Monday, March 28, 2011

Sunny Sunday

El Campello, Spain  is a tourist town. The normal population is 25,000, but in the summer it swells to 80,000. Being here in March, this is very evident. The building we are in has at least 8 apartments, and for most of the month there was only one other apartment occupied. On our daily walks down the beachfront we see huge waterfront apartment buildings with only one or two apartments opened. It seems that most of the buildings here are built with special windows that includes a solid metal shutter that can be pulled down; a very useful option when your house is only used part of the year. I suspect that is also the reason why I can choose between five different supermarkets – they are probably all busy in the summer months.

This part of Spain is a popular tourist destination for Europeans because it has a climate that is nice all year long. Even in the winter the temperatures get up to 15C, and it has an average temperature of 19C and usually gets 250 days of sunshine a year. To us, coming from Nova Scotia's winter with -10C and snow everywhere, it was a wonderful getaway, but for most of the “tourists” it is not time to come to Southern Spain yet. In the last couple of weeks we can see a few more apartments opening up, and a few more people on the beaches and promenade. Now the locals don't see it the same. We arrived on a Saturday, and the following day we walked down the promenade on a Sunday morning. It was sunny and warm (to us anyway), and there were many local people out for a walk with their dogs and families. They were dressed in winter coats – the big puffy kind  - and had on gloves and hats. Their dogs all had on winter coats! To them it was a cold day.

Well the weather has improved a lot and the Sundays have gotten progressively better. Last weekend there were people on the beach in swimwear. People stared at us for wearing sandals the first couple of weeks, but there are more and more sandals showing up. This Sunday dawned bright, blue and calm, so it was lovely. I'd estimate it was probably 23 in the sun, and you could see the promenade come alive.

The restaurants and bars along the promenade are full; especially the patios facing the beach. On most days only about a third are open, and we walk by many watching the wait staff and cooks chatting without any customers at all. We wondered how they could stay in business. Sunny Sundays certainly help a lot.

People are out in force. It is Sunday, so most people are dressed in their best clothes. Suits, dresses, skirts, fur coats. Although it is a long walk, the norm is dress shoes for men and heels for women. You can tell the foreigners; they are the ones wearing sensible walking shoes or “heaven forbid” sandals. Also popular with the women are boots, everything from thigh-high ones to short ones, but many with very high heels. Comfort gets no precedence over style for the Sunday strolls here.

The promenade has a real family atmosphere on Sundays. There are children everywhere. Young families push babies in strollers or buggies. Families stop into their favourite restaurants, for lunch, often sitting with wine or Spanish coffee long after lunch is done. It is a perfect spot for this. There are no cars on the street, and the beach is right across the road. When the kids get tired of restaurant they are allowed to go out onto the promenade to ride their bikes, inline skate, ride scooters, or just to go play in the sand. We would often see groups of children playing in the sand with no apparent supervision, and suddenly one of them would run across to the restaurant or bar to a table full of parents. The parents could see them all the time while still enjoying time with their family and friends.

The family outings on the promenade often include the extended family as well. We often saw grandma being helped along arm in arm with someone while the baby carriage was pushed by someone else. The children circled on all sorts of wheeled contraptions, making up for grandma's slow pace by putting three times the distance on their wheels. The promenade is paved with coloured tiles in a zig-zag pattern, and I watched one little girl walk the length following the pattern. We passed one family group that had given up on the walk, and had camped out by one of the walkways down to the beach. There were about 20 of them. The adults were sitting on the wall separating the promenade from the beach or standing around; all talking at once – I thought I might learn some Spanish on this trip, but I can't distinguish one word from another because they all talk at once. The children were scattered around the beach, playing in the sand, or riding bikes on the road and sidewalk, and the teenagers were off to one side chatting and texting. Everyone seemed happy except one little girl sitting on the wall in bare feet crying about something.

I can only imagine what this place must be like on a Sunday in July or August.

1 comment:

  1. Arthur & Regis ... I've been thinking of you both and wondering (since you are such "Cruisers") how you have been enjoying being in one place for the majority of the month?
    I remembered "bookmarking" your blog and finally found it again. I know how much you like to write and have spent the last half hour catching up with my reading.
    You seem to have a regular routine to your days (lots of walks that I know you like ... Jude would fit right in with the dogs on the Promenade) and have discovered many special places(I think I'd like your internet bar .... especially the music).
    Sounds like you're having a great time!!!! Jim