I’ve always been fascinated by Spain, with its unhurried pace…warm people…and colorful history. So a year ago I spent several months traveling from the medieval villages of Girona in the northeast, down to the windswept beaches and emerging surf towns of the southwest.
Along the way I stopped in cosmopolitan cities like Barcelona and Valencia, where the wealth, culture, history, and gastronomy is enough to make your head spin.
I toured the famous pueblos blancos (white villages) of Andalucia…hiked through stunning mountain scenery…cooled off in lakes and rivers…and explored the deserted beaches of the Cabo de Gata national park.
Everywhere I went, I found people determined to put fun first, whether it was a simple gathering of friends with plenty of music and singing, or a full-blown fiesta—a celebration that lasts for several days and includes street parties, concerts, competitions, and fairgrounds.
Although certain fiestas like the bull running in Pamplona, and the tomato-throwing party in Valencia are internationally renowned, every town and village in Spain celebrates its own.
It is this love of life that made me decide to put down roots here. It’s a place where people instinctively slow down and enjoy the simple things in life: long lazy lunches, walks in the countryside, time spent with family and friends—these are the priorities in Spain.
Ultimately, I settled on the small Mediterranean island of Menorca—the quieter, lesser-known sister of the glitzy party islands of Mallorca and Ibiza. It has a sizeable international community, and all the modern amenities you could want: good roads, reliable telecommunications, excellent hospitals, and superb restaurants.
Property prices remain 20% to 25% lower here than on neighboring islands. I pay just $450 per month to rent a quaint little two-bedroom house in the countryside, with a garden. A 10-minute drive in one direction takes me to the town center, and five minutes in the other direction takes me to a dozen different swimming spots.
The mid-afternoon siesta is still widely practiced: you’ll often find shops close between lunchtime and 5 p.m., when people enjoy a leisurely midday meal, followed by a nap during the hottest hours of the day.
Eating out is particularly good value at lunch time, when most restaurants offer the menu del dia—a set menu with three choices of appetiser, three entrees, and three or four desserts, plus wine or beer, water and coffee—all for $12 to $15.
During the summer, stores in the main town will remain open until midnight one night per week. Local bands will set up in the squares and residents and visitors can shop, enjoy a glass of local wine and tapas, and listen to live music.
In the cooler months, an ancient footpath that hugs the entire coast provides ample opportunities for walking, hiking or mountain biking and—when the nights draw in—the local opera house has a full and varied programme of performances, the local cinema screens international movies, and numerous artists exhibit their work at local galleries.
I’m settled into life as a self-employed copywriter, specializing in travel and hospitality. I blog for cruise ship companies, write copy for hotel and resort websites, and have just landed an on-going assignment with an independent, small-group travel company. It means that even when I am not travelling myself, I am thinking, researching, and writing about new destinations.
For simplicity and a life more in tune with nature, this is hard to beat. There are no bright lights, or big city, but it’s a happy compromise between a rural experience and the frenetic pace of urban life.
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