Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Outdoor Sports Facilities in Vilanova

Vilanova i la Geltrú is far from perfect. Only in the quarters of la Geltrú are streets preserved in a way so that tourists will perceive the town as “genuinely Mediterranean”. Huge construction sites in the middle of the centre reinforce the town’s old industrial reputation. With the nature and climate we enjoy here, it is easy to picture a more attractive scenario.

I often have my doubts about how our local authorities prioritize different projects and I am repeatedly disappointed with the time it takes to finalize them. However, when you follow the political debate, you will find out that all local parties have advanced plans for how to improve the quality of life here and I like the idea of living in a town in development. Like elsewhere in Spain, much energy is spent on finding ways to attract quality tourism, but we have very tough competition. Barcelona will always beat us on culture and art. Costa Brava and Sitges have much more attractive beaches and Vilafranca del Penedès easily comes out on top for rural tourism. My recommendation for Vilanova is to focus the resources available where we have the chance to be the best – outdoor sports.

Summer is here and the air is getting more humid by the day. My wife has decided that it is too warm for jogging but I still appreciate to go for a run. Vilanova’s beach promenade is lively throughout the evening and well-illuminated so there is little danger in going out after the sun has set. Running and walking are outdoor sports where Vilanova already does very well. As if the local authorities were aware of that, they have built a number of workout stations along the beach with pictures showing how they are intended to be used. To add value to a good thing which already exists usually is a cost efficient development strategy.

Vilanova has a beautiful marina. It is dominated by small boats and until now I have been prejudiced enough to think that this is because rich people prefer to show off their yachts in more prestigious places. Last weekend, however, did our local newspaper make me understand that only with the opening of the new part of the marina will Vilanova meet the technical requirements of big boats. The port authority is working with a plan to create one of the best yacht service areas in the Mediterranean. I will be happy to follow their progess.

Already today do they offer sailing courses, an alternative for those who do not have capital to invest in their own boats. Since I easily get sea sick, I am not in a hurry to learn to sail, but if one day in the future our children would be interested, I will be fast to accept the challenge. I could think of much more boring places to spend time with my children than at the marina and the sea.

In a coastal town like this, you will expect to find football goals and beach volleyball nets on the beach and so you do in Vilanova but, unfortunately, with quite poor quality standards. The basket ball and football playgrounds you find around the platja de Ribes Roges would also need more maintenance, but this does not seem to put of the crowds of young people, many of them immigrants, who regularly make use of them. The area for petanca is sadly underused, though. I wonder if it is the young people close by or the high weeds that scare away potential players.

There is a 18 hole golf course in the north of Vilanova, close to the camping site, and as of what I have heard it is not too bad. I keep my clubs next to the computer to be reminded that there was a time when I had decided to take up this sport but, for now, with small children, we have to make do with less time consuming sports. My wife has played since she was young, so as often in ball games, it is me who is the weakest link.

Finally, my best recommendation to local politicians who want to gain quality vistors is to focus on cycling. Already today can the tourist information office provide you with a map of proposed tracks, what remains to be done is to improve the road and safety conditions for bikers. Some of the municipalities of the Garraf district have already started the work to build separate bike lanes. If these can be linked together in a proper way, they will create a fantastic network for tourists who want to go by bicycle and explore different beaches, from Sitges to Cubelles. I hope that our local politicians understand the potential gains of these relatively modest investments. They would benefit the whole of Garraf, but most of all Vilanova, by linking us to our more picturesque neighbours.

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