This is my final week in Dénia, and slow travel is lovely. You can actually unpack your suitcase, get familiar with your surroundings and the people that make it so special. I thought for this post, I would focus on the people who made this stay interesting and what awoke my senses.
My previous posts have recorded my solo travels through Spain to various locations in search for a possible retirement destination. If you wish to follow the adventure, then click below to have updates sent directly to you.
For all the churches, restaurants and sites to see, it is the people that make a place special. For instance, my Airbnb hosts were awesome. You could tell they cared about the people staying with them. I was always able to communicate with them using Google Translate if my Spanish failed me and if I asked them to speak slower, they would happily comply. From the free oranges from Francisco (my host in Los Marines Beach) to the tea chat with Maria Antonia (Dénia Carrer de Loreto) I always felt welcome and cared for. Perhaps it is because I’m a solo female traveller. Regardless, they made my stays comfortable and safe.
Walking into town one day, I happened upon a truck with a full load of wood. The logs were gnarled with deep grooves. I stopped and had a chat with the man as he was loading a wheelbarrow. I had started my trip in Málaga province and they use olive wood to fuel their fires so wondered if this wood was olive. “Disculpe señor, buenos días. Que tipo de madera es esta?” The man explained it was wood from the orange groves. I should know better as this is the Valencia region, famous for oranges. I wondered what the wood would be used for. He said it was fuel for the wood pizza ovens. I didn’t want to hold him back from his work, but I could tell he appreciated someone taking an interest in what he was doing. I wished him a good day and an adiós. If I was back in Mississauga it would be a huge stretch for me to stop a man in the street and ask him about his wood! lol Here, I feel so safe.
Nelly, Jean Claude and the team at Restaurante Playa Marina were incredibly kind to me. Last week, I wrote about my paella lessons which was awesome, and through this entire stay by the beach, they made me feel like family, even if I wasn’t eating there. When returning from the beach, they would stop everything and come over to ask me how my day was. Even the cook, would come to the door and wave. Dining alone can be intimidating for some and don’t get me wrong, it used to be that way for me also, but now I bring a book, phone or something to occupy myself. Here though, I can just sit with the sea in my view under the shade of a palm tree and happily enjoy my beverage and meal. The servers come by and check on me but they are in no hurry to bring me the bill. I usually have the full meal deal on the weekends, and tapas during the week and every time I was there, I felt comfortable.
Carmen, my neighbour showed up at the end of my second week. She is an attractive trim-framed woman. She sports a short, curly white hairdo which suits here perfectly. The first time we met, I was balancing a beach chair on one arm and my knapsack on the other trying to lock my door. She must have heard the commotion and opened her door. She introduced herself and invited me in. Who does that??? Her apartment was the size of mine but all the walls had been taken down and painted white. It was beautiful, breezy and perfect for one person. She explained that her husband passed last year from a stroke at 83. She lives in a suburb of Madrid and comes to Dénia for a few weeks out of the year. Carmen, 70, has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and is managing well at this stage. Every morning and every evening she goes for a walk up and down the beach, and then takes a dip in the sea. This is her ritual. I had so many questions for her and she was like a schoolteacher forcing me to use Spanish as she politely corrected me. We had some lovely chats.
On a whim, Sunday, I invited her to lunch for what else, paella! This was her last day and my last weekend, so it was fitting to celebrate our meeting. The restaurant won’t be open on Monday and I am leaving on Tuesday, We agreed on a 3:00 pm time which would then give her enough time to return for a rest before packing up the car to drive back to Madrid. We gussied ourselves up and found a table inside. Within minutes, everyone was hugging and greeting us. I am so going to miss these people. Food started coming to the table. We decided on the Menu del Dia (Menu of the day) For €18 each, ensalada mixta, bocherones, bread, paella, dessert and coffee.
Carmen and I had a lively exchange and our voices competed with a table of 5 behind us that were into a few rounds of drinks. We happily enjoyed our meal. I honestly thought there would be food left, but Carmen ate with wild abandon. She kept saying she loved paella as another spoonful went on her plate. When the server asked about dessert, her eyes lit up. Chocolate cake was definitely her favourite. After the espresso, we just pushed our chairs back and sighed satisfied with a great meal. I was thinking, this lady needs to rest before a long drive and was going to ask for the bill. This is when I experienced “sobremesa”. The time after your meal where you can have a digestif or another drink and continue the conversation as your meal digests. Sobremesa literally means on the table. I wonder if it should be called under the table if you are continuing to drink. lol We didn’t have alcohol due to Carmen’s meds, but we sat and sat and sat enjoying the surroundings and the conversation. 2 hours later, it was time. What a fine time we had. We took some photos to commemorate our meeting and did the same with the restaurant crew. We exchanged information and promised to stay in touch. I wish her a safe journey. I also wish the gang from Restaurante Marina Playa much success.
The time spent living by the beach has been a sensory delight and sometimes even an attack on them.
Sight – Watching sunrises and sunsets. They are spectacular here. The sea is ever constant as it rolls up on the shore. The colour changes with the sky. The ebb and flow of waves remind me of hellos and goodbyes. The waving palm trees in the gentle breeze are almost hypnotic. At the other end of the spectrum are the umbrellas abruptly yanked from their sandy perches by strong winds, forced to roll along the beach with owners in hot pursuit. The topless females happily displaying their goods while they walk along the shore. I don’t think there is gravity here! lol
Hearing – The birds are mating and are extra happy every morning. I love listening to the locals speak their language with such emotion. The mourning dove that coos relentlessly. The music from Sounders bar in the port 1.5 kilometres away blasts house music until all hours, even on Sundays. Construction seems to be going on everywhere including inside this building as residents ready themselves for high season – July and August. The pool next door, below my window, is usually quiet Monday to Thursdays, but on the weekends, you will find bride and groom parties and if they bring music, well I just dance in the window in my nightgown and they go away shortly thereafter.
Smell – Inhaling the oleander flowers in whites, pinks and reds that are in full bloom now are intoxicating. The smell of fried fish is in the air when the bars are open. It draws you in. The dog excrement left by irresponsible owners on the access roads is disgusting and when the heat gets to it, Peeeyoo! Fines are supposed to be applied, but no one follows up. It can be like walking through a mine field but thankfully not on the beach. There seems to be an odour coming from the sewers and comes up through the plumbing. I found this in town and by the sea. There is also a lot of exterminating happening due to pests, which I’m glad I haven’t seen this time around. On a previous trip, I named a roach Charlie because he was so large. It is to be expected when you live by the water.
Taste – the food is simple and delicious. Fried fish, ensalada mixta olives, tapas, rice dishes and the famous paella Valenciana. Spanish olive oil, the best I’ve ever tasted. Apologies to my Italian friends. I learned that even Italy imports Spanish olive oil and will blend with their own supply as they can’t produce enough to satisfy the need. This is still open for debate. Regardless, it is delicious! The fruits and vegetables are fresh and reasonably priced. Then there is the Mediterranean Sea of which I’ve taken a few mouthfuls while bobbing on the surface or my skin that is salty from drying in the hot sun after a swim. I have to say I have had my fill of pork products for a while. Jamón Serrano and Iberico are delicious and won’t be on my shopping list, well, at least not until I make my next charcuterie tray.
Touch – my skin feels soft from the sea water. The water is soothing and I’d say healing to my body as I float on the surface staring at the blue sky. I wade up to my hips and walk for 10 minutes in either direction. The resistance of the water is felt against my legs. We fight one way and relax on the return trip. I do this twice a day. My feet feel the sand below which is velvety soft and occasionally sea grass wraps around my ankles or my heel finds a shell. I freaked out a little at the beginning but now just enjoy it. Mostly it is pleasant. Sand and dust blows everywhere when you are close to the shore. I just sweep it away daily as I know it will return tomorrow. Toilet paper could be improved upon. Mostly 1-ply which makes sense for the plumbing systems.
My last week on Los Marines Beach has been lovely. Now, it is time to finish tidying up, start packing but not before one more trip to the beach to catch a final sunset. Next post will be after I return home.
Summary – Could I retire here? Yes and no. I would have to get a car and a Spanish drivers license because I know I need a little more stimulation. Javea, Xativa, Gandía, Calpe, Altea and Olivia are short distances away but there is no public transportation to link them. I could take the service road and no need for highway driving, although that isn’t an issue for me. If I want to hike in Montgo, I would need a vehicle. If anyone wanted to visit me, it would be harder for them to reach me unless I picked them up or arranged transport as Dénia is 1.5 hours away from either Valencia or Alicante airport.
The vibe in Dénia is interesting and I guess that was my initial attraction. It has more expats in town, but in the off season out by the sea, it is very Spanish. Location, location, location. I could pick up a 2 bedroom apartment/condo for €190,000. The weather is fabulous and the sea/beach is lovely although not groomed. Bottom line, it could work.
¡Saludos a todos!