After a long winter and a year of stop-start lockdowns, many of you are dreaming of a holiday in the sun or buying a lovely home in Spain – and in a few more weeks there might finally be some clarity. We are hopeful.
BUT ….. In case you missed the news this week, we are happy to confirm that there is light at the end of the tunnel for prospective home buyers from Britain. Starting Monday 29th March, the UK’s travel restrictions will include a list of specific “reasonable excuses to travel” outside the country, which includes travel “in connection with the purchase, sale, letting, or rental of a residential property,” according to new legislation.
Permitted activities include visiting an estate agent, developer sales office, or show home, viewing residential properties to rent or buy, and preparing a property for moving in. Also… starting next Tuesday 30th March, the Spanish government will be lifting restrictions on flights from the UK! Travellers will still have to show a negative PCR result from a test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
As other countries have different rules, laws and restrictions around Covid-19, and it can be a moving target, of course so YOU need to make sure you comply with your departing and arrival country’s rules. Check the Gov websites or your travel agent. Failure to comply could mean BIG FINES!
So cling onto the good news, that in general it can still be possible to travel abroad for the purpose of purchasing a property.And people are doing so.
You probably will need a negative COVID-19 test before, during and after you travel. Some countries may require you to quarantine for a period (5 to 10 days). And it would be wise to get an authorised letter to prove the purpose of your visit.
However, here are the valid reasons to travel, including a purpose to buy or rent property abroad:(Again check as they may change)
• Work • Study • Legal obligations or to vote • Moving, selling or renting property • Childcare reasons or to be present at a birth • Visiting a dying relative or close friend • Attending a funeral • Getting married or attending the wedding of a close relative • Medical appointments • Escaping a risk of harm
For UK travellers, SKY have an article that explains the current situation in more detail, including the RED LIST of countries that are most affected.
After one of the coldest winters on record in Spain, the province of Alicante is already seeing the first and glorious pink and white blossom of the almond trees on their farmland. The areas of Torrellano, in Elche, Hondón de las Nieves and Hondón de los Frailes, in the Medio Vinalopó, the districts of Marina Alta and Vega Baja are some points of the province in which you can already enjoy a beautiful landscape. The pictures below were taken 1st week of Feb’ 2021.
Nature is wonderful and brings us this “blaze” of glory each year. It is common for the first petals and the first almond buds to begin appearing at the beginning of February. The local residents get excited about this, as not only is the Hondon Valley full of colour for the first time of the year, but it heralds the start of the warmer and longer sunny days.
The relatively high temperatures in recent weeks in the region, where in some points, such as Elche, have reached between 18 and 20 degrees! We’ve seen people sun bathing on the coast. However, the local farmers are a little worried that some almonds groves in the mountains may be exposed to possible early morning frosts as the local temperature and inclement weather can be cold in the evenings / mornings in February. Lately the Hondon Valley is feeling 5-9 degrees first thing. BRrrrrrr! But all is well by mid-morning and a lunch al-fresco is a still a pleasant experience.
So how do you like your almonds? … Sweet or savoury? Roasted and salted, spiced, cookies, ground into cakes, marzipan or mixed in muesli… what’s your favourite use of local almonds? Enjoy. They are delicious. #almondblossom
As we all know flying got much more difficult during the COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions. Our nearest airport, Alicante, reports that flights are down by 63% but AENA.ES reports that their Spanish airports passengers are down 72.4% over this crisis period. That’s substantial for an area that relies on flights for business, tourism and foreign investment in property.
Clearly people are being forced not to travel by air right now or have to jump through many hoops if allowed. So what are those hoops?
Well the picture changes almost daily across Europe so we can only give general information.
The risk to health and COVID-19 transmission is very high as we write. So the respective governments have little choice to restrict human movement, even though it is harming their economies and frustrating for the people needing to travel.
Thankfully air travel is still one of the safest forms of transports. Modern airlines have protocols and systems to minimise risk, including controlling the air used and generated inside a plane.
Even better, airports and airlines have stepped up to the mark & adapted to minimize the possibility of contagion, But you STILL HAVE TO DO YOUR BIT!
Here are some general guidlines to make your flight safer for you and your fellow passengers. But we STRESS you need to check with the airport, airline and government websites for UP-TO-DATE guidance.
What should I keep in mind before flying?
First, you must make sure that you meet the requirements of health control and entry documentation to the country you are travelling to. Many airlines have restricted hand luggage in the cabin, so check this possibility with your airline company.
Many countries including the UK and Spain are now requiring NEGATIVE COVID TEST in advance of flying with a certificate of proof, usually within a 3-day period before your flight. These you will need to pay for yourself so allow time to book them in.
Check if you have to quarantine on arrival. E.G. The UK is asking travellers into the UK to quarantine in hotels at their own cost (as of Feb 2021). Some people are being turned away from airports or not allowed to fly if the do not have the right documents or tests that they conform.
Check in online, take your boarding pass on your mobile to avoid physical contact. Go to the airport in plenty of time, since there may be social distance protocols that increase waiting times. Keep in mind that your companions may not be able to access the airport facilities, except if you need assistance due to reduced mobility, or if the person flying is an unaccompanied minor. Do not go to the airport if you have symptoms of a cough, fever or breathing difficulties.
So if you have to fly, ensure you know well in advance the requirements for paperwork, tests and hygiene well before you fly.
Also make sure your travel insurance is up-to-date and covers you for as you’d expect.
Has anything changed at the airports?
Yes. Once inside, follow the indications of the airport staff, screens, signs and public address system, since there may be inoperative terminals. The trays to deposit belongings are disinfected regularly, but try only to touch the essential surfaces and objects. Continue to maintain the safe distance in the check-in queues, security control, during the baggage claim, restaurants and in front of the ATMs .
During boarding and disembarking
Passenger access lines during boarding have also been reorganized to ensure social distance and you will find more signs, so you have no doubts about where to go. Use the designated lanes or catwalks for buses or to enter / exit your plane.
Hygiene and safety on board.
The planes are disinfected after each flight, during which it is mandatory to wear the mask – for you and for the crew – and change it every few hours. Upon entering, you will be given a disinfectant wipe and a bag to deposit your personal waste.
Before take off, pay attention to the staff safety demonstration for specific instructions during your flight under the current circumstances. Most likely, the catering service will present you their menu online through a QR code or with a disposable single-use menu. And keep in mind that if you buy an extra item on board, you probably can’t pay for it in cash.
Also, remember to use the mask during the entire time you are at the airport as well as during your flight, and to use the hydroalcoholic gel regularly.
Roscon de Reyes is a traditional sweet cake to celebrate the Spanish Christmas & the 3 Kings parade on 5th Jan, Epiphany.*
At this time of the year all across Spain families like to share a “Roscones de Reyes”, a delicious sweet pastry ring, which is shaped as a crown to welcome the Epiphany of the Three Kings on 5 January. This is one of the oldest traditions in Spain, and can be traced back to the 12th century, if not before.
This is usually the most magical night of the Spanish Christmas calendar, especially for the children. The three Wise Men or Kings visit houses and leave presents for everyone or parade local streets & town centres. They can be spectacular with the Kings giving away sweets and presents to joyful , excited children. Loud music is blaring, the costumes are glitzy and theatrical and people dance. In Madrid, the capital, they televise the parade to the country which usually includes some very special guests and celebrations. It’s a HUGE parade and worth a look. Of course all towns and villages, like the Hondon Valley make the effort too.
*Alas. COVID-19 wil curtail mass gatherings and celebrations in 2020 but we are sure the Spanish will embrace and do what they can.
These Roscones are usually decorated with pretty colourful candied fruit and are often stuffed with a cream or chocolate filling and it is lightly fragranced with “aqua de azahar”, made with the blossom of orange. Look out for the little figurine of Jesus or some similar gift, as it brings luck (if it doesn’t bring the dentist).
The Covid crisis is having a big effect on the bakers of these Roscones, with sales down by one third this year, reflecting the fact that big family gatherings are being avoided at this time. if you can support your local bakers, rather than the supermarkets #lovelocal.
Remember that the 6 January is a public holiday to celebrate Los Reyes and children finally get to open their presents on the evening before.
Have you tried a Roscon? Where is the best place to buy one?
The Spanish love their grapes for the Festive Period, especially New Year. And the reports are that it is a bumper harvest expected in Spain, especially in the Vinalopó / Hondon areas. This year’s production of PDO Vinalopó Bagged Table Grapes amounts to 40 million kilos.
At the beginning of November, the harvesting of the Aledo variety grape kicked off in the Vinalopó region. This fruit is traditionally consumed on New Year’s Eve in Spain following a tradition that dates back at least to the final years of the 19th century.
In an interview with Agencia Efe, the president of the PDO Vinalopó Bagged Table Grape, José Bernabéu, said that they are looking towards a “good campaign” both in terms of production and marketing. This year sees an excellent quality of the product and the good market response to “the best protected grape in the world.“
He said that the weather has been “very favourable” this year since September. The crop has benefited from the dry climate in this area of the Region of Valencia, necessary to obtain a “premium quality” product.
In addition to the good weather, “the product is being well-received in both national and foreign markets,” says Bernabéu. “However with a good supply and demand the growers are not being forced to lower the price of the fruit, as we’ve seen happen in previous years.” They have been the same price for about 20 years.”
This year, the production registered under the PDO amounts to 40 million kilos, counting all 7 protected varieties. In addition to the Aledo, there are also Victoria, Ideal, Red Globe, Doña María, Rosetti and Dominga grapes.
Richard Seal, a master of words and the description and of The Hondón Writers Circle has kindly submitted this insight into life in the rural charms of the Hondon Valley. Delightful.
Bill and Jean love describing to friends back in Wolverhampton how their Spanish villa is tucked away on a mountain road behind an abandoned ruin, beside a forgotten expanse of wasteland which hosts an occasional sheep or goat, with black trees struggling to yield any olives. They excitedly explain that it is too far for the postman to trek, so they have a village mail box – a space stuffed full of old leaflets, and fiesta flyers from yesteryear, parties probably celebrated with customary joy when the aged local shepherd was just a boy.
Flanked by stunning views, lush almond groves, and fields full of oranges and lemons, Bill and Jean often sit together gazing at the landscape and feel that all this is a bit too good to be true. However, they know, through the blood red brilliance of the Costa Blanca sunsets, the occasional dog bark carried on the breeze and the birds which nightly hold the high notes on their twisted boughs, that this is how life is supposed to be.
Sitting in church every Sunday, listening to the service, Bill and Jean are vaguely lost amid Our Lady and saints unknown. They marvel at the Spanish words barely understood but sensed and sampled. A smiling señor and señora on the row in front suddenly turn to clasp their hands, making the couple feel so welcome. Afterwards they enjoy a leisurely lunch with a few Spanish locals, savouring the great value menu del dia with a bottle of vino tinto – Neither dissent at the prospect of time so well spent.
On a late August evening, Bill and Jean stand in the village surrounded by Spanish folk in family clusters, sitting together on rickety chairs hauled out of shuttered houses. The fiesta parade of floats leaves the pair in slack-jawed awe: Flower pot children amble ahead of twenties’ flappers, blazing a trail for Hawaiian gyrators; comic characters herald zombies and an underworld cast before the spectacular midnight firework blast. English village fates seem such distant memories, the couple’s life now is a Fandango; They smile at each other and wonder each day who could have spiked their Earl Grey.
The Provincial Institution (Alicante Diputación) want to help foreign citizens to understand and integrate more into local and national life here in Spain. Some 190,000 euros has been allocated to do this. And our region is involved.
The deputy of International Residents, Juan de Dios Navarro, has highlighted that the objective of these programs is to collaborate with the local entities of our province in the development of projects and activities that “contribute to help, advise and integrate the thousands of foreigners who they have chosen our province to live ”.
If you live here in Spain, you will know it can be different from life in Northern Europe, even quirky to foreigners! Many foreigners do not have the language skills or understanding to integrate or learn about the real day-to-day life here. Of course understanding the language, economy, culture and labour can enhance and facilitate a better lifestyle & happiness.
In this sense, the new initiatives such as Spanish courses, awareness and integration campaigns, care and advisory services, information campaigns on the municipal register, volunteer programs, intercultural participation days or sports activities will be subsidised. “The demand for this type of projects has increased significantly in recent years given the importance that, for their (foreign citizens) full integration in Alicante, have, for example, knowledge of Spanish or legal, legal or labour issues that concern them.” says Juan de Dios Navarro.
So look out for these initiatives in your local Town Hall or on local Facebook groups and get involved. Most will be free!
The benefited municipalities are Aspe, Elda, Hondón de las Nieves, Hondón de los Frailes and La Romana, in the Middle Vinalopó, Crevillent, in the Baix Vinalopó, and Salinas and Sax, in the Alto Vinalopó. Aigües, El Campello and Mutxamel, in L ‘Alacantí, and Albatera, Algorfa, Almoradí, Benferri, Benijófar, Bigastro, Catral, Cox, Daya Nueva, Daya Vieja, Dolores, Granja de Rocamora, Guardamar del Segura, Jacarilla, Los Montesinos, Pilar de la Horadada, Rafal, Redován, San Isidro, San Miguel de Salinas and Torrevieja.
In Vega Baja. Alcalalí, Benigembla, Benimeli, Calp, Dénia, Llíber, Murla, Castell de Castells, Ondara, Orba, Parcent, Pego, Benitachell, Els Poblets, Sanet y Negrals, Tormos and Xábia, in the Marina Alta, and L’Alfàs del Pi , Altea, Beniardá, Bolulla, Callosa d’En Sarrià, Finestrat, Polop, Relleu and Tárbena, in the Marina Baja. In the El Comtat region, aid will go to L’Alqueria d’Asnar, Cocentaina, Facheca, Muro de Alcoy, Lorcha and Planes, while L’ Alcoià will benefit Banyeres de Mariola, Onil and Tibi.
Hola! thank you for your visit.
If you are looking to buy or sell property in the Hondón Valley area, please consider Hondón Villas, a local family business for 15 years. We are passionate about property and can advise & hold your hand throughout the process. Our office is in the main Frailes plaza, open Mon-Fri 10.00-17-00 and by appointment at evenings and weekends, WEBSITE : WWW.HONDONVILLAS.NET