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Thursday, 26 April 2007

Meet Marbella's new Mayoress

This is the face of Angeles Muñoz surrounded by well wishers at last Saturday's meeting to present her electoral team. From May 25th she will be Marbella's next Mayoress.

And what a meeting it was! As slick as any presidential campaign we waved flags and for 40 minutes watched large screen multimedia presentations of Angeles Muñoz visiting the different neighbourhoods and associations in San Pedro and Marbella.

It took her 10 minutes to work her way down the aisle in the large Palacio de Congresos in Marbella, followed by the two national Partido Popular heavyweights Javier Arenas and Mariano Rajoy who had come to back her campaign. Listening to her speak eloquently and with conviction it was worth the wait.

I believe Angeles Muñoz will lead us back into the mainstream of politics in Spain after years of isolation and that she will normalise and restore the relations with outside institutions which have been missing for so long.

I also believe that only Angeles Muñoz and her new team of Municipal counsellors will be capable of giving Marbella back the dignity and prestige that it deserves.

As I walked out it was good to feel that Marbella is on the move again and that a a new group of honest and hardworking fellow citizens are ready to work in the best interests of the town again after so many years.

Update: 8/10/10 Things have moved on incredibly since the fraud and corruption of our last two mayors. Marbella must now be one of the safest town halls in Spain to buy property in.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Big bikes and a fluffy poodle

Big Harleys from out of town, a fluffy poodle and its owner at the entrance to the Puerto Deportivo in Marbella this morning. What a fantastic day it’s been. If only all our Easter visitors last week could have had at least one day as good as this.

Just out of sight to the right of the picture at the entrance to the Puerto Deportivo the deckhand selling tickets for the boat cruise to Puerto Banus and back was doing brisk business. What a great morning to be out at sea with a gentle onshore breeze looking in at the Golden Mile which stretches between Puerto Banus and Marbella.

By midday the beach bed attendants had set out their beds and cushions, the trampolines had been set up and the bouncy castle was filling with air. The little tourist train trundled along the Paseo Marítimo whilst the power walkers and weight watchers worked up a thirst, sweating slightly in the warm sun.

It was that time of day when your taste buds tell you it’s too late for coffee but just right for tapas and cold beer or sangria in a beach front bar.

This was Marbella at its best.

Monday, 9 April 2007

27 hours to Essen from Marbella

In Gene Pitney’s 1963 hit song "Twenty four hours to Tulsa" the traveller never gets home to Tulsa because he meets someone else along the way. Happily my 27 hours on the road to Essen in Germany from Marbella over the Easter weekend were completely trouble free.

I was taking a car up to Germany with my daughter where she is going to live, study and work and we left on Good Friday at 9.30 am arriving in Essen on Saturday at midday.

It was a memorable trip, we alternated at the wheel, two hours and two hours off. There were no cars at all on our side of the road north through Spain and again during the early hours of the morning as we pushed up through France, our side of the road was empty.

I flew back this afternoon from the ultra modern Dusseldorf airport with LTU the German leisure airline. (Just 12 months later I would be back at the big
LTU stadium next to the airport to see Bruce Springsteen but that's another story.)

Before take off there was a sushi bar and then a massage seat in the departure lounge. Entertainers drew faces on children and gave out Easter eggs. On the LTU plane it was great to be served a hot meal with drinks included by well dressed, civil cabin crew. Of course I haven’t fallen out of love with Easyjet but not being asked to dump empties into an orange sack is very civilized.

“Which of the two trips did you prefer?” I hear you ask. I have to say to you that despite the ultra smooth German check in, the pleasurable wait at the airport and the quick, comfortable flight back, I enjoyed our 27 hour car trip more.

I missed our companionship and feeling of adventure as we set off on our 2400 km trip. South of Jaen we drove through rolling olive farms and passed through heavy rain storms in central Spain. We crossed the snow covered ranges north of Madrid in the late afternoon and in the fading evening light our little diesel purred through the secretive green valleys of the Basque country. We entered France as night fell

We listened to French radio stations in the early hours of Saturday morning on the long straight to Bordeaux and drank coffee at 3am at a fuel stop with a tall white-bearded Norwegian Harley biker riding through the night on his way home. We skirted Paris as the dawn broke negotiating the ring roads like rally drivers.

We crossed First World War trench lines north of Paris as the sun warmed our faces and passed roadside war graves on the border. Turning east towards Germany the Saturday morning shopping traffic in Belgium slowed our progress and dulled our escapade. It was a good trip as trips go.

From Malaga airport home to Marbella I took the faithful Malaga airport to Marbella Bus Station bus service. Because of the rain and the last of the Easter traffic there were no taxis waiting at the Marbella Bus Station so I chose to walk the last couple of kilometers. Somehow it kept the pleasure of the journey alive just that bit longer.

PS: You could now do the whole journey from Essen to Marbella on a bus using the online bus ticket reservations gomarbella reservation system. It would take you longer than 27 hours though!

Update: I went back two Easters later to drive the car home to Spain, it was due for it's ITV test. I took it easy this time, with only one stop. It's a great drive down the centre of Spain.

Wednesday, 4 April 2007

More pillows please Housekeeper!

You might be asking one of these newly qualified hotel housekeepers for an extra pillow or blanket somewhere soon in one of Spain’s top hotels.

Graduating today after an intensive six month course in the Hotel Escuela Bellamar vocational training school in Marbella, the proud and happy housekeepers are shown here with some of their teachers after a farewell lunch.

Some of them will be starting work on Monday after Easter as far away as Gerona or Zaragoza. Such is the prestige of the course and the demand for trained hotel housekeepers in Spain that most students are offered contracts before their course ends.

Your housekeeper is there to make your hotel stay more enjoyable. Stop and chat next time you are passing in the corridor. Behind the uniforms and professional facade they’re ordinary people with hopes and aspirations just like the rest of us, They will appreciate your contact.

Update: 08/10/10 By the way, that's me over on the right at the back. I don't teach at the hotel school any more, with the cutbacks in Spain, there is simply no money for vocational training.