On the sweltering Madrid streets back in May, there was a strong feeling that something very significant was happening. Tens of thousands were crammed into a makeshift encampment in the city's Puerta del Sol square, unified by an acute sense of disillusionment with the political establishment. High unemployment, unaffordable housing and a feeling that politicians were not representing the people had resulted in the near spontaneous birth of a movement that would become known as the Indignados (the outraged), or 15-M (after 15 May, the date the protest began).
Friday, October 28, 2011
La Mancha is the Spanish heartland. Sprawling over a high plateau between Madrid and the Mediterranean, it is the birthplace of Manchego cheese and Pedro Almodóvar, and the legendary stomping-ground of Don Quixote himself.
Life has a harsh edge here. The weather is more extreme than elsewhere in Spain, and the villages have a parched, roughened look. But there is gold in La Mancha's fields—or rather, purple gold—in the form of a plant called Crocus sativus, the saffron crocus. If handled correctly, this humble plant, after surviving La Mancha's icy winters and broiling summers, is responsible for what many believe is the very best example of saffron, the world's most expensive, most elusive spice.
Read the rest of this article here
Thursday, October 27, 2011
How history will judge Zapatero
Jordi Sevilla, a former minister in the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, recalls how his then boss once told him about a massage he had enjoyed a few days after becoming prime minister. “The masseur was amazed at how little tension he had,” Sevilla said. “This guy had spent a week in La Moncloa (the prime minister’s residence) and that’s enough to leave anyone completely spent!”
To continue reading go herehttp://iberosphere.com/2011/10/spain-news-how-history-will-judge-zapatero/3944
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Girasol Homes - Expert Overseas Property Finders - Some news about buying property in Spain and Portugal
Monday, October 24, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
So now I am an "Author, Blogger and Spanish Property Expert" :-)
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Is Spain Different
The Spanish Citizenship Test
After reading all about the UK citizenship test, and also having failed it miserably, I feel that it is time that Spain also had a pointless piece of bureaucracy as we don’t have nearly enough red tape here at the moment and we need to create jobs by making people fill in pointless tests. Here is the link to the response to the test by all of those who failed it.
Therefore when you are thinking about coming to live in Spain you should be studying hard so you can pass the unofficial Spanish Citizenship Test.
Here are the first ten questions and I will leave you to add in the rest
1) When going into a shop or bank with a few people already there, what do you do?
a) Stand in an orderly queue leaving equal spaces between everyone in the queue avoiding eye contact or physical proximity?
b) Mutter “Who’s Last” and then mooch against the nearest wall?
c) Muter “Who’s last?” then proceed to get out your Smartphone and play Angry Birds whilst the person at the front of the queue tells their life story to their cousin who is serving them?
2) When trying to get anything official done how much time should you allow yourself?
a) Half an hour as all you need is a piece of paper to be stamped?
b) All morning and leave a few mornings free in the following week as there will obviously be something else to do and somewhere else to go first before you get what you want done?
c) There is no limit. You will very quickly lose the will to live.
3) When you sit down in a cafe how long should you expect to be sat there before the waiter/waitress comes to take an order?
a) A few minutes?
b) A good half hour?
c) Forever if you do not actually catch their eye and shout “Oye!” or “Oiga!” a few times?
4) What is it obligatory to take to a football match?
a) A white handkerchief?
b) A Bocadillo?
c) A pack of “Pipas”?
d) All of the above?
(If you answered D for a bonus point what are they for?)
5) Which way did the reconquest of Spain from the Moorish invaders go?
a) North to South?
b) South to North? (An answer specially tailored to Valencians)
c) Spain was never reconquered it is still Al Andalus?
6) Who is the current and future head of Government in Spain?
a) Mr Bean and Mr Charisma (“But I Cannot Read My Own Handwriting”)?
b) Zapatero and Rajoy?
c) Both of the above?
7) How much is speeding fine in Spain?
a) Spain has fines?
b) Depends on the speed?
c) Depends on your nationality, and whether it is before lunch for the Guardia who has stopped you and if he is a bit short that day?
Where is the “Real Spain”?
a) Anywhere from 5km inland around the whole country?
b) There isn’t a real Spain, it is a myth peddled by writers trying to emulate the success of “A Year in Provence” for France?
c) Wherever you get to see a donkey on a regular basis?
9) If you go to talk to any politician in Spain how do you know whether he or she is corrupt?
a) There are no corrupt politicians in Spain how dare you suggest such a thing?
b) On a scale of one to ten “Ours’ go up to 11″?
c) Is he or she breathing? Yep! They are corrupt then!
10) Where is the best Spanish food to be found?
a) Wherever the person you are talking to is from?
b) I prefer fish and chips?
c) I have never tried that foreign muck?
As I asked before are there any other questions you would like to add into the comments?
1) Spain Is… (There was a great debate around this post so read it)
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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Love in Spain, teacher’s strikes, 15 year jobless high in Spain, a gay retirement home…
MAGNIFICENT GANDIA BEACH
The past week in Spain has seen the wedding of the elderly Duchess of Alba, unemployment in Spain reach a 15 year high and a strike by Spanish teachers. Meanwhile, although the majority of Spaniards are Catholic, 57% (a figure rising annually) do not go to church regularly. Elsewhere, a residential home is being constructed for gay Spaniards and El Hierro in the Canary Islands has just suffered its biggest earthquake (4.3 on the Richter scale) since July – thus getting ever closer to the potential explosion of its volcano.
Of course, the ‘fun’ news has been about the 85 year old Duchess of Alba’s marriage (her third), this time to a civil servant 24 years younger than herself. Whilst this may not be earth shattering news on its own account it has delighted the Spanish who love celebrity gossip – after all Hello magazine came from Spain and Spanish TV is full of seemingly endless programmes about celebrity life.
Well, when it comes to celebrity in Spain, the Duchess of Alba is right up ‘there’, together with being something of an eccentric in her own right. However, what makes her really special is that she is the scion of Spain’s most aristocratic dynasties.
In fact, the Duchess of Alba has more aristocratic titles than anyone else in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records – including being a Duchess 7 times, a Marchioness 17 times and a Countess 23 times. Curiously she is even the Baroness of Bosworth! To cap it all, she is also a Grandee which is the highest aristocratic title in Spain and means that the king addresses her as ‘Cousin’ (Primo). For the likes of you and me (just in case you happen to bump into her), she would expect to be called ‘Most Excellent Lady’ or ‘Your Excellency’.
Predictably, the Duchess of Alba has a personal name to suit her elevated position and this is: Maria del Rosario Cayetana Alfonsa Victoria Eugenia Francisca Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva – although how she learnt that as a very small child is mystifying!
Needless to say, the Duchess of Alba has massive wealth and it is said that she could drive from one end of Spain to another without ever leaving her land. This is probably apocryphal but it may reassure you that she is a lady of means, not some impoverished aristocrat with great names and titles – but a bit down on her luck
Less fortunate, of course, are those without jobs in Spain (some 4.2 million). Indeed, unemployment in Spain for September hit a 15 year high for that month – although why anyone is surprised escapes me altogether. The Spanish economy shows no signs of recovery that I have seen and is unlikely to do so (even in terms of sentiment) until the Eurozone crisis is resolved and the General Election in Spain has been decided (20th November 2011).
Of course, September is always going to be a bad month for data about jobs in Spain because it is the end of the tourist season and many temporary jobs in Spain are lost naturally along with the masses of visitors who come to the country for their summer holidays. Unfortunately, the data for employment in Spain has been exacerbated this year by the national and (finally!) Regional austerity cuts which are now being felt in earnest. Sadly, this is probably the beginning of state job cuts in Spain rather than any end…
During last week the teachers went on strike in Spain, with Madrid being particularly militant (some 60% – 70% went on strike there). The teachers are complaining about the longer working hours that are being imposed upon them and the sacking of substitute teachers. As I have written before, it is a little difficult to feel a great deal of sympathy for teachers and thereby for this strike in Spain. Their working hours are less than onerous; the vast majority have their jobs for life and are far better off than any of the unemployed – and many people in the private sector.
Sadly, when it comes to property in Spain the news, overall, remains gloomy. The number of mortgages in Spain set up in June was an incredible 42.4% lower than for the same month in Spain last year (2010) and Spanish house sales in Q1 were 40.8% lower than for Q1 in 2010. Some recovery on this was made in Q2 but the 2011 results are not looking too good.
The big hope from the government is that the drop from 6% to 4% on the purchase tax of new properties will help to revitalise sales of new Spanish property. Frankly, it is open to question whether this will make any significant difference and I would contend that purchase tax in Spain should also have been dropped on re-sale properties as well.
Meanwhile, it was reported today that Santander are going to place some 29,000 Spanish properties onto the Spanish property market this week. This is a significant amount and will do little to secure the prices of other houses for sale in Spain.
On the face of it, of course, the 29,000 properties from Santander appear like good news for buyers! However, as I have written before (and see this article by Graham Hunt), you need to be careful when buying a Spanish property from a Spanish bank. Everything is not always quite as it seems and the words ‘bank repossession’ do not, by any means, always equate to ‘bargain’.
On social matters, the myth that Spain is a bulwark of Catholicism is being confirmed. Although the vast majority of Spaniards (73%) are Catholic, the vast majority of them do not go to church regularly, according to the Centre for Sociological Investigations (CIS). Indeed, fewer than 16% claim to go to Mass every week, knowledge of which would have General Franco ‘rolling in his grave’. In his day, regular church going was close to being mandatory. In fact, Franco would probably be appalled by the fact that Spain, to its credit, is now one of the most liberal states in the world.
No doubt General Franco would be even more distressed to learn that there are now plans afoot to build, on the outskirts of Madrid, the country’s first gay and lesbian retirement home. This sounds like a good idea and a sound business prospect. I am only a little surprised it has not been done before…
A week in Spain by Nick Snelling – Culture Spain