Friday, March 11, 2011

Living In El Campello

Our Home in Spain (Above the silver blue car)
Finally this blog entry is actually about living in Spain. My goal for this trip is not to “see” Spain, but to actually “live” in one area, get to know the area, the food, the customs, and the people. I did this when I went to China; I never did get to walk the Great Wall, see the Forbidden City, or visit Tibet, but I knew my way around Suzhou as well as many of the natives. By the end of my two months there I was telling them things about their city they did not know. I was hoping to take the same approach here in  El Campello, Spain.

El Campello is a resort town on the Mediterranean Sea, almost half way between Barcelona in the north and Gibraltar (Great Britain) in the south. The area is one of the principle resort areas in Spain, and is popular for tourists from England, France and Germany. The apartment we are renting is owned by a couple from England who used it as a vacation home before they retired, bought a house and moved to Spain to live.

The Promenade along the El Campello Waterfront
The apartment is in a building one block from the beach in the old part of the town. If you walk down the boardwalk there is a much newer part of El Campello with huge apartment blocks of vacation homes. This area is mostly lower building on narrow streets with many little restaurants and bars. If you go out onto the balcony off the living area, you can see down the street to the beach and the Marina beyond, where I am told there is a fish auction every day at 6:00 pm where the public can buy fresh seafood. (Regis has admitted to knowing how to clean fish, so we may go see if we can get some fresh fish.) We can hear the waves on the beach from the balcony unless it is very calm. Under the Apartment is a restaurant that is currently under renovation by the bar across the street where I got to get access to the internet. The building is four stories high and we are on the second floor, but as far as I can tell, there is almost no one actually here. Most of the other apartments are shuttered and at least two are for sale, so it is very quiet. When walking down the beach, we noticed that some of the large apartment buildings only seemed to have a couple of the units occupied; the rest dark with shutters down.  Even the renovations going on downstairs are rather low key – they don't seem to start until about 10:00, knock of for the Spanish siesta from 2:00 – 5:00, and don't seem to really get back to serious work after the rest most days.

The apartment is very nice, with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large comfortable living room with a balcony out front, a well equipped kitchen, and a pleasant little sitting area/courtyard off the master bedroom. The beds are comfortable, the entire apartment was clean and very well appointed when we arrived. The owners left a “Welcome Package” including basic groceries, a bottle of wine, and a bowl of fresh oranges picked from a tree in their yard, so we did not have to immediately locate a grocery store for our supper, instead we could pour a glass of wine and relax on the balcony in the Spanish sunshine after we unpacked.

Now we did discover that it is definitely the “off season” here this time of year. As the sun went down, it did get cold. The apartment is built for a warm climate, and all the windows are single pane glass and the nice wooden windows close securely but not tightly with not a hint of weather stripping. Fortunately the living room and the master bedroom have the same heater/AC units I had in China or Europe and they are able to dispel the evening chill with the help of the ceiling fan. I guess this is why so many of the units are unoccupied this time of year; when the sun is shining we find it lovely, but the locals must find it cold and chilly.

It is only day 6 and we have been entertaining the friends or our son up to this point, so we have plenty of time to try out this “living” in El Campello thing.

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