Part 2 - Hello Spain!
Part 2 - Hello Spain!
As planned, we arrived after a seven-and-a-half-hour drive along motorways that shame our own, at our hotel in Denia. A charming little place that we can honestly recommend. Lovely staff (not all English speaking), comfortable accommodation, realistically priced and breakfast in their garden terrace is just a top treat! But again, I get ahead of myself! It’s the excitement of it all don’t you know! Yes, we are still excited to be here in this beautiful and largely unsung area of Spain. But what I wanted to say was this: try not to get carried away with the excitement of moving straight into your new “For Sale by Sally in Spain” villa or apartment. It is seriously worth considering booking into an hotel in the locale when you first arrive, just for a few days. It means that you are not immediately rushing to unpack cases and boxes and, arguably more importantly, gives you a few days to acclimatise and find your way around the local amenities, shops, stores, and suchlike. It also makes for a smoother and less stressful arrival of your goods and chattels from the UK. We did just this and didn’t regret it.
As previously mentioned, we brought our left-hand-drive, UK registered car over with us. Second-hand vehicles here are surprisingly expensive, to the point where a new car can cost less than 10% more than its second-hand counterpart! The days of the ubiquitous Spanish ‘banger’ are long gone! If you buy new, you will find the dealers very helpful, and they will arrange every piece of paper that you need to be legally on the road with your new vehicle. You do need a good ‘Gestor’ if you decide to buy second hand. It is not an easy process. If you bring your own car, then re-registering it, importing it, arranging engineers’ inspection, ITV, road tax etcetera is, again best done with a recommended Spanish legal chap/chapess and it can take some time. Ours took five and a half months! But with the right pieces of paper again, the Guardia generally leave you alone in your UK plated car because they are very aware that it is their own ‘Traffico’ that is largely to blame! This is where the extensive experience and dedication to service of Sally and the team are invaluable.
So where was I before my little grey cells went off on a tangent? Oh yes, welcome to Spain. The Gandia area is very much Spanish. This is not Marbella (thank goodness we say). The local people are very friendly. If you try to speak to them in Spanish, they will really try to understand and speak their little English to help. In our opinion, the fact that this area has not seen mass overseas tourism and has a smaller contingent of UK, Dutch, German, Scandinavian ex-Pats, has resulted in the local people being more welcoming and less reserved. Doing a little homework and learning just some basic Spanish before you arrive will pay dividends. The exception being officialdom, where we feel that many of the Spanish front of house folks went to the same training school as many of their British counterparts. But they passed with higher scores for being awkward, slow and at times (personal experience) downright unhelpful! Interestingly, our first visit to the Town Hall or ‘Adjuntamente’ was an absolute disaster because what little Spanish I spoke meant that the responses were delivered with the speed of a Gatling gun and with a “computer says, No,” outlook. Having improved a little in the months that we have been here, our latest foray for our Padron (local ‘we are here’ certificate) was surprisingly easy and convivial. So, a little does go a long way! But hey, fear not guys, because the Sally in Spain crew have many contacts and referrals that really will help you settle and you’ll find that those of us who are finding/have found their feet, are very approachable and helpful too. And if we can’t help or don’t know, we just ring Sally or Harry!
Overall, our induction to the Gandia way of life has been a joy. The weather is delightful. It rarely gets silly hot, and the seasons are definitely in place. Right now, we have log fires in the evenings but sat on the beach for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon! There are so many lovely places to visit in the area and the U3A (University of the Third Age) has much to offer from guitar club to Line Dancing, all in your own language! We love it. We’re staying!
Part 3: Wolfie arrives! – coming next month.