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Frigiliana, Spain   The village of Frigiliana is our first destination when we arrive in June.  We will be spending three weeks in a house between the village and the coastal town of Nerja.  Frigiliana is known as a clean and prosperous working village whose livelihood is based largely on the local agriculture. Olive oil is pressed and sold there, as well as moscatel wine, dried figs, molasses and honey. Village life is simple with a local baker, fishmonger, butcher, pharmacy, tobacconist, and wine-merchant.  Our plan is to visit schools and experience life in the village to see if we’d like to live here for our year abroad.

Jalon Valley, Spain   From Frigilana, we will head northeast to the Rectoria Valley.  Between Alicante and Valencia, there are a handful of small villages within the Jalon and Rectoria Valleys nestled amongst the grapevines, almond and orange trees.  Jalon is the largest village and supposedly typically Spanish in character and known for its wine production.  There is an open-air market or ‘rastro’ on Saturday mornings, where you can buy anything from “fine antique furniture to spare parts for an out of date cordless drill” so we will be visiting that for sure!  We will be exploring the towns of Javea, Altea and Jesus Pobre near the coast as well. 

Gaucin, Spain   We move to the mountains next, traveling back down to the far western edge of the Costa del Sol and then up to Gaucin, about a 45 minute drive from the coast.  We discovered Gaucin early in our search for Spanish villages, and though we love what we see and read about, think it will be too far from the coast, especially if the girls go to an international school.  We have not decided whether to go the local school route which would be complete immersion in the Spanish language or go to one of the many international schools that provide an English education.  So, we will spend two weeks living in Gaucin village and immersing ourselves in village life. 

Casares, Spain   Last stop on our summer adventures take us just down from Gaucin to the village of Casares.  At only nine miles or 30 minutes to Estepona on the coast, Casares has been high on our list of villages.  It is a picture postcard village with a population of around three thousand and supposedly has avoided the tourist buses from the coast.  From the top of the town, some 1,400 feet above sea level, you can see the African coast with the Rock of Gibraltar looming in the foreground.  By August, we need to pick a village and look for a long-term rental house to take us through the next year. 

Blogger’s Update, September 1, 2008:
Summer is over and our time of adventuring around southern Spain has drawn to a close. We decided upon a town to live in fairly soon into our journey. It is interesting for me to read about each of the four pueblos now that we have been to each and experienced them first-hand vs. online. I thought I’d update my perspective on each.

Unfortunately perhaps, I felt like Frigiliana never got too much of a look, and it was one of the villages I was most excited about. Our first rental house was actually in the countryside between Frigiliana and the sea side town of Nerja. Our settling in needs took us into Nerja in those early days for groceries, internet connections and the beach. We discovered the old town of Nerja fairly quickly with its cobbled streets, difficult parking and what we thought as many English speaking tourists. Other towns up and down the beach had some appeal to us, Almuñécar and La Herradura both. And there was an international school in Almuñécar that made that town more appealing. It was larger too and felt very much like a working Spanish town, not a tourist destination. The old town with its Spanish streets and shops was interesting, though the beach not so much with its rows of high-rise condos. I think I gave up on Frigiliana pretty quickly because the drive to the school was too far and the heat and bugs not so appealing. We love to live outside, eating on the terrace, reading in the hammock, playing Scrabble… and mosquitoes don’t make that very enjoyable!

While in Nerja, we drove down to the Costa del Sol, about a two hour drive to take a peek at Casares and Gaucin. Both were beautiful, breath-taking Spanish villages, but felt too small and remote for our family. Gaucin is a wonderful place for a very relaxing and outdoor vacation, but to live there would have been too slow for us. After our two weeks in Casares, we did come to enjoy Estepona and it might have been a possible option for us had we not already committed elsewhere.

So that left the Jalon and Rectoria Valleys near Javea for us. We had spent our first three days in Spain in Javea and immediately liked it. It reminded me of Los Angeles without the attitude and sprawl! The arenel area has a very beach town kind of feel, the port more urban and lively with restaurants and many people about. We heard a lot of Spanish being spoken, though German and French too, and we liked all of that. There were two school options, great weather, close proximity to great beaches and mountains.

We were eager for our three weeks in Benimeli to explore Javea and the area further. And we loved it all. Benimeli was a wonderful very small Spanish village of 350 people and could have been an interesting choice had it been closer to Javea, the beach and schools. The Rectoria Valley was much more Spanish and relaxed whereas the Jalon Valley is fairly built-up with expats and golf course homes. Beautiful, but not what we were looking for.

So Javea it is! And we just love our choice! We also have Denia, Valencia and Barcelona very near for further exploring. The weather has been perfect, hardly one mosquito, the sea and mountains all around us! We’re home!

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Responses

  1. Hope this finds you well. Am enjoying reading about your travels. All is well here.
    Love Mom

  2. Hello Dee,

    My husband and I are thinking about relocating to Denia/Javea. We have been to Spain (cantabria, Madrid, Cadiz, Barcelona) and my husband has family in Cantabria and we love the lifestyle. We too have two children ages 14 and 10. Are your children adjusting well? Next summer would be the time for us to move as school is going to start soon here in connecticut, USA. would love to hear from you and find out how difficult or easy this transition has beed for your family.
    Hope all is going well with you and your family and that you settle on a village in time for school.

    sincerely,
    Michele

    Hello Michele,

    Our daughters are adjusting great! Moving here has definitely had its challenges with them though and there were many days when I had to remind myself why we were doing this and why it’d be great for all of us in the long run. The hardest days were definitely after we sold our house in the States (last December) and had six months to go before we left for Spain. The girls missed their house, and I think were just scared of the unknown here. They have discovered that there are other kids here, they like to swim and play sports too, and are really just like them! It’s just taken time! Of course they miss Colorado and their friends and family still, but mostly those moments come out when they are tired or have perhaps spent too much time together!

    I’ll send you an email directly too so we can talk specifically.

    Dee

  3. Dee.

    Thanks for responding. I’m looking forward to talking more.

    Michele

  4. Hi guys,
    Congratulations on your escape from the UK! I have previously bought in the Mar Menor area but have since sold, some years ago. I have not been to Javea but on numerous occasions the area has been recommended to me. If I cannot afford to buy in Javea can you suggest any local villages close to the beach please. Please email me at barry@bharrison.wanadoo.co.uk.
    Many thanks and regards, Barry Harrison.

    Hi Barry,

    Actually we are from the US! We haven’t found too many other Americans here though plenty of friendly Brits!

    I hear the housing market here is down some 30% though don’t know when or if that’s actually true.

    I would guess that the further from the sea you are prices go down. We stayed in the Rectoria Valley for three weeks, about 40 mintues drive to the port in Javea, and loved it. It is not quite as built up as the Jalon Valley (over next mountain pass,) and there are small villages that ring the valley. Very Spanish feel. Jalon probably has more expats if you are looking for that. We would have considered a village house in Benimeli had it not been such a drive to school in Javea.

    Good luck.

    Dee

  5. Hello! I am an attorney at a local Boulder firm which has a very generous sabbatical program. I am also a friend of Kari Kennedy (we both serve on the Board of Directors for Boulder Day Nursery). She suggested that we try to get in touch with you, as we are getting ready to take off for close to a year.

    My wife, two boys, and I are going to Jerez in December and planning on putting the boys in a local school we found there. We had a couple of questions and were wondering if there was any chance we could call you.

    Let us know if that’s possible.

    Sincerely,
    Chris Ford and Heather McLaughlin
    990 Grape Avenue
    Boulder, CO
    fordboulder@msn.com

    Hi Chris and Heather,

    I’m happy to share my perspective. I’ll email you directly with my phone number.

    I haven’t been to Jerez or that area in Spain yet, though we spent several weeks near Estepona this summer and have been previously to Sevilla, which are both close.

    Looking forward to sharing stories.

    Dee

  6. Good Morning Andrews:

    I was attempting to find you but you may be traveling. We are all fine back in Kansas. Think of you every day.
    Love Mom

  7. Hi,

    Loved reading about your adventure.

    How exciting!

    Please can you tell me if your girls went to an international school? Was it Almunecar? If so was it any good in your opinion?

    Rox x

  8. Hi Dee,

    Have enjoyed reading some of your blog especially the one about Cesares where we are thinking of moving this summer. We have a boy six who is now in kindergarten in Cuenca, Ecuador and speaks Spanish and English. We are all US citizens from NC. and currently have Ecuador residency. Would you let us know if you investigated the primary state school situation in Cesares? Would it be possible to drive him to school in Estapona or would it be too far. Thanks for any information you could give us about the Cesares area. We have a blog too at http://www.ourecuador.blogspot.com. All the best, Loretta


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