September 2013 Archive

Eating Out in the Moraira area

People are always asking for my
restaurant recommendations, and that’s very difficult advice to give since
there are so many options available. To my mind, it all depends on the purpose
of the restaurant visit. Is it merely to satisfy hunger without changing into
posh garb. or is it a business lunch.
 Perhaps it’s to relax with friends and chat while eating good food in a
pleasant atmosphere Equally, if the visit is to celebrate some special
occasion, then that will be a factor in the restaurant decision too. You’ll
want somewhere with a buzz.

Relaxing with friends and/or
celebrating are surely the most pleasant eating occasions, so here are some
location suggestions (naturally they are high on my favourites list too)

Ca Pepe

The restaurant is located
in Calle Haya, just outside of the main Moraira town, but that provides the
bonus of easy parking, even in high season. Ca Pepe is family owned and run,
and their success is due to the strategy of using seasonal local produce, and
to the care they take to ensure the high standards they set are met by all
staff. Just look at the referrals they are able to present on their website.
The menu del dia here is priced at 16.95 euros and includes a ½ bottle of wine

D’Gust

The position of the
restaurant is ideal – in the corner of Plaza La Sort, in Moraira town. You can
eat outside, or at one of the elegant internal dining tables. Either way, the
food is presented in an artistic manner that makes the mouth water. The menu
del dia is priced at 15 euros and on my last visit, the starter of salmon and
the sea bass main course were superb.

El Caserio

This is on the main road
out of Moraira, towards Teulada/Benitachell. The style of cuisine is best
described as International/Spanish, but whatever the label that most accurately
fits, everything is presented in a stylish fashion that adds to the pleasure of
the meal. An evening set menu is offered at 21.50 euros, but that provides you
with a choice of starter, main course and dessert, and they surprise you with a
couple of extra tidbits during the meal. If I say more there’ll be no surprises
for you, so no more clues. A whole host of a la carte options are available
too, but whatever you choose we’re certain you’ll be licking your lips all the
way through the evening.

La Masena

This is a beautifully
converted, but still rustic, finca – on the outskirts of Javea. It’s actually
on the Carretera Benitachell (the road running towards Javea from Benitachell).
It’s open every day, except Tuesday, from 12.30 to 1600 hours and from 19.30 to
2300 hours. You can eat inside the stylish air conditioned dining room, with
its beams and chandeliers, or you may decide to dine "al fresco” on the
relaxing outside terrace. There is no doubt that this is a venue to celebrate a
special occasion, and the house specialities endorse this view; Carpaccio of
pear confit with shavings of foie gras; marinated quail salad with mango;
scallops "au gratin” and suckling pig with oranges and fried bananas – these
will give you some idea about the gorgeous food they serve. The a la carte menu
is not cheap, but if you go for the menu del dia at lunchtime, the cost is 17
euros per head, and there is no reduction in quality. Indeed, I visited today
and chicken cordon bleu and beef stroganoff were menu del dia possibilities and
both were divine

Options

Again, this is a town
centre location. The restaurant has a host of highly complimentary  reviews on the Internet, comments confirmed
by my own experience. There is no menu del dia on offer, but  you can choose 2 courses from a set menu for
20 euros and for an extra 5 euros you can enjoy an additional course

Rodolfo

This is a genuine Italian
restaurant, and although it’s a Moraira town centre location there’s a large
free car park to the rear. All food is cooked and prepared under the
supervision/instruction of the half Italian/German owner, Rodolfo. The pasta in
particular is made to order and tastes fabulous – not surprising since he is a
Member of the Federation of Italian Professional Chefs. He says his aim each
day is to treat customers to the delights of Italian cuisine, with the subtle
combination of flavours, colours and aromas. There is no doubt he succeeds.

Vall de Cavall

Located just off the
Teulada road outside of Gata de Gorgos – food aside, the setting of the dining
area is wonderful. You look across open countyside and dine beneath the gaze of
the elephant shaped mountain called Montgo. The menu del dia will cost 17.50
euros per person and all the tasty courses will be beautifully presented, by
friendly and enthusiastic staff.

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Posted by on 09/30/2013 12:53:00

What to do during retirement in Spain

Like me, you probably hurtled along
motorways in the years prior to retirement, trying to reach appointments with
important clients. Allowance had been made for high levels of traffic, but just
one accident resulted in miles and miles of stationery vehicles – yours and
mine included.

It was little wonder then, that the
prospect of retirement brought doubts into my mind. Would retirement in the UK
or in Spain be satisfying after decades of stomach churning, adrenaline pumping
rushes from one important appointment or meeting to another.

I’m writing to tell you that
retirement in Spain will be, or at least can be, as busy as you want it to be.
My diary is as full as it’s always been, but the big difference now is that, if
I’m late or decide not to go, there’ll be no angry client on the phone or final
warning letter in the post. I go because I’m interested in the activities I
attend..

To anyone about to retire to the
Moraira area of Costa Blanca, I recommend that you join an organisation called
U3A. It’s not concerned with particular age groups. Rather it addresses itself
to people whose full time employment is at an end or nearing it, or perhaps
those where parental responsibility is no longer full time. Such people, and I’m
one of them, still want to experience new things but these days, the emphasis
is on leisure and recreational pursuits, rather than achieving academic or
employment successes.

The cost of joining U3A is a modest
10 euros per person for one whole year, and some 1400 people think that the
membership is worthwhile. Of course, that membership is an important source of
new friendships for the newly retired. It’s open to people of all
nationalities, and rightly so, but all business is conducted in English.

One of the most amusing facts about
team GB’s success in the London Olympics was that the vast majority of our
medals were gained in "sitting down sports” – cycling; rowing; sailing.  Not to be outdone, U3A has lots of sitting
down activities too. These include backgammon; bridge; canasta; chess;
cribbage; flower arranging (OK, I know this one does involve a little leaning
forward and stem cutting, but it’s mainly sitting down); fortune telling
(though the tarot cards have to be dealt and the crystal ball polished); dining
out; jigsaw puzzle solving – actually, there are too many to list.

For those with death wish/extreme
sport tendencies, U3A has arranged regular badminton; fishing; gardening;
bowls; healthy walking; pilates; petanque; table tennis and yoga sessions, and
again these are just examples. The list is even more exhaustive (no pun
intended). Then, if you have an interest not already covered, you’ll be
encouraged (but not railroaded) to start and run a new group. 

Another organisation that’s worthy
of a retiree’s attention is the Teula Moraira Lions Club. With some 1.3 million
members worldwide, it’s active in some 44000 communities globally. The Lions
Club is a group of male and female volunteers who give time freely to
humanitarian causes in and around its local community.

The Lions Club in Teulada-Moraira
started it’s fund raising activities in 1994 and in the first year raised 845
pesetas. Since then, the figure has swelled to over 150000 euros. Most
important, as an organisation of volunteers, every penny or cent raised by
Lions Club International goes directly to charity. For example, they sponsor a
food voucher scheme – administered by Social Services at Teulada/Moraira Town
Hall. All admin costs are met by members. If you’d like to know how you can get
involved with these activities in Moraira on retirement – take a look at their
website, where contact details are shown.

Although Mark Twain wittily
described it as ”a good walk spoiled” – as I’m writing about things to do
during retirement in Spain – the game of golf has to be mentioned and included
in the list.

Assuming, as in my case, a high
level of fitness and athleticism has long ago departed your body – then the 2 x
9 hole courses near to Moraira will be of interest. For me, on a hot summers
day, as long as my drives are reasonably straight, that is – 9 holes is just
about the right length before oxygen, several nurses and possibly a matron, are
desperately needed.

Club de
Golf Ifach


Designed by Javier Arana, the club
was opened in 1974. He made the course short but tricky, with narrow fairways
and cunningly placed bunkers. The 6 par 3s and 3 par 4s require you to use a
full range of clubs and to hone your short game skills. Even if you’re playing
badly, it’s hard to spoil the good walk since the views of Ifach rock are
stunning.


Club de Golf de Javea


Here’s another course where Mark
Twain would have been hard pressed to make his “good walk spoiled” claim stick.
The course is flanked by palm, pine and orange trees. It’s sheltered by Cape
San Antonio allowing a near perfect all year round micro climate, and your
shots are overseen by Montgo, a 750m high mountain shaped like the head and
trunk of an elephant. Again, although the course is not long, the 1981
designer, Francisco Moreno, made it challenging – with 34 bunkers – very
appropriate, since the sand of the coast is only a few kilometers away.
Although it’s only 9 holes long, you can go round twice – most of the back 9
(as it were) having alternative tees. Then the greens have subtle slopes making
them difficult to fathom.


”MsoNormal">It’s good to see that the management
of the course insists that golfers dress and behave like golfers, and not like
beach bums. The place has some style.


It needs to be stated that if you
get in your car with your clubs in the boot, there are other nice courses to
visit. There’s Club de Golf La Sella Denia, designed by Jose Maria Olazabal,
and a little further north you’ll find the Sevy Ballesteros creation – Club de
Golf Oliva Nova. Go in the other direction, and there are courses at Altea,
Benidorm, Calpe and many around Alicante. Further south they can be found at
Elche, Santa Pola, Guardamar, Orihuela, Murcia and Torrevieja.


Choosing exactly where to get your
good walk spoiled is difficult but there is more information here. Golf

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Posted by on 09/27/2013 11:05:00

Markets in Costa Blanca North

There are markets to visit daily
along the Costa Blanca North. They usually start trading around 9-10am and wind
down around 2pm. Although people may tell you that stall holders will not
barter, I can categorically state that if you offer a price that you think is
fair, and it provides him with a profit, it’s likely to be accepted. If both
the seller and the purchaser can walk away smiling, then a deal will be struck.

The goods available to you are
myriad, from clothing, sunglasses, hats and shoes, to towels and bed linen, not
forgetting ceramic pots, dishes and ornaments. Of course fresh fruit and
vegetables are there in abundance too, along with spices and dried fruits.

It’s true to say, that prices are
substantially cheaper away from tourist hotspots, so it’s worth a visit to some
of the less well known locations. To help you plan your market schedule, here
are the locations for each day.


·     

Mon – DENIA (next to
Mercadona supermarket)




·     

Tue – ALTEA (at the top
of the town)




·     

Wed – TEULADA (Calle Alicante)




·     

Wed – BENIDORM (Near
Pueblo Hotel in Levante Beach area)




·     

Thu – JAVEA (In the Old
Town)




·     

Fri – MORAIRA (just off
Carretera Moraira Calpe, in town centre)




·     

Fri – GATA DE GORGOS
(this is a typical Spanish food market)




·     

Sat – BENISSA (near to
“Cathedral of the Marina”)


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·     

Sat – CALPE (Avenida del Norte)




·     

Sun – PEDREGUER (known as
“rastro” market, it’s located on the industrial estate. Here you’ll find second
hand goods too – handy if you’re trying to furnish somewhere within a tight
budget)


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·     

Sun – JESUS POBRE (In the
town, just off the main road through it. I confess this is my favourite, though
it’s quite small.  There are few
tourists and mainly Spanish people frequent it. In the summer it’s held in the
early evening. In the autumn/winter, it switches to morning)


It’s true to say that every town in
the area is likely to host a market during the week. Here are a few more for
you to keep in mind – Parcent and Callosa (Monday); La Nucia (Sunday and
Monday); Pego and Lliber (Sunday); Polop and Benitachell (Wednesday);
Benidoleig (Thursday); Villajoyosa (Thursday and Sunday too); Alfaz del Pi and
Finestrat (Friday) and Jalon (Saturday)


There will most likely be coffee
available and churros stalls, selling freshly made Spanish doughnuts. Most stall
holders will invite you to taste their fruit before you buy, so you’ll need to
complete several laps of the market, at a trot, to compensate for all this
intake.


Undoubtedly, everyone will enjoy the
buzz and bustle of any of these markets and it will surely make a pleasant
change from the beach, but just one word of caution is needed, however. Crowds,
in any country are a magnet for light fingered people keen to relieve you of
money and valuables. Be sure to make the day a rotten and unsuccessful one for
them.  If you know anyone visiting the
Northern Costa Blanca feel free to send them a link to this article.

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Posted by on 09/24/2013 09:44:00

Getting from Alicante Airport to your Villa

Most people seem to hire a car for
collection at the airport, and that makes sense if you need transport during
your stay. On the other hand, lots of people have
holiday
homes on the Costa Blanca North
, and may well have a vehicle awaiting them
at that holiday home. For those people, car hire is not a sensible option.

Then, for people like me, who hate
the hassle of the car hire desk queue and the drive on unfamiliar roads in an
unfamiliar car, having been awake since the crack of dawn – the following
option may appeal.

There is an organisation called Beni
Connect, It’s a Benidorm based and family run operation, and is fully licenced
and insured. It provides a shuttle service from the airport with drop offs at
Calpe, Benissa, Moraira, Benitachell and Javea. The prices are 18 euros, 22,
22, 22 and 25 euros respectively.

If there’s a large family to get to
Costa Blanca North, then this published service may not be cost effective. In
their fleet, though, they have vehicles with 14 to 54 seats, so there’s nothing
to lose by getting a price from them. However, for individual travelers and
couples, the normal service is surely worth consideration, especially when you
take into account the toll charges on the motorway and fuel costs when driving.

How safe is your money when you’ve
pre-booked and pre-paid? Well, the organisation is part of the well respected
Autocares Grupo Benidorm. It’s been operating since 2005, and in that year,
with just 3 vehicles and 4 employees, moved almost 48000 people from the
airport to drop off points on Costa Blanca North. Then, by the end of 2009,
nearly 182000 passengers were safely collected and delivered. Look at some of
the passenger reviews on their website, and you’ll realise they’ve grown
because their customers have rated their value for money service very highly.

Today the team is 25 strong,
operating 15 vehicles. These are not the blueprints for a cowboy outfit!

You can reach them by telephone on
0034 965 850 790 (9am to 7pm)

or by email at reservas@beniconnect.com

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Posted by on 09/17/2013 06:42:00

Driving In Spain

There seems to be a perception that
driving rules and attitudes to driving in Spain are much more lax than the UK.
If you own a property in Spain and live here or are a regular visitor – and are
an owner or regular car user here – then it’s important that you realise that
this is not the case.

Just as in the UK, the police here
have regular purges on speeding, so it’s important, as you drive around, that
you pay attention to the speed signs. This guide will hopefully help too –




·     

Autopista (motorway eg
AP7 or E90, often toll roads) – max speed 120kph or 73mph




·     

Autovia (dual
carriageway, eg A8) – limits vary from 80 to 110kph




·     

Carretera National
(highways with road prefixes of C or CN) – speeds are as signed


If you are stopped for speeding, it’s
likely that the police officer will also check to make sure you are carrying
all that is legally required. This is –




·     

Two red EU warning
triangles




·     

Enough florescent jackets
for the number of seats in the car.




·     

A spare pair, if you wear
corrective glasses




·     

Current driving licence –
a certified copy is acceptable




·     

ITV paperwork – a
certified copy is acceptable




·     

Vehicle log book – a
certified copy is acceptable




 



Though not a legal requirement, it’s
suggested that you also carry your road tax payment receipt and car insurance
policy with receipt.


Additionally the police could well
take note of other legal requirements –




·   

There must be nothing on
rear seats (passengers apart). The logic is that shopping could roll off and
cause the driver to lose control of the car.




·   

All windows must be
clean.




·   

The number plates must be
visible and not mud splattered.




·   

The driver must not be
using a mobile phone.




·   

The driver must not be
using headphones or earphones.




·   

All occupants must be
wearing seat belts




·   

Children, up to 12 years must
be in the rear of the vehicle




·   

Babies up to 9 months old
(weighing up to 10 kilos) must be in a carrycot across the back seat, secured
with car safety belts or other approved safety attachments




·   

The driver must be a
minimum of 18 years of age




·   

The driver’s footwear
must be substantial – barefeet, flip flops, and sandals are not acceptable




·   

As elsewhere, drinking
while under the influence of alcohol is taboo, and government statistics tell
us that between 30% and 50% of all Spanish deaths in road traffic accidents are
caused by alcohol excesses. In Spain the legal limit is 0.5g/l blood or
0.25mg/l breath.


In Spain, traffic lights (semaforas)
are more often than not situated at your stop line for the junction. So you can
see them changing when you are first in the queue, there are smaller lights on
the support post. An amber flashing light means you are approaching a hazard,
such as a crossing. You can pass through this light with caution, if it seems
to be clear to do so.


Laws for pedestrian crossings were
not, until recently, as strict as those in the UK, where a driver is always at
fault, if a person is hit on the crossing. Now in Spain, you must step onto the
crossing, and show the palm of your hand to any approaching vehicles. Unlike
previously, drivers have to stop or run the risk of earning unwelcome penalty
points on their licence. Drivers should be wary of British tourists who step
out into the road having looked Right and not Left.


The final piece of advice is try not
be smart. A Guardia Officer stopped me and said "Papers”. I replied "Scissors,
and that beats papers”.  I should be
home by Christmas.

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Posted by on 09/05/2013 10:16:00

Get yourself a Spanish Will

"In this world, nothing can be said
to be certain, except death and taxes”. Those wise and somewhat sad words were
uttered by Benjamin Franklin in 1789, and of course, nothing has changed in the
meantime.

So, the firm recommendation is to
get yourself a Spanish Will prepared, if you own a Spanish property and/or have
assets in Spain. It will not override any Will you have organized in the UK or
Ireland. It will simply allow your beneficiaries to deal with your Spanish
Estate and assets speedily and this is important. In Spanish Law, they have 6
months from the date of death to pay IHT (Spanish Inheritance Tax). It is most
unusual for the English probate to be dealt with in time to allow this deadline
to be met – and this will result in the accrual of tax surcharges and interest.

As already revealed, you can include
your Spanish property and assets on your UK or Irish will and leave it at that.
However, after death, before the inheritance procedure can begin, an official
translator, the Foreign Office, and lawyers will have to become involved – but
that takes time and will cost money. It seems to be prudent to arrange a
Spanish Will in the first place.

While in Spain, there are strict
rules about who can and cannot inherit, but they do not apply to you. As a UK
or Irish national, you can choose who you want the inheritor/s to be.

In theory it is possible for you to
make your own Spanish Will. It would need to be translated into Spanish by a
qualified translator, and be presented to a Notary Office for signature for the
document to become legal. Another downside is that although the Notary will be
able to advise on legal matters – they are not qualified to talk about
inheritance tax or the pitfalls and advisability of the inheritance
arrangements you are proposing. Consequently, it seems sensible to arrange for
a Spanish Will and have it professionally prepared. As property advisor’s based
in Moraira, we obviously come across these needs on a regular basis as it’s all
part of the buying
process
and related
services
, therefore are able to suggest some local lawyers that can help if
required.

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Posted by on 09/02/2013 10:48:00