Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Fancy traveling fast?




Madrid Valencia AVE (courtesey of Manchego)


Very soon it will be possible to travel from Madrid to Valencia in a little over 90 minutes!  This is great news – and finally connects the capital of Spain with its third largest city, in a time and way that justifies Valencia’s growing importance (and prestige) as a European city renowned for its commerce, sport and art.  

Until the 19th of December travelling from Madrid to Valencia will continue to take a somewhat wearisome 3 hours 45 minutes.  This is enought to dissuade most people from travelling between Madrid and Valencia for the day – let alone the thought of flying to Madrid and then taking a train to Valencia. Or vice versa, of course!

However, a train trip of only one hour 35 minutes between Madrid and Valencia – a journey of 391 kilometres?  That is a different thing altogether!

Cutting the time of the train journey between Madrid and Valencia by more than a half has been made possible by the opening of a new high velocity train service (the AVE or Alta Velocidad Espanola).  This requires a ‘bespoke’ train line and is the one from Madrid to Valencia I have seen being constructed over the past few years.  It has somewhat fascinated me, as it seems to slice its way, like an arrow, across the Spanish countryside.

I say ‘like an arrow’ because this line is going to be carrying a high speed train between Madrid and Valencia that can travel up to 350 kilometres per hour – although it will normally be going a slightly more sedate 330 kph!

The Madrid to Valencia AVE will carry a rather appropriate maximum of 365 passengers divided into two sections.  There will be 4 club class coaches, accounting for 71 seats, and 8 tourist class coaches with 294 seats.  The whole train will be some 200 metres long with two ‘tractors’ doing all the work.

RENFE are Spain’s national rail service (rather like British Rail of old in the UK -before it was broken up) and are rightly proud of their newest ‘baby’.  Because of this, or perhaps for PR purposes, they are kindly giving away 50,000 tickets to the Madrid to Valencia AVE at greatly reduced prices.  If you want to travel between the 19th December 2010 and the 9th January 2011, you can buy tickets for the Mdrid to Valencia AVE at up to 60% off!

So, if you fancy a ride on one of the world’s newest high speed trains then contact RENFE and get a cheap ticket whilst you can.  Certainly, you should not hang around – at the last count RENFE had sold 34,000 tickets virtually within the time it took to announce that an offer was available!

The Madrid to Valencia AVE, when going direct will take 1 hour 35 minutes.  However, when not direct it will stop at Albacete, Requena/Utiel and Cuenca and take 1 hour 50 minutes.  There will be thirty trains a day with (you guessed it!) fifteen going each way. For the record, in Madrid, you will need to go to the  Estación Puerta de Atoche and in Valencia the Estación del Norte.

Finally, RENFE expect 3 million passengers a year to use the new Madrid to Valencia AVE.  I have no idea how they came to this conclusion but, if correct, it would suggest that you should book well ahead if you think that you will need to travel by train between Madrid and Valencia, once the AVE is up and running.


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When everything goes tits up! | Blokes on the Blog

And still the odyssey continues!


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A Brit abroad: SPAIN: The land that time forgot

Spain, the land that time forgot, from Kevin in Elche.


How a technology breakdown is like having a limb cut off

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mañana será tarde. : Juan Carlos Sanjuán

If you don't read Spanish translate this article and especially this quote below. If you don't get the Internet yet, kids do.

Mañana será tarde. : Juan Carlos Sanjuán

Siempre hablo de una vivencia personal, en el coche camino al trabajo previa parada en el colegio de mi hija, está me pregunto, “¿Papa, para qué sirve una agencia de viajes?”, a lo que le respondí de forma corta “para vender billetes de avión, hoteles, viajes etc… te asesoran a donde viajar y te ayudan”. Pasaron unos segundos y me respondió “Papa ¿quién va a las agencias de viajes teniendo Internet?”.

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Educational Options for Bringing 18 Year Olds To Spain


Educational Options for Bringing 18 Year Olds To Spain

This is just a quick blog post to answer a question I saw on a forum. What can you do if you are bringing an 18 year old to Spain from the point of view of their education? Previously there wasn't much that you could offer them if they didn't speak Spanish. Now in Valencia there is a new option.

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How Things Happen to Ruin Any Plans You May Have.


How Things Happen to Ruin Any Plans You May Have.

My workflows have come to a halt. I have been stopped in my tracks as the importance of technology in our lives is exemplified. My MacBook has died and I cannot even find simple phone numbers as they are stored on an external hard drive but I don’t have another place to check out the ...Read the Rest

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

this is why the site might not be ready

Friday, November 26, 2010

Spain’s Financial Outlook Comfortable

So will Spain need a bailout. Not many economists think it is likely so the answer must be yes!


Spain’s Financial Outlook Comfortable

Spain’s funding for the rest of the year remains “comfortable,” helped by better-than-forecast revenue and a shrinking budget deficit, and the government doesn’t expect problems tapping financial markets going forward, said Deputy Finance Minister Jose Manuel Campa.

Spain, which saw its borrowing costs surge to an eight-year high yesterday, has two more bond auctions scheduled this year. The Treasury will sell three-year debt on Dec. 2 and 10- and 15- year securities on Dec. 16, and has about 8 billion euros ($11 billion) still to raise this year, according to the state borrowing plan.

Campa said that since the funding plan was announced at the beginning of the year, the government has implemented public- wage cuts and other austerity steps to try to shrink its budget gap after Greece’s near-default shook investor confidence in the euro-region’s high-deficit nations.

“We have increased and front-loaded our fiscal consolidation,” he said in an interview at the finance ministry in Madrid late yesterday. “The revenues are actually above budget, so our financial conditions are better than we anticipated, so our financial position in terms of funding for the remaining month and a half is quite comfortable.”

Spain is trying to distance itself from other so-called peripheral nations after Ireland’s request for a European bailout fueled contagion through the southern euro region, pushing the extra yield on Spanish debt to a euro-era high. Spain’s economy is almost twice the size of Portugal, Greece and Ireland combined, making investor concerns about its ability to control its finances a greater risk to the euro region overall.

‘Confident’ on Deficit

Campa, a 46 year-old Harvard-educated economist, said he is “concerned” about market tensions, even as Spain’s interest costs remain low in historic terms. The former professor at New York’s Stern School of Business said he’s “confident” Spain will reach its budget-deficit target of 9.3 percent of gross domestic product this year and next year’s goal of 6 percent is unmovable.

“This is an unconditional target, this 6 percent, it’s not conditional on macroeconomic behavior,” he said. “That means being ready.”

Spain’s regional governments, whose widening deficits contributed to the surge in the national shortfall, will meet their combined budget targets this year and will start giving comparable budget data on a quarterly basis, Finance Minister Elena Salgado said yesterday, in a move she called “great progress for transparency.” Two of the 17 regions, Murcia and Castilla-La Mancha, are at risk of not achieving their individual targets and must take “significant” measures to stop the slippage, she said.

Irish Bailout

The central government is encouraging the regions to rein in their shortfalls as Ireland this week became the first nation to seek to tap the euro region’s 750 billion-euro bailout fund, a decision that led the government to call for early elections. Ireland yesterday announced spending cuts of 20 percent over the next four years as it seeks to rein in a deficit that will reach 32 percent of GDP in 2010.

Ireland’s call for aid sparked an increase in borrowing costs for Portugal and Spain, with the extra yield on Spanish debt compared with German equivalents surging to 235 basis points yesterday, the highest close since the euro was created in 1999 and was little changed today. The yield on Spain’s 10- year benchmark bond rose 2 basis points to 5.11 percent, the highest since 2002.

Deficit Shrinking

The Spanish government says it needs to execute the measures it has pledged rather than take new steps to win credibility. The central government budget deficit narrowed by almost half to 2.96 percent of GDP in the first 10 months from 5.63 percent a year earlier, Finance Ministry data shows.

That compares with a 30 percent decline in Greece’s state budget deficit, while Portugal’s central administration’s shortfall continued to widen through October and Ireland’s overall deficit including the cost of bank bailouts will be more than double last year’s level.

Spain is reducing infrastructure spending, cutting public wages, freezing pensions and raising levies including a 2 percentage-point increase in value-added tax to cut the deficit from 11 percent last year. It plans to overhaul the pension system and push through additional changes to wage-bargaining and employment rules to complement a new labor law.

In another article in The Sun yesterday, money expert Professor John Fitzgerald also predicted that Spain would escape the debt crisis. But he warned it was partly down to the fact the EU could simply not allow the crisis to reach that far – given Spain’s critical importance.

He said governments across Europe had to set up a huge fund to show markets there was no way Spain’s debt-ridden banks would collapse.

He said: “Everybody needs to stop the rot on this one. If it has ramifications for Spain, it has ramifications for Germany and the rest of the world. The real Spanish economy should come out of this reasonably OK.”

His prediction came as Portugal and Spain’s borrowing costs continued to rise. But it tallied with a Reuters poll of economists, which revealed only four out of 50 think Spain will need a bailout.

Story from Bloomberg


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Thursday, November 25, 2010

10 Bedrooms, 4 Bathrooms, 983m2 Build Huge Mansion For Sale in Spain for 495000 Euros

Huge mansion for sale in Sagunto being sold at mortgage value by the owners. Would make a great guest house, just twenty minutes from Valencia and 5-10 minutes from the international schools in Puzol. Enormous swimming pool and great potential in the mountains near Gilet and Sagunto.






The past few days have been pretty frantic for Mark van Jaarsveld and I – as we have been putting together a sister Blog to Culture Spain about Spanish wine and food. This is now in action and already has a lot of relevant and fascinating content about the wines of Spain.

You may well ask what Mark and I know about Spanish wine and food?

Well, quite a lot, in the case of Mark van Jaarsveld, who is more than just an Internet guru – he is also a terrific Cordon Bleu cook.  However, the same cannot be said for me.  Indeed, my wife claims that, after eight years in the same house, I am still unsure of where the kitchen is located.  Indeed, she says that my attitude to food is positively biblical – in the sense that I always seem to expect something delious to appear, miraculously, at exactly the right time.

There may be a grain of truth in what my wife says about our kitchen (if it truly exists?) but I have never experienced problems finding our wine store nor a corkscrew.  Unfortunately, this hardly qualifies me to write about wine – let alone Spanish wine.

So, you will be relieved to know that the Posts on our wine and food site will not be written by me – but by Andrew Linn, a writer well known for the extraordinary depth of his knowledge about Spanish wine.     

In fact, Andrew has lived in Spain for the past forty years, speaks Spanish fluently and, at one time, was himself a wine merchant.  He knows the Spanish wine industry intimately, has written about it for ages and and has watched closely as the dynamic and byzantine Spanish wine industry has developed over the past fifty years. 

The wonderful thing about Andrew is that not only does he really know his subject – he is absolutely passionate about it.  This passion vibrates through his articles and makes for terrific reading!

I have to say that one of the things that I really enjoy about Andrew Linn’s writing is the marvellous perspective he brings to the wines of Spain.  Andrew knows his history and he has been everywhere in Spain, from when Franco was in power to now.  He is never short of an anecdote, wonderfully irreverent, always fun and has a rare gift for trenchant and astute observations!

So, if you like Spanish wine and if you want to know more about the wines of Spain then have a look at our Spanish wine and food Blog.  Andrew will help you to know what to buy, what to drink with what and where to get it – along with telling you the real story behind the wines.   

I think you will delighted (and excited) by the sheer breadth of what Andrew covers and that you will feel instantly safe within the hands of a true master of Spanish wines…

RELEVANT INFO:  About Andrew Linn and Spanish Wine and Food Blog

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Valencia in sevilla plaza details Espana

The Increasing Segmentation in the Spanish Property Market

Repeated article because it is important.

via Houses for Sale in Spain by Houses For Sale In Spain on 11/16/10

Some time ago I wrote about why perceptions of the Spanish property market as being in trouble uniformally were totally wrong. I contested that this viewpoint failed to take into account the issues around location and demand. I continue to hold this view and now it is being demonstrated more prevalent among other commentators on the Spanish property market.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Article: Las Golondrinas II

Friday, November 19, 2010

Puente Isabel sevilla

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Article: Things to do in Valencia | Top 10

Some different ones in here to my top ten list. 

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A photo tour around Sevilla this afternoon for the #EBE10 conference

Ebay Auctions of Spanish Stuff

About Me

Today is a new day, the sun is in the Sky. I wake up this morning and greet the new day.