Because Spain Is Amazing!

In the last few days I have been speaking to a neighbour about his yacht. I did not even realise that he owned a yacht, because we live some way inland, but it transpires that he has been a keen sailor for several decades.

Something that he explained – and which I would have never guessed – is that Spain is not a particularly friendly or low cost country in which to have a yacht registered. Several years ago he moved his yacht’s ownership to the tiny island of Malta in the central Mediterranean Sea. This move, which is explained by the details on this website, has helped to save him several thousand euros each year in fees and license costs. He explained that he and his yacht are still totally legal, it just costs less money.

He also now uses the new location as a reason to take a holiday away from Spain and have a few days in Malta to see something different for a few days. What a great idea! I can tell you that I am quite envious of his lifestyle…

The economic crisis seems to have caused many problems in many economic sectors in Europe. It seems that almost no country or sector has been completely immune from the impact.

Certainly the paths of tourists have changed. Even though the costs to stay in some countries, such as Greece, have dropped considerably, the stories in the news of foreigners being attacked seem to have put off some visitors.

Countries such as Spain have seen a reverse in their economy, with many areas impacted, such as tourism and property. Many hope that 2014 and 2015 will prove to be positive years.

Of course, every cloud has a silver lining. It seems that in other parts of the EU, some budget locations are doing quite well. An economic downturn does not mean no trade, it just means less trade. And in a more globalised world, one nation is competing with another for tourist spending.

The tiny island chain of Malta seems to be bucking the trend and has barely been impacted, luckily. A popular local hotel chain (details here) has shown growth and been a great example of what can happen. They are fortunate to specialise in a part of the market where price shoppers are common, but still, they employ and create jobs which is what every economy needs.

Football in Madrid

For Spain, this has been the football season to end all football seasons! Not only are there two Spanish clubs in the final of the Champions League, but for the first time ever, they are both from the same city. Athletico Madrid will play Real Madrid for the coveted title.

It has to be said that while this has been the first ever final of the nature, both teams have been playing exceptionally well and eased through their semi finals.

If you happen to be a regular player in a fantasy football league, this has been a great time to have selected some Spanish players!

As hard as it may feel now, in depths of economic and eurozone crisis, Spain has been something of an inspiration to other countries. The way in which the country used it’s wonderful weather and proximity to northern Europe to tempt people to buy holiday homes, time share apartments or move and early retire to a nicer climate has become something of a playbook to be copied by other countries.

Within the European Union, one such nation is Malta. Malta is a tiny chain of islands set in the Mediterranean Sea to the south of Sicily. Formerly British and French, it has strong ties to the rest of Europe and has used these to great impact to draw in visitors from more northerly neighbours.

Amongst these tourists, some inevitably wish to stay and enjoy the climate. For those people, there is quite an industry of real estate agents, property developers and builders preparing for them. One of the nicest locations for foreigners with cash to move to is Tigne Point (visit here) which has a reputation as an excellent lifestyle development.

Due to starting later, being less aggressive and less successful than Spain, the Maltese economy has not become so reliant on real estate as southern Spain did. This has helped Malta to avoid the worst of the eurozone crisis, making it something of an attractive location for people to move to. Things are not so bad somewhere…

Despite the amazing cities and wonderful architecture, Spain is actually quite a mountainous country and very rural. The typical view that most tourists see is one of a never ending beach that runs from France to Portugal and lots of property near to the beach. You don’t have to go very far inland to see a very different country – a place without skyscraper hotels, full English breakfasts and lobster red tourists. Of course Spain has a number of very large cities inland, and there is a lot of life away from the sea, but it seems right to highlight some of the other aspects of the country.

In some areas, development lags behind what we might consider to be normal for a developed country. As is so often the case, being physically detached in a small town or village in a valley, far from a big city means that many of today’s modern luxuries are unavailable. For example, broadband internet is not easy to get through a mountain range!

On a more basic level than this, electricity can be limited in areas. The rural energy needs of most countryside locations in Europe can be hard to meet. The infrastructure simply is not geared towards those hard to reach places. In Spain – as in so many other European countries – this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Fabulous architecture in Barcelona

An amazing building that seemed out of place for the area it is in

Amazing Barcelona

When thinking about beautiful places in Spain, Barcelona is a great place to start. How about these few pics from later 2009 of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia?

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

The Towering Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

As you can see, it is quite something. Wherever you are, your camera isn’t really up to the job of the photograph – it is just too big a building. But it is a must see, it is simply amazing.

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