In late September, when the heat of July and August has subsided a little, the character of Vera Playa changes and quietens down from the summer buzz of holidaymakers, the traffic and the full restaurants. This is when the snowbirds, the grey rinse brigade, the “semigrants”, call them what you will, arrive to escape the winter in northern Europe.
Daytime temperatures in the low 20s throughout the winter months attract naturists from the UK, Holland, Germany, France and even the Scandinavian countries to travel thousands of miles for the warmth and the beautiful light that we experience here in Southern Spain. It is possible to sunbathe from about 11am until 5pm on most days and it doesn?t get dark until 6pm at the winter solstice, which is a great improvement on the UK.
So what would you do here all winter apart from sunbathe?
Well, you can learn Spanish for a start. Vera council runs free Spanish classes for immigrants. You attend twice a week for approximately 2 hours a lesson. It is no problem if you have to return to your homeland for a few days or weeks, you just go and then slot back into the class when you return. The brief of the teachers is to integrate you into the community, so, not only do you get language tuition, they also take you out to visit places of local interest and bring you up to speed on all the local fiestas and cultural events. With them we have visited Belens (local model nativity scenes that are part and parcel of the Spanish Christmas), local peace rallies, been to vineyards in the Alpujarras and a fiesta in the hills with a giant paella and dancing for everyone, to name but a few events. Through them we have got to know about and have been to see cultural events in Vera such as the Bolshoi Ballet, the Chinese State Circus, musical concerts and Book Fairs.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants open all winter in the naturist zone and in the surrounding area, although two of the most popular, Tigger’s (noe Ina’s) and Benito’s both close in the winter. Tigger’s, from October until Easter, and Benitos from about November until February. Well, I suppose they are entitled to their holidays as well!
The popularity of different bars varies from year to year but you can normally find a crowd out for sundowners and tapas if you want company. Newcomers are always made welcome, as in any naturist community.
If you like sport, there are several good golf courses in the surrounding area. There are indoor heated swimming pools on three of the naturist urbanisations, Vera Natura, Bahia de Vera and Torremar Natura and, on La Menara, they do heat their pool in the winter, although it is outside. There are tennis courts with professional coaches to teach you tennis nearby and a sports complex at Puerto Rey a couple of kilometres away.
There are several groups that go out walking regularly in the surrounding area so there is always one that is the right length for you and it is an ideal way to meet people.
Many of the men enjoy fishing in the sea (you need a license from the council) and even occasionally catch something!
The Sierra Nevadas are Spain’s top skiing resort. They are only just over two hours away by car near Granada. While you are in the area you can visit the Alhambra Palace, go Christmas shopping in Granada and see the fabulous Christmas lights. (Oxford Street and Blackpool eat you heart out!)
Weekly events nearer to home in the Naturist “village” include Sunday boules competitions, “stitch and bitch” (a group that gets together to do handicrafts) and quiz nights. There is a lace-making group in Turre that many ladies attend on Wednesdays and there are several art and card making classes in the local textile area if you like to be creative.
Just after Christmas the local naturist community organises a concert in aid of Asprodalba, a local Home for disabled people. This is normally a themed revue of local talent singing, dancing and performing sketches and afterwards everyone gets up to dance to one of the local bands. It is amazing how many people have hidden talents and enjoy performing. Rehearsals become more frequent as the day draws near as everyone perfects their act. Other events, like bar-b-cues, throughout the year, also raise money for the same charity.
If you like exploring the local countryside there are plenty of places to visit where you get more of the Spanish atmosphere than you may get on the coast.
The scenery can be spectacular in the mountains and there are lots of the little villages are worth a look. Many of these villages, like Lubrin where we now live, have local fiestas in the winter months.
Lubrin holds its first fiesta of the winter in October with a food competition. It starts on the Friday and Saturday nights with bands performing in the local square. The groups don’t usually start until about 11pm and go on until about 6 in the morning! Local woman cook regional dishes on the Sunday morning and, after the judging, this food is then served to the locals as tapas. It certainly helps if you know the locals as the Spanish really don’t know how to queue!
On New Year’s Eve the local Mayor provides free Cava and grapes to welcome in the New Year. It is traditional to eat 12 grapes as the clock is chiming at midnight, one for each chime. If you manage to do it (I have given up trying!) it is said to bring you good luck throughout the New Year. Then the dancing begins!!
The third fiesta in Lubrin, is a nationally recognise three day event which attracts people from all over Spain. It is held on the 18-21st of January and is the Fiesta of San Sebastian or Bread Festival. The main event of this fiesta is when locals carry an effigy of San Sebastian adorned with bread rings through the narrow streets of the town. While it is passing the crowds throng around and locals throw bread rings to them from balconies, windows and roofs. You can imagine the mayhem! Afterwards, when it has all calmed down the locals set up tables in the square and have a meal together. And then we are back to dancing again!!
So you can see that if you want to be involved you can be. In fact sometimes it is hard to find the time to sunbathe!
This article is reproduced here by kind permission of Sallie and Stuart at www.sallieandstuarts.com