Monthly Archives: February 2016

Our Spanish Dream Part 41 Alicante city

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Alicante city
In the rush to get to the beach and pool it is easy to overlook some of the most obvious tourist sites. After landing at Alicante airport most people either head south down the N332 towards the resorts and golf courses of south Costa Blanca or up the A7 motorway, around Alicante city, to the mountains and coastal towns in north Costa Blanca. But what about Alicante itself?
It was many years after first landing there that we ventured into the city. I’m not a lover of large British cities despite living on the edge of the city of Norwich. But there are large towns bigger than Norwich, and there are few high rise buildings so it doesn’t feel like London or Birmingham. Alicante too is, like many Spanish cities, quite small scale. Also like other Spanish coastal cities it has sandy beaches, tourist hotels and an old castle sat on the hill on the sea front.

Castillo de Santa Barbara is definitely worth a visit. You can either walk up to the castle from the car park at the back or go up a lift inside the cliff via a long futuristic tunnel leading from the sea front. Like all attractions in Spain it is not very well signposted, so give yourself time to find it! You can hire a recorded tour guide in English, well worth the few euros it cost, as the castle is steeped in history and went through several changes over its centuries of use.
Alicante city is a clean and lively place, with an old town of narrow pedestrianised streets and cultural museums. You can take an open-topped tour bus around the city or just meander on foot. The famous mosaic walkway along the coast road is designed to look like waves, I haven’t a clue how many billions of tiny tiles were used to make it, and it is lined with giant trees – who would have thought the rubber plant in the corner of your lounge could ever become that big?
Alicante city is worth a day trip or a long weekend visit.

PART 40 An Ex-pat, not an immigrant

PART 40 An Ex-pat, not an immigrant!

time for thinking

The British way to get yourself understood abroad seems to try first in normal English, when that fails we try speaking very loudly and slowly, but still in English. For reasons beyond normal rationality we figure that will work. Why? Is it because we are rude and arrogant or is it because learning another language in school in the UK is not prioritised or valued enough? The Scandinavians almost grow up bi-lingual, learning English alongside their native tongue from kindergarten age, and many, as a result, seem adept at learning other languages too. My multi-lingual friends and acquaintances all grew up bi-lingual whereas here in the UK it often high school before learning a foreign language is taken seriously in education.
The hypercritical way some Brits abroad defiantly, almost triumphantly, live in Spain for many years without bothering to learn more than café con leche or cerveza, or speak only their own ‘Spanglish’, never ceases to amaze and dismay me. They are the first to criticise the immigrants in the UK who don’t speak English within three weeks of arriving; but an Englishman abroad is not an immigrant, an Englishman abroad is an ex-pat!
However after years in Spain, having lived in their ex-pat (immigrant) community, drinking and eating in bars with only English speaking or ex-pat (immigrant) staff, and dipping into the odd Spanish fiesta or parade only when attending with a group of other ex-pats (immigrants), they can come unstuck. It’s when the difficult things in life happen, like illness, that they realise they are actually living in a foreign country (they are an immigrant!) and the nurses don’t all speak English and you have to pay for an interpreter or rely on ex-pat volunteers who did learn the language (immigrants who have integrated better!) to come to your rescue. One day, if you live in Spain, you will wish you had bothered with Spanish, so why wait? You may even find you enjoy living the dream a lot more through being able to live a fuller and more integrated life in the sun.


Our Spanish Dream PART 39 First year of Spanish Dream Property

First year of Spanish Dream Property

Spanish  Dream Property

Where Your Dream Matters

To say the first year was a steep learning curve is probably an understatement. We needed to find the right places to advertise and promote our service and we made a couple of expensive mistakes even applying the lessons learned about targeted advertising from our other business.
Our web site was, and still is, designed and hosted by an English guy living in Spain. This was cheaper than having someone in the UK design it but it also meant he had a better understanding of what it needed to achieve as he already had several estate agents as clients and understood the need for being able to use feeds from other sites that were in different formats and could talk in ‘tech language’ to Spanish as well as English designers of those sites. Maybe it’s an age thing, but computers are as alien to me as Martians! I went to a school that was considered privileged for having one computer – it resided in a special computer room and took up almost the entire room!
However by the end of that first year we had happy clients, which was our objective. The recession was biting hard, house prices in Spain were still falling, Spanish mortgages were by then almost impossible to obtain and austerity was the new watch word, so we figured happy clients was pretty good going!
On a sad personal note, having beaten cancer previously, my now 78 year old Dad was diagnosed with leukaemia in October 2010. During his treatment complications of facial skin cancer developed, a terrible battle that he could never win. I cannot fault the care he received over the next three years from the Spanish health service and Denia hospital. He was always treated with respect and dignity.
Healthcare in Spain is something all those planning to relocate need to consider. The equivalent of the NHS in Spain is good, ranking well in the EU tables, but it is not freely available to all who move there. Rules change, and have changed since we first made our plans to relocate, and that has forced us to change our plans accordingly. Check-out the situation for your personal needs before making the move.