Tag Archives: living in spain

Spanish Sundays – Fuengirola and Malaga

A little later than usual here is this week’s Spanish Sundays post, this time providing a view of Fuengirola and Malaga. I was fortunate to be there this weekend for the conference of the National Association of British Schools in Spain.

Fuengirola is on the Costa del Sol and is located in Andalucia. The sunrise over the sea is spectacular and a feature of this area of the Spanish coastline.

Another feature of the area are the fish barbecues that are located along the beach.

Sardines cooking in a boat shaped barbecue on the beach in Fuengirola, Spain

Sardines cooking on the beach in Malaga, Spain

Dotted along the beach in Feuenirola and Malaga are barbecues, often in the shape of a small fishing boat. Restaurants adjust their menus daily to reflect the availability of the day with everything served on the day it is caught. We spent our lunchtime at the restaurant above on the Paseo Malagueta, Malaga. The food was delicious but if I had to provide a recommendation I would say go with the sardines.

This coastline has good communication both with other cities in Europe and with the rest of Spain. Malaga has an international airport and also is a terminus for the Spanish fast rail network, the AVE.

Rosetta Stone Spanish language-learning software

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In the land of the blind…

In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king. Welcome to Spain, a land where a failure to enforce regulation encourages any cowboy to step forward as an expert.

I moved into my current house here in Alzira last summer. Just on the edge of the town and in a pleasant urbanisation, many aspects of being here are fantastic. With a south facing aspect and sun on the terrace all winter there’s plenty for which we can be grateful. Today however has uncovered once again the scourge of Spanish society – the cowboy workman. With seemingly nobody enforcing regulations, pretty much any tradesman, despite the sign writing on his van, could well be a complete and utter cowboy.

My first experience of this was soon after arriving here in Spain. The gas boiler I had at the time wasn’t working, so without hot water or heating, I called the landlord. José, my genial landlord turned up about a week later to take a look. He spent twenty minutes running water from each of the taps in the house and checking the pilot light before declaring that it was clearly not working and he would need to call an expert. Now, I imagined a boiler suit wearing official with a badge to denote his professional affiliations, so was a little taken aback when a gentleman in his mid seventies turned up with a black tar cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. After establishing the fact that this chap with his thickset, yellow, nicotine stained beard was in fact the expert, I led him through to the boiler and watched him perform his magic. In this case, with the lit cigarette still burning from the corner of his mouth, he lifted the front of the boiler and gave the gaze of what he clearly considered to be an expert analysis. With the cigarette waving dangerously from the corner of his mouth he tapped on any exposed pipes. With nothing happening he turned to me and asked if I had a spanner. When I was unable to oblige he changed his request to a screwdriver. Having provided him with the tools of his trade he then proceeded to bang ferociously on any pipe using the aforementioned tool. When the boiler still failed to light he shrugged and announced, with the pride normally associated with a job well done, that I would need an expert.

Which brings me to today’s events. Today’s clowning around started at around 9am when two guys turned up to install a new immersion heater. I had suggested to the landlady that a gas boiler may be a more sensible option when I complained that the 40 litre immersion was insufficient to service a family home. Today saw the installation of a new 70 litre immersion. The two tradesmen turned up at 9am and after a little poking around at the old system decided they needed ‘materials’. Now, to anybody living in Spain, a workman short of materials in the morning is an accepted code for “we’re going to a bar for breakfast and may be back before lunch”. The nearest DIY store is about two minutes away. Clearly these were large materials as they both left and took the van. Two hours later they returned looking well breakfasted and carrying the two bolts that had been missing at 9am.

The ensuing drilling, draining and general procrastination took until 3pm. Two men worked for six hours a piece, on paper at least, in order to install one immersion heater. (Let’s not discount the breakfast time as I’m sure they won’t when they submit their bill!)

There’s a lot to love about small town Spain but the lack of regulated and professional tradesmen is not on the list. At some point I imagine the regulations will come and customer expectation may even be the driving force for change. Until then, we will have to continue to enjoy the theatre of ‘have a go’ workmen trying in vain to fix the nation’s electrical and gas appliances.

In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king!

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Spanish Sundays – A weekend in Denia

We spent this weekend in a hotel on the edge of Denia.

Outside view of Hotel Les Rotes, Denia

Hotel Les Rotes – Denia

Denia is a coastal town in the north of Costa Blanca. About midway between Benidorm and Valencia, Denia has a large marina and regular ferry services to Mallorca and Ibiza. We stayed in Hotel Les Rotes, a four star hotel and a part of the MR Hotel chain. The hotel and grounds are extremely well kept and the standard and cleanliness of rooms was also high. We had breakfast included. Breakfast is served in the restaurant adjacent to the outside swimming pool. With fresh fruit, cheeses, meats, breads, cereals and the option for cooked eggs and bacon the breakfast catered for most tastes.

Denia is a popular town and features in some holiday brochures for flights coming in to Alicante. Between Denia and the next resort, Javea, is an area of protected countryside.

Octopus hung out to dry in the sun on the beach near Denia

Octopus drying in the sun

Denia is a well developed town, no doubt in part due to the money brought in by the large marina. Many of the restaurants specialise in fish dishes using locally caught products. The picture above was taken outside a restaurant on the beach just outside Denia.

A menu featuring only five dishes

A short and disappointing menu

By the port in Denia is a maze of cobbled backstreets with a range of bars and restaurants. Denia and Javea are both attractive towns and worth visiting. The coast is an excellent place for diving or snorkelling with crystal clear seas. Most of the coastline in this area is rocky although Javea also has a sandy beach.

Costa Blanca walking guide
by Gill Round

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Teaching posts and all the info. you need about teaching abroad

Teaching posts in Spain and the links that give you the information you need, all in one place.
If you have any other questions about living or teaching in Spain then please do post them in the comments box and I will reply.

Primary teaching post
Secondary English (plus humanities) post
Secondary Maths (plus science) post

As of 10th March 2015 the teaching posts above are now filled. If you are interested in applying for a teaching position in Spain please send your Curriculum Vitae together with a covering letter to: recruitment@ukteacherinspain.com

5 things NQTs should know about working abroad

5 things to know about renting in Spain

5 tips for your interview with an international school

Relocating to Spain with a family – a guide

Teaching in a British School in Spain – a FAQ

A comparison between teaching in Spain and teaching in the UK

Applying to teach in Spain – which school should you choose?

5 things I never worried about when I taught in England

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Monthly top 5 roundup – January 2015

Top five pages from the Internet, top five pages from this site and product of the month all in one convenient place.

The power of five

Top five pages from the Internet

1: War on mediocrity – Hands up if you’re working in school and mediocre…Mr. Cameron is coming to get you!
2: The workload debate – John Tomsett blogs ‘This much I know about…’
3: Haiku Deck – App of the day from ictevangelist.com
4:Successful leaders are visible – Sir Tim Brighouse sharing his wisdom on why leading from behind an office door doesn’t work.
5: Dear Mrs. Morgan – Michael Rosen writes on behalf of a parent

Top five pages from this site

1: Why ‘Mindset’ is important for teachers and schools
2: A strategy for teacher self-improvement
3: Teaching in a British School in Spain – FAQ
4: Common English errors made by Spanish speakers
5: 5 things to know about renting in Spain

Product of the month

Rising Stars Switched on Computing

We began using this product this term. Making the move from ‘Information technology’ to ‘Computing’ is quite a shift for some schools, especially if teacher confidence in computer programing is low. Fortunately, this scheme of work is based entirely on products that are freely available on the Internet so carries no additional software costs. It also provides easy to follow lessons for the teacher and makes the new computing subject accessible for teachers and students. Year 6 have jumped straight in at the deep end with a project and are working towards creating an app.

Switched on computing – Year 1

Switched on computing – Year 2

Switched on computing – Year 3

Switched on computing – Year 4

Switched on computing – Year 5

Switched on computing – Year 6

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5 things to know about renting in Spain

One of the primary concerns people have when relocating is understanding how property rentals work. This article gives a flavour of what to expect in Spain together with some examples of properties available in the town of Alzira in the Valencia region of Spain.

For rent sign - Se Alquila

1: Furnished or unfurnished
Property in Spain is usually let as furnished. This is a contrast to the UK where many landlords will prefer to rent unfurnished. The side not to this is that many landlords will take out any furniture that is of good quality and replace with cheaper alternatives. If the furniture is not up to standard the tenant should be prepared to complain.

2: Length of rental contracts in Spain
Rental contracts in Spain will typically be eleven months long. The length of the contract though is relatively unimportant. If the tenant is paying the rent on time and in full and has not caused any problems at the property then the tenants have rights to remain in place and expect the landlord to issue further contracts.

3: Deposit and agency fees
The landlord has the right to charge a deposit to cover for damages. This would typically be one month rent for unfurnished property but landlords may ask for up to two month’s rent as the deposit if the property is furnished. Be aware that deposits are not protected in Spain. The landlord holds the deposit. For this reason it is always worth trying to insist on a one month deposit if possible. The landlord holding the deposit is a system that really fails to work in the favour of the tenant and expect a debate when you finally leave the property. Unofficially (and this will normally be written into a contract as unacceptable) a standard practice amongst tenants in Spain is to hold back the final month’s rent when leaving so the deposit is physically on the table and can be discussed and agreed between landlord and tenant. In addition to landlord fees, if you are renting through an agent the normal practice would be for the tenant to pay the agency fee. Again, this will usually be equivalent to one month’s rent. It is acceptable to negotiate this with the landlord and with the situation as it is now with many properties vacant some landlords may agree to share this fee or the agent themselves may be prepared to offer a reduction.

4: Other monthly expenses in addition to the rental
When taking out a rental contract in Spain check the details of what is included. The property tax, a community fee if it is a property on an urbanisation, water and other utilities are all potential additional expenses. Unlike in the UK, the landlord would normally pay the property tax. You may well get the landlord to agree to include the community fee too. Utilities including water, gas, electricity and telephone would normally be the liability of the tenant.

5: Buyer beware
It is far easier to get something dealt with before you move into the property. Check the appliances, the lights and the hot water are all functioning. It is a buyers market and landlords will be keen to get tenants into properties so do be specific. If you think a piece of furniture or an appliance needs replacing then say so.

Finally, let’s take a look at three sample properties available at the time of writing in the town of Alzira.

Property 1 – 550€ per month:

Four bedrrom detached propertyThis first property is a large detached property on the edge of town. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a private swimming pool.

Property 2 – 500€ per month:

4 bedroom property with community pool

The second property is a modern house on an urbanisation on the edge of the town. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and shares a community pool with other neighbouring properties.

Property 3 – 350€ per month:

4 bedroom 2 bathroom flat

The final property is an example of a flat in the town centre. It has large terraces. It has four bedrooms and two bathrooms but he lack of a swimming pool or other communal spaces helps to keep the price down.

Live and work in Spain: The most accurate, practical and comprehensive guide to living in Spain
by Heleina Postings

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