Leaving Torrevieja we came to one of the newest town on the coast – Orihuela Costa. As we drove down the hill the houses spread out before us. There were thousands. As I looked I didn’t feel that this was somewhere I could make home, it was so different to the Spain I knew and loved.
The Orihuela Costa is actually part of Orihuela city, some 20km away.
In the ‘70’s there was little there except farmland, a relatively new hotel and a few fisherman’s cottages on the seafront. Around two kilometres inland was the original La Zenia village where little detached single storey villas with small gardens were divided by the narrow streets, only one car wide. Orihuela city hall realised the potential to develop the land and establish a seafront town, cashing in on the explosion of northern European second home buyers. Unlike the villas in the north outside of the towns with large gardens, the whole town was built on a more traditionally Spanish basis, low rise apartments, townhouses with courtyards and a few larger detached houses with small gardens. The vast majority were built in communities with a shared garden and pool, not traditional but pools are expected by foreign buyers. The town grew in a somewhat higgledy-piggledy manner, giving it an air of not being planned at all!
There were different areas, reminding me a little of how the UK’s new towns were made, lots of towns within the town, but just not as organised! I learnt names of the areas; La Zenia, Cabo Roig, Playa Flamenca, Punta Prima, Los Altos, La Florida, Dehesa de Campoamor, Villamartin and Los Dolses. And the golf courses too – Villamartin, Las Ramblas, Campoamor and since then the new Las Collinas. There were open spaces, including a large natural area along Playa Flamenca seafront (sadly some of this will almost certainly be developed), and nothing, except in Dehesa de Campoamor, over five storeys, most only three or less. And in May, when we made our first visit, it was bustling.