I know for a fact, each of you has it: A magical place – a place you like to be, were you can come down, forget the stress and be yourself.
Now, I do not want to sound too esoterical here, my place – well our place – is called “Rota”. M. laughed out loud, when I shared this thought last night over dinner. I was not sure if he was laughing about me or at me or because he felt awkward – but his reaction supports my point exactly: everybody has his/her notion and definition of a magical place.
Since I have been a teenager I seem to be able to “connect” with places – or places with me, a link – not much about it – but the fact that I feel home where the link exists.
I got off the train at Gare de l’Est in Paris at age 16 and I knew that Paris and I would have a great love affair – and have had that affair ever since. I got off the plane at Tegel in the mid-80ies and I felt nothing but the urge to take the next flight home.
If you look “Rota” up on the Internet – you will not find anything particular attractive about it. You will learn that there is one of the biggest “Naval Bases” in Europe – actually occupying more land than the city of Rota itself.
If you “google-map” it, you will learn that it is located on the “Bahía de Cádiz” and within the so-called “Sherry Triangle” between: “Jerez de la Frontera”, “El Puerto de Santa Maria” and “Sanlúcar de la Barrameda”.
All things that would not particulary make you want to spend time here – until you get here. For me this place is:
- light and sunny
Most of it all – there is no mass tourism, well not to the degree you know from the Mediterranean, the Canary Islands or the Balearic Islands. (Nota Bene: The city of Rota depends on the tourism during the summer months).
Rota offers all you actually need – it has:
- a “Puerto Deportivo” from where the Catamaran commutes several times between “Rota” and “Cádiz”
- miles and miles and miles of sand beaches to a sea that shows a high water quality
- dunes at the Punta Candor with protected landscape
- a sea that deserves its name – the Atlantic sea with an impressive tidal range
- a perfect infrastructure to get you to and from Rota to all the important sites within 3 hours maximum by either car or train (AVE included)
- festivities (Noche de San Juan to only name one)
- small restaurants and bars
- great shopping infrastructure
- a healthy mix of smaller hotels and impressive four star places such as the Hotel Playa de la Luz
Manfred and I had celebrated our 25th anniversary in the “Hotel Playa de la Luz” three years ago, with 17 of our best friends – one of which came to me after two days saying:
I now know why you love it here – it has only been two days I am here, but I am as relaxed as if I had spent two weeks in this place.
No significant highrise buildings – and the urban flair still intact . There are concessions made to tourism but they have not blown Rota out of balance.
We have been here in April – benefitting from the Semana Santa and all the local festivities related to it, mostly in June ahead main season, but also in October.
Irrespective of the season of the year , Rota has its charme and knows how to win the traveller over without currying favor.
The inhabitants of Rota have my respect – as all towns in Spain, it was hit by the economic crisis, it was affected by the Americans abandoning Rota because Zapatero did not want to play President Bush’s puppy (like Aznar did) – but through all those years in which I had seen depression, small shops closing – I have also seen a positive attitude.
“Rota” – well mostly its inhabitants did not seem to pity themselves – the city administration ensured that travellers would not perceive town as “lost cause” above which the vultures were circling. A variety of activities were initiated:
- everybody had to paint his/her house white (this is a strategy that has made Lanzarote successful),
- streets were cleaned even more meticulously than before,
- the beach was kept in top condition
- parks and green areas were kept green and colourful with flowers and plants
- land was protected because it houses rare plants and animals
everything to retain and to attract visitors and to send the message: “even though the times are tough, we do something.”
When entering the city coming from Jerez, “Rota” greets you with an impressive “rotonda” with a huge and shiny “Villa de Rota” on it – a beacon sending the message “the glass is half full”.
I have prepared a picture page for those who would like to get an impression of “Rota”. Please note, that this is no comprehensive material, and only features objects along “our routes”.
You see new building development to your right (which actually progresses) and new streets making it even easier for the visitor to reach ones final destination – be it one of the hotels, or just the beach which if frequented by the inhabitants of “Jerez de la Frontera” but also by Sevillanos, who enjoy the week end by the sea.
All activies and investment seems to have paid back. There is a lot of city development activities in the outskirts of Rota. The Americans are back, there are new businesses downtown.
I think this positive attitude, not succombing to the “victim” – mode and to take things in your own hands – this is part of the “magic” of Rota.