Torrevieja and neighbouring Orihuela Costa enjoy some of the finest weather in Spain and are extremely popular areas for expats from the United Kingdom, Ireland and northern Europe. Indeed, many people from these countries choose to retire here for a number of reasons. The mild climate and nearby salt lakes are beneficial for many ailments such as asthma and arthritis, and with over 320 days of sunshine per year there is ample opportunity to enjoy some moderate exercise such as lawn bowls, petanca, golf and tennis. The cost of living and housing are very reasonable and there is a lively social scene for middle age and elderly people.
Petanca or petanque is a form of boules that is similar to the English lawn bowls and curling, where the object of the game is to is to throw steel balls as close as possible to a smaller wooden ball or ”jack” It is a very popular sport here, especially with residents from northern Europe and although it can sometimes be competitive, it is usually played more as a hobby and a way to socialise. It seems wherever there is a spare plot of dirt or gravel, someone will construct a petanca court which can be done on most flat surfaces and is merely a rectangle of about 4 metres by 15 metres. Most are played on hard dirt, fine gravel or crushed sea shells.
The game can be played one on one or in teams of 2 or 3 players. Each player has 3 balls or ”boules” unless it’s a game of 3 a side when only 2 balls per player are used. The throwing point is at one end of the court and traditionally the player stands in a circle of around 50 cm but most social players here just stand behind a certain point as in darts. There are several ”ends” or rounds per game and after throwing out the jack, each member of the team, without taking their feet off the ground throws as close to the jack as possible. The team with the closest ball to the jack wins the end and gains an extra point for each ball that is closer to the jack than the opponents.