super popular with locals, with massive portions, a varied menu that changes all the time, and really tasty food.

La Rustica is a great Italian trattoria that cooks its pizzas in a proper wood oven. It has an abundance of traditional Italian comfort food at very low prices, but the pizza is true Italian style and highly recommended.

El Pelut is a great family-run restaurant in Oliva’s old town and is the place for great meat (think steaks, ribs and burgers with grilled veggies) and lots of seafood.

Hamburgueseria Manb’ys is famous for having the best beer and burgers in Oliva, and with rock bottom prices, you can’t complain! I got a huge mixed plate when I was there, full of chicken nuggets, wings, loaded fries and breaded cheese, and it definitely hit the spot! I then returned and got a double chicken/beef burger with all the trimmings, and it was a steal at less than 5 EUR.

Asiatico Fortuna – there are a couple of Chinese restaurants in Oliva but my favourite is this one.

Kiko Port is another beach restaurant and is the most high end place on the list. Many say that this is the best restaurant in Oliva, and you will feel like you are the member of a fancy yacht club if you eat here. The food quality is second to none, and the presentation is stunning.

oliva restaurants
Ribs at El Pelut


Helpful Resources


Relocating to a new country can be daunting, but luckily, there are tonnes of online resources that can make settling into Oliva easy.

Facebook Groups are active and plentiful, and are the best place to seek advice and keep up to date with what’s going on in Oliva.

Here are some that I recommend:

The Oliva Tattler – The go-to place to ask for recommendations (I found my hairdresser on here!), buy and sell items, and find out about local celebrations and other goings-on. Whether you want the best English-speaking lawyer, you have questions about the local health centre, or the town hall has sent you an ominous-sounding letter, The Oliva Tattler is the place to go.

Oliva Turismo – The official Oliva Tourism Board page. Information about religious holidays, community events, festivals, council announcements, and more.

Oliva Women’s Network – Coffee mornings, Sunday lunch meet-ups, and a supportive community of expat women in Oliva.

The MOO Network (Men of Oliva) – A group for male expats in Oliva to connect with other men, exchange banter, and attend social events.

Refugi Gats d’Oliva – The local cat sanctuary. Not only can you adopt a cat here, but you can register as a volunteer, donate money or supplies, and keep up-to-date with fundraisers they host.

Sell Your Stuff – A buy-and-sell group for the pueblos of Oliva, Pego, and Gandia.

Oliva Vegan Food Group – For vegans and those interested in plant-based food to share local supermarket finds, recipes and restaurants.

Oliva Casas – A reputable estate agent for those looking to buy property in Oliva. Often featured on A Place in the Sun.


Living in Oliva, Spain – Final thoughts


I definitely think that Oliva is a great place for anybody considering moving to Spain, especially if you are looking to retire.

While there is a decent size expat community, the town still feels decidedly Spanish, which is what the expats in Oliva love.

With a beach on one side, mountains on the other and a tonne of great bars and restaurants, I can’t fault Oliva as a destination for those with dreams of living in Spain.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Oliva to people my age, as most young people move away to Valencia to study and so the population tends to be a bit older, but if you have dreams of retiring to Spain then Oliva is the place to go.


I hope this article has been helpful to you! if you have any questions about moving to spain or living in oliva then please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below and i shall be sure to get back to you!

Until next time,


XOXO


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47 thoughts on “Living in Oliva, Spain – A Charming Valencian Pueblo”

  1. The place you went to was pelut. And the lovely lady in honey dukes was Mika. I liked Oliva enough to buy a house there and while it has its quiet side it can be very loud too!

    1. Hi Iโ€™m very curious about this town. My last name is Oliva and I recently found out from my 84 yr old uncle that his grandmother in Cuba when he was a kid told him all our family migrated from Valencia Spain. Ive become fascinated with learning more about this place where I think my last name and family are from. What secrets I wonder does this place have for me. Cheers , nelson oliva, miami florida

  2. I found this whole article super interesting and motivating. I’ve lived in Spain for 6 years now, but mainly in cities or suburbs. My and my partner are now hoping to save and buy a place in a small town in a few years, since house prices within 50km of any big city in Catalonia are super high. Also, as I work from home and he has to travel for work wherever we live, it doesn’t matter a great deal where. We want to stay close to Barcelona though, because that’s where he’s from and where all his family. If I find a nice little town like Oliva here, I’ll let you know so you can visit! We might even have a place for you to stay by then! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. about this “I wouldnโ€™t necessarily recommend Oliva to people my age, as most young people move away to Valencia to study and so the population tends to be a bit older, but if you have dreams of retiring to Spain then Oliva is the place to go.”
    In the town there are many young people, the town has a lot of institutes and schools, so young people to go out partying you have to go to gandia there is a lot of partying, it is 10 km away with taxi.

    1. Thanks for your comment ๐Ÿ™‚ yeah of course there is the option of going to Gandia, however if I were going on holiday somewhere, travelling 10km by taxi would be too far for a night out. I’d prefer there to be a nightlife scene within walking distance of wherever I’m staying! For somebody thinking of MOVING to Oliva, Gandia would be a great option for nightlife!

  4. Hi there! I loved reading this article since it took me back to the days when I used to live in Oliva in the early 2000s. I found this charming town after months of searching, and was particularly drawn to it for exactly the reasons you’ve stated…that it ‘felt’ like a real, proper, working Spanish town and that I’d be able to fulfil my dream of living there and immersing myself in the language and culture of the place. I bought a beautiful town house and used it as my life base between work missions which took me away for 6 weeks at a time. Herein lies the problem that I had…the locals also worked out that I had an overseas work schedule and unfortunately and heartbreakingly for me, they broke into my home several times and the result was that upon returning home after a particularly hard mission I found my front door open and blowing in the breeze. When I went inside the locals had COMPLETELY emptied EVERYTHING out of my dear home and smashed whatever was left that they didn’t like. I was so devastated by this that I put my bags down, secured the door and went to the estate agency to immediately list my place for sale. When moving the last few remaining possessions back to the UK, my friend drove his VW Golf over to Oliva to help me with my stuff…only for a different bunch of locals to smash the car windows overnight and steal any remaining possessions I had. To this day I only have sadness in my heart when I think of Oliva because my dream of living in a beautiful Spanish town near the sea and surrounded by orange groves turned out to be a complete nightmare for me. I miss that house. It was truly beautiful. And I miss bar El Pelut because I ate many many tapas there…as well as in all the other restaurants you mentioned. I loved it there but it obviously didn’t love me back…..

    1. Alan and Julie Bradley

      Make friends with the neighbours is the answer For over 10 years moving away for 3 months at a time Our neighbours said “Mira ” and they certainly did never any problems

      Dutch Norwegian and Finnish have also discovered Oliva A very interesting life Lots of painted pigeons flying early morning and cooler evenings You can see them circling over the beach and over the castle with the sun lighting up their colours lots and lots of chickens and cockerels that’s why the eggs are so big tasty and cheap Peacocks on the park sometimes a pony too We’ve seen pot bellied pigs on there and various goats which go walk about
      We enjoy our wonderful lifestyle and in these covid times, only had a handful of cv19 cases from the tourists Thankfully all clear now Gandia still suffers as the nightlife there has attracted the cv19 symptonless super spreaders So late night life clubs and bars closed

      1. Sad to hear Gandia has suffered but definitely happy that Oliva hasn’t been too bad! Oh I hope I see this many animals on my next visit – I’m a sucker for goats! Haha. Thanks so much for the comment ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. How sad. I feel so bad for what happened to you. Were you targeted only because you were away? Because you were a foreigner? Your ethnicity? Your story is disheartening because I was thinking about checking Oliva out for a possible move. As an African American, there are always concerns about being targeted even here in the USA.

  5. Aww you have made Olivia sound lovely. We plan on visiting. But first hopefuly we wish to buy in Gandia. I would love to go over when the pandemic calms down. ๐Ÿ˜

  6. Nice article. I’m originally from Scotland but have been in Australia since 2002. I’m currently looking to buy a little place around there. I wanted somewhere near Denia so I could get the ferry across to Ibiza occasionally and Oliva looks like a pretty cheap option. Bit concerned about the complete lack of nightlife though. I’d be going there to chill in the Aussie winter/European summer but it’d be good to have a bit of a buzz. Maybe I should consider Gandia instead. I do love the authentic Spanish towns that are not overrun by tourists.

    1. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve certainly heard a lot about Gandia, and I hear that it’s good for nightlife. To clarify, Oliva doesn’t have NOTHING going on – I went in April/May so it was super quiet but there were still lots of bars around ๐Ÿ™‚ I think in the summer it would be very different!

  7. looking to settle in spain next year 55yrs old wife 47yrs old , like the cafe culture and green hills or the beach/ocean any recommendations for a good place to start looking , was thinking Malaga region but any help is welcome
    great article by the way
    will be following your journeys

  8. I read this a few years ago and I decided that it was one of the top places on my list of “Where I want to live when I leave the military” My wife and I travelled from Alicante all the way up the coast looking at houses to buy and finally, we arrived in Oliva. Fell in love with it at first sight. As we walked around from house to house trying to decide what type of property we were going to buy, we stumbled on a gem, right in the heart of the old San Roc Square. We finally completed on it march this year, the day before the lock down. Talk about a close call! It was down to the pictures and your eloquent description of the area that initially piqued my interesting so, in part, we have you to thank for finally being able to realise our dream and buying on San Roc Square.

    Oliva has so much to offer, so many walks, cycle paths (dinosaurs!!) and ways to get to the beaches and now that the toll road is free, the traffic through should be less making it a quieter place. The views, as you said from the Moorish Fort are beautiful and a great place to go to have a picnic where you can admire the views for miles. We love the long walks on the beach, visiting the local towns and wandering from place to place and just getting lost in the maze of little roads that the villages in the area all have. Take a trip to Denia for the fashionable shops and sit in Tapas Alley (that really is a thing) and be spoilt for choice on which restaurant you want to visit and then, late at night, leave the noise and the bustle behind and go home to peace and quiet. A lot of people forget that the Spanish are very friendly and love to socialise and this can go on quite late (or early!!) so be prepared to be sociable.

    Oliva is in 3 parts, the Old town on the hill, the new town with the massive promenade and of course, the beaches. All within walking distance of each other. I nearly forgot to mention the Marina with restaurant and swimming outdoor pool! I can’t wait to finally retire (still young) and sit on my roof terrace, waving at the Bar Amigos owners, Chris and Lloyd and looking forward to their “English Twist” Tapas. I have kept the list of restaurants that you have mentioned and although I have visited a few, I still have a long way to go before I get to the bottom of it.So thank you. If you see us in the bar on the square, tap us on the shoulder, introduce yourself and let us buy you a drink as a thank you.

    To everyone else wondering if 30k euros to buy a property is worth a punt? let me tell you, it most definitely is for the quality of life that you will end up with, especially in Oliva.

    1. This made me so happy to read!! I can tell by your comment how in love you are with Oliva; it shines through in your writing. If I see you I will be sure to say hello – actually, my parents are moving to Oliva permanently in October so if you happen to meet Carole and Les, do introduce yourself and say you read my blog!

      1. I found this article very interesting as I have been thinking of trying Oliva for some time now.

        I hoping to take slightly early retirement next year and having three month in Nerja (this is where we currently go every year.) My plan was to do a bit of travelling by public transport and spend some time in or around Oliva.

        Would this be doable from a Nerja or would I be best to fly to Alicante or Valencia and just book some time there?
        We always do apartment and self cater. Do you have any recommendations where about in Oliva to stay with a nice view from a balcony preferably.

    2. Love Oliva, currently working on getting a property in that area. My parents live on Estrella, 2 min walk from San Roc. Chris and Lloyd have become good friends, as we spend a great deal of time drinking afternoon claritas at the bar when we go to visit.
      Reading this article and everyoneโ€™s comments is getting me so hyped about getting a place there.

  9. How can I find a house to rent in Oliva without going through agents which is expensive. I would LOVE to find a furnished house to rent from mid Oct to the end of the year

  10. My friend and work colleague of nearly 20yrs bought a house (literally just up the road from Bar Pelut) a couple of years ago. He made the permanent move in Sept, and I went with him for a look-see. I fell into immediately… we were up on the roof terrace with drinkies until about 3am the first night just looking at the sky… filled with more stars than I’ve seen in probably 40 or 50 yrs.

    Many of the conversations we had centred around him and his wife trying to persuade me to ask for voluntary redundancy, and making the move to Spain before it becomes more difficult at the end of the year. I’ve been planning to retire to Spain since I fell in love with the Costa del Sol about 13 yrs ago, Purely for financial reasons, it was obvious that Oliva was a much more practical destination.

    It took a visit to Oliva to give me the realization that I wasn’t really looking for a busy resort to retire to… I wanted tranquillity and space and not to be hassled by countless businesses touting for custom, as I walked along the prom or through the town.

    I didn’t meet many Spanish locals… I was only there for 5 days, but I met a fair amount of expats at La Molina bar and Nikki’s… and genuinely couldn’t have hoped to meet a nicer bunch of folks. I think I was sold mainly on that alone. Did a tour of the area… down to the beach. Probably the most unspoiled urban beach I’ve ever seen… and empty in Sept, though Covid won’t have helped… visited Gandia, which though not Torremolinos, had a bit of that resort feel I’ve experienced in Spain, and with larger than Oliva retail opportunities for the shopping conscious… Afric Art was an inspiration. I also spent a few days in Valencia, which I loved. Had way more fun a man of my age should be having, when I hired an e-scooter for the day… great way to see the city.

    Anyway,,, came home and went into the 14 day quarantine, and a couple of days later, my employers sent an email asking for volunteers for Voluntary Redundancy… No begging required… and my life has been manic since. A couple of days after that, my friend in Oliva called me to say that one of the people I’d met had a property to let in the old town (round the corner from Bar Pelut)… Someone UP THERE was trying to tell me something ๐Ÿ™‚

    I make the move next week. It’s a bit daunting for such a life changing even, literally in the space of a couple of months, but I’m absolutely certain I’ve made the right decision, and in the right place… I can even see my friends house from my roof terrace. As a place to retire… I absolutely agree it’s ideal

    1. That is fantastic to hear and inspiring. We moved back to the UK from South Africa nearly 5 years ago and have not been able to settle. Now considering Spain, and Oliva. With everything that has gone on this year, it probably won’t be 2021, bit a couple of recce’s are definitely in the cards.
      Good luck with everything Gerry!

    2. That is lovely to hear as I am thinking of come to see Olivia next year are places cheap to buy and whatโ€™s the best area any advice would be welcome

  11. I’ve been trying to get over to Oliva since last year from Australia…..covid has certainly put the brakes on this unfortunately but it is an area I certainly want to check out to retire to. I’m uk born but have been in Australia since 04. My heart has always been with Spain after living there for a brief spell with work. Thankyou so much for this post and knowing I can actually afford to purchase property there however simple and humble it is…..love the weather, food, people and culture….cannot wait to get over there and explore until then your vlog and posts will have to suffice

  12. Thank you, Jezebel, for a wonderful article!

    Like Nicola, I live in Australia (Melbourne) and have been looking for a house to buy in Olivia or another Spanish coastal town. Need a European base so we can enjoy greater travel in that region.

    COVID forced us to cancel a trip we had booked to visit Spain in June 2020. Hope to get there soon.

    Nicola, I wish you well with your travels. Hope you also get to Olivia soon.

    Jezebel, I will look out for your travel posts. I thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

  13. Hi Iโ€™m a retired lady I live in central London I came across a small house in Olivia Valencia I would love to buy as Iโ€™m alone what do you think about my retiring to this loverly place , thing is the complicated journey from airport to Destination seems difficult if I wanted to take some furniture / paints/ rugs and other stuff whatโ€™s your recommendation thanks x

  14. Hi, I love your article! Thanks for sharing all the info. I am planning to buy a place in oliva to live in/ rent out. Do you know if there is a good holiday let market there? It has everything so I would assume it would be but your knowledge would be greatly appreciated.

    Many thanks

    Victoria

    1. Definitely! I don’t know quite how big the market is but there are definitely options for short term rentals (I’m in one right now!). I recommend contacting Emma at IMMO Abroad estate agents if you have any questions – she is my agent and she has been super helpful for me!

  15. Well, I live here in Oliva as an expat, and there’s a huge difference between ‘visiting’ Spain (which is great) and trying to settle here. Spain is horrible to settle in, they don’t follow rules or laws and every administrator is sure that he/she knows the rules best (yet doesn’t). It will take you forever to settle here, and you might resent this place before you will even finish the process. Portugal is a lot easier to move to. Oliva has a horrible health clinic (the only one there is here) that has a history of putting expats through hell before they are allowed to be treated here. It’s also very hard to live here if you don’t have a car, as public transportation is dismal outside of the touristy summer season. Many people are mean, friendly only to their friends and families and nasty to strangers. Yelling at each other is a local sport, especially if your Spanish is not good enough to keep up. I could go on and on… What Spain and Oliva does well is ‘branding’, creating an idyllic image of Spain that serves the tourist industry very well, but one that is unrealistic and far removed from reality.

    1. I have to say that it’s sad to see you settling in a country that you seem to despise so much.

      I know the process of settling in Spain very well, after living in Oliva, and then Valencia, totalling just under 2 years.

      I also went through the pains of Spanish bureaucracy (applying for my residency in Oliva for example), and registering for my padron in Oliva. While things aren’t always smooth sailing with the red tape, things are like this in many countries around the world. If you think Spain is bad, I wouldn’t advise moving to Italy! I had my struggles with the residency process, but I would never resent a country that I am living in, rather I would appreciate how lucky I am to be there ๐Ÿ™‚

      I’m familiar with the health clinic in Oliva, having received all 3 of my covid vaccines there. The care I received was always good. My mother and father have also received excellent care there, with my mother’s (serious) illness being treated incredibly quickly and efficiently.

      I haven’t experienced any mean Spanish people in Oliva – on the contrary, I found everybody very welcoming and patient, far more so than people in my home country (UK) are to foreigners that don’t speak English.

      I’ve never seen or heard anybody yelling at anybody (apart from my mum’s loopy neighbour, but he’s another story).

      Overall, I didn’t mind the limited public transport and frustrating bureaucratic elements of Spain and Oliva. The fantastic weather, nature, food, friendly locals, and low cost of living made it more than worth it to me.

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