On one of my birthdays, which traditionally I (prefer) not to celebrate, I was in Majorca. My romantic better half had chosen Calla st Vincenç as home base for this time, located by the sea and close to the Tramuntana Mountains. Beautiful walks, (sometimes literally) breathtaking racing bike rides, bobbing in the sea and in the evening on a terrace with tapas and copas among the Spaniards (and unfortunately a handful of noisy English). By now we were totally hooked on the Spanish way of life.
An old and dilapidated but beautiful house sowed a small plant in our minds. The little plant became a plan. Living in Spain. Not a dream for later but a different life within a short period of time.
The island seemed a bit limited to us and also turned out to be pricey. The mainland needed research.
My next birthdays took us to Seville, Ronda, Barcelona and Valencia. A camper vacation (with all our children) to the Basque Country and a camping vacation in l'Estartit (Costa Brava) made it clear that this was not our region. Nature did not make our hearts beat faster. The waves in the Basque Country did (too much to my taste) but those of the Costa Brava, well, a surfer doesn't come out of his bed for that! At home, my love made a thorough study of our wish list: near mountains and sea (for surfing!), a bit of a sea climate, summers that are not too hot, no Dutch enclave but the authentic Spain, and a green environment. There was a region that had all this to offer: the Guadalhorse in Andalusia. Fresh green valleys surrounded by majestic mountains, cute villages with winding roads and white houses. With as extra features:
Snowboarding on an early morning and later that day in your bikini on the beach.
The heartfelt encouragement from the Spaniards after your first stammering order in Spanish to just keep trying.
The respect with which you are treated as a cyclist, and the great circumspection of passing cars.
The reliability and hospitality for which the Andalusians are known.