I wrote this during my recent holiday to Javea, one of my favourite places!
First of all, I love this villa. The leafy canopies and lush views; the moss-strewn stone bench and the explosion of quivering flowers, fuchsia and cream, that line the slightly curving stairs. The pock-marked exterior, the verdant green that crowds your eyes. Montgo, Javea’s homely mountain, its elephant carving inspiring a vague kind of affection, faces me, shrouded in gently caressing cloud.
Grass sprawls either side, creeping up to meet the furiously rippling pool and skirting round past the Jacuzzi, whose bubbles burst, splatter and fleck the rustling rows of trees that crowd the outer limits of the villa. The owl hoots; the rooster croaks insistently. The bedrooms are perhaps too dark; the villa reminds me of a monastery lapsed into disuse. Remade, obviously, but the building’s historical remnants occasionally intrude: heavy wooden doors, a purposeless arch, a small inexplicable window that overlooks my room.
But more than anything, what I love is Javea itself. A town made up of three parts. I have been coming here for fifteen years, a few weeks at a time. Twenty seven weeks in total. There is the Arenal, sleekly classy and sophisticated, a playa named after Javea’s tennis star David Ferrer. Queued out Italian restaurants sit alongside dimly lit bars, with Oriental style decors and menus to match. Family friendly ice cream parlours with lime green chairs boast delectable, heaping sundaes, and bars, flecked with salt spray on stormy nights, gleam softly beneath orange lanterns. Arrive during the day and the beach is a swarm of hectic colour, children sprinting across impossibly hot sand, emerging from gloopy sandy swamps grinning and stained with muck. Impassive palm trees spread their shadows across pale sand; the seafront is a hub of activity – buckets, spades, crystallised drops of salty sea flying in the air. A set of slippery stairs lead to nowhere; pedalos are borne steadily across the glittering blue sea, ghostly jellyfish oscillating alongside.
But at night: there might be an outdoor cinema, the screen flapping in the wind. There might be an orange hued sky, transforming Montgo into a solid grey fortress. There might be a parade along the promenade, Spanish townspeople swaying to the rhythmic beat of the drum. Children still play on the beach, long after the sun has disappeared into a haze of tinted sky. But it is the playa that attracts attention now – the restaurants spilling onto the street, the endless stream of bars whose music drifts in the air, the jumble of stalls. Artisanal crafts and jewellery alongside ubiquitous cheap, summery bracelets; artsy fabrics and tie dye tops alongside patterned leather bags.
Then there is the port. A traditional fishing port, with a spectacular view. The steely glint of the sea as the horizon fades to a rose pink tinged with violet; the hazy mist that swathes the far-away mountain, dotted with villas in the puffy hills. A lighthouse stands, alone. There is a pebbly beach and the clattering, trickling rush as the sea froth darts out onto the shore. Lots of restaurants, too: even a rooftop dining experience from which you can survey the sweltering streets and the coast stretching out to Cala Blanca.
And, finally, the old town. The market stocked with an array of gutted fishes and succulent fruit and meat carcasses. The old church, intricately hewn from imposing stone, a hushed respect pervading from within its centuries-old walls. The streets are either rambling and cobbled, or neat and straight; pristine white walls adorned with terracotta flourishes and mismatched china, from which verdant greenery protrudes. Tapas bars are situated beneath shimmering fairy lights, nestled in the shadow of the church. An entire lane is decorated with wreaths of green, potted plants lining each step. A door is left open and you can see through the cool hallway into the courtyard at the back, a knotted tree snaking up to meet the roof. These houses are narrow, but perfect.
It is just a little corner of Spain, an admittedly popular corner, increasingly thronged by incoming tourists each year. There’s nothing to distinguish it from a million other resorts, but then there is everything. Everything you want from a holiday – whether it is devouring a book in the molten heat, or experiencing an authentic slice of traditional Spain – is here. Exquisite views, a plethora of delicious eateries and cocktail bars, its proximity to a host of charming Spanish seaside towns. Arriving in Javea is suffused with a reassuring sense of rightness that I have never yet met with in any new place. It is beautiful, and still continues to be fifteen years after our first arrival. It is a second home, and always will be.