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Hello, today is Sunday, July 14th, 2024 

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Garlic bites-drinking out feb 2010



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ABOUT THE WRITER: Hendson Quan is a freelance writer based in California USA and writes with the purpose that travel and entertainment readers like stories to be personal, original and literary, not the usual guidebook recounting of where and what; they want to sense the magic and wonder of a place, to know what it means to go there, to know how the visitor might be changed by the journey; they also want to know about the people that live in a place, their regional customs, and where the locals hang out.  Moreover, readers want to smell the aromas, taste the  food, and explore the streets and walk down the hidden paths.

BattloLa MilaSagradaSagradaParc GuellParc GuellLos CaracolesLos CaracolesLos CaracolesLos CaracolesLos CaracolesLos CaracolesLos Caracoles

The Barcelona Airport information agent answered my question without hesitation, "See as many pieces of Gaudi's works as possible." Not the foods, not the shopping, not even the famed  Las Ramblas. I had done my homework, reading up for my trip. Architect and designer Antoni Gaudi, who lived 1852 - 1926, is the most internationally prestigious figure in Spanish architecture. He is also one of the most revered personalities in Spain, particularly in Barcelona where his work is concentrated.

Catalonia is an autonomous region of Spain in the north-east portion of the Iberian Peninsula, with the official status of a "nationality." Its capital city is Barcelona, the centre of "Modernism," the term depicting a cultural movement by the people of Catalonia for national identity. And Gaudi is generally considered the grand master of Catalan Modernism in its heyday. World architectural experts have hailed his work, while adhering to Modernism, to even go beyond that, being characterized by the predominance of the curve over the straight line, the expression of asymmetry, and the integration with various crafts such as stained glass, wrought iron forging and carpentry.

BatlloWell, one would be hard-pressed not to see it as he approaches it. And I was no exception. Casa Batllo’s front façade sure looked like a bunch of bone features to me, a layman when it comes to architecture. In fact, I later found out that the locals call it "Casa dels ossos" or the House of Bones. Built in 1877, it was restored and partially remodelled by Gaudi during 1904 - 1906. He focused on the facade, the main floor, the patio and the roof, and built a fifth floor for the staff. The facade is of Montjuic sandstone cut to create warped ruled surfaces, the columns are bone-shaped with vegetable decoration. Gaudi kept the original rectangular shape of the building's balconies - with iron railings in the shape of masks - giving the rest of the facade an ascending undulating form. He also faced the facade withBatllo ceramic fragments of various colours ("trencadis"), which Gaudi obtained from the waste material of the Pelegri glass works.

The interior courtyard is roofed by a skylight supported by an iron structure in the shape of a double T, which rests on a series of catenary arches. The helicoidal chimneys are a notable feature of the roof, topped with conical caps, covered in clear glass in the centre and ceramics at the top, and surmounted by clear glass balls filled with sand of different colours. Much of the facade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles ("trencadis") that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and likened to the back of a dragon. At the first floor level of the undulating facade is a striking stone structure in the form of loggia supported by columns with frame fine windows decorated with stained glass. The ceramics and multi-coloured glass mosaics of the upper part are interrupted by iron balconies in the form of venetian masks. Crowning the whole is a suggestive tile roof over double garrets, which evokes the back of a dragon. Casa Batllo gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2005.

Casa MilaCasa Mila, better known as La Pedrera, was designed by Gaudi and built during 1905 - 1910. What a humongous building, I thought to myself, as I first saw it standing at the corner located at 92 Passeig de Gracia in Barcelona's Eixample district.

The brochures available at its gift store combined with my walk-through helped me to really appreciate what a fine and unique piece of architecture La Pedrea is. Gaudi designed the house around two large, curved courtyards, with a structure of stone, brick and cast-iron columns and steel beams. The façade is built of limestone from Vilafranca del Penedes, apart from the upper level, which is covered in white tiles, evoking a snowy mountain. It has a total of five floors, plus a loft made entirely of catenary arches, as well as two large interior courtyards, one circular and one oval. I particularly noticed the roof, topped with the four-armed cross, and the chimneys, covered in ceramics and with shapes that suggest mediaeval helmets. It was a controversial design at the time for its bold forms of the undulating stone façade and wrought iron decoration of the balconies and windows. In 1984, Casa Mila was declared World Heritage by UNESCO. Another interesting fact is that Gaudi wanted its occupants to know each other so he designed lifts on every other floor only so people had more interaction and thus had to communicate with one another from different floors.

SagradaPerhaps his most famous work, during the last years of his career, Gaudi devoted almost exclusively to Sagrada Familia, a monumental church to say the least, whose formal name, in English, is Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family. I arrived at a morning hour that I thought was early, but the line of waiting visitors had already stretched from the front around to the left side of the cathedral, with more visitors to follow as the minutes ticked.

Across from it, on limited open space ingenuous merchants had set up shop, selling a wide variety of souvenir items and snacks. In fact, on the sidewalk slightly from the curb, merchants had placed at various spots small tables and chairs for those who just wanted to sit, have a soda, relax and take in the majestic view of Sagrada Familia. I overheard from a passing tour guide that the wait to get inside the cathedral was going to be almost two hours. Taking a cue from other visitors, I bought a cold soda and some snacks and quickly grabbed an empty chair and claimed the table nearest to it. This was going to be my base for taking in the grandeur of the Sagrada Familia.

Among the many expert comments I read, Sagrada Familia can be summed up as Gaudi’s achievement of perfect harmony between structural and ornamental elements, between plastic and aesthetic, between function and form, between container and content, achieving the integration of all arts in one structured, logical work. It is probably the most remarkable cathedral in Europe, and it’s not even finished yet! It was in an unfinished state at the time of Gaudi’s death in 1926, the work stopped in 1936 and resumed sixteen years later in 1952. Projected completion is in 2026, the centennial of Gaudi’s death. Sagrada

At completion, there would be extraordinary facades representing the birth, death and resurrection of Christ with eighteen towers or spires symbolizing the twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and the Christ. UNESCO bestowed 2 titles of World Heritage status – one for the Nativity façade and the other for the crucifixion façade. I could see that visitors may be confused into thinking that these facades represent the front and the back of the cathedral, when in fact they are actually the sides.

Parc GuellLocals I encountered invariably mentioned Parc Guell, a municipal garden on the hill of El Carmel in Barcelona’s Gracia district. On a pleasant Spring morning, I started off from Placa de Catalunya, the huge square just minutes by foot from my hotel, by taking the #24 bus. I had deliberately planned this particularly long ride, with the idea of leisurely seeing the various Barcelona’s neighbourhoods from one end of the city to another.

Parc Guell was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site; of sixty lots, only two houses were built, and Gaudi occupied one of them from 1906 to his death in 1926.


Among the many examples of Gaudi’s designing genius evident here is the huge plaza, surrounding by a long winding bench in the form of a sea serpent.The bench has small semi-enclosed areas where the facing of a brightly coloured ceramics creates a spectacular collage. Parc Guell


Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984, at its highest point Parc Guell offers a panoramic view of the city and the bay, including the Sagrada Familia.








Los CaracolesEat: After the full day’s eyeful feast of Gaudi’s works, I was ready for a feast of another kind. For that, I followed the recommendation of a colleague and dined at Los Caracoles Restaurant, conveniently located off the city’s famed La Rambla, just a two minute walk from Reial Plaza. I found this restaurant to be a combination of old world charm and very fine food.

Started in 1835 by the Bofarull family as Casa Bofarull, it is run by its fifth generation under the more fitful name of Los Caracoles to reflect a signature dish of snails. As I stepped inside, I could see the long exquisite bar on the left and the big stove in the open cooking area on the right. I later found out that the coal- burning stove is over one hundred years old.

I made my way straight through about 15 meters (50 feet), slowly and at times even stopping, turning my head left and right, to admire the beautiful bar and the impressive cooking facility.

At its end, I was greeted by a gracious woman who introduced herself as Aurora. She led me through several floors of dining areas, some with private dining rooms of various sizes whose walls were hung with framed pictures of Spanish and international celebrities who have dined at Los Caracoles over the years. On one of the pictures, I recognized the famous Italian opera singer Luciano Pavorotti.



Los Caracoles

Los Caracoles big stove

Los Caracoles

Los Caracoles myself with Aurora

Los Caracoles

Los Caracoles Dining room

After an appetizer plate consisting of garlic shrimp, bread with tomato, jamon (Iberian ham) and snail bread, I ordered the caracoles (snails) without hesitation. When they came, I could smell the sauce, and went right to work on them with both hands. I was sure the sauce mix was proprietary but could taste that it included fresh garlic, a bit of salt and black pepper, olive oil and mint springs. Next came the entrée, salmon “house style,” and what a dish. Just mouth-watering, and freshness of taste. I especially liked its accompaniments – lightly fried potatoes, green onion stalks, and tomato. While the restaurant has an extensive wines list, I opted for a pitcher of sangria and it served me well throughout the course as I enjoyed the delicious meal. For dessert, it was Catalan cream, similar to crème brulee. I had of course tasted flan, custard, or crème brulee, but this one was unusually rich and savoury. All in all, a very fine dining experience for elegance and flavour.

If you go:


Los Caracoles

Los Caracoles Appetizer

Los Caracoles

Los Caracoles Snails

Los Caracoles

Los Caracoles Salmon Entrée



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Costalingua language academy Oct 2011


Costalingua S.A. is not only the new Language Academy in L'Hospitalet de l'Infant; Costalingua also lets bungalows at La Margarita, directly on the beach in L'Hospitalet's Playa Arenal. Among other things, Costalingua offers a combination of beach holidays and Spanish courses for adults. Of course, you can also take a language course or rent a bungalow separately. Costalingua is managed by the joint owners, Dr. Annalisa Rei and Stefan Auer.

...... "Our goal is to offer you a personalized and inspiring holiday experience, and we are personally committed to ensuring the highest quality, both in our bungalows and in our language courses.
We are a professional couple from Switzerland in our mid-forties, with many years of experience in business and education. We both come from the business world, having spent many years working in executive positions in large multinational organizations. Both of us are fluent in several languages (German, English, Italian, Spanish, French) and have lived and worked in different countries. We also have long-standing ties to Spain. Since we love the lifestyle of the Costa Dorada we decided to make it our home.
For the language academy this means that we are committed to providing top quality courses that focus on your individual learning objectives. We want you to succeed in communicating, be it to further your business or to enrich your personal relations!"

costalinguaLearn Spanish the fun way! Speaking Spanish will enable you to immerse yourself in the local culture and communicate more effectively for business and for personal networking. You can benefit from our adult group classes, courses specialising on communication for the tourism industry, classes for retired persons etc. As you know, the local authorities only offer Catalan, which is quite difficult to study if you don't have basic Spanish.
Lessons take place in small groups of max. 8 persons, so as to offer you both the benefit of personalized attention and plenty of speaking opportunities. Our methods are motivating and interactive, unlike other language academies we don't focus exclusively on grammar but rather on conversation for real life. You will feel at ease and will speak freely, building on what you already know. Our experienced native teachers will encourage and motivate you, helping you to take your communication skills to the next level.

costalinguaBeside Spanish, we also offer courses in four other languages, French, German, Russian, and English.
Our classrooms are air-conditioned, bright and newly equipped. We also provide multi-media devices and internet access. But above all, we want to activate your communication abilities inside and outside of the classroom!

We look forward to welcoming you at Costalingua Language Academy –
To find out more, call us, on 977 822 465, visit us on the internet on, or simply drop by our school in L'Hospitalet de l'Infant (C. Llastres,1 - opposite Hotel Sancho). Or send us an Email on
We look forward to seeing you soon!


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Punch and Judy Aug 2011

Remember Punch and Judy show on the beach in front of Brighton Pier.

punchWith his wicked grin and beaky nose Mr. Punch is known round the world, making him the most famous puppet character of all time. His unique career as a street entertainer is now in its fourth century and still his impish antics are as popular as ever. His comic irreverence gave 'PUNCH' magazine its title. His anarchic vitality has inspired opera, ballet and punk rock and his enduring popularity has seen his likeness on goods ranging from Victorian silverware to computer video games.

(Not all of Punch's historians agree about everything - particularly on why he turned from being a string puppet to being a hand puppet). Historians generally accept that Mr. Punch is descended from the Italian clown Pulcinella who was a character in the Commedia Dell' Arte tradition of the 15th Century. Puppet plays featuring the character subsequently toured Europe and one troupe - led by a 'Signor Bologna' - was seen in Covent Garden by Samuel Pepys on May 9th 1662 during the festivities surrounding the wedding of Charles II following his Restoration to the throne. This date is today considered 'Punch's Birthday'. London crowds transformed the puppets name to the more pronounceable Punchinello before shortening it to Mr. Punch. This new irreverent wooden star (at this time a marionette, worked by pulling strings) was taken up by British puppeteers and he travelled the country for the next century. By 1800, however, he had (for reasons historians argue about) become a hand puppet in the little street corner stage we still know today. He had acquired a wife called Judy and once again taken to using his clown's slapstick. (Marionettes can't wield slapsticks as their real-life actor counterparts had done - but it's what hand puppets do best.) This colourful knockabout 'Punch and Judy Show' enjoyed a huge following which - as the century wore on - took him to the seaside as crowds flocked there on the newfangled railway excursions. He even spread to Australia and America - where he can still be found. Familiarity gradually saw him transform into a children's entertainer in which role he saw out the end of the 19th Century and the entire 20th Century. He's now still going strong 349 years after Samuel Pepys first saw him. His European odyssey saw him become Polichinelle in France and Petrushka in Russia. Historian's trace his pre-Commedia roots to the farce players of Ancient Greece and to the archetypal 'Trickster' figure from world folklore. He is an aspect of the Lord of Misrule - which is why he appeals to those for whom there are just too many rules and too many authority figures.

punch and judyMr. Punch has been around a long time now. He's looked out from his little stage onto all kinds of changes in public attitudes spanning Restoration Bawdiness, Victorian Values, Edwardian Imperialism, the War Years, the Swinging Sixties and the Yuppy Years. To him the Political Correctness Period is just another of those phases, one in which old arguments are clothed in new words. He's always had his detractors among the self-elected guardians of public morality, a minority who just don't approve of him, and the grounds for their disapproval have changed according to the fashions of the time: Puritan blue noses yesterday, PC fundamentalists today. Charles Dickens (a huge fan of Mr. Punch) penned the definitive put-down when approached by a woman enlisting his support in her claim that Punch was an instrument of the Devil. He wrote "In my opinion the Street Punch is one of those extravagant reliefs from the realities of life.....I regard it as quite harmless in its influence and as an outrageous joke which no one in existence would think of regarding as a model for any kind of conduct". What fun Dickens might have had today in creating an embodiment of fanatical political correctness to sit alongside such immortal caricatures as Wackford Squeers or Ebeneezer Scrooge.

punch and judypunch and judyThere is, of course, more to Punch than meets the eye - which is a trap that Bodmin Town Council recently fell into when they endorsed a complaint which complained that the show concerned "a man, woman and child whose only interaction with each other is based on violence". (Yes of course - and 'Snow White' is about seven little men living in a strange house in the woods with a young girl. What kind of example is this to set before young minds? Alert Social Services! Boycott Disney!) A closer look at that stick Mr. Punch wields will reveal it to be a slapstick. It's the very theatrical prop that gave us the term 'slapstick comedy' and which in one form or another has been a principal weapon in the clown's armoury for centuries. It is the same approach to physical comedy you find in the madcap cartoon world of 'Tom and Jerry' and 'Bugs Bunny'. You've got to be pretty humourless (a condition, alas, which often goes hand-in-hand with fundamentalism) to hear the accompanying roars of laughter as endorsements of gratuitous violence. And don't let anyone alarm you with tales of "men in make-up routinely humiliating each other within a context of communal violence" that will just be a well meaning Town Council trying to describe a clowns custard-pie fight.
And there's more. Historian's trace the comic DNA back from Pulcinella to the farce players of Ancient Greece and down to one of the basic characters of world folklore: the Trickster - a kind of Lord of Misrule created by cultures to put things in a topsy-turvy way so that society can confront its demons and laugh itself back to health. Laughter has long been proverbially known as being the best medicine - and it's the remedy that Mr. Punch purveys. It's a weapon (along with his slapstick) that in the traditional version of the show he uses on the Devil himself to vanquish Old Nick once and for all. Now that's as powerful a moral as you'll find in any tale and certainly an outcome Faust never managed. As feminist cultural historian Marina Warner puts it in her book 'No Go the Bogeyman' "Punch's sequential victories can be read as affirming the inextinguishable vigour of Everyman against all comers including Death". You can also look at the show (no two are the same) as a centuries old forerunner of The Simpsons offering a bizarre parody of family life, with excursions into the surreal, and using a basic comic format to take a sideways look at the society which gave it birth.

Either way it's with laughter that Mr. Punch generally responds to his critics, for it is the humourless fundamentalist who is his most blinkered detractor. He won't change their view any more than they will change his - but he can put them to scorn and diminish their power. So as you go about your Hallow'eening, Mr. Punch's advice is to take no notice of those who tell you that you are promoting Satanism, eat up your wine gums in defiance of any politically correct Alcohol Abuse campaigners claiming you're setting a bad example, and if anyone comes up to you with a scare story about fat old men breaking into children's' bedrooms at night remember it's probably just Bodmin Town Council finally discovering Santa.

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A Day On the Beach in Terres d'Ebre- Aug 2011

blue flag

Several beaches in Terres de l'Ebre have been awarded a blue flag; this is a distinction which recognizes the quality of the water, safety and lifeguard service. The leisure harbours at L'Ampolla and L'Ametlla de Mar also have blue flags, which were awarded for respect and management of the environment. Each year, when the summer season gets close the Associació d'Educació Ambiental i del Consumidor (Environmental Education and Consumers Association - publishes a list of beaches and leisure harbours which have been recognized with this award of quality.

beach crabs

Beaches on the Ebre coast which have a blue flag are:

-Platja de Pixavaques (L'Ametlla de Mar)- Pixavaques Beach and Pepo cove are really small. They are just a few metres away from l'Ametlla de Mar, and the semi urban surroundings mean you can enjoy both nature and the conveniences of a town.
Width: 40 m .Length: 70 m
-Cala Forn (L'Ametlla de Mar)- near Sant Jordi, Vidre and Forn Coves are the remains of a now restored castle from the thirteenth century, which was once the headquarters for the Order of Sant Jordi d'Alfama during the Middle Ages.
Width: 80 m .Length: 80 m
-Platja de l'Alguer (L'Ametlla de Mar)- l'Alguer Beach is one of the closest to l'Ametlla de Mar. The promenade, running alongside it leads down to the narrow streets of white houses or the fishing harbour, where you can try the local seafood cuisine.
Width: 25 m. Length: 120 m
-Platja de Sant Jordi d'Alfama (L'Ametlla de Mar)- Near Sant Jordi Beach, Vidre Cove and Forn Cove are the remains of a thirteenth century castle, which has now been restored. It was the headquarters for the Order of Sant Jordi d'Alfama during the middle ages.
Width: 70 m. Length: 100 m
-Cala Calafató (L'Ametlla de Mar)- Although most of the coastal area in l'Ametlla de Mar is rugged, in the north of this seaside town there are lots of fine sandy coves, like Calafat Cove, Calafató Beach and Ribellet Cove.
Width: 15 m. Length: 20 m
-Platja de Cap Roig (L'Ampolla)- The intense green of the pine trees contrasts with the blue of the water and the red reflections from the rocky cliffs, which gives the beach its name. In the distance you can make out an occasional boat on the horizon.
Width: 60 m. Length: 250 m
Platja dels Avellaners (L'Ampolla)- Located in the middle of the village, Les Avellanes is one of the easiest beaches to reach in the area. Along the promenade going around it, is a viewpoint and restaurants and bars where you can have refreshments while the sea breeze brushes your skin and makes the heat of the summer sun more bearable.
Width: 80 m. Length: 250 m


-Platja de Riumar (Deltebre)- Riumar Beach is near the Ebre River estuary, where still waters predominate and the small islands form lagoons. It is the ideal place to observe pink flamingoes while they are feeding in this unique ecosystem.
Width: 80 m. Length: 1.1 km
-Platja de les Delícies (Sant Carles de la Ràpita)- Just after you go past the fishing harbour in Sant Carles de la Ràpita you will find Garbí Beach, and a little further on is the little Les Delícies Beach. It is situated very close to the town centre, and is a lovely fine sandy beach, which has been awarded the blue flag due to the quality of its water and the services on offer.
Width: 25 m. Length: 200 m
-Platja de Garbí (Sant Carles de la Ràpita)- If you go just past the harbour you will come to Garbí Beach. From here, you can see the calm waters of Alfacs bay - and the outline of Punta de la Banya in the distance- both are breathtaking.
Width: 50 m. Length: 350 m



-Platja de les Cases d'Alcanar (Alcanar)- All along the beach at Les Cases, beautiful, pure, white pebbles glisten between the sea and the promenade of this charming seaside village.
Width: 28 m. Length: 288 m




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treus story violin playerIn Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.
About 4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
At 6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
At 10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.
At 45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
After 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.
This experiment raised several questions:
*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?
One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . ..
How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?
Enjoy life NOW .. it has an expiry date.

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In the History of Skiing, it is said that Skiing started in Northern Europe and Asia thousands of years ago. It is believed that the first skiers used Skis from the bones of large animals strapping the bones to the toe of their boots using leather strips. Meanwhile, wooden Skis believed to be 2,500 to 5,000 years old were found in Norway, Finland, and Sweden. All these early Skis were mostly used on flat ground since the Ski Bindings were loose toe straps that would not keep the Skis attached to the Ski Boots during downhill runs.


SKIINGSkis were used in war. This was during the Battle of Oslo, Norway (A.D. 1200) where Norwegian scouts used Skis to spy on Swedish enemies. In 1747, a Norwegian military Ski company was formed. This paved the way of introducing the manner of fastening the Skis both at the heels and toes of boots. In this way, the Skis remained attached even in Downhill Skiing.

Modern Skiing developed in 1850. Sondre Norheim, a Norwegian, invented the first stiff bindings. He made them by tying pieces of twisted wet birch roots on his boots. These roots dried up and turned stiff. These Bindings provided more control than leather straps. With these improved Bindings, Sondre Norheim had come up with new turning motions.

OLD SKIINGOther Skiing enthusiasts marked the development of modern Skiing. In 1896, Mathias Zdarsky of Austria introduced the technique of pushing one Ski at an angle to the fall line in order to control speed. During the early part of 1900s, Hannes Schneider, also of Austria, got inspired of Zdarsky's technique and developed new stopping and turning maneuvers, which he organized into the first formal method of Ski instruction. It was later known as the Arlberg technique, in which most modern Skiing Techniques were based.

In the early 1900s, Skiing became a very popular competitive sport. The first Slalom race was held in 1921 in Switzerland. After three years, Nordic competitions became part of the first Winter Olympic Games, as well as the Alpine Skiing events which were included in 1936.

SWIM SUIT SKIINGIn the early part of World War II (1939-1945), Finnish troops used Ski patrols to resist the Russian intruders, and in 1945, Ski troops of the U.S. army fought the Germans in the mountains of Italy.

The rapid radiation of alpine skiing from these small mountain towns out to every continent and remote corners of the earth was a completely unforeseen phenomenon, a profound surprise in size and extent.
SWIM SUIT SKIINGAfter the war, Skiing was seen in a whole new perspective. Winners of international skiing competitions got increasing publicity. This publicity, as well as the extensive television coverage of different Ski events and exposure to other forms of media, have stimulated recreational Skiing. In fact, around 400 resorts were built in the United States in 1960. Nowadays, Skiing is the most popular winter sport, with about 45 million fans and thousands of Ski Resorts worldwide. The sport has developed itself in a couple of ways coming with a number of variations of which Snowboarding is the largest.

The Skiing Timeline:
This timeline of historical events in the world of skiing represents the results of the work of a group of ski historians between 2005/2007 under the leadership of longtime (now retired) FIS Committee member from the UK, Elisabeth Hussey. The goal of the group was to compile an international timeline of events which were important over the whole history of skiing. Here are just a few facts.
CAVE PAINTINGS6300 BC: 6300-5000 BC Oldest skis found in Russia near Lake Sindor (about 1,200km northwest of Moscow). Skis made of hard wood.
4000 BC: Rock carvings found at Bøla, Norway.
3300 BC: The Salla ski was found in Finland in 1938. Originally 180cm long, about 15cm wide with 5 grooves.
c.2000BC: Earliest known picture of skiers. A cave wall in Tjoetta, Norway, provided the backdrop for an artist's drawing of colleagues using skis to hunt elk.
SKI BOOT1860s Skis were used by miners in Durham, England. 1864: Johannes Badrutt kept St Moritz open in winter and bet his English guests they would find it as sunny as in summer. He won his bet and St Moritz became a centre of winter sports.
1881: John F. Baddely founded Yukki Ski Club at St Petersburg - the earliest English ski club.
1893: 2 February first ski competition in Central Europe at Murzzuschlag, including downhill race with 9.5 degree pitch of 600 m, heats and the final won by W.B. Samson, a Norwegian. and the ski jump was won by Samson with a 6m jump.
1905: First issue of Year-Book of the Ski Club of Great Britain.
EARLIEST SKI LIFT1908: One of the first skilifts in the world set up in Schollach, Schwarzwald. It rose 75 m and was 550 m long. Another early lift specifically made for skiing was invented by Robert Winterhalder, who owned a small hotel in the Black Forest (Germany). Winterhalder thought that for winter sport fans it was as terrible to have to climb the slopes as it was pleasant to go down on skis and sleds. That made him create a mechanical system to climb the slopes sitting on a sled or sliding standing on skis and, after a few years testing that system, he created a cable with continuos movement, driven by a motor and with hooks to hold on to. As the power source for his invention, Winterhalder used the engine of a water mill from his hotel, which he previously converted in a mini hydro-electric power station. Winterhalder´s lift had a length of 280m and a vertical of 28m, and the cable passed by 5 wooden towers. It was inaugurated on the 14th of February 1908, and a ticket for 10 rides costed 1 Mark.
OLD SKIS1911: Downhill Telemarks become fashionable with English skiers. Single pole almost extinct. 1933: Ski jumping record of 281 feet, held by Alf Engen of Salt Lake City, broken by Robert S Lymburne with a jump of 287ft. 1933: Laminated ski construction using permanently waterproof glues patented simultaneously by Bjorn Ullevoldsaeter of Ostbye-Splitkein in Norway and George Aaland of Anderson & Thompson in Seattle. John Woodward, quoted by Seth Masia in "The Splitkein Patent", Skiing Heritage. December 2003.
SKIINSNOW1936 - 6 - 16 February: First Winter Olympic Games to include Alpine races (Slalom and Downhill but medal awarded for Combined only) for men and women. Nordic Relay Race introduced. Held at Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER).
1950: Howard Head sold first successful sandwich construction ski.
1957: ob Lange made the first plastic ski boot. Commercial introduction came in 1964 after adoption of buckles. Also first step-in binding made by Cubco.
2009: Women's jumping Court case on 15 Nov to decide if women can jump at Vancouver Olympics. VANOC announcement.

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BUTTERFLY CHARTERS in san carles de la Rapita. Escape from the crowds and enjoy a memorable day afloat Butterfly, a classic yacht in the Delta del Ebro. Relax with an ice cold drink, spread out on the huge deck cushions and experience the tranquillity of sailing around the beautiful Alfaques Bay. july 2010

butterflyBUTTERFLY is moored in the harbour of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, where it has been available for charter for a year now. LUCAS, her young owner, discovered the Taiwanese yacht four years ago in Croatia and transported the ship to Spain himself within five weeks.

BUTTERFLY was in a very uncared for state and had to be completely restored, from the ground up. Lucas’ family also operates the “Varadero” (stockyard / ship building) in the harbour of Sant Carles de la Ràpita, and there the young man found the best conditions for renovating the ship, staying true to the original but using the most up to date technology and materials. The yacht is technically state-of-the-art and offers supreme comfort, for the safety and well-being of its charter guests is of the highest priority when on board. The cabins are adorned and decorated with the finest wood and artistic carvings, from the floor to the ceiling. The “Formosa” shipyard on the island of Formosa in Taiwan is famous for its high quality yacht building.

Butterflybutterflybutterfly chartersbutterfly chartersbutterfly chartersbutterfly chartersbutterfly charters

Lucas offers his charter guests a variety of destinations, with various activities.
Relax with an ice cold drink, spread out on the huge deck cushions and experience the tranquillity of sailing around the beautiful Alfaques Bay.
butterfly chartersYou will sail along the 8 beaches of Sant Carles de la Ràpita and across the bay through the largest mussel farms in the Mediterranean searching for a quiet spot to drop anchor for bathing and eat our delicious picnic.
You can visit interesting spots such as the Salinas de la Trinidad, the Sant Joan Tower and the “Banya” Point. A favourite is dropping anchor and bathing off the beaches of the Ebro Delta Natural Park, or a visit to the unusual restaurant “Xiringuito de la Costa” (built in the water) and the small fishing harbour of Les Cases d'Alcanar where you will find some excellent restaurants. You can find plenty of time to enjoy the tranquillity of the bay and above all, the gentle billowing of the sails.
Watching of migratory birds like flamingos, is a main attraction in the Delta del Ebro National Park and possible on board Butterfly. Captain Lucas will be happy to teach you how to sail or initiate you into trolling for fish.

The evening sailing tours are at sunset, at night or during the full moon, they are an exclusive offer on the coast and especially romantic. Delicious snacks from the region are served on board during these idyllic excursions, or tapas of local seafood with a bottle of cava is one more option.
3 and 6 hour tours with delicious picnic based on typical local dishes included, with the possibility of tasting local sea food.
butterfly charters

Sunset cruises and moonlight cruises.
Ideal for celebrations. THE PERFECT GIFT

Prices starting at 35 € per person (25 € kids under 14)
Maximum capacity: 12 persons
Minimum 2 persons

Contact Lucas to discuss your requirements and any special requests as he is very flexible and wants to make your trip as enjoyable as possible. Call 660 907 189 or call into the office at Barcos la Rapita in front of the San Carles de la Ràpita, harbour.



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"DICK'S HOUSE" opening July 2010...

Dicks House  El PerelloDicks House  El PerelloDicks House  El PerelloDicks House  El PerelloDicks House  El PerelloDicks House  El PerelloDicks House  El PerelloDicks House  El Perello

We promised you more information about Dick's House in a past issue of the magazine. Well we now have pleasure in introducing this new house.

Dick who created Carpe Diem 5 years ago to the magical restaurant and guest house that you all now know and love has now also turned his creative flair to offer you this new house. The house has been tastefully restored and personally decorated by Dick over the recent months.

It is open to Private Parties, catered or self-catered whatever you prefer to have a fun break in relaxing surroundings and chilling out by the pool. There are 5 bedrooms all with individual en suite luxury showers. A modern kitchen, relaxing lounge and an elegant dining room. Not forgetting the terraces and the sun loungers around the pool area.

Dick's small exclusive house is ideal for weddings, birthday parties, special romantic weekends... just about any event where you want that extra special setting with luxurious surroundings.

Dicks House  El PerelloNEW OPENING SPECIAL OFFERS INCLUDE 3 days, incl. FULL BOARD plus excursions with personal transport in Dick's Hummer to Sitges where you can take a relaxing cruise abroad a traditional Minorcan boat see or go horseback riding and explore the area see
Price for the opening in July 199,-- Euros/p.p. (min. 4 pers.)

Dicks House  El PerelloWeekend packages built to your requirements...just ask!
For more information please use Carpe Diem's contact details:

We can make your dreams come true ...

It is situated on the opposite side of the El Perelló to Rasquera road from Carpe Diem

Carpe Diem El perelloCarpe Diem ... magical moments all year at Restaurant Carpe Diem Spend your time enjoying an excellent meal in wonderfully decorated surroundings ...

Carpe Diem El perelloCarpe Diem El perelloCarpe Diem El perelloCarpe Diem El perelloCarpe Diem El perello

Carpe Diem, which in latin means 'Seize the Day', is the philosophy of the owners and strongly represents their way of living and is reflected in the restaurant and guest house. Travelling between El Perelló and Rasquera in the Baix d Ebre region between kilometre 8 and 9 there stands a rock with "Carpe Diem" painted on. Turn off right here and follow the signs to find an oasis of luxury and peace.

Surrounded by olive trees and in the very heart of nature, the restaurant materialises magically to transport you to unknown spheres and delights. It is wonderfully and tastefully decorated lit by candle light . Different styles melt together to achieve a unique ambience.

There are two big dining-rooms and a terrace with a beautiful swimming pool to relax in. There is even a sauna and a jacuzzi. Four bedroom-suites are at your disposal in case you decide to spend the night in this incredible and unforgettable place.
Carpe Diem is definitely a different and outstanding place where you will enjoy the present forgetting about the past and the future.

You can relax in their well designed garden where you will find a rather grand 'duck pond' where you can watch the sunset.. You can dine on the terrace with uninterrupted views of the garden and pool area while listening to the birds in the aviary.Afterwards perhaps relax on the well padded loungers around the pool positioned under enormous umbrellas to protect you from the scorching sun but then you can always just slide into the refreshing cool water in the pool.

Dick is always trying out new things combining classic and modern recipes to bring you extra delights on the menu. All are always served in an elegant and outstanding way. The desserts which are home-made are also worth a compliment. There is also a large choice of excellent wines.

During July, August and September they will be open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Saturday and Monday evenings and Sunday lunchtime. There will many special events so please call for latest events. They are looking at special menus on Wednesday/Thursdays for 19.50€ with indian dishes for example. Normal menu with 4 courses is 27.50€

Your visit at Carpe Diem will be unforgettable and will be far more than just having dinner or supper.

Carpe Diem El perelloYou will find us at just in from km 8,5 exit on the Perelló to Rasquera road


678 477 700
678 477 709
977 089 087
We are open from 19.30hrs and on Sunday from 13hrs + .... for news join Restaurant Carpe Diem Perello at Carpe Diem El perello Facebook or give them a call for the latest special events.


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Garlic Bites - Spanish letters - June 2010

chCh - che. From 1803 to 1994 treated as separate letter in the Real Academia dictionary and still part of the abecedario that children chant when they're learning their A,B,C, Ch's. Some of the most evocative, onomatopoeic words in Spanish contain at least one or more of this delicious sound: think of Chupa-chups, chucherías (sweeties), chiringuito (beach bar), chachi (cute, neat), chirimiri (drizzle), cachivache (knick-knack, piece of junk).

LL – elle. Along with ch, ll (pronounced more or less as ‘el-ye’ was also treated as a separate letter of the alphabet in the dictionary from 1803 to 1994. It still represents a separate sound (as in calle, Sevilla, paella, llamar) and is pronounced like an l but with the central part of the tongue humped up against the centre of the palate. Can’t manage it? Not to worry: neither can most Spanish speakers. While upheld as the standard by the Real Academia, the palatal l sound is notoriously unstable, with pronunciation varying from one country and region to another, from y (yamar), to j (jamar) to zh or sh (shamar). The ll is also a letter/sound in its own right in Catalan, characteristically at the beginning of words as in llet (leche), Llafranch (where Tom Sharpe lives) or the double whammy Ramón Llull, the famous 13th-century philosopher from Mallorca.

enyeÑ – enye. A unique Spanish letter and cultural icon - as Spanish as paella, Rioja, Don Quixote and – especially - mañana. The n with a squiggle (tilde) on top developed in the Middle Ages from a double n to represent the new ‘ny’ sound that had developed in the spoken language. Thus sennor became señor and sennora, señora. In Portuguese this sound was represented by ‘nh’ and in Catalan by ‘ny’. Our old Simon & Schuster (bilingual) dictionary has just 44 entries for words beginning with the letter, the most difficult of which to pronounce is ñoño or ñoña, meaning dimwit or stupid.

erreRR – erre. Unlike the other two digraphs, ll and ch, rr (pronounced erre) is not considered a letter in its own right. Like the r in the initial position (rosa, roca, receta), it is pronounced with a rolling trill. That's the theory at any rate. To avoid sounding like a lisping English person (the Scottish have no problems), put the flap of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, think of cats purring, and hope for the best. And, if it helps, try visualising your tongue flapping around in a strong wind. Should you manage to get the hang of trilling, you can drive yourself crazy with this trabalenguas:,
tongue tied Erre con erre cigarro
Erre con erre barril
Rápido corren los autos

In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España. For lots more ‘garlic-style’ info and articles please visit our new blog and website at
©Theresa O’Shea and Valerie Collins 2010.


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Amposta indoor market & the stained glass windows may 2010

amposta marketstained glass ampostastained glass amposta

One day in 1993 when I was, as usual, walking in front of the Central Market of Amposta on the way to my workshop in El Castell, I noticed the sorry state of the windows. I had the idea of fixing a sample panel of stained glass of a flamingo to see how it would look. I got permission from the town hall and so I designed it and it was made in the workshop in El Castell of Amposta where I was artistic director. The sample was fixed in the main façade and both myself and the town hall saw that it worked, and that was the beginning of the project.

stained glass windows ampostaSo after 6 years, in Sept. 1999 the whole project was finished, 56 windows, 287m square of stained glass in the 4 facades, in new white frames. The work is homage to Mother Nature in the Lands of the Ebro. It depicts 13 species of birds. In the 2 Laterals are 5 rice fields, at different times of the year, and one section devoted to the River Ebro. Running through the centre of the 2 Laterals is the Montsia Mountain Range as seen when coming from the Delta. The Main Façade is mainly birds and plants. The Rear Façade is swirls of seagulls and an osprey.

The background glass is blue cathedral. All the rest of the glass is from the USA. In churches, the stained glass is effective only when seen from the inside. However, with this project, I wanted it to be effective from the outside as well. I was especially concerned with the view from the square, on the northern Lateral. I chose iridescent “water glass” for the rice field with water, springtime, so that it would reflect any light, be brilliant and sparkle. For the rice field in winter a brownish glass with an iridescent coating was specially made for us. The lead was foreign and Spanish. Throughout, all the images are contained within an “abstract design system” which links up the four facades.
amposta indoor marketSo there we have it folks, a Homage to the River Ebro, the Delta, Mountains and Flora and Birds of the Lands of the Ebro. All that was and is still missing is a panel in Catalan, Spanish and English, giving information about the project to visitors. You yourself, if you want info about the project, you can ask the town hall why there is not any info at all, let alone for foreign tourists, inside the Market.
In 1999 the Central Market Project was featured in “Glass, An Inspirational Portfolio” by Jera May Morton in New York . Last but not least, I wish to thank my pupils in the workshop “Centre de Vitrall de Amposta”, who were engaged in this 6 year work. I am proud of them, I hope Amposta is too.

Bronson Shaw Tel: 977 44 49 15

amposta marketAmposta Mercado Municple- Built in 1947 by the architect F. J. Barba Corsini, the market stands on the site known as La Fàbrica, where a soap factory and rice drying establishments once stood. This was a place where people once used to come to play such traditional games as bowling, marbles, leapfrog, hopscotch and bèlit (a game played with sticks). The site is now occupied by the municipal market. This building is a large unit with covered arcades on either side where stands are installed. Over these are large windows with magnificent stained glass made using the medieval lead technique and which depict scenes from the Ebro Delta landscape. The market sells fresh local products: fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, green vegetables, bread and pastries, etc.
Address: Av. Alcalde Palau, 68. Opening times: from Monday to Saturday, from 08.00 to 14.00. Street market every Tuesday

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Broadband Internet and Telephone via Satellite- April 2010

system set upIn recent years, satellite communication technology has been used increasingly as a way to connect to the Internet. This can be very useful for users who are located in very remote areas and cannot access a landline broadband or a wireless connection.
A two-way satellite Internet service sends data from remote sites via satellite to a hub, which then sends the data to the Internet.
Satellite systems can be used almost anywhere and we offer the widest coverage of any Satellite Broadband service available. Satellite service can be used not only where ADSL is unavailable, but even where telephone lines can’t reach!

toowaytoowayBeside surfing the web and using email you can use your Satellite system to make and receive phone calls. You can call normal landline and mobile phone numbers all over the world and you can have your own phone number.

iraqoilEl Molino Systems S.L. has been successfully providing and installing satellite systems since 2004 to Home users, Large and small Enterprises, Military and Offshore in the last few years - in Africa, Middle East and Europe: this includes war zones, remote jungle locations and idyllic holiday resorts.
Our wide experience in the satellite market means we are able to undertake projects regardless of the size and location with the utmost confidence, resulting in the best solution for every customer.

el molino


For more information about us, please visit our website



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urban dictionaryGarlic Bites - some slang expressions May 2010


Cojonudo If someone or something is cojonudo, they rock. Literally, this slang word means “endowed with balls”, but now it is equally applied to anyone and anything, and means great, brilliant, fantastic, etc. The current edition of the Diccionario de la Real Academia labels it “vulgar” but tells us that in the next edition it will be slightly softened to “colloquial and sounding a bit off”.

Colega Colleague, in theory. But not really. More like mate or buddy for the under-25s, an acquaintance, rather than a big buddy. At a business meeting, rather than saying: “This is my colega, Juan/Juanita,” try: “This is my compañero de trabajo.” Can also be used as in a watch-it-matey sort of a way, as in: “Oye, colega”.

colegaChulo Awesome/cool/cute/wicked or any “nice” equivalent currently in vogue, as in your new dress “es muy chulo (really cool)”. You can also ponerse chulo (lit. put yourself chulo), meaning to act impertinently or get stroppy. Then there's chulo the noun, used to refer to those who swagger through life with puffed-up pride. Think Delboy. Finally, un chulo is someone who lives off a prostitute's earnings. In other words, a pimp.

Chungo When Valerie’s about-to-retire dentist announced that one of her teeth was chungo, she knew this teenage slang word had finally been absorbed into the mainstream. Chungo means bad, ill, tough, difficult, rotten, unpleasant, malfunctioning and all those things and more. In a word: dodgy.

Finde Weekend for those under 25, and for those who still think they are. From fin de semana, but hey, man (think Neil from Tthe Young Ones), what a mouthful, five whole syllables...

Gilipollas (GgghhhilliPOLyass) Colloquial word meaning dickhead, jerk, prat. Even though it contains the word polla (willy), it is fairly mild. The other half of the word, gili, is from the gypsy language Caló, and means innocent, naive). The small daughter of one Brit went down in Spanglish howler history when she dismissed a schoolmate as a “sillypollas”. Una gilipollez, by the way, is a really stupid thing to say or do.
Gilipuertas Twit. The pollas part of the word is discreetly replaced.

Molar A young people’s slang word, oft heard from the Spanish-dubbed Bart Simpson, meaning to be cool or hot, to rock, or the latest expression of approval. “¡Este coche mola!” conveys the idea that the vehicle in question is really something, it’s great, it’s fantastic. “Esto no me mola” really means “I don’t like this” (it sucks). Like many other Spanish slang words (most of which have also been incorporated into Catalan unchanged) molar is originally from Caló, the language of Spanish gypsies.

Porfa Go on, porfa. Please, please. Por favor. Geddit?
In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España. For lots more ‘garlic-style’ info and articles please visit our new blog and website at
©Theresa O’Shea and Valerie Collins 2010.    

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garlic bites- sweet things april 2010

bollycaoBollycao If your kids go to school with Spanish children, sooner or later they're going to be asking for empty calories in the form of a bollycao – a synthetic chocolate-in-white-bread affair. But then, bizarrely, if you look young and lovely you may well find yourself being described as one. It's not a back-handed compliment, honest. Other more spring-chicken-type compliments include yogur and petit suisse. When it's a Spanish friend's birthday and he / she moans about the advancing years, do say: “But, eres un bollycao / yogur / petit suisse!” What you don't want to say is: “Eres bolleriaun cuajado” (a pot of curdled milk).

Bollería The world of sweet things is complicated in Spanish. Bollos are bun-like cakes and include donuts, croissants, curranty buns, apple slices and pastries, but not fancy cakes with cream and chocolate and other gooey fillings, which are pasteles.


Chucherías (chuches) Teeth-rotting lollipops and rubbery worms and horrible pink squashy things and sickly things in funny shapes, and all the stuff that children whine for and fight over and are given in bags after parties. And are gorged on by all ages.

chupaChupa Chups. In the mid 1950s, when Spain was a languishing backwater under Franco’s dictatorship, a sweet manufacturer in Asturias called Enric Bernat had a brilliant idea that would change the face of sweet eating for ever. In those days, candy came in large chunks which kids would push in and out of their mouths, getting sticky hands and in general making a mess. Bernat hit on putting a kid’s-mouth-sized chunk on the end of a wooden stick. And never looked back. Since the first Chupa Chup was made in 1958, his firm has grown into a world lollipop empire with industrial plants in Spain, France, Russia, China and Mexico, a whole range of candy products, and whopping sales in 170 countries. Sticks are now plastic, and flavours have increased from the original seven (boring old strawberry, lemon, mint, etc) to 40, including cappuccino, jasmine tea and sugarfree watermelon. The daisy logo, by the way, was designed by Salvador Dalí.

membrilloMembrillo Quince jelly and something we had only previously read about in Victorian novels. You always see great slabs of the orangey-brown stuff on top of the meat counter, and for ages we presumed it was some kind of dripping, and wanted nothing to do with it. Now, we’re hooked, though. It’s especially yummy with queso fresco (soft white cheese) or with slices of super-cured Manchego. You can buy it pre-packaged, but the ‘dripping’ at the meat counter, or your Spanish neighbour’s mother’s homemade, is far better. Oh, and it’s a great bunger-upper when you've got the runs.
In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.
For lots more ‘garlic-style’ info and articles please visit our new blog and website at
©Theresa O’Shea and Valerie Collins 2010.

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Garlic Bites-Housing March 2010

aticoÁtíco You’re looking for a flat, and they tell you it’s an ático, and you freak out when you see what they’re asking. But no, you don’t have to pay 1000 euros a month to squeeze in and out of your home up a stepladder and through a trap door and to share your life with cobwebby old suitcases, broken lamps, and bits of bead curtain. Ático is a false friend: it’s the top floor, the penthouse, and áticos are sought after and expensive because they often have big terraces and fabulous views. On the downside, they get damp and leaky, and boiling hot in summer. To say nothing of what happens when the lift breaks down.

Comunidad de propietarios Owners’ association. When you do buy your urban-dream penthouse or bijou apartment, congrats: you are now an owner of a propiedad horizontal (joint freehold; US condo) and, as well as paying your share of joint costs, will attend assemblies where mind-numbing rants about blocked drainpipes, cockroaches, communal satellite dishes and crumbling facades ignite the basest passions.

conserjeConserje If you live in a block of flats or an urbanización the conserje will become an important and tippable person in your life. He or she is responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of the building and communal areas but often acts as a general Person Friday-cum-Mother Teresa. During Theresa’s five-year residence in a 60m² rabbit hutch overlooking a communal swimming-pool, her conserje: received deliveries of large household appliances on her behalf, fed her cats while she was away, fixed her water heater, changed a fuse or two, drove her to Urgencias, sold her losing tickets in the Christmas Lottery, and more than once climbed up a dodgy extendable ladder onto her balcony after she’d locked herself out. Well worth a couple of bottles of good Rioja at Christmas.

communityEscalera de vecinos Literally, staircase of neighbours, referring collectively to the often warring inhabitants of a block of flats (both owner-occupiers and tenants, plus portero or conserje if any). The expression evokes images of clumps of people, many of them in pyjamas, quilted dressing gowns and hairnets, shouting and gesticulating across landings, liftshafts and airwells. This very Spanish institution with its typical characters and conflicts is immortalised in the hilarious Antena Tres comedy series ‘Aqui no hay quien viva’, about an eccentric Madrid escalera .

escrituraEscritura You’ll often find this word translated as a deed or title deed, which is certainly right, but escritura is really an umbrella term for any kind of public document (escritura pública), of which the deed to a property is just one specific kind, una escritura de compraventa, a public document whereby property is transferred. An escritura must be notarised by a notario. If the buyer is taking out una hipoteca (a mortgage, the representative of the bank will also be present at the signing to formalise a second escritura, la escritura de hipoteca.
In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.
For lots more ‘garlic-style’ info and articles please visit our new blog and website at
©Theresa O’Shea and Valerie Collins 2010.

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Picasso, Maisons, Horta d'Ebre
Picasso! We have all heard of him and whether we admire his art or not will be aware that he is generally considered one of the greatest artists who have ever lived. In terms of the places that inspired his art those in the know would probably list Malaga, Barcelona, Paris and Cannes as being significant. But how many of his admirers have heard of Horta de Sant Joan? ( Picasso used the name Horta d’Ebre) a small and comparatively ‘insignificant’ village in Southern Catalunya. In fact when I bought a small guidebook a few years ago it mistakenly referred to Horta as being in the Pyrenees!

Horta de Sant Joan is considered one of the most beautiful of the Terra Alta villages and commands wonderful views over the Horta Mountains. At a good vantage point within the town you can look out over the unusual Roques d’en Benet with its’ enormous natural sculpture of the ‘Cap de Gos’ ( meaning Dog’s head in Catalan. ) In the opposite direction is the unusual conical shaped Santa Barbara Mountain. Picasso sketched and painted Santa Barbara on many occasions and the Convent de Sant Salvador situated at its’ base was also one of his subjects, (see ‘ Procession to the Convent’)


Picasso in Horta
Picasso actually spent three periods here. His first visit was as a teenager of sixteen in the summer of 1898 during a period of recovery from scarlet fever. He had been invited by his friend Manuel Pallares and he remained there until February 1899.

“My purest emotions have been experienced in a great Spanish forest, ( the Ports of Horta,) where, at sixteen, I had retired to paint”.

PICASSOPicasso, Mas de Tafetans. Horta d’Ebre, summer 1898

He revisited Horta between May to August 1900 with his Parisian girlfriend Fernandez Olivier. These two visits in his youth were very much a period of learning and experimentation and he painted and sketched profusely during this time. He was fascinated by the Streets, people and everyday scenes.


This period is sometimes referred to his ‘Yellow period’ as it was dominated by bright yellows and greens, reflecting Picasso’s youthful happiness, love of Fernande and freedom at this time. It is during this period that he broke free of the old restraints and expectations of art college and developed his own artistic style and confidence. Of course, some of the locals did not approve of the unmarried Fernande living with Picasso. The story goes that one day a group of local women pelted their balcony with stones. Picasso was not amused, he happened to keep a gun, and fired it from the window!


Picasso, Mas del Quiquet, Ports del Maestrat, summer 1898
He returned again in 1909 during which time he has one of the most productive periods of his career, as he moved from proto-cubism to cubism.
Picasso, Pressoir d’olive, Horta, summer 1909
Picasso was reputed to have said “everything I learned, (about painting,) I learned in Horta”. Apparently he was also heard to say in his twilight years that he may have had a better life if he had stayed in Horta. He was enchanted by the area, the people and the mountains. It would seem that Horta held a special and possibly idealised place in his heart. Although he was never destined to remain here he retained links with the village and a lifelong friendship in Manuel Pallares. PICASSOThere is a wonderful poster of the two of them displayed at the Centre Picasso that clearly demonstrates the strength of their friendship and love of revelry. Many Picasso devotees search for the essence or spirit of his art in Malaga ,( his birthplace), Barcel UPona, Paris or Cannes where he lived for long periods. However I would suggest that if you are searching for that more humble place that first inspired him you look no further than Horta and bring your camera or paintbrushes!
If you visit Horta you can see all the works, (copies) which he completed during his time here at the Centre Picasso. The beauty is that you are seeing his art in situ; you can then wander around the area and recognise some of the works you have just seen: Walking in the footsteps of Picasso.
Picasso waving from in his bath, while Jacqueline is wringing out the washcloth.
On February 8th, 1956, Pablo Picasso greets David Douglas Duncan for the first time from the bathtub where Jacqueline is scrubbing his back. Mr. David Douglas Duncan had settled in the south of France, a region he knew thanks to meeting Picasso there in 1956. The two men hit it off and remained close until Picasso's death in 1973. ''Photo Nomad'' includes many pictures of Picasso at work and play, but perhaps the most striking one is of Picasso sitting in the bath and beaming as he washes himself.
''I always called him maestro,'' Mr. Duncan said of Picasso. ''He called me Ishmael. I never knew why.
''After I had been shooting him for over a year, never any limitation on what I photographed, I had a stack of contact sheets, and I asked him if he wanted to eliminate anything. He looked at me with those eyes, indignant. 'Ishmael, do I ask you how to paint?' That was the end of the conversation.''
(The Centre Picasso and their website (in English) has information on ‘Picassean’ places to visit.)
Further information.
By Vicky Palmer.

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SKIINGSpain is Europe's second most mountainous country, with a long skiing tradition, and provides all the necessary facilities for you to practise the sport. There are 35 ski resorts spread all around the country. You just have to choose which one.

Snow, sun, leisure and culture
The sun in Spain shines even during the cold winter months. It is not unusual to ski with mild temperatures and bright sunshine. In addition to the good weather, we should also mention the excellent cultural and leisure activities available in Spain, with unparalleled historic/artistic heritage, a host of complementary activities that ensure fun for all, and lively nightlife at the resorts themselves with restaurants, bars and nightclubs.

SKIINGThe Pyrenees Mountains, with their magnificent landscapes and welcoming mountain villages; Sierra Nevada, in Andalusia, with the Granada coast just over 100 kilometres away; the resorts of the Cantabrian Mountains, and those situated in central Spain... They are all perfectly equipped, and have excellent communications, ready to welcome you year after year to practice your favourite sport.

Put aside a few days to learn to ski and come to one of the Spanish resorts. It is a winter wonderland where you can get started in the sport while you discover a unique country that will welcome you with open arms.

Catalonian Pyrenees Overview

SKIINGVall de Núria
Queralbs / (Girona)
Skiable area : 7.60km Downhill skiing
Min.altitude1.964m/Max.altitude 2.252m
Vall de Núria is a small, friendly resort with all the services necessary to ensure comfort in the heart of the mountains. It is situated in the eastern Pyrenees, at 2,000 metres above sea level, surrounded by peaks close to 3,000 metres that form the stunning backdrop of a huge natural amphitheatre. The only access to Vall de Núria is on the funicular railway that departs from Ribes de Freser. The journey covers 12.5 km, climbing 1,000 metres in 40 minutes. The stunning views to be had on the ride are a small taste of the beauty, peace and harmony that await you in the valley above. Vall de Núria has an environmental management system in operation, covering all activities throughout the resort. The ski resort itself has 11 pistes for alpine skiing to suit all levels. The Vall de Núria resort also has the "Q" for Tourism Quality award from the Spanish Tourism Quality Institute.

La Molina
La Molina / (Girona)
Skiable area: 60km Downhill skiing
Min. altitude 1.700m / Max. altitude 2.445m
La Molina has used its one hundred years of experience to its advantage and has kept with the times by offering increasingly innovative facilities and services. Evidence of the first skiers goes back to 1909. In 1943 La Molina installed the first ski lift in Spain and continued its pioneering spirit by introducing snowmaking equipment and the first four-seater chairlift. New skiing technology and disciplines play a vital role in the activities available, so that everyone can find something to suit them and enjoy the snow.

Masella / (Girona)
Skiable area: 68km Downhill skiing
Min. altitude 1.600m / Max. altitude 2.535m
The Masella Ski Resort stands out for its spectacular forest and privileged location - 90% of the pistes are north-facing and offer spectacular views of the Cerdanya Valley. Pistes running through the woods mean skiers and snowboarders can enjoy direct contact with nature and adrenaline-charged sensations on the resort's upper slopes. Masella offers the eastern Pyrenees's largest vertical descent. 935 m of continuous downhill from La Tosa Peak (2,535 m) to Pla de Masella (1,600 m). It has a total of 68 km of pistes to suit all levels, so that everyone will be sure to have a perfect day at Masella. For maximum convenience, a full range of services can be found at the foot of the slopes, at 1,600 m where all the pistes converge.

SKIINGVallter 2000
Setcases / (Girona)
Skiable area: 20km Downhill skiing. Min. altitude 1.959m / Max. altitude 2.535m
Set at 2,000 metres, above the Ter River valley, this resort is located in a glacial cirque (Morens-Ull de Ter) in the easternmost area of the Pyrenees. It is in the Ripollés region, in the municipal district of Setcases. Its privileged location provides stunning views that reach from Roses Bay to Cap de Creus (Costa Brava).

Tavascan / (Lleida)
Skiable area: 5km Downhill skiing - 17km Cross-country skiing Min. altitude 1.750m / Max. altitude 2.250m
A high-mountain centre located in a privileged, stunning location, ideal for all kinds of winter sports. The philosophy is far removed from that of large resorts and mass tourism, to achieve maximum integration in the environment. Tavascán offers activities such as Cross-country Skiing (17 km of circuits), Alpine Skiing (2 lifts, 5 pistes, 5 km) and Mountain Skiing, amongst others. Tavascán is a privileged site for all kinds of skiing: Alpine, Nordic, mountain, snowboard, telemark, etc. There are also snowshoeing excursions, activities for groups of adults and children, skiing courses (Nordic, Alpine, snowboarding).

Port del Comte
Solsona / (Lleida)
Skiable area: 40km Downhill skiing
Min. altitude 1.700m / Max. altitude 2.400m
Port del Comte is located in the Solsonés region (Lleida province), one of the most beautiful areas of the Pyrenean foothills of Catalonia, surrounded by a huge black pine forest that covers the whole mountainside. This is a friendly resort with wide pistes and slopes to suit all levels; there is an excellent beginners' area, where those starting out can make simple yet rapid progress. The resort has two, well-defined areas: Hotel-Sucre and Estivella. The Estivella area has a classic atmosphere for wonderful weekend ski breaks. The whole family will love this resort. It is ideal for skiers who want to get away from the crowds, and for all nature and sports lovers. Port del Comte is close to the major cities of Catalonia. Access is free from traffic jams and tolls, making it ideal for a 1-day getaway.

GranPallars Port-Ainé
Rialp / (Lleida)
Skiable area: 44km Downhill skiing
Min. altitude 1.650m / Max. altitude 2.440m
The Port-Ainé Ski Resort was opened in 1986. It has grown continuously over the years and now has 30 pistes (44 km) and 9 lifts. At the resort you can also enjoy a wide range of alternative mountain activities. In winter, skiing, dog sledging, snow bikes and quads, snowshoeing, etc. In spring-summer, all kinds of adventure activities such as white water rafting, canyoning, horse riding, quad biking, hydrospeed, etc. Water activities take place in Noguera Pallaresa, one of Spain's most important white water rivers.

SNOWLles Cerdanya
Lles de Cerdanya / (Lleida)
Skiable area: 36km Cross-country skiing
Min. altitude 1.950m / Max. altitude 2.330m
A variety of pistes for all levels, with exceptional views of the Pyrenees. Sign-posted routes for snowshoeing and Nordic walking.

Boí Taüll Resort
Taüll / (Lleida)
Skiable area: 45km Downhill skiing
Min. altitude 2.020m / Max. altitude 2.751m
Ski resort in the Lleida Pyrenees, in the Vall de Boí Valley. It has the highest skiable area in the Pyrenees (base, 2,020 m and maximum altitude, 2,751 m), with high snow quality throughout the day, without queues and crowds, in privileged natural surroundings.

Granpallars Espot Esquí
Espot / (Lleida)
Skiable area: 23.5km Downhill skiing
Min. altitude 1.500m / Max. altitude 2.500m
Espot Esquí is especially popular with skiers looking to get away from the crowds, and with families, who come with their children to this friendly, welcoming place to ski together. All pistes are northeast-facing and surrounded by woods, giving the resort special charm. Espot Esquí is a family, sporting resort, with a snow garden where the little ones have their own place to ski.

Baqueira Beret
Vielha / (Lleida)
Skiable area: 108km Downhill skiing
- 7km Cross-country skiing
Min. altitude 1.500m / Max. altitude 2.510m
Set in the Lleida Pyrenees, in the Val d´Aran Valley, it comprises three areas: Baqueira, Beret and Bonaigua. All of these are skiable and have slopes for all levels: from Tuc de Dossau, in Beret, to Tuc de la Llança, in Bonaigua.


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all angles: supporting writing in english in tarragona. Dec 2009

penTarragona now has a group for anyone interested in creative writing in English. ‘All Angles’ was set up in 2008 and meets monthly to hear members’ latest work and to develop a support network for writers in the Southern part of Catalonia.
‘Whether it’s a hobby or whether you see it as a job, writing is a solitary sort of activity,’ says founder member Paul Connell, ‘and it’s good to have some contact with other authors, who can provide a sympathetic but critical audience for testing out ideas, as well as information on publishing and other opportunities.’
The play on words in the group’s name reflects its openness to all comers.
‘We have native speakers and those whose first language is Catalan and Castellano,’ says Paul, ‘and we have members working in poetry, prose, film scripts and radio comedy. We also seem to have a small library of unpublished novels between us. There’s only a handful of us so far, but we’ve already had some success with a winner and a runner-up in a recent short story competition in Catalonia Today, the Barcelona based English language magazine.
writingNew members are always welcome and in future we hope to work with local writers in other languages and with those in dance, painting or music.
The group’s web site: gives information on future meetings and Paul can be contacted at


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in the gralic- drinking out feb 2010



Brindis. A toast. When you clink glasses in Spain you usually say, “¡Salud!” Good health! In Catalonia you may occasionally hear: “Salut! y força al canut! Rather rudely, this means good health and strength to your canuto, er, your willy, if you have one.






Carajillo. Winter-warming black coffee with liquor and sugar. A sort of no-nonsense Irish coffee without the cream. Typical carajillo liquors are brandy or anis. Pronounced ka-ra-GHEE-oh.



Copa. Either a wine glass or an alcoholic drink, but definitely not a cup – which is una taza. So, in a bar you ask for “una copa de vino” (a glass of wine) or you say to your Spanish friends: “Vamos de
Copas:” Let's go out for a drink or six.

Chupito. Chupar means to suck, slurp, lick or guzzle. The Spanish are hugely fond of diminutives, of -itos -citos, -ititos, and –etes, which usually denote something small and / or cute. A chupete is a baby’s dummy and a chupito is a measure of liquor served in an inch-high glass to be slurped down in one gulp. chupitoRestaurants are fond of inviting you to a chupito of their very worst liquors to thank you for your custom. Watch out for sickly banana concoctions, anything paraffin-blue, and aguardiente – fire water.



cubataCubata. Proper stiff drink in a long glass with a mixer. The Spanish drink their G&Ts, vodka and
tonics and whisky-Seven-ups after dinner not before. Hardly surprising considering the amount of yin, bodka and güisqui that goes in them. The right measure is approximately one third ice, one third spirit, one third mixer. A spendthrift's tip; one mixer is plenty for two drinks.


Güisqui. Whisky spelt phonetically in Spanish, but in Andalucia where syllables and letters are knocked back with the tapas, pronounced more like wi-ki. Not a substance to be messed with. Do not under any circumstances invite your Spanish neighbours / new friends round for a meal without a bottle of the stuff (preferably JB – Jota Bay) at the ready for an after-coffee copa. To be served on ice-cubes the size of yogurt pots with 7-Up or Coca-Cola.

Un-culin-de-sidraSidra. Not only the patrimony of Somerset, but also Asturias and the Basque country. Served in siderías throughout the regions, the drink is famously poured, or rather slung, from a great height with one arm outstretched behind the head and the other fully extended below holding the glasses.

In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.

For lots more ‘garlic-style’ info and articles please visit our new blog and website at
©Theresa O’Shea and Valerie Collins.

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NETWORKINGAmigo In her wonderful memoir of her life in Spain, A Woman Unknown, Lucia Graves mentions how a friend called the Spanish political system of the Sixties an amigocracia: nothing, she explains, could be achieved without influential friends, even getting a phone installed in months instead of years depended on whom you knew (and you thought a few weeks was unacceptable!). Is Spain still una amigocracia? To a large extent, yes. In Spain, the best way to get things done is through amigos, or more broadly, word of mouth. There’s no special word for networking in Spanish because that’s the natural way things have always been done here. Forget the Yellow Pages and get a little help from your friends and their friends and their friends’ friends...


FUNCIONARIOFuncionario Government employee. A great many people dream of being funcionarios. They study long and hard to become one by passing their oposiciones (competitive exams for government jobs). The pay is not brilliant, but the benefits are great and the hours a dream: 8 am–3 pm with written-in-stone coffee breaks, and reduced hours on Fridays and in the summer. Best of all, short of committing serial murder, it is virtually impossible to get fired or laid off. All of this makes for a comfortable and complacent workforce that is long on laid-back and short on sweetness and light. Jokes about the so-called mentalidad de funcionario abound. Like this one, posted on the web site of the Junta de Andalucía: “My Paco’s a funcionario in the Junta. You should see how fast he is — he leaves work at three, and by two he’s had lunch and is having his siesta.”

NOTARIONotario It often seems as if the whole of Spain spends half its time going to the notary. We have never been to a firma (document signing) where we have not had to wait, sometimes for hours, among crowds of people. The notary finally zooms in, checks your ID and reads the document aloud at breakneck speed. It’s all too tempting to mutter under your breath about cushy jobs, charging a fortune just to sit around scrawling your name with a flourish on official-looking papers, but in fact the notary (or his/her staff) has to go over all documents with a fine-tooth comb, making sure everything is in order. For example, in the case of a property sale, they have to check that the seller has no debts with the owners’ association and verify all the details with the Property Register. If any discrepancy is found, then the signing will not go ahead.


Paleta In Catalonia this word (meaning small spade or trowel) refers to one of the most sought-after and at the same time dreaded individuals. El paleta is an albañil, the bricklayer/builder/workman who treads plaster into your carpet, puts a pickaxe through a water pipe and floods the downstairs neighbour and throws cigarette butts in your loo.

©Theresa O’Shea and Valerie Collins. To read more about our work, please visit us at:- In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.

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garlic bites
valerie collins & theresa o’shea- Navidad DEC 2009

belenBelén Not content with a simple representation of the nativity scene, the Spanish recreate the entire town of Bethlehem and its environs. Many families have a “belén box” that goes back decades, full of lovingly-collected half-broken figurines, lumps of papier-mâché, bits of twig and silver paper, mirrors, corks and dried grasses; all ingeniously employed to recreate streams and bridges, paths and hills, carpenter’s forges, fields of wheat and so on.

caganerEl Caganer The custom of placing a crapping peasant / shepherd in the belén originated in Catalunya, but the universal love for all things scatological has led to its spread throughout the rest of Spain. No disrespect is meant by the defecating figurine. On the contrary, the idea is one of regeneration, i.e., of putting something back into the earth. The tradition dates back to the 18th century and has spawned a massive collectibles industry. Present elect Barack Obama is the latest in a long line of public figures to join the caganer hall of fame. 

Eguberri The Basque word for Christmas means ‘new day’ and was probably used in pre-Christian times for the day of the winter solstice.


Jamón Christmas is a grim time for pigs, especially the patiently-fattened acorn-eating variety. One false turn in Carrefour and you’ll find yourself suddenly hemmed in by ceilings of swinging forelegs and hind legs, interspersed with extra-large, extra-phallic chorizos (sausages). Of all the festive foodstuffs it is the jamón, lovingly mounted on its cutting stand and covered with a damp cloth, without which the Spanish Christmas hamper would never be complete.


reyes magasReyes Magos The names of their wizardly majesties are a bit of a mouthful, but are as familiar to the Spanish as Santa’s reindeers are to fans of Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer. Melchor, Gaspar and Baltasar are said to represent Europe, Asia and Africa, respectively. There does seem to be some confusion, however, as to which one is which, and in some Three Kings processions it is Gaspar, rather than Baltasar who is the dark-skinned king. No matter, ‘el rey negro’ is always the favourite.



Tió, as in cagar el tió. Brilliant Christmas Eve custom in Catalunya that involves clobbering a blanket-covered log stuffed with presents. For days beforehand the children feed up the cagatió (literally, the crapping log) by placing titbits under the blanket. Then, on December 24, the violence starts. “Caga tió,· they sing, “sinó et donaré un cop de bastó”. Drop your load, log, or I’ll give you a jolly good hiding.

VillancicosVillancicos Christmas carols. Forget solemn. Think hand-clapping, foot-stomping, pub-type sing-a-longs and you’ve captured the essence of Spanish carol-singing. Traditionally takes place around the belén, with everyone banging on a medley of home-made instruments. Probably the catchiest of all the villancicos is the ubiquitous “Mira cómo beben los peces en el río.” Look how the fishes are drinking in the river. Indeed.
Feliz Navidad, Bon Nadal, and Eguberri on.

©Theresa O’Shea
To read more about our work, please visit us at:- In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.

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garlic bites
valerie collins & theresa o’shea This month:
You talkin’ to me? (Titles) nov 2009

titlesDamas y Caballeros. Ladies and gentlemen, the correct way to welcome audiences. And signpost public toilets.

you talkin to meDon, doña. Title showing respect, similar to señor and señora, but used only with first names, as in Don Juan and Don Quijote. The correct, ultra-formal way to address someone (say on an envelope) is as follows: Señor Don Juan Tenorio or Señora Doña Isabel Pantoja.

. Evidently the Spanish just love long-winded titles for their own sake, which is why many Ayuntamientos (town councils) like to call themselves Excelentísimo - and not necessarily big cities, either.

you talkin to meIlustre. Honourable, sort of, used for certain professional societies. The Ilustre Colegio de Abogados de Madrid or the Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Ingenieros Industriales de Galicia hark back, ever so slightly wistfully, to the lofty esteem in which doctors, lawyers and others who had obtained a professional qualification were held in days less egalitarian than our own.

introductionsSeñor, Señora, Señorita. Mr, Mrs and Miss. There’s no such thing as Ms in Spanish. Theoretically, you’re either young and unmarried (señorita) or older and married (señora). What happens in practice is that as long as you are deemed young enough and / or good-looking enough you remain a don´t-worry-your-pretty-little-head señorita. Go on, protest at the chauvinism of it all, but when all you ever hear is señora, you start hoping for the odd fluffy miss.
Señorito. Master. A word that conjures up times, thankfully past, of arrogant young aristocrats maltreating and abusing menservants and maids.

bad grammarSeñor Presidente. You never know, one day your might be chosen to sing Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero a birthday song à la Marilyn Munoroe. In which case, you’ll want to get it right: “Cumpleaños feliz, Señor Presidente, cumpleaños feliz”. The correct form of address for a government minister is Señor Ministro or Señora Ministra, and for your local mayor its Señor or Señora Alcalde.

Usted. The formal, polite word for ‘you’ (in writing abbreviated to Vd and Ud) as opposed to the informal, familiar ‘tú’. Usted is used to show respect, when you first meet someone, to the elderly, and those in positions of authority. Tú is used for relatives, friends, children, pets, pests, vehicles, computers and other unruly appliances, so uttered inappropriately it could give offence or the wrong impression (if you’re a male talking to a female you don’t know, for example). But the gaffes of the obviously foreign are usually treated with tolerance. The tú/ Vd distinction is now breaking down in colloquial speech, but your best bet is still to follow the classic rules. When relations are relaxed, you can always ask if it’s okay to ‘tutear’. To address more than one person formally, use the plural ustedes (Vds, Uds).

© 2005 Theresa O’Shea and Valerie Collins FBSR
To read more about our work, please visit us at:- In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.


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shopping a taste of garlic-shops old and new oct 2009 Valerie Collins & Theresa O’Shea

drogueriaDroguería Not where you buy drugs of any description, not even an aspirin, but rather where you stock up on anything from shampoo, make-up and cockroach-killer, to light bulbs, perfume and bleach. Very much old-fashioned one-off shops. There are no super-slick, Superdrug-style chains offering own-brand products and state-of-the-art sales ploys. There’s usually just the one checkout counter, and any more than three customers in the shop and there’s a rush on.

tobacconistEstanco Tobacconist´s, and so much more. The word estanco originally meant a tax (impuesto) levied to establish a crown monopoly. Our local estancos sell fags, designer lighters, ashtrays, newspapers and magazines, multi-ride transport tickets, postcards, Chupa Chups, batteries, lottery tickets, basic office supplies, phone cards and stamps. They also offer a choice of four dog-eared birthday cards (not big on card-sending, the Spanish). An estanco is the ONLY place you can buy stamps apart from the Post Office, and since it acts as a kind of Government stationer´s it is also the place you will be sent to buy timbres de estado, 19th-century-looking revenue stamps needed to complete strange bureaucratic transactions. Not to be confused with estanque (pond).

farmaciaFarmacia Pharmacy, identified by a flashing green cross. This, of course, is where you buy prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Here, too, you can hire baby scales and crutches, weigh yourself, order Scholls sandals, check your blood pressure, and buy pregnancy kits and nicotine patches. The farmacias have fought tooth and nail to maintain their monopolies — and horrendous prices — on such things as baby food and tampons, and once upon a time were the only places you could buy these things. It used to be dead easy to get prescription drugs without a prescription from your friendly local farmacéutico/a, but now they’re tightening up. But still, in Theresa’s village, although there are no shops and no bars, there is a doctor’s surgery and a farmacia in someone’s hall. If the pharmacist’s not there, no problem. You simply knock on the door and her elderly mother appears, urging you to “just help yourself to what you need off the shelf”.

ferreteriaFerretería A ferretería sells everything from nuts and bolts to chainsaws and liquidisers to paella pans and mosquito netting. In other words, it’s an old-fashioned, family-owned hardware store-cum-ironmonger´s. Seemingly resistant to new-fangled retail techniques, like shopping baskets, navigable aisles (or even aisles), jolly uniforms and check-out desks, most remain cluttered and poky, with personal counter service from knowledgeable caballeros in brown overalls. It takes years to master the vocabulary of DIY in Spanish, so until you know what tornillos, alcayates, cáncomos and tacos are, you’d better take along a sample when you ask for five of each.

zaraZara Since we decided to include Zara in this book, just about everyone in Barcelona seems to be carrying their stuff around in a Zara carrier bag. Zara, as hype-loving journalists have been quick to note, is today’s Spanish Empire Upon Which the Sun Never Sets, and its emperor is Amancio Ortega, president of the Inditex group (Zara, Pull and Bear, Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy´s Class). From a tiny family workshop in Arteixo, near A Coruña, since 1975 Zara has grown to over 1,600 shops in 40 countries, 254 of them in Spain. Customers visit Zara on average 17 times a year (four times a year more than the competition), a great marketing success. One of the great achievements of the company is to have become famous without any advertising. Well, have you ever seen a Zara advert?

© Valerie Collins & Theresa O’Shea
To read more about our work, please visit us at:- In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.

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IN THE GARLICStay a while in Spain, and beyond the sunshine, fiestas, Rioja and laidbackness you may find yourself drifting in an uncharted ocean of unwritten laws and mysterious quirks. Who are those guys with bulging document cases who always jump the queues at government offices: could I get one of them to jump the queue for me? Why does everything keep closing down for days at a time? Is that really my dentist in bloomers and a beribboned cape busking at the next table, or have I lost it?
You need to be In The Garlic - en el ajo - in the know.

GESTORGestor You’ve been sitting for hours on a plastic chair at the tax office, glued to the screen for your number to come up, and you see all these guys with bulging document cases being let through even though they’ve only just arrived. An indignant murmur ripples through the crowd, glances are exchanged... You kick yourself and swear that next time, however high the fee, you will hire a gestor yourself: a professional knower of the often tangled ropes, a hands‑on doer of tedious paperwork, tax returns and accounts, expert sorter-out of bureaucratic hassles of every kind. Believe us, a good one is worth his/her fees in gold. By the way, for online procedures, you will still need your gestor on the phone to talk you through the most user-unfriendly websites on the Net.




Puente A bridge. But also a great anti-work-ethic institution, whereby if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday (or a Thursday), Monday (or Friday) is thrown in for good measure. The year is littered with puentes. They are the life‑blood of travel agencies, which offer special deals for, among others, the puente del Pilar (Oct 12), the puente de Mayo (May 1), and best of all, the puente de la Inmaculada/de la Constitución (December 6 and December 8). When December 6 falls on a Tuesday and December 8 on a Thursday, it makes a mega triple puente. What with Christmas and New Year, December is about as productive a month as August (when Spain shuts down completely).

TUNOSTuna Not a large fish, but a wandering band of student minstrels that keeps alive, almost unchanged, a university tradition dating back to the 13th century. Amazing, in these digital days, how many of Spain’s future lawyers and doctors, architects, engineers and other pillars of society still prance around in velvet bloomers and beribboned capes, singing “typical espanish” songs, serenading women under balconies and getting buckets of water sloshed over them by sleepless neighbours. Women and tourists love them, men hate them. Their legendary ladykiller skills trigger barely concealed envy. It all started in Palencia, where the first studium generale, the forerunner of the university, was founded in 1212. Young men flocked there, and those too poor to pay their way busked in inns, taverns and medieval greasy spoons for a few coins and a bowl of soup.
© Valerie Collins & Theresa O’Shea

GARLICThese answers are from our book In The Garlic, a fun A-Z guide to life in Spain which we’ll be sharing with you over the coming months in an exclusive themed series focussing on areas like Housing, Banking, Shopping and Key People.
Between us we have lived in Spain for over 50 years, Valerie since the tail end of the Franco era, in Barcelona, and Theresa since the early nineties, in Galicia, Catalunya and now in Andalucía. Valerie’s late husband was a Catalan lawyer, and she has two grown-up sons. Theresa’s Spanish husband is from a large Cordobese family.
To read more about our work, please visit us at:-
In The Garlic: Your Informative, Fun Guide to Spain is published by Santana Books and is available from all good bookshops and online from Amazon and Bookworld España.

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SKY TVSince the end of July Sky has been issuing NEW WHITE viewing cards to paid up subscription customers. This new card carries even greater encryption than the old “Blue House” cards and are updated to ensure that sky themselves always stay ahead of the game in offering the best premium service. At present sky are rolling out cards by region and new cards can take up to 6 months to arrive. The early signs that this is happening is a message will be seen on screen asking you to insert the new sky card into the viewing slot. It normally then takes around 2 to 3 weeks for the card to arrive at it’s registered UK address. This message will keep appearing until the card is replaced with the new card. If it is not replaced then after around 2 to 3 months the old card will switch off and the customer will loose all of their premium channels. Sky will still be charging for this service if it is being received or not.

Some expats may have moved to Spain not cancelling their SKY subscription in the UK, but bringing their card with them a word of caution here.
1. If you do not have access to your old address to collect the new viewing card from , you will be wise to cancel your subscription as soon as possible with sky. If you do not cancel, sky will send your new card out to this old address and still continue to charge you the full monthly amount as you will be in breach of your contract if you do not pay.

SKY CARDHere at Britsat we can supply from stock managed new white 2009 sky cards for a yearly fee that takes all of the headache out of being able to watch sky subscription channels. Our service which has been running for over 10 years allows you to remain completely anonymous, as we fully manage your sky card and payment allowing you to add on channels , watch pay per view special events, add on ESPN the new football channel provider, take away channels have sky plus with recording or even HD with the correct sky receiver. If required we can also arrange to cancel your old sky card, at the same time as switching you on to a new white card.

2. If you still have access to your old UK address, when the sky card arrives with you to Spain via the UK and before you attempt to change it over, make sure your sky box has been switched on for at least 24hrs and ensure that you are receiving your premium subscription channels first. If all is OK then with your sky box SWITCHED ON, remove the old card from the viewing card slot and replace with the new card. Leave it for up to 4 hours to activate itself automatically from the satellite. If for any reason it does not work DO NOT RING SKY DIRECT FROM SPAIN as you will get the card and possibly sky box blacked by sky rendering it useless. If you need help give us a ring and we can go through some software downloads/upgrades to your system to resolve the issue for you.
a. All existing paid up customers will receive a NEW sky viewing card . (providing they either have a UK address or MANAGED CARD FROM US)
b. At present we have been advised that SKY Free to Air (freeview) cards which have been purchased during the past year will continue to work. Cards that are older than 1 year will eventually get switched off by Sky. However if your only interest is BBC, ITV 1, C4 etc. these channels will remain active but you will loose Channel 5 and ITV2, ITV3 etc. (for free to Air customers we have a fix to reinstall Channel 5 etc. onto your sky box providing you have a good satellite signal)
c. We do get some strange phone calls from customers with OLD WIVES TALES, here are a few with answers to try and address this issue:-

1. With a new white sky card it is NOT possible to record sky with a standard sky box. You still need either a sky plus box or sky HD box on a premium subscription package for it to be activated.
2. Your mate will probably not be able to align your satellite dish correctly by just looking at the sky. Although the system is called sky it is received off the Astra satellite at 28.2 and requires very fine tuning to optimise 100% stable viewing with the correct equipment .
3. This is one of the most frequently banded about OLD WIVES TALES, “ I can only watch BBC during the daytime as at night time it goes off, but that’s normal as my mate says it is the same for him”
In answer to these- NO IT IS NOT CORRECT, providing the correct dish and low noise LNB is used in our area of Spain there is no reason why clients can not view all the channels available from sky. In the past 10years we have not failed yet in providing the client with a full stable service.
4. “These sky cards my mate says can be viewed by anyone who chips them”
Yet again another old Chinese whisper as the encryption used by sky has not yet been broken and their system remains the most secure on the market.
Any clients or customers with any concerns or questions concerning this change over or with any system problems we can be contacted either by e-mail or phone. Web site for further information:
or call TONY on:
977 486 387 ( 9am to 6pm )

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SWIM RINGNow that the weather is getting hotter, it’s that time of the year when all pool owners are keen to use their pools but what about prolonging that use and keeping your pool warmer for longer. Even when all chemicals have been added and the cleaning process is completed it can be still too cold for many of us to do more than dip a toe, unless the pool is heated. So what can you do to make your pool warm enough to use at any time of day without breaking the bank? Solar Sun Rings, the most cost effective pool solar heating system. They put the heat back into your pool and keep it there.
So what are solar sun rings? They are passive solar swimming pool heating devices made from two sheets of heavyweight UV resistant vinyl. The rings float on the surface of the pool and heat the water by day and act as a blanket at night, thus retaining the heat in the water. Each ring is equipped with six little magnets which hold the rings together in a blanket on the pool. The magnets also help improve the clarity and decrease the hardness of the water. The magnets are strong enough to enable you to pull one ring off the pool and the other rings follow, but weak enough to allow the rings to separate if a child or animal falls onto them, thus avoiding entrapment. The rings weigh very little and a 3 year old child can remove 12 rings from a pool in a matter of minutes. You only need to cover between 70% and 80% of your pool in order for the solar sun rings to be effective, and during a sunny period the pool temperature will rise by as much as 6ºC in 2 or 3 days, meaning that your pool could be in the upper 20s and ‘swimmable’ whereas your neighbour’s pool will barely be in the lower 20s and too cold to use.
In the hotter months of summer when the pool water is as hot as you want it to be, simply turn the rings over and they stop heating the pool by day, but continue to conserve the heat at night. Using the rings this way also greatly reduces the loss of water and chemicals through evaporation.
So how much does it cost to heat a pool? Covering 75% of a standard 8m x 4m pool requires 10 solar sun rings each costing €45. So for just €450 you can put the heat back into your pool and keep it there! Call: 952 59 40 31


Web site:

Tel: 952 59 40 31


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Off the beaten track: discovering the Priorat JULY 2009


PRIORAT MAPJust over 30 minutes’ drive inland from the Costa Dorada’s beaches, the Priorat wine region is like stepping back into a remote and different world. Quiet country roads wind round dramatic rocky terrain and steeply-terraced vineyards, many of which can only be harvested by hand.

The area’s harsh, slate soil —known as llicorella— and abundant sunshine produce some of Spain’s finest and most expensive wines, blending local Grenache and Cariñena grapes with international varieties like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Over the last decade, young winemakers from around the world have settled here to produce strong, intense reds of great character that have won international prestige and acclaim.

Winemaking has a long history in the Priorat though, back to the Middle Ages and the Carthusian monks of the La Cartoixa D’Escaladei monastery. The region’s name stems from the ‘Prior’ of this powerful order, who ruled over the present-day Priorat area and beyond. The region also produces outstanding olive oil, made from the small arbequina olives.

Until recently one of Catalonia’s poorest comarcas (counties), the Priorat’s green and stunning countryside has remained virtually unchanged —apart from some startlingly avant-garde winery buildings— while its timeless villages retain their traditional stone houses and quiet charm.
So why not take a day out and explore this fascinating corner of Catalonia? Here are a few of my favourites:

La-Villela-BaixaCapital and winemaking centre of the Priorat, Falset is a small but bustling town clustered around a pretty square with porched arcades, and a distinctive, Modernista-style wine cooperative. Selection of wine shops and restaurants (try La Quinoa for a sophisticated, excellent value weekday menú del día).

La Vilella Baixa
One of the areas’ most picturesque villages, nicknamed the ‘New York of the Priorat’ for its spectacular seven and eight storey buildings overlooking a stream.
The narrow road from La Vilella Baixa to Scala Dei, Poboleda and Cornudella is particularly scenic —watch out for the space age hilltop bodegas!—but not recommended to anyone that gets car sick.

Scala Dei, the ‘stairway to heaven’
Headquarters of the Priorat wine DO (denomination of origin), a visit to this tiny hamlet is a must. Bars, restaurant, wine shop and tasting.
About a mile away the ruined monastery of La Cartoixa de Scala Dei is well worth a visit too, with its reconstruction of a monk’s cell.
La-Morera-de-Montsant__The holy mountain: Montsant
The little village of Morera de Montsant nestles at the foot of the fantastic cliffs of the sierra de Montsant range, a natural park. Seemingly impossible paths snake up the mountain; some involve sheer drops, rocks overhanging very narrow paths and iron rings hammered into the rock!
Once you’re at the top —on a clear day you can see the Pyrenees— a network of paths lead through beautiful scenery with streams, pools, caves and woodland. It’s easy to get lost though (particularly in autumn), so go with a local guide unless you’re an experienced excursionist.
A good place to stop for lunch is the Venta de Pubill, where the T-702 Poboleda road meets the C242. An old coaching inn, it serves traditional Catalan cuisine with fresh ingredients at a reasonable price. Great for hearty breakfasts too.

Tiny, quaint hilltop hamlet with a Romanic church and ruined castle, and fabulous views of the surrounding mountains and reservoir below. Siurana is a Mecca for rock climbers worldwide, and you will be sure to see some on the spectacular drive up to the village. There is a campsite, a mountain refuge, a bar and a restaurant.
Siurana is rich in legends, and was one of the last Moorish villages to surrender to the Christian re-conquest, after a long and bitter siege.

Large, picturesque village much loved by Barcelona weekender's; Catalan singer-songwriter and cultural icon Lluís Llach has a home and winery nearby. Porrera suffered substantial damage in catastrophic floods in 1994.

LA TORREPradell de la Teixeta - La Torre de Fontaubella - Marçà

The route through these pretty villages runs through softer countryside, close to one of Catalonia’s loveliest train rides: the Reus to Mora line. A large ruined masia near Marçà was headquarters of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.

Fincas Direct new website!

After what seems like an age, I’m happy to say that my new website is finally live and online at

I hope to gradually add more content and information, time permitting! Jeff Greensmith runs and is a registered estate agent and experienced Spanish/Catalan translator and interpreter. He has lived in Catalonia since 1986.

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Sant Jordi d'Alfarma is a secluded spot hidden away between L'Ametlla and Calafat. You can find it by turning off the N340 opposite the ceramic museum into the urbanisation Sant Jordi d'Alfarma. Continue under the bridge towards the sea and follow the signs for Club Nautico. Overlooking this idyllic beautiful marina you will find this family run Swiss restaurant and bar where you can dine inside or out on the terrace or just chill out during Happy Hour by the pool. SANT JORDICANAL





Raymondo and his team invite you to come and enjoy the most natural marina in Catalunya day or evening. Plus try something different with the poolside Flea market on June 14th or just come along for one of the special evenings being organised this month. Don't forget to book to avoid disappointment!

977 486 000 OR 650 540 718








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CORTINAIf you want to talk about skiing in Spain, no one would point you anywhere else but Baqueira-Beret. The resort is nestled in the region of Catalonia on the northern side of the Pyrenees among tranquil towns that seem to have stood still for centuries. Its remote accessbility (you can only get there by bus or car along winding, narrow roads) makes it one of the most secluded and exclusive skiing locations in Europe with the finest reputation for natural winter beauty. Baqueira counts on 70 slopes across 100km with altitudes between 1,600 and 2,500 metres. Baqueira is the ultimate paradise for expert skiers who have six black slopes available and the freedom to explore off-piste on notably the best powder snow in Spain. Although a relatively inexpensive resort compared to others in Europe, its popularity comes from the natural feel behind the stone and wood decoration along with the variety of off-ski activities and the mouth-watering Spanish-French cuisine that waits below in the villages of Baqueira and Beret. Don’t be surprised to see the Royal Family on vacation or the Spanish Ski Team practicing nearby. For more information and reservations visit


With an average of 322 sunny days a year, St. Moritz is one of the most renowned holiday resorts of the world. Chic, elegant and cosmopolitan in ambiance, it is situated at 1,856m above sea level in the middle of the lake-dotted landscape of the Upper Engadine. Corvatsch, Corviglia and Diavolezza are its most popular skiing areas, each with its own level of expertise from beginner to experienced. But it’s not just the skiing that makes St. Moritz exceptional: the expansive network of snow bars, toboggan runs, snowshoe trekking and winter golfing make a skiing holiday completely unlike any other. You can also sign up for a “Clean Energy Tour” that takes you along St. Moritz’s latest renewable energy installations, including a solar-powered railway system. And if you really want to feel one with the snow, take a camping trip, igloo style – build your own icy hut and snuggle up inside with a heated blanket and winter-weight sleeping bag. For more information and reservations, visit


Likely a contender for the costliest and most stylish resort in Europe, Cortina, as most shorthand it, is the primary and largest resort of the Dolomite region in Italy. Young and trendy, Cortina is crowned by dramatic rock formations which can limit your skiing activity but also add to the beauty of the Italian Alps. A place where sipping your tea or espresso is just as important as your turning technique, the village entertainment has turned into the classiest post-ski hobby. But beyond the glam façade, Cortina has a variety of slopes for all levels and loads of non-ski activities that are equally popular. The best part for serious skiers: a large component of the winter guest list mostly comes to be seen or to relish in the fabulous sunshine. Translation: the slopes tend to be relatively empty and skiing high above the treeline is especially rewarding for all-day sport. For more information and reservations, visit


If you don’t want to be limited to one neighbouring ski town for evening entertainment, Courchevel 1850, part of the Three Valleys, is the best bet. This isn’t just the favourite Alpine hangout of the Paris jet set (who fly their private planes into the mini airport mid-slope), it’s also the scene of leading hotels and Michelin-star eateries. Courchevel itself is a series of smaller villages whose names reflect their heights in metres - Courchevel 1850, Courchevel 1650, Courchevel 1550, and so on. And although the more than 600km of ski runs are available throughout the Three Valleys via lifts, Courchevel is the place to hit the slopes straight from your apartment or hotel lobby. And if by chance a long day of cross-country trekking or snowboarding hasn’t worn you out completely, the nightclubs and sultry lounges will keep you occupied with luxurious locals and relocated St. Tropez partygoers who come to Courchevel exclusively to party right under the star-dotted French sky. For more information and reservations, visit

CHAIRLIFTTop Hotel Picks
Byblos Courchevel, France

The name itself says it all. The Byblos Courchevel, which is noted as being one of the most booked hotels in the Alps, is elegant, refined and simply luring with its cozy fireside decor. The hotel’s facilities, in addition to being five-star, include a fitness centre, an on-site fine dining restaurant, a spa facility and indoor pool. For more information,visit



Named a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, La Pleta offers calm and comfort in a five-star setting. Each of the 67 rooms has a mountain view as well as under-floor heating. La Pleta boasts one of the finest restaurants in Spain and houses a library, gym and the renowned Oceania Spa, inspired by the ancient culture of the Pyrenees. For more information, visit

SKIINGTschuggen, Switzerland

The Tschuggen Grand Hotel is a must. We not only loved the concept behind this tastefully thought-out hotel, but we also loved part of the re-design, which is unlike anything you’ll see in modern ski resorts. Today, the 130-room hotel is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and not surprisingly lives up to its good name thanks to its welcoming and utterly professional service. In addition, the Tschuggen has no less than four excellent restaurants, which cater for all tastes from Swiss delights to sophisticated French cuisine. For more information, visit

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B&bElaine and Mark bought a 3 storey town house when it was a run down derelict property in 2004 in the small agricultural town of Benissanet situated in the picturesque Ebro Valley between Mora La Nova and Miravet.

Initially, they wanted to turn it into a comfortable, homely b&b for fishermen, but after living and working in the area during the last few years, they have realised that the Ebro Valley offers so much more than that.

The area is famous for its fishing on the river Ebro with its giant catfish. It also hosts carp, zander, big roach and chubb plus many more.


Activities in the area include:


Golf can be found only 20 minute drive away set in the stunning scenery at La Figuerola with its 18 hole course and club house.





Historic sites including the caves at Les Coves de L'Espluga see And the Caves at Maravillas in Benifallet see

miravetThe castle of Miravet built in the 11th century with its' breathtaking views.
Castle of Monsonis built in 1024 at Noguera, Lleida.
Miravet traditional wooden ferry over the River Ebro where cars are transported using only the rivers current as its driving force.
Roman Ruins in Tarragona and of course Barcelona with the Gaudi Architecture and too many other sights to mention .
Plus don't forget Falset and Gandesa famed for their wine production where you can visit the local bodegas and sample the regions finest wines.


Bird watching from Eagles to Egrets and Kingfishers to Kites.

Numerous beaches and small fishing villages to delight you with their cuisine.
Cycling along quiet country lanes with traditional villages and unspoilt countryside. Walking and nature trails on the delta and the national park of the Serra del Montsant in El Priorat county.
For the more adventurous there’s Go Karting and the adventure & water parks at PortAventura. For further information, visit their website at

Elaine and Mark will welcome you to their friendly traditional town house where you can stay in one of their clean, comfortable rooms. They offer 1 double, 3 twin and a single room, all with en suite bathrooms. Towels, tea & coffee, washing machine & tumble dryer, equipped kitchen & dining area and home to home comfort are all included in your stay.

They offer a choice of breakfast, including a full English or you can stay as room only. You have use of the kitchen to prepare your own meals if required. If you fancy a night in you can relax in the lounge area and chat with other guests or put your feet up in front of English TV. The house is ideal for the larger families to rent as a whole if required with discounts given on this basis.
They will also help organise your activities or give you valuable help and advice if you are here for house hunting. Remember your hosts are here to make your stay a pleasant one whether here visiting relations, house hunting or just enjoying what the Ebro Valley has to offer.

Please contact Elaine or Mark on 977 401 236 or email at plus see all their contact details in the business card section at the back of this magazine


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Above: HDTV resolution SDTV resolution

It has been some time now since (High Definition) HD TV’s have been available in the high street.
If you believe the marketing, most people out there will have gone out and purchased a new High Definition HD TV.
The only issue with this is that the transmission of HD TV at present is only available in this area via Satellite not via an Aerial.
What many people are getting confused with, is with your HD TV connected to your normal Satellite Receiver or Aerial there will be NO difference in the picture quality.
To view HD (High Definition) you need a High Definition (HD) Satellite Receiver !


Up until only a short time ago the only option available to view HD English TV is to purchase a SKY HD receiver and monthly SKY subscription package.
The cost of the HD receiver alone is quite expensive and the monthly subscriptions to SKY have an extra monetary add on for the privilege of watching the HD channels.

Things are changing FAST, it appears that the likes of BBCHD , ITVHD , LUXHD, and soon to be added C5HD have been losing revenue due to SKY charging to view these channels on their HD platform.

We now have available HD FREESAT, this comprises of a Free To Air HD Receiver that is pre- programmed to receive FREE (no subscription) the available HD channels and all of the normal digital Channel FREESAT platform off the Astra 2 Satellite used by Sky.
The digital English channels that are available Free amount to around 150+ including DAB digital radio channels. (you will not receive any Sky subscription channels)
Also more importantly unlike some other manufacturers, this receiver is future proof as the embedded software can be updated making this one of the most versatile HD receivers on the market.

The HD (High Definition) receivers are supplied direct by ourselves Britsat, fully software tested and preloaded with the latest Digital and HD channels preloaded. If you have a SKY set up at home then all you need do is to connect the HD receiver to your satellite cable to view FREESAT HD Channels as well as the FREE digital channels together with Radio. For those of you without a Satellite dish we can supply and fit
a suitable size dish and run any required cabling.

For our German Readers this HD receiver has software pre loaded to show all of the
FREE VIEW German satellite channels from either Astra 1 or Hotbird etc.
The receiver also has pre embedded cam slots which will take Conax or Irdeto Cams and Cards, to view any pre paid subscription program off any of the European Satellites.
With auto HD viewing of European pre paid subscription channels.

TVFor the technically minded amongst us the digital sound output is true Dolby Digital by fibre optic.
With full preloaded software for auto satellite find with motorised satellite systems.

On a normal original style TV the receiver will also work on the Satellite Digital platform, by Scart connection as well.

For further information Tel: 616 369 913 or go to :
(trade enquiries welcome)


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SAILING BOATAfter many years of boating for fun in the UK and holding down a ‘proper’ job, the decision was taken in 2005 to turn a hobby into a livelihood and follow a dream.
The 1st minor detail was to move ‘Sloopy’ a 37 foot sailing boat from Chichester to the Med. The original idea of the destination was always a bit vague; ‘somewhere in the south of Spain’ was what was said when asked! It was always hoped that it would become clear on the way and anyway on the dull grey day of departure, anywhere in the sun seemed a better place to be!
ON THE CANALAfter crossing the English Channel to Le Havre, the mast was taken down and Sloopy temporarily became a canal boat. We entered the River Seine and made our way to Paris which is a very special place to be in your own boat and we were almost expecting someone to tell us to move on. From Paris the route became the canal system of central France with its 350+ locks and eventually the rivers Saone and Rhone to the coast. It was a bit of an adjustment to take to sea again but the inviting blue Mediterranean made it an easy transition.
COSTA BRAVIATo cut a long story short, the trip onwards to the south of Spain was ended at Tarragona when it was realised just what Catalonia had to offer. We might not have the spectacular coastline of say the eastern Med but there is a lot more and Tarragona makes a great base for the business we wanted to run.
In 2006 we finally gained the final documents necessary to run ‘Sloopy’ as a commercial vessel and for me to operate as a professional skipper. Since then we have been running day trips and holidays and more recently we have received approval to run internationally recognised training courses.

In a day it is possible to spend the time just sailing or take a break anchoring is one of many beautiful bays. The crystal clear warm waters are perfect for a snorkel or just a swim. A day can also provide a great introduction to sailing. It is enough time to see if it is really something you would like to do or take the first steps in gaining a qualification. A very popular option has been celebratory trips where we have been happy to lay on additional surprise treats.
COASTWhen more time is available, the Costa Dorada coast offers a wide choice of destinations. Up the coast, Villanova and Sitges provide welcome breaks on the way to Barcelona where a stay is a special treat. It is possible to enter this major port passing the yachts of the super rich and moor in a delightful marina situated as close to the end of the Ramblas and its attractions as it is possible to get. For those wishing to put in more sailing miles, the Costa Brava and its spectacular coastline beckons beyond Barcelona.
Heading down the coast from Tarragona we include such stops as Cambrils and L’Ametlla de Mar. You might think you know these places but they appear so different when entering on a boat.L'AMETLLA


L’Ametlla for example looks like it was designed to be seen from the sea. As you approach the harbour you are greeted with the image of a traditional Mediterranean harbour that time seems to have forgotten, a view quite different from the approach by road..
For the more adventurous and those wishing to spend
above on the canals through France
more time at sea, we have the Balearic's, a 24 hour sail away with an unlimited number of anchorages and stunning coastline.
For more information on the trips available or if you would like to discuss the training program then contact Malcolm on 670544116
or go to





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About a year ago, a French man with an MGB and a Marcos, got together with an Englishman with a 'T' type MG, and decided it was time to find other people locally with a shared interest in classic cars and motor cycles.

12 months on and the club, Delta Classics can boast members of six nationalities and vehicles ranging from a Sunbeam Talbot, assorted MG's, a Ford Classic (is there really a Ford called a classic?? YES) to a Ural motor cycle. One prospective member was so keen to get involved, he went out and bought a 1974 VW Beetle. Now he is an active and enthusiastic member.

We currently meet on a monthly basis for a chat and a drink at La Barraca Restaurant on L'Ampolla sea front.
Most months an outing is organised by one of the members, on a Sunday usually, which entails a run of 50-75 km to explore the local countryside. We have visited wineries, castles and museums among others. We usually take a picnic lunch.

During July a group of us travelled to Le Mans for the bi-annual Le Mans 24 Hour Classic Meeting. It was a fantastic weekend. The weather was kind to us and we were involved in what must be the largest and most varied collection of classic vehicles ever assembled.
Walking round the paddock and seeing the cars - some the original Le Mans cars from the past. From 1923 Bentleys, Bugatti's, Alfa's through to Ford GT40, and Porches up to 1979.

We travelled to Le Mans in two convoys. One group of older cars, that chose to travel over 3 days and another group who chose a 'non-stop' run over a long day.
Some of our members took the opportunity of driving round the full 8 mile circuit. I will not forget the sight of Rod & Marilyn in their red MG going past the Dunlop grandstand waving enthusiastically as we attempted to take their photograph.

In the short time since the club was formed the collective membership has gained valuable knowledge and experience of using classic vehicles on the roads of Catalunya. Also by sharing hints on transferring to Spanish registration and where to obtain spare parts, plus information on reliable suppliers and repair shop facilities.

We know there are many classic vehicles in the area that stay locked away, never seeing the light of day, perhaps owned by people who are not sure how to use them legally in Spain. It's a shame not to use classic cars and bikes. They were made to be driven, not locked away.

If (as I hope) this has whetted your appetite to use your vehicle, or maybe just interested to meet and talk to other local enthusiasts, then come along to see us, as mentioned above, at La Barraca Restaurant L'Ampolla at 6.00pm on the 1st Friday of each month. Next meeting Friday 5th September.

Alternatively, contact the club through its e-mail address:
web site:
Telephone Jean 620 968 230 (French)
Robert 678 718 446 (English)
Ursula 639 918 641 (German/Spanish)
Our next event will be on Sunday 14th September. We meet at 10.00am for departure at 10.30, at Censals car park on N340 El Perelló. A drive into the countryside with a coffee break and a picnic stop for lunch. An interesting drive on quiet country roads with spectacular views.

Please come along, you will be most welcome.
















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Summer Adventures & MoreBEACH


Catalonia on horseback

Hold the reigns tight and get ready for fun. Riding is a sport that allows you to explore the wide variety of landscapes to be found in Catalonia. In this part of northeastern Spain there are mountains, volcanoes, valleys, beaches... Discovering them on horseback is a real adventure.

See: horse riding with the SAN JUAN EXPERIENCE in the business card section


The pleasure of discovering Spain by sail
Are you imagining how much you would like to enjoy the sunshine and crystal clear waters of a hidden cove somewhere? How would you like to enjoy all this on your own boat or a rented vessel? In Spain you can sail all year round, on a catamaran, sailing boat, motor launch... Come on! Head out onto the open sea or try sports like windsurfing, scuba diving and water skiing. Sailing is pure pleasure. Enjoy!



With Nature and Adventure you will be able to combine sports with nature, they are in San carlos de la Rápita and their activities are based in the Ebro and the Ports of Tortosa-Besseit and the Montsiá. Activity Centre. Activities include:



Center for the Rehabilitation of Marine Animal (CRAM)


The History of CRAM


In 1991, a viral epidemic provoked the death of hundreds of striped dolphins. The animals ended up beached, either dead or seriously injured. One of the animals was treated by Ferran Alegre, veterinarian and technical specialist at the Environment Department for the town of Premià de Mar.
That epidemic shed light on many deficiencies, among them, the lack of knowledge and infrastructure to assist marine animals, especially because the animals were endangered species.The experience affected the veterinarian in such a way that he offered his services as a volunteer for the Catalan government to provide veterinary treatment to protected marine animals that were found alive on Catalan beaches.

After two years of rescues and outreach along the entire Catalan coast, Ferran Alegre recognized the need for an adequate facility with at least some basic resources to treat the animals. He was aware of a house in Premià de Mar that was owned by the town government and in very poor condition, yet it was located in a lot next to the sea. He obtained authorization from Mr. Leopold Barreras, who was at the time head of the Environment Department, to conduct rehabilitation of marine fauna in that building. That situation permitted the rehabilitation, with the help of friends at city hall and volunteers, of the installations that eventually made it possible to present a project for a Rehabilitation Center for Marine Animals to the Catalan government.

The guided visits to the Center for the Rehabilitation of Marine Animals are geared towards all ages and take place in Premià de Mar, where the Center is situated.

Guests will be taken throughout the Center where we will explain the history of CRAM and the actions that it carries out as the only rehabilitation center for marine animals in Catalunya. Also, visitors will see the ambulances, isolation pool for the dolphins, the operating room and the area dedicated to the recuperation of patients. During the length of the tour, the reasons for decline of animals in danger of extinction in our seas are contemplated.

The second part of the visit takes place inside the Center with visual support/aid. A slideshow helps in getting to know the rescue, clinical and rehabilitation activities taking place at CRAM.



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Perfect Advertising for Solar power Suppliers, independent Financial Advisors, Vets, Security, Architects, Surveyors, Translators, Insurance Agents, Removals, Travel agents, Storage, Lawyers, Builders, D.I.Y, Plumbers, Car Repairs, Tax Advisors, Air Con, Heating, Computer, Printing, Broadband, Satellite TV, Mortgages and Loans, Estate Agents, Pool Supplies, Dentists, Doctors, Restaurants, Bars, Hotels, Leisure Pursuits…etc…etc.

Looking for a business then visit our business directory online.

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Please also visit our sister site for all businesses in Catalunya



Please note this website has nothing to do with The Olive Press magazine from January 2012 which is under a different ownership.

The aim of the WEBSITE is to provide readers with various articles some serious some humorous so that there is something of interest for everyone. We have found since moving here from the South of Spain that there is a lack of places to promote and advertise any business you may have. We are therefore offering this WEBSITE as a solution.

We welcome any suggestions of what you would like to see in the WEBSITE. Any articles of local interest or details of upcoming events can be submitted.

We are glad to see people are visiting our web site regularly. Please check the classified and business directory pages as these are updated as and when during the month.
There is also additional subjects and information about living in spain on the web site.

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