Tue 30 May 2023
Local News | From Denmark to Llíber, with love! A family adventure.
From Denmark to Llíber with love!
Located in the beautiful Vall de Pop region in the Marina Alta, is the picture postcard village of Llíber. The village has a fascinating, demographic history going back centuries. More recently, there has been a huge influx in the number of foreign buyers in the housing market here. The Marina Alta is a perfect place for those wishing to buy their dream home in Spain, whether it is a permanent home, or a second home.
Here at Jacaranda Spain, we were recently, lucky enough, to be introduced to a couple, who were among the first foreign buyers in Llíber. Their story is a shining example of how this beautiful corner of Spain can draw you in and make you not want to leave.
Vibeke Lehn is a journalist and a published, food stylist. Her husband of 51 years, Jorgen (Jorn) Moller Andersen, had an advertising agency, until he retired eight years ago, and still works freelance. The couple hail from Denmark and live in Fredensborg, home of the Queen of Denmark. They also own a much loved house in the North of Denmark where they spend family holidays. This fascinating couple are adventurers with a passion for travel and culture. Their travels have taken them all over the world and they have some amazing stories to tell.
Vibeke and Jorn´s paths collided when they met through a joint work assignment. They share a love of art, culture and a deep-rooted wanderlust. They were married in 1972 and a few years later, during their travels in Spain, they came across a tiny Spanish pueblo called Llíber, in the Marina Alta, a comarker in the autonomous community of Valencia. Vibeke and Jorn fell in love again... with Llíber! They decided to make a second home in this beautiful, quintessential, Spanish village. They chose to invest their hard earned cash in a casa de pueblo (townhouse) right next to the Church of Sant Cosme i Damian, in the Central Plaza. That was the beginning of years of joyous family holidays in a home that would prove to be a haven for them.
At that time, there was only one other family of foreign residents. They were not to know that would change quite radically. To date around 50% of the population of the pueblo are foreign expats. The local people have embraced the changing demographic with enthusiasm. Most of the younger generation speak English now, but the townhall offers free Spanish lessons to those "extranjeros" who want to integrate with their fellow, native Lliberians of all ages.
In 1978 Jorn and Vibeke had the deeds to their beautiful townhouse and made the journey with their daughter and a car, packed with things to put in their new Spanish home.
Vibeke lights up when she recalls the local people coming into the house to introduce themselves on their arrival. She recalls how they were fascinated by these new, strange people from Denmark! "They were so friendly and welcoming. We spoke no Spanish so we had to communicate in other ways. Mostly they were just amazed by the curtains (the local folk didn´t have curtains) and paintings we brought with us". Both Vibeke and Jorn went back to Denmark with a keen interest in learning to speak Spanish. Indeed, at that time it was a necessity because none of the local residents spoke English, let alone Danish! They enlisted the help of a Spanish language teacher* and, on their return, were not only able to communicate, but have made friends that they will hold dear for a lifetime.
That was 45 years ago and it was a decision that has rewarded them in spades. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year and travelled back to Llíber to celebrate the marriage of their daughter in September of this year, at the "Maslapau Country Hotel and Spa" in Llíber.
Vibeke and Jorn returned as often as their work commitments would allow and, aside from a few minor home improvements, they vowed to keep this charming townhouse exactly as it was when they moved in. The walls are whitewashed, the living spaces are cozy and separated by stone steps, alcoves and decorative ironwork.
There are solid wood beamed ceilings, terracotta floor tiles, coloured wall tiles, all authentic Spanish features. There is even a feeding manger dating back to when the donkeys lived in the houses with the families!
The outside living spaces are rustic and beautiful. There is a patio area with views across the town and on to the vineyards. To the rear of the property there is an arched portico, previously used for storage and housing animals. This is now where the summer kitchen is, where their Spanish neighbours came to prepare a paella for them to welcome them to the village. For most foreign buyers of townhouses, this could be converted into guest accomodation, even a potential Airbnb rental. But that would be a real shame.
The reform of old rustic features will sell a house like this, quicker than a flight back to Denmark. However, this charming little townhouse won´t be coming on the market. It is a treasure trove of wonderful memories for this lovely Danish couple, who have passed on a passion for Llíber to their daughter and her family.
Here, at Jacaranda Spain, we couldn´t be happier NOT to list a house! This beautiful pueblo is no longer what it was back when Jorn and Vibeke fell in love with it. It has grown and developed into a melting pot of nationalities. Yet, it has retained its tradition, culture, agriculture and festivals. The foreigners (or extranjeros as they refer to us), encourage and admire the native residents and their ways, and seek only to continue it and keep it sacred. For Vibeke and Jorn, their daughter and her children, the adventure is... to be continued!
*Incidentally, the aforementioned Spanish teacher, turned out to have recently acquired a property in Spain. Vibeke and Jorn could scarcely believe, it was in... LLÍBER! As if that wasn´t enough of a coincidence, she also turned out to be the only other Danish person we had met, and became firm friends with, in our time here. Kirsten aka Cristina was a beautiful lady who sadly passed away a few years ago. It is indeed, a very small world, and when this twist of fate came to light, we all raised a glass to our dear friend, Kirsten!
This is a story, not to sell property, but to share with our friends a happy journey, that should remind those of us lucky enough to live here in the "Jalon Valley", that we are truly blessed.