Tomorrow I’m moving out of the most beautiful flat I’ve ever lived.
I chose this place solo when my husband was back in the UK for a few months. We had spent 5 months tried to sort out temporary residency in Spain as part of our ExitBeforeBrexit plan and kept coming a-cropper with bureaucracy as the Airbnb we first moved to and later extended into a long stay didn’t actually officially exist and so we couldn’t get empadronamiento.
After successive forms, inspections, pleading, attempting to get my landlord to sign the right forms and getting stonewalled. I was running out of money to apply for Residencia (We needed €8k in my account to prove we were self-sufficient). Time was running out pre-Brexit and I decided to move to somewhere without these complications.
Our old place was cute but very much a holiday let, this would be a proper flat.
I knew I wanted to stay in the Albaycín, I’d already fallen in love with its cobbled streets and incredible views from every mirador. Yes, it would be cheaper to live in the city but if I was going to be in Spain on my own for while I wanted to be in the Albaycín and wake up to these views every day.
So, on viewing Casa del Viento on Calle Pilar Seco, I found a beautiful old whitewashed building with some original wells in the ground floor entrance hall. Up two flights of tiny spiral stairs lead to an open plan living room which to be honest was small and nothing special.
But it had a second bedroom my husband could use as a music studio and cute little Juliet balconies onto the park below, El Huerto del Carlos – I know as stoners park but it is actually a great place where the world congregates – street musicians practice, flamencos play, people do get stoned, but also tourists look lost, old folk take a walk and kids play.
Going upstairs is probably the tiniest little bedroom with half a wardrobe, no matter I don’t have that many clothes anymore. But it opens up onto a 20m sun terrace with views of the Alhambra and the entire city. Yes, there is a huge crane obscuring some of the view but wow. You can see the snow-capped mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the sun-soaked entire city below.
The owner looked at my reaction and something like ‘if you think it’s nice now, wait until the evening it is magical’.
Spoiler – she wasn’t wrong!
But there’s more. Attached to the flat is a walled garden, something out of My Secret Garden. Full of trees and plants, a pizza oven and BBQ and most importantly shade. I was sold.
I crossed my fingers tight my husband would like it and committed there and then to taking it.
That was almost a year ago. And since then I’ve spent so much time in that garden working in the shade.
When my husband finally returned in September, he loved it as much as I did. We said weren’t going to buy any more stuff after getting rid of most of our possessions when we left London, but I was convinced to get a BBQ. And by god have we used it.
We’ve had so much fun on this terrace, waking up to hear the birds sing over coffee in the morning, having friends and family over for many a BBQ and watching the sun set at golden hour here is everything.
And by night wow. I can’t capture the images in a way that will do it justice. But when the sky is clear, and the stars are out and the moon shining, the Alhambra is illuminated, the cobbled streets of the Albaycín are lit up and you can see the twinkling city lights below and hear a humm of music from the square, it really is magic.
For the first month, every night around 10pm I could hear the most incredible flamenco voice waft through the hills. I tried to find out which tablao the music was coming from and only later realised it was the Lorca y La Pasión from Generalife I could hear each night. Just the best flamenco production in the world playing outdoor concerts from the other side of the valley as my soundtrack each night.
Tomorrow we move to Madrid, we’re excited about city living again and all the opportunities it provides but really think this is likely to be the most beautiful place we’ve ever lived and probably ever will.
Tonight, Spain is open again. There is some sort of family celebration in the garden below, the park opposite is once again abuzz with people in small groups, soaking up the final rays of golden hour, playing a little guitar, drinking, smoking, fire juggling…
I’m conscious I missed the very worst of this crisis being in my Caribbean bubble, but I will be in Spain to witness and support the careful reopening of this beautiful country and spend my pennies supporting the many businesses that need it.