[off-topic] ¡Hola! – Back from Spain

by - 01:29

It has been a long month after my previous post on this blog. As we achieved an RTM (Release-To-Manufacturing) milestone with the Parallel Studio I decided to take some break and we spent a few days in Spain with my family. This was a first time for me to be there and I would definitively like to return. We could not see everything we hoped to – swine flu had adjusted our plans as we arrived there :-(.

In Europe, Spain is known to be affected largely enough by the developing financial crisis. Though I deem the crisis is for good overall, I am very sympathetic to people who might be affected by it. Unlike many optimists out there I believe that much worse is still ahead of us.

What was good to see is that Spain does a lot of things that are a right answer for this downturn. This started with relatively low trip prices which did not seem believable a year ago. To retain tourist traffic the consulate opens a multi-entry Shengen visa valid for 180 days. For a reasonable trip price we got an excellent 3* hotel near Barcelona, one block from the sea, which exceeded some Egyptian 5* hotels. Upon arrival we were given a full boarding though we only paid for HB, and the food was spectacular. As it's not yet a high season (and we normally try to take advantages of this) and preparing for the worse, sellers are very open to offer discounts. As an example, Port Aventura, an entertainment park was offering 50% discount giving 2 days ticket for the price of 1. My daughter was happy to enjoy this.

Consequences of a recent boom are still observed. Like many other countries, Spain fell a victim of a real estate bubble. In a main street of a tourist town where we stayed real estate agencies were met every 100m or even more frequently. More than a half did not show signs of life for all our stay. Some have just been left abandoned. Stopped constructions, even in lovely locations, even almost completed, were frequent. Sales ads on every (!) multi-apartment house along the entire beach, sometimes up to 10+ on each. Natural consequences of craziness. It's good that Spain started it earlier, this is yet to come in Russia.

Regarding sight seeing, we spent most of the days in Barcelona. Of course, (almost) all "must see" locations – The Gothic Castle, Sagrada de Familia, Gaudi buildings, Guel park, Rambla and many other things. We were impressed with St. Maria del Mar church which appeared so small from outside and that monumental inside with a big Rose above the entrance. We could not make the Picasso museum twice, so this remains at least one reason to return. We went another day to Figueres, the home town of Salvador Dali, where he established a museum in the building of a once burnt out theater. What a special man ! His will was to get buried between two lavatory pans and it was fulfilled – his grave is under two working toilets in the museum. As we were walking through the museum I could not say it was too impressive (of course, tiredness added to that) but returning back home I re-thought and concluded that you can't assess a big thing when you are near it, you have to step back to realize it better.

So overall it was a great trip! If there are Spanish readers of this blog – you live in a great country, full of glory history and you have all the rights to be proud of it !

As for me, I returned back to work and we are now full steam ahead for new challenges and projects. I try to find some time to keep on developing CAD Exchanger. There are some interesting findings in that development so I hope to post some of them here.

Take care everyone.

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  1. Spain is a wonderful country -- I've spent a lot of time in Madrid, as well as Sevilla, Galicia, and such -- but never Barcelona.

    By percentage terms, Spain's housing bubble is worse than the US one (IIRC, peak building in Spain was 800,000 homes/year for a population of 40 million versus about 2,000,000/year for a population of 300 million in the US).

    I've enjoyed visiting the non-touristy and "local tourist" areas of Spain. My favorite cities are Avila and Toledo -- I've been to both multiple times, and one of the best meals I've ever had was in Avila for 1800 pts.

  2. Indeed, the number of started constructions in the place we were (Salou - too touristic) is crazy. Sales ads are often met in multi-languages (including Russian).
    As Warren Buffet said, there are 3 types of "I" investors - innovators, imitators, idiots. The last "I" investors are now trying dump all this inventory.

    Sticking to Barcelona and suburb we could not really feel Spanish. We hoped to get to Valencia but we could not manage :-(. Hopefully next time.

  3. Hi Roman,

    Of course you have devoted readers in Spain waiting for the following post, offtopic or not :)

    I'm especially pleased because you have chosen a non typical "Sun and Paella" trip to Spain, visiting musseums and the Barcelona city.

    It is clear that in Spain we lived a real state bubble during almost 15 years and now we are paying this but I think that this has helped us to equiparated to the European countries faster than others. Lots of euros have coming from Europe to buy second residences on the Mediterranean. Some years ago all the Europeans airlines magacines announced houses in the south of spain and Portugal. I think we will have to reduce our incomes but in average it has been positive if we consider how we lived 15 years ago.

    Surprissingly, the last datas show that Spain it is not yet worse than other european countries (Germany GDP y/y -3.8%, France -3.2%, Spain -2.9%). The tragedy is that the unemployment is highly affected by this crisis.



  4. Hi Carlos,

    Thanks for a comment and devotion. I appreciate that.

    The good for Spain (as well as Iceland) may be that it started its crisis earlier what makes a promise to start recovering earlier than others. Yes, unemployment is an issue. And while it's still growing, a recent rally on stock market seems nothing but a 'dead cat bounce'. I'm very bearish and skeptical. Euro's future is also not quite certain.

    Yes, people need to return to basics and align their spending patterns with their income. These days I keep on hearing stories about people who were plain crazy in their ideas, speculations and who now pay off for all that. And it's not the end at all...