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Max Abroad : The Best of Spain

Quite simply writing about the best things Spain has to offer and anything that might crop up along the way. Spain is a lot more than just sun, sand and sea...

A Rather Sad Record
27 December 2012

In 2012, the crisis and unemployment have intensified sharply. More and more people are forced to turn to food banks to find a way to put food on their table. These entities have distributed this year a record 120 million kilos of food, according to estimates by its president, Antonio Busto Villa, 20% more than in 2011. And the figure is not yet closed for the year. So, food banks which are financed  through funds which the Ministry of Agriculture acquires from Europe and donations they receive from companies, have fed a record 1.5 million people in Spain this year, compared with 1 , 3 million in 2011. A rather sad record.

Over twice as many people  have gone to the 6000 organizations that collaborate with the 54 food banks around the country. These entities have registered record donations. Despite this, and that Spain, compared to others, is one of the countries which donates the most, the heads of these institutions are concerned about the future. In 2013 the European food program ends and the EU budget reserve which is dedicated to this cause. As of 2014, the outlook is uncertain as to how social funds will be shared, as the system will change and  there is still no agreement amongst the 27 countries to create a specific program to feed people at risk of poverty and exclusion.

Brussels has proposed to the Member States to create a plan that earmarked 2,500 million euros for seven years, to be divided among the 27. A clear reduction, but that is not even assured, some members are demanding that the budget should be cut to 1,500 million. Spain now receives 84 million per year, with the new figure they would only receive 24 million. If the cut materialises, in 2014 some 6,000,000 across Europe will be without food and and 1,000,000 of them will be in Spain.

 


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Snow and Ice - Really impressive!
23 December 2012

 Firstly , although this has nothing to do with Spain, apart from the time of year, I thought I would share it with those who have not already seen it, as it is quite simply the most spectacular photography I have seen in a long time. David Breashears has created a project called Glacier Works and has created the most detailed photos of the glaciers in the Himalyas to date. Using a 300mm lense and taking some 400 high resolution photos and merging them with a state of the art programme he has achieved images whihc have 3800 Million Pixels creating a GIGA IMAGE. Thanks to this resolution you can zoom in and out and move around the image as if you were there and had the snow/ ice right in front of you, it is really quite eery at how real it is, its like looking through the window into another world. All the photos were taken at 5700metre above sea level and include Everest an other important peaks/glaciers in the Himalayas. I highly recommend taking a peep, you won't be disapointed! This is the link to one of the projects on Glacier Khumbu, but here are other giga images of other parts available on his site.

 

www.glacierworks.org/glacier/khumbu-glacier/

 

Then click on the following in the menu on the right hand side -
 
KHUMBU GLACIER, PUMORI CAMP ONE
 
 
                   
 
 

 



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Spain's Booming "Broadway"
17 December 2012

I have always been a huge fan of musicals ever since I went to see the opening cast of Phantom 25 years ago, it was at this show that I got the musical “bug”. It wasn’t long after, that I managed to see Les Miserable and I was then well and truly addicted to this format of entertainment. I have been very fortunate to have to seen a wide variety of musicals in my time and in different languages. “We will Rock You” in Dutch was a bit odd but at least the music was still in English. I can’t imagine Queen in Dutch, though. However I also managed to see Tarzan in The Hague the biggest Disney production worldwide of the show, and "Tarzan" did speak in Dutch and sang in Dutch; “You’ll be in my Heart” by Phil Collins certainly had a different twist to it. But nonetheless they were both fantastic shows and language wasn’t an issue. I took my wife to see les Mis a few years back in London and she doesn’t speak English, by the second half she was in tears, not having understood a single word. That is the beauty of Musicals, the music transcends to the emotions of the viewer in a way Television or Cinema cannot.

 

 

Spain has never really been a “Musical” country even though it has musical roots deeply inbred. Musicals never seemed to get off the ground probably because of their cheap production and tour policy of moving around the country. It is never the same when they go on tour. However, this is all starting to change, Musicals aren’t on the come back, they are kicking off for the first time in Spain in a really serious manner. Who would have thought that amidst the crisis and the foreclosure of theatres and art centres that Musicals were going to boom. Well that is exactly what is happening, Madrid is building its own Broadway, La Gran Via, and I am so happy that finally quality productions are coming to Spain mainly thanks to the Dutch giant Stage Entertainment that dominates the Musical world. They have finally decided to go full steam ahead, to such an extent that people are now talking about Musical Tourism to Madrid. Certainly good news for the Capital as a more varied tourism is greatly needed attracting visitors all year round. Almost 700,000 viewers went to see Les Miserable in Barcelona and another 700,000 went to see The Lion King in Madrid this year. This show alone brought in around 250 million euros to Madrid last year, not including the ticket prices and 50% of all the viewers were from outside the Madrid region, a massive help for restaurants, bars, transport etc. The most successful musical to date is Mamma Mia that has drawn in 2 million viewers and will finally end in January.

 

However The Lion King has pulverised all ticket sale records this year with daily sell-outs. Taking into consideration the current economic crisis and the price of the tickets being around €45 each, that’s not bad at all. Next summer will be the first summer in history that the main shows will not close in August, so people can combine summer sun with a touch of musical entertainment.  My 8-year-old daughter is also a fan of Les Miserable and sings non-stop “castle in a cloud” in her angelic little voice and dances to We Will Rock You every time she hears it. Personally I think its a great escape from the video consoles and the run of the mill cinema that children are consuming on a daily basis, its a different perspective on entertainment for them and to see it all happening live in front of them just mesmerises them. So if you haven’t thought of making a trip to Madrid and watching a musical, I highly recommend it. Many popular musicals are still on show (Les Mis, Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, My Fair lady, The Wizard of Oz, Snow White, Annie, Chicago, Michael Jackson etc.) and new ones are on the way such as Rocky, Ice Age and War Horse.



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