Seventy Years Old in Spain
Part 9: Setente años en Espana - (Seventy years old in Spain!)
Yes, that number seen for so long as in the dim and distant future seems to have arrived all too quickly. Some eighteen months after we arrived here in Gandia I awoke with the arrival of three score years and ten! Well, almost as I awoke at about eight o clock and wasn’t born until ten o clock, but let’s not get pedantic eh! And now a week or so later and I’m kinda getting used to the idea that, actually, I don’t feel any different to the day before when I was only sixty-nine, I thought that there will be many ‘newbies’ in Spain or folks thinking of retiring to Spain who will also be sharing my substantially exaggerated real age of around thirty-nine! So, I thought it may be useful to know what it feels like to be a septuagenarian in Spain.
Well for a start it’s a damn site kinder to the aches and pains that didn’t exist ten years ago but seem to proliferate at the slightest excuse now! I’m convinced that to a certain degree it is psychological too. The fact that you can wear lighter clothes for a much larger proportion of the year and walk somewhat more ‘unfettered’ just has to be more pleasant, therefore psychologically more positive than in the UK. Sitting down on the Grau waterfront with a beer or cocktail, stroking your dog and chatting to your wife, or vice-versa, wearing nothing heavier than slacks and a shirt, sleeves rolled up displaying at least some of the tan accumulated up until a month or so ago, cannot be underestimated as a (ahem) more senior citizen. Feeling the last rays of the sun be replaced by the night lights, yet still feeling comfortable is an unending joy. No rushing off to grab jackets and coats. There is time. And time becomes ever more important to those of us who are, shall we say, nearer the finishing tape than the start line!
Your home over here seems to follow the seasons well. Obviously, they are primarily designed to deal with the summer heat and with the availability of air-conditioning are more comfortable than they have ever been. But as the seasons revolve, they take on other aspects. As the nights creep in more quickly (the clocks change tonight actually), sitting on the terrace or balcony becomes a comfortable evening occupation and all the solar lighting you installed can be enjoyed much earlier and for longer. Your latent luminary artistic tendencies become apparent …… or not, as the case may be. Most piscinas’ light up and become a very different visual attraction than just water. The advent of LED solar powered lighting has brought a whole new dimension to garden and terrace design.
Another great pleasure is of course the fact that, with a little care, you can still afford to eat out fairly frequently here. Having just returned from a fortnight catching up with the reli’s in the UK, we were shocked at the cost of eating out there now. Of course, it can be expensive here too, but it doesn’t have to be and we’re certainly not paying £6 a pint in the average pub! Quite often you don’t really want a huge meal either and the traditional tapas fills the part ideally. No, it’s not how it used to be with dishes costing sometimes not more than 1 euro, but good value nonetheless and a couple of dishes is a tasty and adequately filling meal.
It's very easy getting around in the Gandia area with so many places to visit and activities to partake. One of the arguably most useful ones being the U3A (University of the Third Age). It costs a paltry 5 euros a year to belong to the organisation and most activities are free of charge, with those that do carry a cost never being more than about 5 euros. Everything from learning Spanish or playing guitar to Ladies Self Defence or Cake making are available and you don’t have to travel far to enjoy them. We go to Oliva a couple of times a week to groups, just 20 minutes down the road by car.
Talking of cars, parking is a dream in general. We are so used to paying £££’s to park in the UK. Very often in this area, parking can be free, but where there are charges they are very reasonable and you can park for an evening while you enjoy a meal or drinks and find that the cost when you return is a matter of cents!
But do you know what? The biggest thing of all is just the overall atmosphere and joy of life her in Gandia. A lovely, proper Spanish town populated by helpful and kind locals, lots of cafes, restaurants and bars, culture and art with parking never far away. You can be as busy or as quiet as you want to be. At seventy, you can live the life you want. Enjoy!