Dénia – Part I

I returned to Dénia after 14 years. I fell in love with the plane trees that line either side of Carrer del Marques de Campo. The last time I was here I was updating my blog in an Internet café. Do they exist anymore? Not much has changed from my memory, except the trees are taller and now their tops join like intertwined fingers welcoming me with a huge hug.

For those just joining, I am travelling to different areas of Spain to look for a place to possibly retire or at least escape from the Canadian winters. I’ve been to various places on the Costa del Sol, Sevilla and now Dénia on the Costa Blanca. A 2.5 month adventure. If you are interested in following along, subscribe below.

I checked out of the hostel and had a fun taxi ride to the Sevilla airport. The radio was playing Justin Timberlake (Rock Your Body) and the driver and I were grooving to the music at 7:30 am. He said American music was how he learns English. We had some laughs and he was such a positive man. He said that the owners of the cab company sent their employees to the Sevilla Feria one night to say thank you for all their hard work. I love stories about employee engagement. More about the Sevilla Feria can be found here.

It was an uneventful flight from Sevilla to Valencia and I took a taxi to the Valencia central bus station. It cost me €18. I could’ve taken a bus and subway for €4 euro but sometimes it is nice to treat yourself vs. dragging bags. I had a 1.5 hour wait for the bus so I grabbed a bite in the cafeteria. Before long, I threw my bag into the bus’ hold, and boarded for a 1.5 hour trip to Dénia at a cost of €11.50. Alsa is an excellent bus transport company and I booked my ticket using their app. Dénia isn’t the easiest place to get to unless you have a car or a boat. There is a tram that runs from Alicante, but that route wasn’t available when I booked. Dénia is an active fishing port and has a yacht club. It is on the Costa Blanca halfway between Valencia and Alicante. It also has some beautiful beaches.

I click-clacked along the sidewalk to my new temporary home on Calle Loreto. The GPS on the Airbnb site took me to #4. I stood in front of the door pulling and turning the door knob, looking for a lock box, knocking etc. I rang the doorbell. Suddenly an Asian woman from the Thai restaurant next door ran up to me yelling angrily with arms flailing, asking me what I was doing. I told her that I had rented the apartment and she said “no you didn’t this is my home”. I apologized and explained about the GPS. She was not having any of this as apparently it has happened before and she was fed up! Her broken English and my Spang-lish must have been a sight. She pointed across the street to #3.

I wonder who owns that yacht?

The owner of #3 left the keys in the lock box and within a few minutes I was climbing 2 winding flight of stairs to my studio apartment, painted bright yellow. It was very cheery and welcoming. Everything I needed was available. I opened the windows and heard the church bells ringing. It was beautiful. The street below is busy with tapas bars and restaurants so at least I won’t have to travel too far for dinner. I’m hoping that the noise isn’t disruptive. I walked down to the port and saw this massive yacht leaving and then I headed to the fish market where you can purchase fish fresh off the boat. Love this place. In the park, there was a bride and groom having their pictures taken. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo. Torie’s (my favourite niece) wedding in November came to mind. Can’t wait.

I needed some groceries, but my GPS must have been pinging off the castle because I couldn’t find it. I did have water in the fridge so made an executive decision to order takeaway. I saw the Thai place across the street and went in and asked for the owner. She remembered me. As a way of apologizing for concerning her earlier, I ordered some spring rolls and Pad Thai. We had a lovely chat and she apologized for her earlier rudeness. Her brother-in-law was funny and turned out to be my daily greeter as I opened my windows out to the street and usually my end of day good night as I left him on the street with a backgammon game and bottle of wine with his friends. “Hey Canada, bye- bye!” The Pad Thai was excellent.

Photo courtesy of Maria Antonia on Airbnb site and it looks exactly like the photo

I stayed in for most of the day in order to get organized, and catch up on my laundry, but I did venture out to visit the place that enamoured me 14 years ago. Carrer del Marques de Campo with its beautiful plane trees lining the boulevard. It was two blocks away and was everything I remembered. A refuge from the sun in the shade of the plane trees. The cafés were packed and lovely as it was siesta time and people were having their main meal. I headed over to the tourist office to get some info on daily excursions. It is turning out unless you are in Centro you will need a car or take a bus to another town. Public transit is poor.

Settling in back at the apartment, church bells begin ringing in the square. The doors open up and young children are filtering out of the church in their First Communion garb. Pristine, long white dresses and bows for the girls and dark suits with white satin ribbons on their arms for the boys. Proud parents and grandparents follow behind. The restaurants are going to be busy tonight.

Later that evening as the sun was setting, I heard cheering and clapping coming from the square. Curious, I went out and investigated. I saw many people looking at a stage where two women received gifts and accolades. Turns out they were the winner and runner-up of the Fallera Mayor Infantil, and they will represent Dénia for the upcoming season of fiestas. It is a huge deal, and another event that is extra special because it had to wait a couple of years due to Covid. The fireworks were cool too. I am living on a cool street.

Fallera Mayor Infantil announcement in the square.

I wanted to see how long it would take to walk to the beach – 20 minutes from downtown (Carrer del Marques de Campo), walking casually. Dénia is pretty and easy to walk. Lots of pedestrian promenades and reasonably accessible once in central Dénia, but not so much along Las Marines (towards the beaches). The population is around 43,000. I’m finding it expensive at least when dining out. I imagine it is because of all the tourists. English is spoken in many places. There is a large German and British tourist population. Fruits and vegetables are more reasonable if you shop at the Municipal Market. The big seller here is Iberian jamón. It is everywhere. The clothing stores are higher-end (men and women) and not much is made in España but imported from Italy or China, but if you are looking for shoes, this is the place. Shoes are a huge commodity here. Whether you are a sneaker freak or looking for leather sandals, espadrilles or a wedge, you will be in heaven and they are made in España. Purses also! My carry-on might need to find a partner.

I heard music coming from the street again, and this time when I opened up my window, there was a band marching down the street dancing and singing. I think it was a continuation of the celebration from the night before as two women with sashes were leading the troupe. They were doing a line dance and people were joining in. It was so fun. Check out the video.

Impromptu band, singing and dancing in the street.

The next morning at 8:00 am, it felt like someone was coming through the wall behind my bed. Turns out there was major construction happening and it would continue every day 8:00 – 4:00 Mon-Fri. I paid a pretty penny for this place and I’m afraid three weeks of this would not work. My landlord felt so bad as she had no idea this was going to happen and contacted Airbnb for a resolution. My remaining 3 weeks was refunded and I found a new home. I would move on Friday to the sea. I made the best of my remaining time by climbing up to Castle Dénia. It took me about 15 minutes climbing up a steep path over cobblestone and when I got to the top I discovered there was a ramp. 🤪 Castle Dénia is accessible to a point. The husband of my landlord is the architect who restored the castle. Now I understand why the apartment is so well laid out. Good job!

That evening, I had a video chat with my friend, MaryAnn and a surprise guest appearance by her friend Trish. It was a full moon that night and I was sitting in the square waiting for it to appear when my phone rang. It was lovely seeing both of their faces. I love technology and we can continue to stay connected with our family and friends back home.

I will continue my Dénia adventure by the sea next week. Take care and be well.

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