I had such high hopes for Cullera. It looked just perfect for us from the pictures and videos that I had seen. This was destined to be our next home, I was positive. Just to be sure though, we decided to take the four hour train to Valencia from Seville to check it out. Our lease is up in a month and we were getting itchy bums. Seville can be brutal in the summer with temperatures reaching over 110 degrees, sometimes more. Muggy too. The desire to be closer to water came on strong. Our first summer here had been dry and we often wondered why people complained. Now we know.
Cullera is a 35 minute train ride from the city of Valencia. It sounded idyllic. We could come into the city and still be by the seaside. Once we had decided on Cullera, we didn’t bother looking for places in the city itself which was mistake number one! Valencia Nord station was just a few minutes walk from our AirBnB apartment. The ride itself was uneventful and the landscape extremely boring and yes..bleak. By the time the train stopped at the station, we were both having misgivings about living there. There was not a cab in sight at the station, just a bus. We hopped on, along with 3 other people. The ride took roughly 15 minutes and there was really no life that we saw the whole way. We just chucked it up to siesta time.The hotel was a further 15 minute walk in the frigging cold. A freak Siberian cold front had brought snow to many places in Spain, including Valencia.
The hotel restaurant had closed for lunch by the time we arrived. The receptionist confirmed what we already knew. No place was open. We could order Tele Pizza and have them deliver but we were so hungry, she called up to the restaurant to see if they had any food left. Duck paella! We said yes and went upstairs. Even though we were grateful they fed us, we ended up paying $47 for 2 plates of rice (you couldn’t find duck on my plate with a microscope, plenty of artichokes though ;-) .. and Federico had one tiny piece in his), 1 bottle of water, 1 dessert pudding and a salad!!!! We ate a lot of pizza the rest of the time.
Thrilled Cullera Disappointed. Here’s why:
We got to see how the town is eight months out of the year. A ghost town. I think we saw 10 people the whole time apart from the other suckers at the hotel like us (not many). It was eerie walking along the beach and just seeing one lit flat out of hundreds and hundreds. What would happen if you got stuck in the elevator? You’d be dead before they found you ;-). Had we moved without checking it out like we did for Malaga, I would probably have killed myself after a few days. Dramatic l know..but..yikes! It is a gorgeous place though. Reminds me of Miami. It’s just not for us. Madrillenos go there for the summer and lock up for the winter. Both supermarkets in the area also close for winter, as were all the restaurants. We managed to find one lady with a small bar who served us bread and butter after a 25 minute walk. The 4 patrons inside were hitting the hard liquor at 11AM!!! I would probably be doing the same if l lived there.. ;-).
The last evening, we decided to just keep walking along the beach because the receptionist said there would be restaurants open on a Friday night. Nope!!! Amazingly we saw a Burger King 40 minutes later and had young kids from the pueblo (about a further 2 miles out) on dates. We almost gave up and went in when we asked a lady walking her dog who first laughed knowingly, then pointed down the street to an open restaurant.
It was worth the walk. The restaurant turned out to be very good. The tapas were delicious. The wine was cheap. There was no paella though. The owner said it wasn’t worth making since they had very few customers.
One takeaway from the whole experience is that we dodged a bullet. We would have been miserable in the winter there and definitely would have been just as miserable in the summer. It was obvious to me that it would be invaded by holiday makers and summers would be extremely loud. I guess l pictured it would be more like Malta where it got crazy in the summer, but it was still populated in the winter with locals. Even though this wasted some money, it was not quite a travel fail :-)
We are still undecided. We did spend the last day in the city of Valencia itself and both loved it, and will write about that in the next post. Now, it’s in the running again and we most likely will make another run to check out places. Bah!!! Thinking back, we should have just forfeited the prepaid hotel and checked out the city. Hindsight ;-) . We are torn between staying another year in Seville (Federico more than me because it’s easier) , taking a chance on Valencia (me, but he is warming to the idea now. The food is awesome and we have to move from the house anyway so why not there?!!!) or moving away from Spain entirely (Him more than me. There are still so many places l want to visit in Spain. I vowed this year as the year we discover our backyard).
Any advice for us? What would you do? Play it safe and stay?..or scratch the itch and go?