Friday, January 14, 2011

Spanish Hospitality

We arrived in Spain to a warm welcome. Our host was kind enough to pick us up at the airport, show us around and orient us to our temporary home. Our home was stocked with groceries, fresh fruits and vegetables, and some nice welcome gifts including delicious Rioja wine and Cava to toast our arrival. It was such a hospitable start that we have felt instantly at home.

After some rest from our long journey, our host showed us some of the area and particularly, sights that are not within walking distance since we do not have a car for our stay. We toured the local mountain, Montgo and went to the San Antonio lighthouse, a beacon over the Mediterranean. Words cannot adequately describe the beauty of the area, so I will let the pictures demonstrate instead.

We also drove through the town and got some hints on local restaurants. Some local specialties include varieties of fresh seafood, especially shrimp, and paella. Being in the Valencia vicinity, fresh citrus and fruit trees are abundant and we were treated to a big bag of tangerines from our neighbor. Other Spanish delicacies are olives and an abundance of olive oil (Spain is the #1 producer, Italy just does a better job promoting), jamon (ham/pork--several different varieties in degrees of taste and price), gazpacho (which we thought was Mexican in origin, but obviously started here first), many local cheeses including fresh goat cheese, Manchego and Cabrales blue cheese...and wine, this being one of the top producing wine countries in the world.

I love visiting grocery stores and markets in other countries as the different foods fascinate me. There is a daily market in town and on Lunes y Viernes (Monday and Friday) they add a special fruit and vegetable market in the streets. I am sure I will become a regular there, though we did not visit this week as we were so well-stocked with goodies from our host.

We are in the Alicante area of Spain--known as the Costa Blanca (the various coastal areas have been divided up and named as such, mostly a marketing term versus a cultural region). Denia is between Valencia and Alicante and directly across the sea from Ibiza. The location creates a perfect microclimate of sunshine and sea breezes--you notice immediately how green the town is compared with neighboring areas.

Our condo sits just outside the historic urban center, a short walk from the port with equally stunning views of the Montgo and the Mediterranean. The port is a working port, with much fishing and ferries to Ibiza and Palma. I am looking forward to visiting the fish auction/market that occurs each evening at 5:00. The marina has numerous restaurants and houses many yachts. The locals note that our building has contrasting views--ugly from outside (it sticks out somewhat as a high rise in an area with low architecture--you can find it from almost any point in town) but the most beautiful from inside looking out. Being on the fifth floor with a wrap around balcony, views abound.

Click here to see the photos of the views and the area.

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