Semana Santa 2018 Elche

Easter in Spain is a very special time.  Your local city or town will have some kind of festival, mostly religious. The parades are amazing, some solemn and very serious but others colourful and joyous. You should see them. YouTube has many Semana Santa videos to watch, including Elche and Alicante, the nearest cities to the Hondon Valley.

Over the Easter period, thirty one brotherhoods made up of about 7,000 devotees participate in Elche’s Holy Week processions. They organise and enact 33 processions starting on the morning of Palm Sunday and concluding on Resurrection Sunday. There are parades, beautiful floats, ceremonies, drum bands, music and food. Many many children dress up and march too. 100,000’s of people attend to make a great atmosphere.

» Check the Elche Tourist website.

The procession of Palm Sunday was declared of International Tourist Interest on July 22, 1997.

Palm Sunday and dates back to 15th century with the foundation of the religious brotherhood known as La Cofradía de la Sangre de Cristo. The Municipal Council of Elche agreed to allocate the celebration to include processions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday following. It’s a long one!

Elche Semana Santa
Elche Semana Santa Procession (Costa Blanca Org)

Cristo Nazareno (Christ of Nazareth) can be seen carried in the “Passion of Christ” parade on Good Friday. Also the festival goers will see images of Our Lady known as the La Virgen de la Soledad. Elche’s main cathedral of Santa Maria is a focal point of course. The city looks great and welcomes tourists.

The white palms procession on Palm Sunday has its origins in Jerusalem, where it was celebrated as a reminder of the triumphal entry of The Lord into the Holy City.  During the Middle Ages this procession acquired great importance occupying the centre of the celebration with white palm also introduced into the procession of bouquets. it is also the custom to hang blessed palms on people’s balconies of  Elche. This custom is a symbol of protection of the house, as the palm has been blessed.

Also, you can visit the “Mercado de Palma Blanca”, and other attractions, bars, restaurants in the week before and after Palm Sunday. Enjoy a day in Elche over Easter… it’s a real treat into Spanish culture and family life.

Hondon… The Good Life: Part 1 Natural Beauty

Peaceful, Friendly, Warm and surrounded by Scenic Beauty.

The main two villages of Hondon de las Nieves and Hondon de los Frailes nest in the beautiful Hondon Valley. For decades they have grown an abundance of agricultural delights such as Grapes, Almonds and Olives (the main economy).

Hondon’s Grapes & Almonds

The area is well known for its Grape Vines, Wine and Almond Groves. It is sometimes called ‘The Valley of the Vines’. For the ramblers the mountain climb / walks are a superb way of experiencing fresh air, exercise, rural Spain and incredible vistas.

Hondon is surrounded by an expanse of stunning mountain views and traditional arid Spanish countryside. These excellent vistas are a delight in all seasons! Take a walk or drive through the country roads and you will just marvel at the changing light, shadows and picturesque skies.

The Hondon Valley is well known for its mild climate and pleasant summer breezes, which is very welcoming in those hot summer months when temperatures rarely fall below 30 degrees. The region enjoys sunshine in excess of 310 days per year, where the air is very clean and the pace of life slow. Hondon offers a very peaceful and stress free life.

Come take a look at the Valley of the Vines, drink the local wine under the bluest of skies and feel the warmth of the Spanish sun on your face … and you’re hooked! We were! We love it!

INTERESTED? CONTACT HONDON VILLAS:
Email: property @ hondonvillas.net
Tel: OFFICE: (0034) 965 075 357

WEBSITES & SOCIAL MEDIA:
UK Site: http://www.hondonvillas.net
NL/BE: http://www.hondonvillas.nl
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hondonvillas/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hondonagent
Blog: http://www.villasinhondon.net/

Hondon… The Good Life: Part 2 Market Day

One of the nicest days to visit the Hondon Valley is on Market Day, every Saturday in the lovely Hondon de las Nieves. You can shop for fresh produce or clothes, meet with friends for drinks or just enjoy the tranquil ambience over a brandy, coffee or a tostado or tapa. Hondon Villas wish you The Good Life!

The main two villages of Hondon de las Nieves and Hondon de los Frailes nest in the beautiful Hondon Valley. For decades they have grown an abundance of agricultural delights such as Grapes, Almonds and Olives (the main economy).

Hondon is surrounded by an expanse of stunning mountain views and traditional arid Spanish countryside. These excellent vistas are a delight in all seasons! Take a walk or drive through the country roads and you will just marvel at the changing light, shadows and picturesque skies.

The Hondon Valley is well known for its mild climate and pleasant summer breezes, which is very welcoming in those hot summer months when temperatures rarely fall below 30 degrees. The region enjoys sunshine in excess of 310 days per year, where the air is very clean and the pace of life slow. Hondon offers a very peaceful and stress free life.

Come take a look at the Valley of the Vines, drink the local wine under the bluest of skies and feel the warmth of the Spanish sun on your face … and you’re hooked! We were! We love it!

INTERESTED? CONTACT HONDON VILLAS:
Email: property @ hondonvillas.net
Tel: OFFICE: (0034) 965 075 357

WEBSITES & SOCIAL MEDIA:
UK Site: http://www.hondonvillas.net
NL/BE: http://www.hondonvillas.nl
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hondonvillas/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hondonagent
Blog: http://www.villasinhondon.net/

Driving in Spain : Roundabouts

Spanish Highway CodeIf you have driven in Spain already you’ll know it can be frustrating and bewildering. It has also been known to induce Road-Rage! Why is it so hard to grasp?

Apparently the Spanish “Highway Code” (Codigo de Trafico y Seguridad Vial (pdf)) is about 1000 pages long! (in Spanish of course). So realistically you will not read it and judging by experience not many locals have read it either.

Is it any different in other countries? There will be cause and blame from both locals and foreigners not familiar with Spain’s road laws and of there can be the usual disregard for other road user’s safety.

So what about Roundabouts in Spain?

Drivers here already know one of the most hair-raising driving situations here in Spain is usually at roundabouts. It can sometimes feel more like the fair-ground dodgems and a free-for-all guessing game of lane changing. Of course a lot of drivers do not even signal their intentions (lazy!). So you need to be very careful of other drivers on “glorietas” when driving in Spain.

Driving in Spain : Glorietas
Driving in Spain : Glorietas (click to enlarge)

It should be quite simple: Under normal circumstances you should always exit the roundabout from the right hand lane.

Remember that you must stay to the right and drive as far to the right as possible when travelling around a roundabout in Spain. The right hand lane is the normal driving lane. Try and think of the roundabout as a normal road that has curves.  Have a look at the graphic above:  Car A and Car B is good driving but C, D and E is bad driving and could impede others drivers or worse still cut-off or force an accident.

If (due to traffic or lane markings approaching the roundabout) you need to enter the roundabout in a left/middle lane then ensure you still move over (and signal) to the right lane in time to exit the roundabout ( like CAR B ).

The principals are similar to the UK rules but of course in Spain we drive on the right.

The main thing is to be very aware of other drivers as unfortunately far too many do not know the above rules… you will be cut-off and will see many near-misses on Spanish roundabouts! Keep calm!

New Sunday Opening Laws

Shock!! Some larger shops are  closing on Sundays …

Sunday Shopping Laws

Many Shop­pers got a shock this week find­ing that large stores like Carrefour, La Zenia Boulevard and Haban­eras shopping malls were now closed on a Sunday after years of be­ing opened vir­tu­ally every day.

This is be­cause in March 2015, Valen­cian Com­munity passed a law to limit Sunday open­ing and weekly open­ing hours, which would not come into ef­fect un­til March 2018.

However, Murcia region have different laws so in only 30 minutes from Hondon you can still get your retail therapy fix at the many Retail parks near in and around the Nueva Con­dom­ina centre.

» Find out more in this Article:

Learning Spanish… a good idea!

Spanish: c2018 Daniel Franklin (1843magazine.com)

Imagine that the Spanish-speaking world was a single country, called Hispanidad. It covers a territory perhaps one-and-a-half times the size of China. Its population is nearly 500m, making it the world’s third most populous country, behind China and India.

(See below for course ideas)

Among these people, the number of native Spanish-speakers is rising towards 400m; as a mother tongue, only Mandarin Chinese is bigger. Hispanidad also has a rich literature, from Cervantes to Gabriel García Márquez, that is best enjoyed in the original. And you really should see an Almodóvar film without subtitles. Only English and Chinese are more widely used on the internet than Spanish.

So if you are in business, into the arts or just want to join la conversación, the sheer size of Hispanidad is a powerful reason to learn Spanish. But Hispanidad is not a single country. The fact that it spreads across the Americas, Spain and even parts of Africa and Asia makes the case for Spanish stronger still.

After English, it is the most used international language. For tourists it eases and enriches travel in the 20-plus countries where Spanish is a main language (though some may prefer to skip Equatorial Guinea). Students have an enviable choice of stimulating places to hone their Spanish skills, from Venezuela to Argentina to Spain itself.

Not forgetting the United States, the country with the second-largest number of Spanish-speakers (about 50 million and rising) after Mexico. Latinos are growing in influence culturally, commercially and politically. Nowadays, would-be presidents make sure to advertise in Spanish: Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje.

Even for those with no political ambitions, there is another compelling reason to pick Spanish as your second language: it’s easy (certainly compared with, say, Mandarin). And once you’ve got Spanish, you’re half-way to Italian, French and Portuguese too.

Learn Spanish? ¡Cómo no!, as they say in Hispanidad.


Here in Hondon, there are many private teachers, shared classes and the Townhalls in the area will from time-to-time offer free courses. if you want to learn remotely online, a quick “Google” will find you many courses (free, cheap and full certified courses). There are also interactive mobile Apps such as DuoLingo (free) to get you started. Rosetta Stone make a DVD-ROM course.

Or you cold plump for the old fashioned “buy a book” to learn. Which ever is best for you, we highly recommend you learn some Spanish as it will help you integrate more, understand the rules and medical and of course engage with the many friendly locals in the Hondon Valley.


Learn Spanish in HondonLane Green suggests:
Duolingo
is a free all-in-one package, and will get you going. If ready to commit, Babel is a cheap and high-quality subscription that helpfully explains grammar in the teaching. Rosetta Stone, much marketed, now offers a competitive subscription price, but its approach of teaching through pictures, without ever using the learner’s native language, is best kept for easy European languages. Memrise, with many free courses, is brilliant for vocabulary, and even some elements of grammar. It is based on the science of spaced repetition: words are re-introduced at lengthening intervals in flashcard-style exercises. When you get one wrong, the length between repetitions is shortened again, before gradually lengthening. (If you can find them, use the Memrise courses that have audio: when you hear and see the word simultaneously, each reinforces the other – and the audio will train you out of pronouncing the words as though they were English much faster.)

Spain… Culture and Profile

Visit SpainSpain, part of Europe, is south of France and Portugal but north of Africa. It nestles between the the great Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The latter being a major magnet for it’s key tourism industry. Spain consists of most of the mainland Iberian peninsula, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and two North African enclaves. The capital of Spain is Madrid (central Spain). The population is around 46 million people.

History

Spain has a long and very diverse history and culture. It is made up of a rich mix of diverse elements, climates and terrain from north to south.

Known for their historic exploration, seafaring and conquest, the Spanish became a world power in the 16th century, and it maintained a vast overseas empire until the early 19th century.  However, Spain’s more recent history is marked by the bitterly fought Spanish Civil War of 1936-39, and the ensuing 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco. Franco died in 1975, which enabled Spain to transition into a democratic state, built a successful economy and the King Juan Carlos as head of state.

Grape Bagging in HondonGeography and Regions

Spain’s provincial picture is a complex and evolving one. The country is divided into 17 regions which all have their own directly elected authorities and varying levels of autonomy and powers.  If you travel across Spain you’ll hear different dialects. The constitution of 1978 enshrines respect for this linguistic and cultural diversity.  For example, Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia have a special status with their own language and other rights.

The Hondon Valley and nearby Albatera are inland of the Alicante region of the Comunidad Valenciana, a vast coastal and inland area, boasting the Costa Blanca South and North. It is a one of the most popular regions for Spanish Tourism and property development boom.

“The weather is sublime, the Spanish are so welcoming and kind, the mountains are stunning and we have fab restaurants and a wonderful community of Brits, Dutch and other nationalities. There are so many social activities too. The coast is never far away. We feel very fortunate to have found this place to live”.  says Janni (Hondon Valley)

Healthy Meditterraen DietRenowned for the “Mediterranean Diet” the Spanish love their fish, olive oil, tapas and fresh produce. The medical journal, Lancet, according to a European League Table  over a 20 year period, Spain is the healthiest place to live in Europe.

Spain’s Economy

Mariano Rajoy is the current (2018) Prime Minister of Spain. He is head of the conservative Popular Party and took office in late 2011. Pre-crash (2008-9) the Spanish economy was of the most powerful in the EU. But their key industries of tourism and real estate development were hit hard by the economic crash causing a severe recession and by the spring of 2013 unemployment had risen to a peak of 27%. Many Expats returned home after losing their jobs or business. Many lost €10,000s on property investments.

Austerity measures were needed and imposed by the government in an effort to reduce the level of public debt. Hard times ahead indeed, but by 2013 these measures started to reap the benefit with more jobs, tourists returning and construction starting again.

Tourism

Tourism is the 3rd major contributor to the national economy.  Ever since the 1960s and 1970s, the country has been a popular destination for summer holidays. The main Costas along the Med’ Sea saw unprecedented and rapid property, golf courses and hotel development. 2017 was another record year for Tourism in Spain and the projections are that 2018 will be even bigger.

We live here so we know the reasons people come to Spain year-after-year, often tempting people the buy a property for emigration or a holiday home. The Hondon Valley is very popular with Expat Brits, Dutch and Belgiques who have made homes in the campo and the upmarket Urb La Montanosa, near Hondon de las Nieves.

Spanish Arts & Sport

Spain has has a long and proud past of traditions in art, music, crafts and cinema…. e.g Painters such as Velazquez in the seventeenth century, through Goya straddling the eighteenth and nineteenth, to Picasso in the twentieth.

Fiestas Correfocs 2016. Hondon de las Nieves

Flamenco music and dance are widely admired around the world and can still be heard in many bars and theatres. While Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote is one of the most popular ever written.

Cinema is much loved and the films of directors such as Pedro Almodovar attract huge audiences.

And of course Spain has one of the best and most fanatical football leagues in Europe.

Fiestas and Holidays

Spain is renowned for it’s colourful and lively festivals all-year-round. But summer is the best time to see and enjoy what the Spaniards do best … PARTY!!  A large number of festivals (or fiestas) are held in Spain and the Costa Blanca plays a leading role. Most festivals have a religious element to them, particularly around Easter time, but they are also held regularly throughout the year. Each town and village adds its own distinctive flavour to the celebrations, but common themes of life, colour, culture, music and dance will never be far away.

Welcome to Spain … it’s what you make it so enjoy it’s diverse offerings. We do, we love it!

Hondon Valley Entertainment

» Real Estate / Makelaar for the Hondon Valley

Primavera: Soon be Spring in Hondon!

Spring (Primavera) is always a special time for nature with new growth and wondrous regeneration of life and colour. The Hondon Valley is no exception, having an amazing wealth of agriculture. And with record rain fall this winter the valley is greener and more colourful than ever. It really is outstanding this year with the Hondon Meadows a floral tapestry to behold right now.

Poppies in Hondon, Spain

We at Hondon Villas are no green fingered experts but you can’t help but notice this year is quite wonderful in the gardens and countryside this Springtime.

After the winter citrus harvest of grapes, clementines, oranges and lemons, February sees the valley full of pink and purple almond blossom. Which with the late winter winds fall like snow flakes to make way for March when the grape vines are starting to bud with vibrant green leaves. The pomegranate trees show the bright red flower to later turn to fruit. The thyme and rosemary herbs are in abundance with a small purple / blue flower and just smell delightful.

The Spanish Daises are amazing in full bloom and just seem to grow and are very hardy. The common and locally known “Sally Ann Handsome” (a very prevalent succulent) lines many a drive way or country road edge spreading it’s pinky purple flowers like a carpet. Roses do well in Hondon too. And for those that have managed to find the right spot can see stunning Bougainvillea. We are always amazed at the Yukkas creamy crown against the green blades and blue sky! There also some wonderful fragrances from Spanish Wisteria. All Gorgeous.

But the star of the show this time last year has to be the wild red Poppies. In all the years we have lived in the Hondon Valley we have never seen the fields so full. It must have been the heavy rain falls earlier in the year that has made this scarlet flower spread and thrive so much.

Easter and Free Chocolate… Perfecto!

FREE ENTRANCE and FREE CHOCCY!
If you love chocolate or have children to entertain over the Santa Semana period we would recommend a delightful tour to the VALOR CHOCOLATE FACTORY & MUSEUM in Villajoyosa, off the N332 towards Benidorm (see their website).

Visit the chocolate factory in Villajoyosa

It is open 6 days a week (except bank holidays / festive breaks) the tour times are on the website. It is done in English & Spanish with free samples and big discounts in the factory shop!

Best go in the week as you will see the factory making a fantastic array of chocolates. DETAILS HERE: http://www.valor.es/en/museo-del-chocolate/

Who needs Agents? Find an Expat instead!

LOL! A recent story (abridged) …
Buyer: “Oh no I’d never buy a DVD player from a random bloke in the pub. Too rissssssky.”

Agent:Very wise! Oh so how did you hear about the house you want to buy here?

Buyer: “Oh the barmaid in that bar showed me it, she was very nice! She says I don’t need a to worry about black money or the paperwork.  And I don’t need an estate agent!”

Thought bubble!  So the biggest purchase of your life, 1/4 of million+ €€€ and you think the … well phhfff… we wish you luck with that one!

We know that a mechanic can fix a car. We  know the electrician will fit new lights. We know a butcher will cut a nice fillet of beef. We know the barmaid will serve ice cold drinks on hot days and the chef will cook that beef…

But a good real estate agent will sit next to you and hold your hand through the long property purchase maze, they will value, photo and video your property, negotiate the deal, sort the deposits and contracts, take you to get the right paperwork like NIEs, find me a good lawyer, open a bank account with you, know the area, the trade people,  help you with transport and the legal notary and always help you after the sale.

Do we also know the estate agent has lots of costs in running an office, employing staff, equipment, computers, websites, tax, insurance, advertising, networking, car / petrol, telephone bills, electric, water, heating, fixtures, fittings and so on… ?

We know the local agent will be part of the community, give to local charities, pay the rates, keep abreast of local planning and events, help the other businesses, create and distribute wealth, introduce people as friends, eat & drink in the local catering establishments and so on.

So a good estate agent is more than just sales person in our opinion. What do you think?