As the full summer season gets under way all along the Mediterranean coast, it’s fitting that many of the news items over the last week in the region of Valencia are related to tourism, and in general it appears that the sector is set for a bumper summer. The number of foreign visitors in 2014, particularly to the Costa Blanca, has so far been higher than ever, although it has to be pointed out that on the other hand it does seem that the average length of their stays is shorter, and therefore not much more money is being injected into the regional economy.
In preparation for the sudden increase in population throughout Alicante, Valencia and Castellón 47 extra medical centres are being opened for the summer, and at the region’s main entry point from abroad, Alicante-Elche airport, it seems that at long last the taxi drivers have been placated, and the threat of strikes has receded. With this problem removed, at least for the time being, the most likely source of frustration to weary travellers looks like being one that we’re all used to: this week the French air traffic controllers have been at it again!
Apart from the beaches, most visitors enjoy the experience of sampling the local cuisine on the numerous outdoor bar and restaurant terraces, but some of the residents of Elche are less than pleased at the sudden proliferation of these terraces over the last few years. Ever since smoking indoors was banned at the start of 2011 the number of terraces has mushroomed, and while smokers welcome this development it can cause inconvenience to residents: in this case a resident’s rebellion has forced a new law to control noise pollution.
Although the summer is traditionally a quiet season for news, of course there are other issues hitting the headlines. A minor earthquake shook Pilar de la Horadada, Torrevieja and Orihuela Costa on Thursday, and on the subject of earthquakes the series of tremors in Vinaròs last year seem to have put an end to the Castor Project offshore gas storage facility in the north of the province of Castellón. Geologists are convinced that there is a link between Castor and the earthquakes, and it’s unlikely the plant will ever open again. Never mind, it only cost 1,700 million euros…
In the city of Alicante local residents, traders and politicians are decidedly hot under the collar on account of the proposals to open a new Ikea store and a macro-shopping centre, and not even the San Juan celebrations during the week managed to take the heat out of the debate.
These midsummer fiestas include the lighting of huge bonfires to burn away bad spirits, and many uphold the tradition of swimming in the sea on the night of San Juan in order to bring good fortune and robust health for the coming twelve months. The unfortunate death of a 60-year-old man on the Las Arenas beach in the city of Valencia after his evening dip would seem to cast serious doubts over the validity of this theory.
What’s on, 27th June to 3rd July 2014
Some fairly major cultural events are in the offing as the summer season opens, and one of the first is the Seagram’s Gin Jazz Festival which begins on Saturday in the city of Valencia with a performance by Chuchito Valdés. This event goes on until 15th July, and jazz fans will also be eagerly awaiting the San Javier Jazz Festival just across the border in the Region of Murcia, where George Benson kicks proceedings off on 5th July. The Fijazz Festival in Alicante city is also looming with some great concerts for music lovers.
Other imminent major music festivals include the Mar de Músicas in Cartagena, also in Murcia, which starts on 18th July and features a host of world music concerts, and the annual Habaneras festival in Torrevieja which starts on the same date, and for which tickets are now on sale.
Many slightly less prestigious (but not necessarily less enjoyable) events are on offer over the coming week in the area, not least at the Teatro Circo in Orihuela, where Grease on Friday is followed by Peter Pan (a ballet and musical version) on Saturday and a dance gala on Sunday. Quite a varied menu!
Also in Orihuela, there’s a very varied selection of free musical events over the coming week. On Friday night four free rock and pop street concerts are being held in the city, and at the same time over the next few days there are a series of free entry piano and cello recitals at the La Lonja venue given by those participating in the city’s International Music Forum. The first of these, on Friday, features Alexandre Moutouzkine, who has been hailed as one of the most brilliant pianists of his generation, performing works by Chopin and Rachmaninov.
And the whole series of concerts are free entry.
In Torrevieja there’s a flamenco gala on Saturday, and away from the musical scene this weekend sees the end of the military models exhibition in the Sala Vista Alegre. Many of the locals, though, will be busy taking part in the all-night vigil which is being held in Lo Albentosa as part of the Romería de la Virgen del Rocío. Visitors keen to sample Spanish traditions are also welcome to join in the conviviality!
There’s also free flamenco dance in Pilar de la Horadada on Friday night, an open air painting competition in Torrevieja, which also hosts a swimming competition, the Desayun-arte community breakfast, this time in the Parque del Agua and the last weekend of its gastronomic event.
More what’s on can be found in the dedicated Valencia What’s on section.
Spanish news round-up, 20th to 27th June 2014
As the full summer season gets under way in Spain, with schoolchildren already on holiday, new King Felipe VI would no doubt enjoy a relaxing start to his reign, but unfortunately it seems unlikely that he will be able to do so. Although surveys suggest that his subjects are in general pleased that he has succeeded to the throne, the acceptability of the royal family is being severely jeopardized by the involvement of his sister Cristina in the Nóos corruption case, and it has been confirmed this week that the intention of the instructing judge is that the princess should stand trial as an alleged accomplice to the wrongdoings of her husband. If convicted she could face up to 16 years in prison.
If the Spanish are happy with their king, they’re certainly not happy with their football team. For the first time in ages the Spanish players flew home before the English team, and although they may have wanted to slink away quietly it seems that not even their homecoming passed off smoothly: on landing in Madrid their plane was struck by lightning! Among the most disgruntled at the team’s early exit from the World Cup will be Spain’s bar-owners and memorabilia traders, who will be losing an estimated 739 million euros in extra revenue as the general public will presumably be less keen on watching Belgium, Costa Rica and Switzerland than if their own heroes had progressed beyond the group stages.
Of course, while the monarchy and the World Cup have dominated the news, life goes on elsewhere. During the week the government has confirmed its plans to cut income tax rates across the board, a move which certainly won’t lose them many votes in next year’s general election, there was a bomb scare at the border between Spain and Gibraltar on Monday, and all the indications are that the tourist sector is due for a bumper summer with the number of visitors and the amount they are spending being higher than ever. As usual, the British lead the way in this field, despite the efforts of French air traffic controllers!
For full details of these and many other stories, including a Spanish property news round-up visit www.spanishnewstoday.com
This week currency exchange rates have nearly hit a 20 month high for those changing money from sterling to euros, making Spanish property even better value and giving those who transfer their pensions across to Spain more for their money. If you still use a bank to transfer money, ask for a quote to use a money transfer service, you’ll be amazed how much more you get for your pounds using this method!
Click for this week’s currency round up showing the exchange rate between Sterling and the Euro.
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