We’ve settled into a small village about an hour south of Valencia on the Mediterranean. The tiny village of Xeraco (or Jeraco in Castellano) sits among fragrant orange and mandarin groves at the foot of small mountains of trees and rocky ledges. The beach area of Xeraco is called Platja Xeraco in the Valencian language and it is separated from the main village by marsh lands and citrus groves. This is where we are now living. I like to think of our little Spanish casita as our little piece of heaven…for it is truly that and more.
A stand alone house, we are right on the primera linea de la playa or first line of the beach. Our wide terrace spans the end of the house that looks out onto the Mediterranean waters, just beyond the small sand dune covered with grasses, bushes and tiny flowers. From here we can hear the waves lapping up on the sandy, seashell-speckled shore.
The sunsets are amazing…one is occurring right now as I’m writing this. It’s hard for me to find words to describe sunsets. It feels so good in a quietly spectacular way. Today there are no clouds, just a few wisps here and there, so the horizon is band after band of colors. They morph into each other like an expanding rainbow.
Living here during the winter season is a different way of experiencing Spain’s popular Mediterranean coast. While there are people who live here year round, it is mainly a small group of Spaniards and some internationals. We love the tranquility and peaceful quiet of this ‘off-season’. Most days it is like being on a private beach and the people we have met here are friendly and welcoming, not to mention generous. Within our first week here, our neighbors gifted us with over 4 baskets of oranges, mandarins, and even a handful of granadas (pomegranates) that came fresh from the huertas (groves) that are right here in Xeraco and the surrounding area. You can imagine how this makes for amazing Mimosas! There are a few neighbors close to us and a respectful sense of everyone looking out for each other.
What I especially love is that being here feels like being in Spain. I was hoping to find a place directly on the beach that wasn’t overtaken by high-rise apartment buildings and the English language – this is that place for us! Almost every day we get to enjoy the endearing nuances of living in Spain – from the Gypsies who drive their donkey-drawn wooden carts back and forth on the beach to the older Spanish gentleman Salvador who rides his gorgeous Spanish Gelding horses on the beach and through the town, delicious 2-liter bottles of local wine for less than 3 Euros and the great company of doggies in the bar window, just to name a few.
While many things in this beach area of Xeraco are closed during winter, there are still a handful of great restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as a good grocery store that is right at the end of our block. One of our favorite restaurants so far is Restaurante El Cantonet, just around the corner from us. The owner Ramon spoils us every time we’re there and they have some of the best grilled meats, Fideua and various Paellas we’ve had in this area of Spain. Thursday’s is their special menu of Puchero, which is an amazing feast that we had never heard of before – we loved it! They certainly do a delicious job with this local dish.
For stocking up on other goods and enjoying events, we just hop on the train which is an affordable and comfortable trip. To Gandia, the nearest large town, it’s only a 10 minute train ride and just over 1 Euro. Going the other direction on the same train line gets us to the center of Valencia (Estacion Nord) in 50 minutes for just under 5 Euros (one-way). It’s a beautiful ride too, going past the famous Albufera Natural Park, home to the largest lake in Spain and where rice growers and fisherman work. As a beautiful wetland it is also a habitat for birds and other wildlife.
This is the first time that I have lived on the Mediterranean. Although we’re in our first month here, it truly feels more like home than anywhere I have been for years. The peacefulness and natural beauty we experience from the Mediterranean Sea here is glorious and rejuvenating. And getting to live here was not difficult.
Many people in the US can tend to think that a lifestyle like this is expensive, or at least far more expensive than the lives we’re living in the US. Well it’s not. What we pay for this beautifully, modernized and fully furnished home of four bedrooms and two bathrooms, right on the beach, is hundreds of dollars less than what we were paying for rent in downtown Denver for an even smaller space. Actually, it’s practically half of what we were paying. And here the quality of life is amazing! When I think about it in affordability terms though, there’s no price that we can put on this – it’s worth any amount because we are so happy here!
We continue to learn a lot about living here in Spain. So stay tuned for upcoming posts where I’ll be shedding light on great ways to visit Spain and valuable tips for how to move and live here. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to be in touch with any of your own experiences and questions.
Hasta luego! See you next time.