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Ever tried Panther Milk?
15 April 2021

Those who happen to have visited the bars along Carrer de la Mercè, a street that runs through Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, will have undoubtedly encountered Panther Milk. Known locally as "Leche de Pantera". This dangerous drink is basically a cocktail of condensed milk, gin, water and a few other touches which I will share with you shortly. Although not so widely spread as a drink, it does have an interesting history.


Head back nearly one hundred years to the 1920s and you’ll find that the Spanish Foreign Legion is responsible for this notable mixture. Legion Founder General José Millán-Astray wanted a drink that was easy to produce and could be served in ‘any situation’. With time spent in some of the harshest environments, such as deserts, the drink needed to have a good shelf life and be easy to reproduce. The tale goes that the general approached legendary barman Perico Chicote at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid, to forge such a beverage. While the idea of Chicote solely aiding in Panthers Milk’s creation makes a great story, most agree that the legion themselves had the biggest hand in bringing the mixture back from the front to the bars. While injured the soldiers would mix medical-grade alcohol with condensed milk for quick pain relief and later, once out and about it was upgraded to gin and other common liquors.

In the ensuing decades, panther milk largely disappeared. In the 1970s, however, it was resurrected by a newfound fervent fanbase: college students. Around 1975, a former Spanish Legionnaire opened a bar called La Barretina in an alley along Carrer de la Mercè. There, he began whipping up chilled bottles of the old favorite. Students flocked to this revolutionary cocktail, which became a staple in the area. La Barretina’s neighbours quickly caught on to the new trend. The bar across the street, Tasca El Corral, hopped on the bandwagon by making a less potent, more palatable pink version. La Barretina has since shuttered, but the neighbourhood’s “pink panther milk” (Leche de Pantera rosa) spot remains popular three decades later, and here is the contemporary recipe:

 

 

Pink Panther Milk Recipe

0.1 oz. BOLS Grenadine (do not add if you want white Panther milk)

0.9 oz. BOLS Triple Sec Curacao liquor

1.7 oz. Gin - any one you like but London Dry is best.

1.3 oz. Condensed Milk

Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top if you want

Serve chilled from the bottle or shake the ingredients into a mixer filled with ice, strain and serve.

Salud!



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Isolation since the Iron Age has given the Basques their "unique genetics"
29 March 2021

 

A study by the Catalan Pompeu Fabra University addresses the "genetic uniqueness" of the Basques, and points to the "language barrier" as a "possible bulwark" that fostered the isolation of the population in the face of the different historical events that led to contacts with other civilizations and, consequently, the confluence of cultures and languages ​​in the rest of the peninsula.

This is the first study to explain the true origin of a population whose language, Basque, has no relation to any Indo-European language. Until this Thursday, numerous investigations had been carried out that pointed out the peculiarity of the cultural and biological traits of the Basques, but none had been able to be specified.

The study - promoted by the Pompeu Fabra University and published in the journal 'Current Biology' - has brought together an international research team to carry out the "most exhaustive geographical sampling to date", with more than 600,000 genetic markers throughout the entire genome from the DNA of the 1,970 individuals analyzed (current and from ancient times).


The results of the study - which has involved a team of linguists and geneticists- reveal that the cultural barrier of a language as different as Euskera "could promote the isolation of the Basque population from subsequent population contacts", such as the influence of the Roman Empire or the Islamic occupation of the Iberian Peninsula.

And, as they point out, the findings show a "clear differentiation" of the Basques with respect to the surrounding populations, as well as a "strong genetic heterogeneity" closely related to geography. This distinction, they say, "is the result of a genetic continuity" that dates back to the Iron Age, highly characterized by "periods of isolation and a lack of recent genetic flow, which could have been reinforced by the linguistic barrier."

The sampling included micro-regions within the Basque Country and also in the surrounding areas, this way, they obtained samples from a geographical region where Basque has always been spoken, others where it has historically been spoken but has been lost, and regions where it has never been spoken. The study covered 18 territories from the Franco-Cantabrian region.

After comparing the Basque population with other current European populations and with data from ancient DNA, they concluded that their genetic composition is similar to the rest of the Western European populations, but they present slight differences, maintained for 2,500 years due to not having mixed both with other populations. For example, they did not find influences from North Africa that is seen in most populations within the Iberian Peninsula, nor is there any trace of other migrations such as Romanization. 



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Coronavirus Vaccine Side Effects and Worries in Spain
04 March 2021

An association representing more than 100,000 local and regional police across Spain has asked the national government to suspend the vaccination of officers against the coronavirus with the AstraZeneca formula.

The Confederation of Local and Regional Security Forces claims that it is the vaccine that gives the least protection of all those on the market and, in addition, the association claims that it is causing numerous side effects among the people who receive it.

The organisation cites the example in France, where they have had to suspend vaccination among the risk group of police and health workers due to side effects including very strong flu-like symptoms, headaches and high fevers.

Additionally, the group points out that in Spain the AstraZeneca vaccine is not recommended for people over 55 years of age due to insufficient research data with that age group - which leaves a large part of the membership they represent out of the vaccination scheme.

The Generalitat of Catalonia began to administer the vaccine a few weeks ago to the Mossos de Escuadra regional police force and it has reported similar side effects to those experienced by officers in France.

The campaign has now been stalled while vaccines from other manufacturers are being sourced.

Are these side effects normal? Well, YES they are, and are nothing to be concerned about.

Vaccines work by stimulating an immune response to an infectious disease. This is like a practice run for the body on how to fight the disease, and it also means that various bodily responses are triggered, much like they would if you caught the actual disease.

Although vaccines are created through a number of different methods, ultimately the goal is the same, to harmlessly introduce the body to an element of the disease.

Common side effects, such as a fever, or chills, show that the vaccine has been effective in stimulating an adaptive immune response. Most people experience soreness and redness around the site of injection.

These side effects do not mean that you have coronavirus, nor are they infectious. Vaccines only contain part of the organism causing the disease, or in some cases a weakened form, so you cannot be infected with a disease by taking the vaccine.

Side effects of the approved coronavirus vaccines are incomparable to the long term effects of catching coronavirus.

While some people may experience mild effects from the COVID-19 vaccine, they should pass after a few days. Of the people who got the Pfizer vaccine the most common side-effects were headache or fatigue.

By contrast, an initial study from China suggested that around 1 in 5 people over 80 required hospitalisation after contracting coronavirus.

It is difficult to know the exact mortality rate but research from Imperial College London suggests that in high-income countries around 1 in 100 people who catch COVID-19 die.

Data is still being collected in order to determine the severity of the long term risks associated with coronavirus, however, some complications include:

  • inflammation of the heart muscles
  • respiratory problems and damage to lung tissue
  • kidney damage
  • skin problems such as a rash or hair loss
  • neurological issues such as long term loss of taste, difficulties sleeping, concentration problems
  • psychiatric problems including depression, anxiety and mood changes

The long term risks associated with coronavirus are far more dangerous than any side effects associated with the vaccine.

There is also a growing concern that coronavirus can cause long-term neurological problems. The effect the virus has on the neurological system could mean that those who catch it could have a higher chance of having strokes or developing Alzheimer's in later life.

 

What are the side effects of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine?

According to the UK Government, these are the most common side effects (affecting more than 1 in 10 people) of the Pfizer vaccine:

  • pain at the site of injection
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • fever

Less common side effects (affecting fewer than 1 in 10 people) include:

  • swelling and redness at the site of injection
  • nausea

Uncommon side effects (affecting around 1 in 100 people) include:

  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • feeling unwell

Very rare side effects (affecting around 1 in 1,000 people) include:

  • temporary one-sided facial drooping.


What are the side effects of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine?

These are the possible side effects of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine according to the UK Government.

Very common side effects (affecting more than 1 in 10 people) include:

  • tenderness, swelling, pain, redness, swelling, warmth or bruising around the site of injection
  • feeling unwell
  • fatigue
  • chills
  • headache
  • nausea
  • joint or muscle ache

Common side effects (affecting fewer than 1 in 10 people) include:

  • a lump at the site of injection
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • flu-like symptoms such as a runny nose, cough or sore throat

Uncommon side effects (affecting around 1 in 100 people)

  • dizziness
  • decreased appetite
  • abdominal pain
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • excessive sweating
  • itchy skin or rash

It is also important to understand that many people may experience illnesses or medical problems around the same time that they are vaccinated and that this does not necessarily mean it was caused by the vaccine. According to the Oxford Vaccine Knowledge Project, “when a vaccine is given to a very large number of people in a population, it is likely just by chance that a few of them will develop some kind of medical problem around the time of vaccination, but this does not prove ‘cause and effect’”.

 

Conclusion?

By February 14, the UK had administered 8.3m first doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine and 6.9m first doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab. For both vaccines, the “overwhelming majority” of adverse events were felt shortly after the injection and were not associated with “more serious or lasting illness”, the MHRA said. Those side effects included sore arms and generalised symptoms such as “flu-like” illness, headache, chills, fatigue, nausea, fever, dizziness, weakness, aching muscles, and rapid heartbeat, it said.

Severe allergic reactions — so-called anaphylaxis — were reported 168 times for the Pfizer vaccine and 105 times for the AstraZeneca product.

Overall, the data showed a slightly higher rate of adverse reaction for AstraZeneca’s adenovirus vaccine, about 0.45 per cent, than for Pfizer’s mRNA jab, approximately 0.3 per cent. But Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, warned against drawing conclusions from the Yellow Card reports about the relative safety of the shots.

“There is a range of factors that can lead to increased reporting of one vaccine over another — for instance, socio-demographic factors of vaccine recipients or whether or not they have been encouraged by information, or a healthcare professional, to make a report,” she said.

The two vaccines have been used in different settings and the age distribution of people receiving the shots has differed too. During the first four weeks of the UK vaccination programme, when the oldest age group was targeted, only the Pfizer jab was available.

In general, younger adults tend to suffer more side-effects from vaccination than the elderly because their immune system responds more strongly to the vaccine.

Brendan Wren, a professor of vaccinology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said he would not expect the AstraZeneca vaccine to produce more side-effects than the Pfizer shot in the same population.

“I can’t think of any scientific reason to suppose that using an adenovirus vector is any more likely to cause an adverse reaction than mRNA in a lipid nanoparticle, but lipid particles can occasionally have allergic complications,” he said.

Professor Beate Kampmann, director of The Vaccine Centre at the LSHTM, said: “There is nothing to be gained by digging for any subtle differences between the two products, as overall they are performing the same, and it’s great to see all of the granularity for this information to be publicly available.”



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9th October - The Day of The Valencian Community
09 October 2020

 

The Day of the Valencian Community (Día de la Comunidad Valenciana) marks the anniversary of King James I of Aragon's re-conquering of the city of Valencia from Moorish forces in 1238. It is also the Day of Saint Dionysius, a traditional festival for lovers, the Valencian “Valentine’s day”.

The custom on this day is to give the person you love the ‘mocadorà or mocaorà ‘which consists of a knotted silk scarf with miniature marzipan candies in the shapes of fruits and vegetables inside.

The most widespread version of the origin of this tradition is that Jaume I and his wife, Violante of Hungary, on their triumphal entry into the city of Valencia, after defeating the Muslims on October 9, 1238, they were met by their inhabitants with gifts of fruits and vegetables from the local orchard and farms, wrapped in silk handkerchiefs.

 

 

From 1331 this date was established to commemorate the founding of the Kingdom of Valencia, which over time became a celebration of marked festivity in which the worldly pleasures were given free rein.

Unfortunately, with the abolition of the regional code of law by Felipe V in 1707, the celebrations of the 9th of October were also banned.  However, all was not lost, and with the intention of  the 9th October not losing its festive character, the guild of bakers and confectioners of the city of Valencia impelled the celebration of Saint Dionysius (Sant Donís) as the "day of the lovers".

To this day, the Valencian bakeries prepare themselves thoroughly for the 9th October and cook thousands of marzipan miniatures; it is estimated that more than 80,000 kilos of marzipan are used to make about 250,000 "mocadoràs". In addition, the Guild of Bakers and Confectioners of Valencia convenes the Sant Donís Contest, to choose the best "mocadorà" and is the best showcase opportunity fro the bakeries and pastry shops throughout the city of Valencia. Last year’s winner was El Forn de Latzer. You can see some examples here:

 



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The World’s Shortest International Bridge
18 September 2020

 

Though it measures only 10.4 feet long (3.2 meters), this bridge spans two countries. You can effectively cross from one country to another in a single hop.

Funded by the European Union, the tiny wooden piece of infrastructure was built in the first decade of the 21st century by labourers from both the Spain and Portugal sides of the stream.

Known as the "El Marco" bridge, it links the Spanish municipality of La Codosera with the Portuguese Arronches. Given its reduced size, the bridge is largely for pedestrians, not automobiles, though two-wheeled vehicles may use it as well.

The title of World’s Shortest International Bridge is often erroneously awarded to the bridge that spans the United States-Canada border between Zavikon Island and another tiny island that happens to fall in USA territory.
The Portugal-Spain bridge is at least 13 feet (4 meters) shorter than its North American counterpart.

 

 

 

[Shared by Ellen Jones - Badajoz]
 
 


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Great cycling routes in Spain
04 September 2020

As summer comes to an end and autumn is just around the corner,  it is time to share some of the best cycling routes around Spain for those who fancy pedalling a little and enjoying the fantastic temperatures that are gradually falling as the days pass, making a long cycle ride that much more enjoyable. If you are into cycling here are some of the best and safest routes you can follow to discover rural Spain:


Vía Verde de Ojos Negros (from Teruel to Valencia)

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The longest of a nationwide network of Vía Verdes (literally, Green Ways) along disused railroads, the Ojos Negros route runs for 160 kilometres in two stages. The first is in Teruel province and passes through the Sierra Menera, while the second descends through the interior of Valencia down to the coast.

 
The Transpirenaica (from Cabo de Higuer to Cabo de Creus)

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This trans-Pyrenees route runs for close to 800 kilometres along the southern slopes of the mountain range, from the Cantabrian coast (Cabo de Higuer, Hondarribia, Irún) to the Mediterranean (Cabo de Creus, in Girona province). Or vice versa. Part of the Europe-wide GR network of footpaths, its distinctive red and white markings have guided thousands of cyclists from around the world through protected areas in the Basque Country, Navarre, Aragon, Andorra, and Catalonia dominated by 3,000-meter peaks and with accommodation available in picturesque mountain villages. The perfect combination of nature, landscape, history, and cuisine.


The French Way of the Camino de Santiago

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Those in the know say the French Way (Camino Francés) of the Camino de Santiago (which runs for nearly 800 kilometres between Saint Jean de Pied de Port, in France, and the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain) is the best of the five major Saint James pilgrim routes. It’s easy enough at almost any time of year and offers a tremendous range of landscapes, architecture and cuisine, with any number of historical sites, cathedrals, monasteries, churches, fountains, hostels, restaurants and other facilities. This route is stage one, if you go to the link it will explain the following stages of the route.

 

The Vía de la Plata Route

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The Via de la Plata Route, a network made up of 26 towns and cities, from Gijón on the Cantabrian coast to Seville, in Andalusia, in collaboration with four regional governments, has set up a bike route (also available on an app), with information and advice for cyclists, along with the best routes for road racers or off-road bikes, as well as a passport that gives holders discounts in establishments along the ancient trade route dating back to before the Romans – the name of which, contrary to popular belief, comes not from the Spanish for silver, plata, but from the Arabic Al-balat, which means paved or cobbled.


The Camino del Cid

http://www.caminodelcid.org

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“The Way of El Cid is a cultural-tourist route across Spain from northwest to southeast, from Castilla in the interior to the Mediterranean coast. It follows the history and story of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, El Cid Campeador, a famous medieval knight of the 11th century and who, together with Don Quixote and Don Juan, is one of Spain’s greatest characters. Unlike the latter two, El Cid is not only a character of literature but also of history.” So reads the Camino del Cid website, which offers both a road and mountain bike routes along some 1,400 kilometres of pathways and 2,000 kilometres of roads divided into theme-based itineraries running for between 50 and 300 kilometres: The Exile (Burgos, Soria, Guadalajara), The Borderlands (Guadalajara, Zaragoza, Soria), The Conquest of Valencia (Teruel, Castellón, Valencia), along with seven others. 

 

 The Ruta de Don Quijote (Castilla-La Mancha)

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Along the course of its 2,500 kilometres broken up into 10 stages that pass through 148 communities in the five provinces of Castilla-La Mancha, the Don Quijote route takes in the main natural and cultural areas of the region, featuring livestock routes, historic roads, rivers and disused railroads that provide access to more than 2,000 sites of cultural interest. Along the way, there are plenty of great outdoors activities: birdwatching, the Cabañeros and Tablas de Daimiel national parks, six natural parks, 12 reserves and six micro-reserves. (These are two routes from different stages of the entire route)

 
The TransAndalus

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Conceived as a way to get to know Andalusia’s eight provinces by bike, from the volcanic landscapes of Cabo de Gata, in Almeria, down to the wetlands of Doñana, in Huelva, the TransAndalus is a non-signposted 2,000 kilometre itinerary for cyclists. Some sections include GR paths, while one-third of the routes pass through protected areas. This project was set up by cycling enthusiasts in Andalusia who have provided information to build up this ever-growing collection of maps, routes and tracks, all with GPS.

 

The Castilla Canal (Castilla y León)

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In the middle of the 18th century, a project was begun to transport cereals grown in Castilla y León to ports on the Cantabrian coast via a network of canals, but only 207 kilometres of the so-called Canal de Castilla was ever built. That said, it is a fine example of Spanish hydraulic engineering and very popular with bike lovers. It can also be travelled by foot, horse or by barge. The northern route runs from Alar del Rey toward Calahorra de Ribas, in Palencia province, and from there to Medina de Rioseco, in Valladolid; the southern route runs from El Serrón, in Grijota (Palencia), to Valladolid.


The Cister route (Tarragona and Lleida)

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The Alt Camp and Conca de Barberá districts in Tarragona, along with Urgell in neighbouring Lleida, each have a major Cistercian monastery: Santes Creus, Poblet and Vallbona de Les Monges respectively. The GR 175 links the three monasteries: 108 kilometres for cyclists, with four options in the more difficult stretches. This is the backbone of the Ruta del Cister, which includes 65 communities offering not just a rich cultural heritage but spectacular scenery, great wine and food, and lively fiestas.

 

Get pedalling!

 



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4 Personalities Who Shaped Modern Marbella
07 August 2020

The city of Marbella on the Costa del Sol – often called the Spanish Riviera – is globally recognised as an exclusive holiday destination and summer residence for the rich and famous. It’s been associated with celebrities past and present including Sean Connery and Sophia Loren, Rod Stewart and Antonio Banderas, Simon Cowell and Alan Sugar, Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin.

From its humble beginnings as an ancient Moorish town, Marbella has transformed itself from a fishing and farming village into a major tourist destination and commercial centre over the last 50 years or so. Today, the city’s attractions go far beyond its uniquely mild climate and over 25km of golden sandy beaches – there are over 10 golf courses, 3 marinas, luxury hotels aplenty and all the shopping, eating and entertaining you could possibly wish for.

But how did Marbella get to become so rich and famous? Looking back to the end of World War II, 4 influential men are largely responsible for making Marbella what it is today.

  1. Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe

Marbella was ‘discovered’ by Prince Alfonso and his father, the German Prince Maximilian von Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Allegedly, they visited the area in 1947 for a picnic when their Rolls Royce broke down. Alfonso fell in love with the charming fishing village, bought some land for himself and some wealthy friends and built a house, Finca Margarita.

When the residence became increasingly popular as the holiday ‘go to’ for Alfonso’s circle of well-to-do friends, the shrewd businessman turned it into the Costa del Sol’s first luxury hotel. Having persuaded a distant German cousin, Count Rudolf von Schönburg, to manage the new hotel for him, the Marbella Club opened its doors in 1954.

Alfonso was well connected to Europe’s ruling elite, so promoting the Club to wealthy industrialists, bankers and aristocrats proved spectacularly successful. Hollywood stars including Audrey Hepburn and James Stewart started to arrive in increasing numbers, adding more glitz and glamour, and the Marbella Club on what is now known as the Golden Mile, became the epicentre of the city’s rising fortunes.

  1. King Fahd of Saudi Arabia

The 1970s and 1980s saw an even sharper upturn in Marbella’s popularity and development as an international luxury tourist destination. This was largely due to the influence of the then Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia (who became King in 1982) who took a shine to the area, believing it to be ‘a land blessed by Allah’. He purchased land and built an extravagant residence in the city. Mar-Mar Palace is a compound reminiscent of the White House in Washington, complete with a private clinic and a mosque.

King Fahd’s virtually unlimited spending during his visits to Marbella are the stuff of legend. Bringing with him a royal entourage of thousands of staff, he loved to spend most summers in Marbella. And spend he did – in fact, King Fahd is said to have boosted the local economy to the tune of 40-80 million euros per year! With those kind of numbers, it is no exaggeration to say that the Arab King single-handedly transformed the economic fortunes of Marbella and the surrounding Costa del Sol.

King Fahd’s contribution to the city’s wealth was recognised by naming a public garden (Jardin del Rey Fahd) and a street (Boulevard del Rey Fahd) after him following his death in 2005, in addition to honouring his passing with 3 days’ official mourning.

While Fahd’s successors have chosen not to continue the same level of elaborate spending in the Costa del Sol, subsequent visits by the family have still generated millions of euros for Marbella.

  1. José Banus

In 1970, a local property developer decided to embark on a major project on the Costa del Sol, southwest of Marbella. Puerto Banus, as it is now famously known, was the brainchild of José Banus who saw a commercial opportunity to provide Marbella’s international elite with an exclusive marina complex.

Guided by his architects, Banus was persuaded to change his original designs to build spectacular skyscrapers in the area, opting for a more traditional architectural style in keeping with the Mediterranean character of a quaint Andalusian fishing village.

To say that the development was a success would be a massive understatement. Puerto Banus is now one of the largest entertainment centres on the Costa del Sol, boasting 5 million visitors per year with a raft of A-list celebrities among them.

  1. Jesus Gil y Gil

The flamboyant Spanish businessman and politician Jesus Gil was Mayor of Marbella between 1991 and 2002. Having made his fortune in the construction industry, including serving a prison sentence for his part in the collapse of one of his ‘urbanisation’ developments, he also served as president of Atletico Madrid Football Club.

Politically, Gil was a controversial figure who held extreme right wing views. Not unlike President Trump, some would argue, his personal brand contained elements of low brow populism, self-aggrandisement, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia. He was an outspoken, foulmouthed critic and a Franco sympathiser.

A well connected business tycoon, Gil continued to develop Marbella commercially with infrastructure and offices, while promoting the city further as a luxury resort. Parks and golf courses, cultural centres and sports arenas all flourished during his tenure as Mayor.

 

 

 

[Bio Author : Dakota Murphey is an independent writer who enjoys visiting different places and sharing her experiences and knowledge of different cultures and experiences she's had while on her travels. ]



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Bubblegum Lakes
28 July 2020

Two colourful salt lakes flank the northwestern edge of the seaside city of Torrevieja on Spain’s Costa Blanca. Together, they form a nature reserve called Las Salinas de Torrevieja. One lake, in particular, stands out, as its eye-catching 'bubblegum' pink colour overshadows its green-tinted neighbour.

The sight is caused by the work of bacteria and algae. Halobacterium (also known as “salt bacterium”) thrives in salty places, as does a micro-algae called Dunaliella salina. These are the two magical ingredients that concoct the lake’s bizarre pinky hue. Despite its funky colour, the water is perfectly fine, though it can get rather smelly.

 

 

Torrevieja relies on its salt lakes. People have been collecting the mineral from the waters for centuries. In the early 19th century, they officially became a hub for Spain’s salt industry. In addition to boosting the city’s economy, the lakes also act as a natural spa. Supposedly, the sludge of mud and salt at the bottom have healing properties that can relieve common skin and respiratory ailments. The water’s high salt concentration makes it a fun place to relax and enjoy floating around with ease.

 

Flamingos, much like the local people, also frequent the pink lake. Feasting upon the algae-filled shrimp that live there giving their feathers that characteristic rosy tint that almost matches the water.

 

[Contributed by  Jane McGregor - Torrevieja]
 
 


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Jellyfish you need to recognise this summer
17 July 2020

Author : John Patterson 

 

Jellyfish are invertebrates which present special cells used to capture prey and defend themselves. These cells have a poisonous capsule inside. When a prey or predator makes contact with the jellyfish, the capsule opens and the cells stick to them, injecting poison. Jellyfish are usually transparent as they are 95% water, allowing them to camouflage easily.


They usually live 20 to 40 miles from the coast where the water is saltier and warmer. If it has been a dry winter and rainfall has been low, the water at the beach may be of similar salt levels, thus providing a favourable environment for jellyfish. However, the main cause for an increase of jellyfish in an area are the marine currents and overfishing, especially when tortoises are captured, as these are the main jellyfish predators in the Mediterranean.


Types of Jellyfish in the Mediterranean


Fried Egg Jellyfish / Medusa Huevo Frito (Cotylorhiza Tuberculata)

 


Sting level: not very painful.


They are yellow and look like a fried egg, usually 17cm wide. They are common in the Mediterranean during summer and autumn. These jellyfish can sting and cause temporary itching, but do not require medical assistance.

 

Common Jellyfish / Medusa Común (Aurelia Aurita)

Sting level: not very painful.


Round, like a cup, usually white with pink or blue tones and have long tentacles, they are normally about 25cm wide. They are easy to find near the coast. Contact causes irritation and itching. Applying ice may reduce symptoms, but medical assistance is not required.
    

Compass Jellyfish / Medusa de Compases (Chrysaora Hysoscella)


String level: painful.


Looks like an umbrella, usually white and yellow, they are around 20cm wide. They are not very common near the coast, but live in the Mediterranean Sea. Causes an itching and burning sensation and can scar the skin for up to 3 weeks. 
 
Shiff Arms Jellyfish / Aguamala (Rhizostoma Pulmo)


Sting level: painful


They are one of the more beautiful jellyfish in the Mediterranean and are about 50cm wide. They are bluish with a purple ribbon and have 8 tentacles, which if touched causes pain, but no other effects. 


 

Pink jellyfish (Pelagia Noctiluca)

  

 


Sting level: painful and dangerous.


It is a 10cm fluorescent jellyfish, transparent with pink or purple tones. It has 16 long tentacles that can cause pain, burning, nausea and muscle cramps. They are not very common, but if seen do not touch!

 
Portuguese Man o’War / Fragata Portuguesa (Physalia Physalis)

 

Sting level: very painful and extremely dangerous.


Not technically a jellyfish, but treated as one. The most dangerous sea creature found in the Mediterranean. It floats on the sea, has a purple colour and is about 10cm high. Its tentacles can be 2 meters long and they are fast swimmers. They can cause extreme pain, fever, burns to the skin and neurological shock. Due to their dangerous nature, the Spanish Coastguard keeps watch for them and reports are issued on the local TV, radio and newspapers if they approach the coast. 
 
Purple Sail or Velella / Medusa Velero (Velella Velella)


Sting level: not harmful to humans.
As with the previous one, not technically a jellyfish, but treated as one. With an approximate diametre of 6cm, they have a transparent stiff sail and their body is deep blue with circles. It is a carniverous species, catching their prey with its tentacles and are very difficult to spot. They move by catching the wind on their sails. Their venom is not harmful to humans. 

 
 
What to do if there are jellyfish at the beach?

    1.    Do not get in the water, keep an eye on the shore too.
    2.    If one jellyfish is spotted, there will probably be more around.
    3.    Do not touch them even when they appear dead. It takes 24 hours for the sun to deactivate their poison.
    4.    If stung:

a. Do not scratch the skin with sand or a towel.
b. Do not pour fresh water over the affected area.
c. Apply ice for 15 minutes. Ice must be inside a plastic bag to avoid fresh water melting onto the affected area. If the area is still painful, seek medical attention.



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Órgiva
11 March 2020

The sky was the colour of a Manchester City football shirt and the almond blossom reminded me of those cotton wool balls women remove their make-up with (and blokes I suppose). Every hue of pinks and whites possible.  The mountains of the Sierra Nevada had a blanket of snow on them which seemed to enhance all the colours around us.

What a stunning introduction to the Alpujarras! It was the middle of February and we were making our first visit to mainland Spain. Having left the doom and gloom of England behind, the temperature here was a pleasant sixteen degrees and the holiday was off to a good start. And that’s all it was, a holiday. Our accommodation for the week was a self-catering casita (a small house) on the Tijola road out of Órgiva in Andalucia.

On the way to our casita, we drove over some lemons and with some luck found our abode. What a beautiful place, nestled in a valley with views across the Rio Guadalfeo (ugly river) to the mountains of the Contraviesa and the hippy camp of Cigarones.
Once settled in, and with our six-year-old daughter, Alex looking expectantly at the swimming pool, we noticed our casita had nothing in stock. None of the basics like toilet paper, salt, pepper, olive oil (which could be purchased off the owners) washing-up liquid, beer etc.
Sarah exclaimed, “If we had letting houses, they would at least have a welcoming pack.”
Alarm bells should have started ringing!
Well, off we went into town to purchase all the necessary supplies. There were lots of bars and restaurants, mainly all with the same menu, supermarkets, five banks, no charity shops and no estate agents. Not that we were looking for estate agents, just curious.
You could spot us a mile away in our shorts and sandals, we were in holiday mode. While in the town we had a beer in Nemesis One. There must be a Nemesis Two somewhere? Every time we had a drink the landlord brought us a tasty morsel.
Ah, we thought, this must be tapas.
The Granada province is one of the last areas to serve tapas with beer, wine or mosto (non-alcoholic wine). Not with spirits or soft drinks though. The townspeople were well wrapped up, but to us, it was like an August day back in England.

It was not long before Alex was enjoying the pool. It was a little fresh and she tried in vain to coax us in. No chance, it’s February. Living in a rural area in England we thought we had fresh air but here we noticed how pure the air was and how well we slept. The shutters on the windows kept out the early morning light.

Our hosts were people we had known back in Somerset where they used to run the local pub. They had moved to Órgiva to be close to their granddaughter and had bought a ruin to convert into letting houses and what a great job they had done. The garden was well stocked with colourful plants, oranges and lemons providing bright orbs of sunshine and slices of fruit for our liquid refreshments.

During the holiday it was carnival time in Órgiva, normally eight weeks before Easter but the celebrations had to be spread over many weekends as only one marquee was available in the area for so many towns and villages. Friday night was the kids’ turn and we managed to get Alex dressed up as a clown. It was good to get involved and we could feel the warmth and friendliness of the local parents with children of a similar age. Saturday was for the adults.

Órgiva is the capital market town of the Alpujarras with a population of around five thousand people. It’s a bustling busy town with a very cosmopolitan, bohemian atmosphere. Mining and agriculture are its main activities but with tourism catching on. The ski resort of the Sierra Nevada is only an hour and a half away and the beaches of Motril and Salobrena just forty minutes down the road. At four hundred and fifty metres above sea level, the town has a micro-climate in which many different crops can grow, all fed from the waters of the melting snow off the mountains.

While settling into our holiday routine and thoroughly enjoying our surroundings a niggling question was emerging from somewhere in the back of my mind. What’s the price of property around here? And could we do what our hosts had achieved?

I needed to find an estate agent. These elusive characters operated in pairs, one foreign and one local. I was told they hung around a coffee bar called Galindos, and coffee time and breakfast time was at ten. So off I set to track them down.

My luck was in and I found a guy called Dharmo and his Spanish mate, Ramon (Dharmo’s corridor). Dharmo made the contacts with the foreigners and Ramon found the properties.

On introducing myself I was eyed with suspicion; they were in no hurry to show me their portfolio of property. Eventually, Dharmo pulled out of his well-worn satchel a photograph album with pictures of ruins of farmhouses, townhouses and bare parcels of land. But no prices.

 

Author: Andy Bailey

Bio: We moved to Spain 20 years ago and have been compiling a book by observing and integrating since we arrived. The book is now published. Órgiva: A Chancer's Guide to Rural Spain. Chris Stewart has given it a good review.

 



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