When I first started travelling, it was in much the same way that the average person does; getting away once or twice a year, depending on what I could afford. Looking back on those days, of getting over to the Greek Islands twice a year, I realise that I lived for those holidays and I believe that many other people go through this feeling. When I took things a step further it changed my life in so many ways, that it has made me realise how each destination can affect us either subtly or sometimes in a very striking way. Travel and living abroad has changed my view of the world, my relationships, how I feel about people in general and it has also affected me creatively.
This article is about our connection to the sea and the benefits of being by the sea. I hope it will help you to connect with destinations that you’ve already been to, or to get you tuned into how the next destination may affect you. Each destination has its own energy and feeling, which can help us realise things about ourselves and if we wish, we can take a positive part of this energy from a place and make it our own. At the end, I have suggested a few fishing villages that I particularly like around this area.
A Change Is As Good As A Rest
As the old saying goes – “A Change Is As Good As A Rest” so when we go to a new place, or re-visit a favourite holiday destination, there is that opportunity to disconnect from the stress and routine that is part of many people’s 21st century lifestyle. Travel and subsequently living here on the border of Catalonia and the Valencian Community, has gradually triggered me to paint and write far more than I used to before.
It has helped me to see people with a more open mind, and has also helped me to accept that change, however difficult it may seem, is always a good thing – we just can’t always see it at the time. The sea has had a very powerful affect on me, so I wanted to investigate that. In some ways I think the sea and other parts of nature here have helped me to tap into parts of what is called our inner child – aspects of life that I loved as a child, but became hidden in adulthood.
Why Do So Many Of Us Gravitate To Be By The Sea?
The sea has a great attraction for so many people. It appears to have therapeutic properties for us. The results of one study by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health show that being by the sea is more likely to create feelings of well-being, although researchers can’t draw definite conclusions as to why this happens.
It is thought that we respond positively to how light plays on the sea water, as well as to the sounds of the sea. It may also be connected with our inherent expectations of health benefits from being by the sea. Of course a percentage of us may have good childhood memories of seaside holidays.
Healthy Negative Ions
I love being by the sea and swimming in it, I have never been a huge fan of chemically controlled holiday resort swimming pools. I feel quite different when I am by the sea, but why is this? The air by the sea is scientifically known to be full of healthy negative ions. These balance our serotonin levels (the happiness hormone) and they also help us to absorb more oxygen. All of us contributes to making us feel more relaxed and less stressed, so this is a valid reason for why we choose holiday destinations that are by the sea.
Traditional Fishing Villages
But taking it a step further, what type of seaside destination do you gravitate towards, and why? Would you ideally choose to go to the most luxurious resorts that can be found around the world, or do you connect more with traditional fishing villages, like I do? Although I do appreciate some of the most exotic, luxurious destinations, I realise that I have almost always gravitated towards towns or villages that have a history of living off the sea.
How do places like this affect me? I would say that I find the energy of the people who have depended on the sea for generations, that spills over into the environment, is something that I can respect and connect with more, than the energy one may feel in resorts that are entirely created for tourism. The light, the simple beauty and this energy have inspired me to paint, to write and to consider the lives of traditional fishermen and their families.
Being a city girl, from Dublin, I would never have thought about these things much before. Has it made me a better person, who knows? But I will still go to the seaside if I need to improve my mood, feel good or to get inspiration, if it is lacking.
Here are a few ideas of villages and towns like this around me here, and I will add to these as I put more onto the blog:
Les Cases d’Alcanar – just over the border to Catalonia, you’ll find the charming fishing village that grew around its tower, which was built to protect the coast from pirates.
Vinaros – the capital of the Baix Maestrat region, this is a bigger town with a lovely promenade and a working port.
Sant Carles de la Rapita – on the edge of the Delta de l’Ebre, it has been a popular tourist town for quite a long time with the Spanish and some foreigners.
Benicassim – originally a fishing and agricultural village, this town drew the wealthy to it in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who built lovely period villas, that you can see along the promenade.
Benicarlo – the entrance to this town is nothing to write home about, but it has a lovely old quarter, a port and good beaches. It’s famous for its artichoke production.
Peniscola – this town can be seen from quite a distance as the old walled town and the Knights Templar Castle stand out on a promontory.