Volume 88

Cristina Sanchez
Saturday, 2 December 2006 - No. 107
1Casa Topical Digest of News and Views from the Andalucia Area in Spain
Newsletter FM
Sally Harrison who sponsors the programme on Spectrum FM radio on 105.5 FM will be relating selected items she finds in our newsletter on her radio show.  The show goes out from 7.00 pm till 10.00 pm nightly during the week if you would like to listen in.
Bank Holiday Week for Spain
Next week is a Puente Bank Holiday weekend in Spain.   Next Wednesday, 6th December, is a national holiday to celebrate the Day of the Constitution and next Friday, 8th December, Spain celebrates the Immaculate Conception.
Cudeca Christmas Bazaar
The Cudeca Christmas Bazaar takes place next Saturday 9th December between 10.00 am and 3.00 pm at the Casa de Cultura, Alora.  Hamper raffle, produce, clothing and bric-a-brac.
Alora to Have the First Botellodromo
Alora will be the first municipality in the Guadalhorce district to take measures in regard to the antibotellon law which came in to force on 1st December 2006.  The town hall has decided to enable the river park in El Puente to be the only area in which youngsters can consume alcohol outdoors.  Alora’s mayor, Jose Sanchez, emphasised that the location was the area most appropriate for the purpose given that it is away from residential areas and is already used during the summer for discos at the old perfume factory.  The council is also investigating whether to authorise a second venue for the botellon on the Romeria ground at the Convento de Flores.
XV Provincial Cross Country Circuit 2006-2007
Alora's cross country race will take place on Sunday 17th December from 10.30 am in the River Park of the Barriada El Puente.  Registration is at the Pabellon de Deportes Antonio Henares or for juveniles at school.  Registration takes place until Friday 15 December in the Sports Pavilion.  Telephone 952 49 9520.
Painting Contest in Pizarra
The tourist board of Pizarra has organized a painting competition with prizes of 300, 200 and 100 Euros respectively.  The time limit of registration for the content will be between 1 December and 31 January, a period in which those interested can present to a maximum of two works of free technique, although the theme should be based on Pizarra and its environment.  The decision of the jury will be announced in February.  For more information can be obtained from tourist office in Pizarra or call 952 484 684. 
Anti-dam Protest March in Malaga Cancelled
Organisers are shocked and angered by refusal by the Junta de Andalucia to allow the protest demonstration in Malaga by groups battling against the dam works of the Rio Grande at Cerro Blanco in the Guadalhorce Valley.  A government sub-delegation office cancelled the protest on the recommendation of the local police, apparently due to the traffic problems it would have caused.
AVE Line Test Between Cordoba and Antequera Successful
There has been a successful test of the new AVE high speed train line between Cordoba and Antequera with the train running at more than 280 km/hour. The train used currently holds the record for the fastest speed recorded by a train in Spain, 356 kms/hour on the Madrid to Sevilla line. The line to Antequera opens to the public in a month's time and will cut the journey time from Malaga to Madrid to three and a half hours.
Villanueva del Rosario International Music Festival
From Friday 1st December until Sunday 10th December in the Casa de la Cultura, Villanueva del Rosario.  All concerts will be held in the Casa de la Cultura except the opening one which will be held in the Maria Cristina conservatory in Malaga, Saturday 2nd December, at 1.00 pm. For more information visit: www.villanuevadelrosasio.org
Malaga Switches on Christmas Lights
Yesterday, Friday 1st December, Malaga switched on its Christmas lights.  The display includes a 30 metre tree in the Plaza de la Constitución and full range of lights and decorations along the Alameda, El Parque and Calle Marques de Larios and the floral decorations based on the poinsettia of which there are over 100,000 plants included.  Also in Calle Marques de Larios is the traditional nativity scene or Belen as it is called in Spain. 
King of Spain Opens new Facility in Malaga
King Juan Carlos was in Malaga last Wednesday to open the new factory for Isofoton, the second largest solar power firm in Europe.  54 million Euros has been invested in the new plant and the company expects turnover to exceed 200 million Euros by next year. The new factory which will make photo cells as part of solar panels, over three quarters of production are expected to be exported. The very successful Andalucía Technology Park in Malaga is alive with technology companies.
Health Service Will Begin to Charge Foreigners for Treatment
Foreigners receiving free health cover in Andalucia will soon to stop. Health officials met this week to discuss how to charge foreign patients. A new computer system is being introduced across Andalucia and staff will be trained on how to use it, and charge foreigners. The Andalucian Heath Service will therefore obtain detailed information on the services given to foreigners, and the costs of those services.  Currently the region receives 400,000 Euros for the treatment of other EU nationals, but as the demand from foreigners increases the new system will allow the region to demonstrate the real health costs are far higher.
Property Ladder for First-time Buyers
Recent reports are showing that young British families, realizing that their way onto the property ladder is not to consider a property in the UK and then struggling to afford mortgage repayments, but by relocating to Europe. The most popular area this year being Andalucia, with the greatest numbers locating inland where property prices are lower. The continual cheap flights from UK airports means that returning to see the family is very affordable. With the cost of living being so much less, plus the great climate, where else could you want to bring up your family?
Costa del Sol Flying High
Spain's popular Costa del Sol is still flying high.  Airport passenger figures for Malaga Airport, the region’s main terminal, have increased by 3.2% year-on-year to the end of October 2006, according to figures released by the Spanish airports authority (AENA). In the first 10 months of 2006, more than 11.5 million people landed or departed off from Malaga airport, travelling on 110,448 flights, an increase of 3.7% on the same period to October last year.  The figures show that foreign visitors outnumbered Spanish using Malaga airport by three to one: 8.6 million non-nationals compared to 2.8 million nationals; an increase of 2.7% and 5.3%. It looks like the upward trend will continue. In October 11,529 flights arrived at or departed from Malaga Airport, an increase of 1.1% on October 2005. Passenger numbers in the same month totalled 1.2 million, a rise of a little less than 1%, mainly flights were to or from the UK, Ireland and Germany.
Easy Cruise Liner to be Based in Malaga Port
The Chairman of Easy Group, Stelios Haji-Ioannou revealed, at The ABTA Travel Convention in Marbella, that Malaga Port will be the base for one of his new low cost cruise liners.  The Malaga vessel would offer week long cruises between the main ports of Andalucia and North Africa at an estimated price of 350 Euros. He also said an Easy Hotel would open in Spain next year, probably in Barcelona, and that another cruise liner would be based there.
Writer Gerald Brenan’s Home to be Restored
A project has been approved which will allow Gerald Brenan’s home, in the Churriana area, to be restored. The nineteenth century, two-storey building is considered part of Malaga’s cultural heritage. The house’s exterior will keep its original appearance and the interior will be refurbished to the way it looked when the author lived there and will eventually be turned into a museum. Brenan was acclaimed for his services to Spanish literature with works such as The Spanish Labyrinth and South From Granada. He was awarded a CBE in 1982 and died in Alhaurin el Grande on 19th January 1987.
Alhambra Ticket Scam
A court in Granada has heard how up to 800 people illegally gained entrance to the Alhambra every 30 minutes. A year-long judicial investigation into claims of illicit ticket sales for the 14th century Islamic palace found 10,000 counterfeit admissions were passed on to unsuspecting tourists.  Magistrates in Granada were told some tickets were sold twice in a bid to crowd more visitors into the Alhambra.  Management company Patronato de la Alhambra believes up to 38 of its employees benefited financially from this scam. The investigation also claims cashiers at the bank, BBVA, sold up to 70 tickets at a time to one person although the maximum individual allocation is only five. A total of 46 people were arrested between December 2005 and February this year.
Granada Celebrates 130th Anniversary of the Birth of Spanish Composer
Granada is celebrating the 130th anniversary of the birth of Spanish composer Manuel de Falla.  This week, his house museum has been showing visitors and tourists the most personal items of the composer’s life, with free guided tours to his home in the foothills of the Alhambra where he lived between 1922 and 1936 before leaving for exile in Argentina at the start of the Spanish Civil War.  Falla described Granada as ‘My little Paris’ because of the intellectual atmosphere in the city.
New Spanish Homes to Include Solar Panels
Solar panels are now compulsory on all new and renovated buildings in Spain as part of the country's efforts to bring its building rules up to date and curb growing demand for energy, ministers said. Until now Spain's building standards have dated from the 1970s and have done little in seeking to improve energy efficiency. The new technical building code will come into force fully next March but the energy saving element was implemented on 29th September 2006.  This means new homes have to be equipped with solar panels to provide between 30 and 70% of their hot water, depending on where the building is located and on its expected water usage.
Strike Threatened in Spanish Citrus Sector
The major agricultural associations from Andalucía, Murcia and Cataluna want to join in the organization of an massive strike. The groups have assembled an agenda with meetings, to consult the representatives of retail, trade and consumer associations to seek collaboration in countering the present crisis, which according to the primary sector is unsustainable. In Seville oranges are grown on an acreage of 17.871 hectares, which is 35% of the Andalusian growing acreage and it mostly concerns navelinas. There is also 1844 hectares with mandarins. There hasn't been any concrete date suggested for the strike. Such a strike would not be beneficial for the trade or prices, according to Spanish exporters, who collectively handle 60% of the Spanish export volume.
Equality Campaigns Flourish in Spain
In the fight against the image of the Spanish male as the red-blooded, macho abuser, it seems that authorities all over Spain are taking the bull by the horns, highly visible campaigns are springing up all over the country to denounce gender violence and machismo, and to combat the patriarchal image of the Spanish family.
Now, Fuenlabrada, a small town near Madrid, must win the prize for the most creative efforts. Over the course of the next twelve months the town will remove half of its 'little green men' and half of its red ones from pedestrian crossing signs, replacing them with more feminine silhouettes with skirts and ponytails.  Other towns such as Alhama de Granada are organising activities to mark the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Workshops, discussions and exhibitions took place throughout November as well as a group visit to the Parliament of Andalucia in Sevilla. The Alhama council aim to tackle gender violence and begin a dialogue on the subject in the hope of removing the stigma and taboo attached to it. Perhaps Alhama's head-on approach will be more effective than simply being told not to cross the road whilst the green lady is flashing.
Ski Resorts Facing Opening Delays Due to the Weather
A possible late start to the ski season is looking likely in Spain’s ski resorts with high temperatures and not enough snowfall being the culprits.  Traditionally the season open on the Puente de la Constitución holiday, which starts next Wednesday. The director of Atudem, the Tourist Association of Ski and Mountain Resorts, said the sector’s prospects for next week's bank holidays are ‘grey and very doubtful.’  Worst affected are Cataluna and Aragon, while ski resorts in the Principality of Andorra say they will lose 15% income if they are unable to open for the Puente.
Beluga Whale Calf Dies in Valencia
Sadly, the baby Beluga whale born in captivity in Valencia in November (Newsletter 103) has died. The calf proved unable to feed from its mother and died last Monday 27 November, despite experts' efforts to feed it by bottle and administer vitamin supplements. While the exact cause of the calf's death remained uncertain, "the incident probably occurred because the young whale never adapted to artificial milk," a park statement said.
Mayor and Company Directors Jailed for Allowing Noise
A mayor has been sent to prison for 18 months for not stopping a business that was causing noise pollution,  Manuel Vilanova, mayor of Vila-Real near Valencia, was also banned from holding any public office for a period of 8 years. Vilanova was convicted of deliberately ignoring the complaints of neighbours and allowing the company to cause noise pollution. The Supreme Court also sentenced the owners of the company called Rocersa to two years in jail for breaking environmental laws. In its ruling, it said the mayor "sided with a company against the interests of citizens, knowing that he was breaking the law". The Supreme Court said a fine was not appropriate because of the seriousness of the mayor's conduct.
Charity Organizes Half Marathon in Barcelona
Participants will be able to take in the sights as well as raise money for a good cause. Event organiser Lucy Latewood said she thought the new idea was a great opportunity for both participants the charity.  "Training to take part in the Barcelona half-marathon is a great way to raise money for Action Cancer whilst also taking in the sights of a very beautiful city, if you love running or want a new challenge then signing up to take part and raise money for a local cancer charity is a very worthwhile way to make a difference in 2007."  The event will be held on 11th February 2007.
65% of Bodies Donated to Science in Spain Come from Europeans
Nearly two thirds of bodies donated to science in Spain come from Europeans, a study revealed last week.  Doctors at the Spanish Anatomical Society, which carried out the study, said at least 65% of bodies donated to science came from foreigners who lived in Spain with the largest proportion belonging to EU citizens.  Though there was not such a tradition of donating a person's remains in Spain, the number of bodies given to science was rising, said the study.  The best-known Briton to have done so was the writer Gerald Brenan.
Spain's Princess Letizia Pregnant with Baby Girl
Crown Prince Felipe'' wife, Princess Letizia, is expecting her second child, a baby girl, a royal palace spokesman said last Monday. Letizia, who married Felipe in May 2004, gave birth in October 2005 to Princess Leonor. Her pregnancy with a second child, and another girl, was expected to defuse a royal and political debate about succession to the Spanish throne. Currently, the law states that the first-born son is the first in line to the throne, but many in Spain have argued that the law is discriminatory and that Leonor should take precedence.
Online Surcharge on Rail Tickets
Renfe Spanish Railways have decided to impose a surcharge of 2.75% on tickets bought online from the company's web page from January 2007.  Also from next year, all tickets will show a breakdown of their cost including transport cost in real terms, distribution costs and management costs.
Gender Equity on Spanish Coins
Spanish lawmakers are poised to pass legislation that would require 50% of Spain's Euro coins be marked with a woman's image, for women, this is absolutely fundamental," Elvira Cortajarena, the member of parliament sponsoring the measure, told London's Times. "We need our work to be recognized and valued." Efforts to temper the country's macho image have been met with guffaws about political correctness, the Times said. Yet the country is undertaking an ambitious effort to promote gender equality.  When dictator Francisco Franco died in 1975, women could not work, own property, open a bank account or travel without a husband's consent. Contraception, abortion and adultery were all illegal although in practice only women were penalized for having an affair, "Spanish women have come a long way in a short time," said Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, the country's first female prime minister.
Spain's Economy Growing
Spain's economy is at its highest annual rate in five years thanks to the country’s booming construction industry, government figures say.  Economic growth grew 3.8% between July and September 2006, this figure is faster than the economy of France, Germany and Italy. Earlier in the month, a government report said almost half of the country’s recent growth was fuelled by immigration, with many migrants in Spain working for the country’s construction industry. According to the latest figures released by the National Statistics Institute, Spain’s annualised growth rate was 3.6% in the first quarter of this year followed by 3.7% between April and June. However, economists believe the rate of Spanish growth is now peaking, officials from the European Central Bank have warned continuing hikes in interest rates may lead to a drop in demand in Spain’s building sector.
Spain 10th Best Place to Live
Results of the World in 2005 study by The Economist, Spain rates as the 10th best place to live in the World in 2005. The Economist Intelligence Unit has developed a new “quality of life” index based on a unique methodology that links the results of subjective life-satisfaction surveys to the objective determinants of quality of life across countries. The index has been calculated for 111 countries for 2005.
Europe Continues to Boom
While European property continues to grow in value at a slow and steady rate in the third quarter of 2006, the housing market in the US continued its downturn, a trend that experts are predicting will continue into next year, the Knight Frank Global Property Price Index showed that property prices continued to climb at a strong rate over the last three months; prices in Spain were up 9.7% annual, France saw its homes gain 8.9% over the last 12 months and houses in Greece were up 10.5%. Ireland was also a big winner, seeing its prices rise 15% annual, up from 11.9% at the same time last year, overall, European nations dominated the table of best performing nations, with the countries due to accede to the EU also making considerable gains, Liam Bailey, head of Knight Frank Residential Research, said that countries in central and southern Europe gained from their "strong economic expansion".  He continued: "The appetite for second homes, whether for personal use or for investment reasons, continues unabated, facilitated by ever increasing accessibility via new low cost air routes and the growth in supply of residential properties in both the mass and luxury sectors.
Barclays in Spain Launches New 80% Loan to Value Mortgage
This new offering gives British buyers more options in the Spanish property market, it is the longest ever mortgage term at 30 years (previously 20 years). These terms, when combined with the interest rate options available with the mortgage, make it one of the most competitive and flexible mortgage products available in the Spanish non-resident market. This is a limited product and applications must be submitted by 31st January 2007. It is offered on a rolling 12 month fixed interest rate. Buyers are given flexibility to take out an initial interest-only period ranging from one to five years. The interest rate is highly competitive and ranges from 4.72% to 5.22% depending on the length of the interest-only period.
Leaders of Spain, Portugal Agree on Fast Train and Research Agreement at Summit
Leaders of Spain and Portugal agreed to give fresh impetus to the construction of bullet train rail links between the two countries and to improve cross-border cooperation with the creation of a joint research centre. Meeting at the end of a two-day summit focusing on issues including immigration, the European Union's stalled constitution and plans for an all-Iberian electricity grid, prime ministers Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain and Jose Socrates of Portugal signed the deal in Badajoz, a south western Spanish city on the border with Portugal. Both governments agreed to pursue the creation of a three-hour, high-speed rail link between capital cities Madrid and Lisbon in the south, and a one-hour Vigo-Oporto link in the north. Finance for the completion of the railways would be applied for from EU community funds, the leaders said.
No Smoke Without Fire 
A new airline launched in Germany especially for smokers allows premium paying passengers to continue smoking during the flight, called Smokers International Airways – Smintair will also allow crew members to smoke during daily flights from Dusseldorf to Shanghai and Tokyo.
New Bond Film Breaks Spanish Bond Box Office Record
The new James Bond film, Casino Royale, has become the most successful ever at the box office over its first weekend of release in Spain. New Bond actor, Daniel Craig, came to Madrid to promote the film.  The actor has signed to star in three more Bond films.
ITV Offers Homesick British Ex-pats Free Flights to Return Home
It seems more and more British citizens are giving up their life in the sun to move back to the UK – last year almost 100,000 ex-pats went back home, maybe it is because they miss family and friends, the British culture or a host of other reasons such as schooling, weather and job opportunities, many Brits are evidently deciding that the grass is not always greener abroad. The decision to go home however is a tough one, and can be a huge on-going dilemma for the whole family. What if you make the expensive mistake of packing up and heading home, and then days later find yourself regretting leaving all those luxuries behind – the weather, the space, the house with the pool, the weekends at the beach. You may feel you've lost touch with what kind of place Britain really is to live in these days. Is it as good as you remember? Do the opportunities you're looking for exist there anymore? Can you still afford to live there?  It is also not necessarily a unanimous decision to go back. Mum and Dad may be desperate to get home but if the kids are settled and don’t want to leave their school friends, can you really drag them away? Or maybe it is the children who miss their family back home and parents feel guilty that grandparents are missing out on seeing them grow up. To investigate this phenomenon, ITV 1 is making a new prime-time documentary series. They are keen to talk to British ex-pats who have lived abroad for a number of years, but who are now considering moving back to the UK. 
Families who take part in the programme will get the chance to be flown back to Britain to test-drive the reality of life back in the UK.  It's an opportunity to fact-find and equip themselves to make an informed choice - to remain an ex-pat or realise it's time to go back home. If this sounds like you or someone you know get in contact with Katy. Email: katy.lock@fevermedia.co.uk or call 44 (0)207 619 6632.
Malaga 1 - Salamanca 0
Malaga secured their first league win in eight matches last week against Salamanca.  Their next game is at home tonight, Saturday 2nd December, against Castilla, kick off at 6.30 pm.
Referee Sends off Six in Spain
After a sluggish first half, he showed his first red card nine minutes into the second half and then brandished another five in the last eight minutes, Almeria had four players sent off, but still held Xerez to a 1-1 draw with the visitors receiving two red cards, including one for coach Pepe Murcia, who was ordered out of the dug out for back chat to the referee.
Top Class Tennis comes to Malaga
The Malaga Master tennis championship began yesterday, Friday 1st December and runs over the weekend in the Martin Carpena Sports Centre in the city.  On Friday, David Ferrer defeated fellow Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, 6-1, 6-4, in the quarterfinals.  Feliciano Lopez defeated Albert Costa in the other quarter final, 6-4, 6-4. Costa, who retired earlier this year, is the event's honouree.  Lopez will face ATP World No. 2 Rafael Nadal in Saturday's semi finals. Ferrer will play Nadal’s Mallorcan compatriot Carlos Moya for a spot in the final, which will be held at noon on Sunday. Nadal and Moya each had a bye into the semi finals.
Cristina Sanchez 
1Casa REALLY Affordable Homes 
Calle Cantarranas 1, Álora 29500, Málaga, SPAIN 
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