A lot of people from Girona ship out to the coast at the height of summer. This familiar annual migration creates sparsely populated neighbourhoods that are eerily quiet.
Some of the lucky few are fortunate to be able to make use of a property bought by their parents, or shared between the families.
Prices were so much cheaper and affordable back when the Peseta ruled. The unlucky ones make do with renting for a week or two. Holiday rentals generate a substantial income for owners, albeit for a short period, chiefly July and August.
Canny regulars are known to book the same place year after year to ensure they get their slice of the sun. Those of us looking for something last minute are often disappointed with what’s left.
We’ve done it in the past, and you can expect to pay 700 to 800€ for a 2-bed flat for 1 week. That’s not even on the seafront, those frontline properties are naturally the first to go.
The other great bugbear is car parking, which can be extra or as happened to us one year, meant parking a 5-10 minute walk away. If you’ve got pets like us then that narrows the field even more.
The vacation agony is also compounded by long traffic queues waiting to get into resorts too. The summer of 2021 may have seen less Brits but a large influx of Northern Europeans made the season a much better turnout than the year before.
Kids decamp to the coast when the summer term ends in late June, with mum and dad commuting into Girona daily. Places like St Antoni de Calonge are like Giron-by-the-sea as we always bump into someone we know 90% of the time when we just go there for a day.
A good many 2nd residence owners are stuck in their ways, and tend not to visit their places out of season, even when it’s fine weather. In the thick of winter, coastal towns are so quiet you begin to feel like the last person on Earth.
So, being British and used to cold, windswept, barren, grey-skied seaside places we decided on a bit of reverse psychology. Let’s rent a seaside flat or apartment for the winter period and see if we like it.
The good wife was also keen on living a more relaxed lifestyle, and as long as the internet connection was good enough, she could still work remotely. Oh, and we also needed a place which accepted dogs, as we have two.
Recovering economies seem to focus people’s minds on ways to earn extra money, especially after the Covid experiences of early 2020. Trawling the popular Spanish property websites like Idealista, or checking local Facebook groups yielded a few results. Our net was cast wide and we didn’t have a firm favourite location.
Anywhere like St Feliu de Guixols, L’Escala or Platja d’Aro would be okay. We also started asking people and friends we already knew, and we were offered a flat in L’Estartit.
I’d always admired the wide expanse of beach here and the ease of free parking just next to the beach itself. True, it doesn’t feel as posh as somewhere such as S’Agaró or Calella de Palafrugell, more like a poor relation.
L’Estartit is a little grittier, with few hairs and graces, happy to have sand kicked into its face.
So what did we get?
A cosy sunny 2nd floor flat with 2 bedrooms, 2 balconies, a 10 minute walk to the beach. The front balcony looks out onto a large campsite, closed for the season. It catches the sun for most of the day, has ample seating, a top spot for a morning coffee.
Being late October the walk into town is a largely lonely outing. We’re near a motorhome site so bump into the occasional winter tourist. I see a few French cars in town and hear a lot of French spoken. Hardly surprising as we’re so near the border, even restaurant menus have French translations-at the expense of English ones.
Walking haphazardly around it’s no surprise seeing so many shops and restaurants closed for the winter. But, a good few are still hawking their menu del dia which I’ll be reporting upon more. The town even has two Indian restaurants open all year-if you’re not from the UK this fact is a reassuring slice of home.
This solitude thing may take a while getting used to after having lived in a bustling, noisy Girona ‘barri’ (neighbourhood).
On the other hand the fun part of any new location is checking it out. Not just where to eat or shop, but good places for a coffee, or a sunset drink.
We’re here until June 2022 so I’ll be adding to the winter rental story periodically.