Sean of Spanish Inland Properties – An Expat Profile

Sean Lummis is the Managing Director of Spanish Inland Properties

Before moving to Spain, Sean used to live in Chelmsford, Essex working for a shipping company in Barking. He met Sally, who also now works for Spanish Inland Properties in 2003.

Spanish Inland Properties in Galera, is a small, family run business dedicated to helping their Clients find the right property in this beautiful area of Spain.

The company is now owned by Sean, who moved to Spain in 2005 with his partner Sally.  They fell in love with the cave houses when they just came out for a weekend break to visit the area but ended up buying the second one they viewed!!  It needed complete renovation and so they spent 7 months living in an out-house with a tin roof, mice and barely enough electricity to power a mobile phone charger whilst they renovated the cave which was a very steep learning curve, stressful and cost a lot more than they expected but it was well worth it!  It was during this time they learnt so much about the cave houses which Sean now specialises in selling.  While they were renovating the cave they became good friends with Sharon, Les and Craig Edwards who offered them work at Spanish Inland Properties.  So they then started working at Spanish Inland Properties, Sally carrying out the administration and secretarial work full time in the Galera office and Sean taking out clients to view properties.

In 2014, Les took a step back from the business and Sean now owns the company with wife Sally who carries out marketing work from home. 

Sean’s experience, contacts and knowledge of the  properties for sale and areas make him a fantastic estate agent, he offers a very personal service and he speaks English and Spanish.  Sean enjoys meeting new clients and guiding them through the whole buying process from start to finish and helping make their dreams a reality.

They have hundreds of great properties for sale on their website such as cave houses, fincas, and town properties. Sean and his team will help you to find a property, open a bank account, obtain an NIE number and recommend reputable solicitors to do all the legal stuff. It’s a complete service!

You can visit Spanish Inland Properties website by clicking here

More articles like this on our website alcista.org

Fiestas in Spain

Fiestas are a massive part of Spanish life and there are a lot of them! The word Fiesta can mean a holiday, a festival or a party, and the Spanish do like a good party! They also like to have a lot of days off work and use any excuse possible to do so.

Saint Days

A lot of Fiestas in Spain are based around Catholic Saint days which are observed Nationally by almost everyone. Every single day is dedicated to one saint or another and you can find out which saint is related to your birthday by clicking the link here

Bank Holidays

Like the UK there are a total of 8 National holidays in Spain where schools, banks and businesses all close down, including restaurants! These are:-

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • April 19 – Good Friday
  • May 1 – Labor Day
  • August 15 – Asunción de la Virgen
  • October 12 – Spanish National Holiday
  • November 1 – All Saints’ Day
  • December 6 – Constitution Day
  • December 25 – Christmas

Unlike the UK though, there are also many extra holidays in each of the regions. Some have as many as 7 local bank holidays giving a total of up to 15 days off work in some places in Spain. These are:-

  • Alicante: Jan 1, Mar 19, Apr 19, 22; May 1, 2; Jun 24, 25; Aug 15; Oct 9, 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 25
  • Barcelona: Jan 1; Apr 19, 22; May 1; Jun 10, 24; Aug 15; Sep 11, 24; Oct 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 25, 26
  • Cadiz: Jan 1, 7; Feb 28; Mar 4; Apr 18, 19; May 1; Aug 15; Oct 7, 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 9, 25
  • Granada: Jan 1, 2, 7; Feb 28; Apr 18, 19; May 1; Jun 20; Aug 15; Oct 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 9, 25
  • Madrid: Jan 1, 7; Apr 18, 19; May 1, 2, 15; Aug 15; Oct 12; Nov 1, 9; Dec 6, 9, 25
  • Malaga: Jan 1, 7; Feb 28; Apr 18, 19; May 1; Aug 15, 19; Sep 9; Oct 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 9, 25
  • Marbella: Jan 1, 7; Feb 28; Apr 18, 19; May 1; Jun 11; Aug 15; Oct 12, 19; Nov 1; Dec 6, 9, 25
  • Salamanca: Jan 1, 7; Apr 18, 19, 23; May 1; Jun 12; Aug 15; Sep 9; Oct 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 9, 25
  • Seville: Jan 1, 7; Feb 28; Apr 18, 19; May 1, 8; Jun 20; Aug 15; Oct 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 9, 25
  • Tenerife: Jan 1, 7; Feb 2; Apr 18, 19; May 1, 3, 30; Jul 9; Aug 15; Oct 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 25
  • Valencia: Jan 1, 22; Mar 19; Apr 19, 22, 29; May 1; Jun 24; Aug 15; Oct 9, 12; Nov 1; Dec 6, 25
Check local fiestas or you might go hungry

It doesn’t even end there! Some smaller municipalities within the regions can have an extra 4-5 mini local holidays as well to celebrate local customs like crop harvests or memorable events or people in the district. It also depends what day the holiday falls on for example if it falls on a Thursday then quite often they would take Friday and Saturday off and nothing will be open until Monday! (or even Tuesday!)

This can take be a pain for the new Expat coming to Spain, especially when all the shops and businesses are closed unexpectedly. It is a good idea therfore, to find out from the locals when all these Fiestas happen and mark the calendar. Then stock up your fridge!

Find out more on our website alcista.org

Baza – Historic Market Town – In the heart of Andalusia

Age old monuments on the slopes of the Sierra de Baza Nature Reserve

Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Encarnación ex-collegiate church

The Altiplano region of Baza is one of the unspoiled jewels of Andalusia.

Situated in the north of the Granada Province, is the town of Baza, the capital of the overall area of the same name. The other, smaller villages in the Baza area are: Benamaurel, Caniles, Cortes de Baza, Cuevas del Campo, Cúllar, Freila, and Zújar.

This historic city is next to the Baza Mountains Nature Reserve or PARQUE NATURAL SIERRA DE BAZA. The old Moorish part of the town, made up of the “Medina”, “Alcazaba” and Arab neighbourhoods, with their narrow streets, is all but intact. The “Alcazaba” (citadel) is in the historic centre. Some parts of its defensive walls and the remains of various towers can be seen to this day. Also worthy of note are the Mudejar style Santiago Church, and the Nuestra Señora Santa María de la Encarnación ex-collegiate church, built on the remains of a former mosque. Baza also has important archaeological and historical sites, such as the remains of the Iberian-Roman city of Basti, the town’s two necropolis and its Moorish baths.

Natural environment

The contrasting landscapes are emblematic of this area: from the Sierras de Baza Natural Park, a mountain area to the south of the town officially declared Natural Parks in 1989, to the arid ‘Bad lands’ of the plateau that forms the Altiplan and then across the vast fertile valley in all its verdant glory. With this simple natural environment comes a peculiarly interesting heritage of cave houses, inhabited since time immemorial and now becoming a much sought after retreat for the rural tourist. The people of Baza, still live by and celebrate many ancient customs and traditions mainly linked to religion, farming and agriculture.

VIA VERDE

The  Via Verde Sierra de Baza is 9,4 km long and runs for a few km north and south of Baza town as far as the municipal limits with Zujar and Caniles. The track of the original railway line connected villages of Zujar, Baza and Caniles    It was part of the Great Southern Railway Company Ltd (founded in London) which linked Baza with Lorca (Murcia) and Aguilas on the coast. In the centre of Baza the old railway station and various artifacts can still be seen from this railway constructed by the British in 1894.  

The Population

At the beginning of the 16th century the town of Baza had at given times a population of anything between 6,000 and 10,000. By the start of the 20 th century that number had risen to almost 13,000. Many of those who are born in Baza, ultimately leave to live in other regions around Spain, especially Catalonia and the eastern Spanish regions of Valencia and Murcia. During the 1950’s – 1970’s there was a mass exodus of people who left the farming lifestyle to become part of the new and prosperous coastal community, where tourism meant better jobs and a completely different way of life. The main town of Baza is once again lively and bustling, while villages are quieter and much more sparsely populated.

The Climate

The winter temperatures average out at just below 10ºC over a five to six month period. It is normally dry and cold, with intermittent bouts of snow and ice. The summers are dry and warm with an average temperature of just above 25ºC, with higher temperatures during the hottest month of August. Although it tends to be generally dry, there is usually some rainfall in the spring and autumn. There are often summer storms towards the end of August and beginning of September. The whole area of Baza can be intensely hot and extremely arid in the summer months.

History

In June of 2003, Baza was officially declared to be of national historic interest. The Muslim Medina and ancient fortress, Alcazaba, still exist in Baza and in the surrounding old quarter there are evocative place names, such as ‘Algedid’ (the San Juan quarter), ‘Al Rabal al –Hedar’ and ‘Marzuela’ where the Arab Baths are. It is a sheer pleasure to walk through these ancient narrow streets and historic fortifications, as it is to visit the many interesting monuments and buildings. As well as civiland military architecture, there are also numerous churches, most of which were built during the 16 th Century after the War of Granada and the Christians clearly wanted to leave their mark after the ousting of the Moors.

The Municipal Museum of Baza

El Museo Municipal de Baza

Founded by Baza Town Hall in 1988 and open to the public as it is today since 1998, has some incredible exhibits of archaeological interest. It is part of the Andalusian Museum Network and comes under wing of the Andalusian Region Government. There are four sections in the museum dedicated to permanent exhibits, covering; Iberia, Medieval, Roman and Prehistoric eras.

There is a fifth room, which is reserved for other cultural exhibitions and activities .The ground floor also houses the Baza Tourist Office: Tel/Fax: 958 861 325

Museo Municipal de Baza
Plaza Mayor No. 1

Opening Hours: Daily:
Winter 10:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to18:30
Summer 10:00 to 14:00 and 16:00 to 19:00

La Dama de Baza

This amazing historic sculpture was excavated the Iberian necropolis of Cerro del Santuario (Sanctuary Hill), linked to the ancient Iberian city of Basti, close to the town of Baza. This sculpture, thought to date from around 400 BC is not only of enormous historical interest, but is also aesthetically and culturally popular for its beauty and detail. It was found in the tomb of what is supposed to have been a goddess of the time.

Fiestas in Baza

The February Carnival celebrations in Baza are becoming more extravagant each year, with the imagination of the villagers producing more interesting outfits to wear at the many organized parties.

Easter Holy Week is a religious tradition taken very seriously by the people of Baza. The Processions, where the religious images are carried through the streets of the town, are the result of a whole year’s preparations, involving the different church brotherhoods in the area.

Feria
 (Town Fair) which lasts from the 6 th to the 15 th September.

CASCAMORRAS

The Feria opens with the fiesta of ‘Cascamorros’ and has rightly been declared a festival of international interest.  Although the festival is relatively little-known outside Granada province, by latest estimates up to 20,000 people take part, running through the streets and covering each other in black olive oil in Baza and coloured paste in Guadix. There are main two parts to the Cascamorras festival – one in Baza, traditionally on 6th September, and the other in Guadix on 9th September. More info about the Cascamorras in Baza >

Gastronomy in Baza

Solid home cooking is the underlying theme of dishes you will come across in Baza. The colder winter climate calls for stews made with fresh vegetables, game and other meats. Try the ‘Gachas Tortas’, which is a hot past dish containing rabbit, onions, garlic, peppers, potatoes, white wine and olive oil.

If you see ‘Gurupina’ on a menu, you will be able to sample a wonderful local dish including ingredients such as fish (cod), potatoes, onions, wild mushrooms and flour.

Testuz’ is another warming dish based on broad beans, white beans, black pudding, pig’s ear, potatoes and garlic. This is not a dish for someone on a low cholesterol diet, as extra fat is added to give full flavour!

Due to the continental climate of the area, the local cold meats and hams are of extremely high quality. Capers also feature in many of the recipes from salads to sauces, since these grow wild in the surrounding countryside.

The Baza region also has a particularly good reputation for its sweets and deserts.

Getting There

By car take the A92 north bound Granada – Murcia Autovía (motorway). There are three turn offs for Baza: the first (at kilometre 333) marked Zújar and Pozo Alcón, the second for the centre of Baza (marked Centro) and the third for Baza East (Baza Este) which takes you by the regional hospital.

There is bus services to Baza and it is best to check routes and timetables beforehand. Guadix is the nearest train station, at 48 kilometres away. There are various bus companies, offering many travel options to Baza from many main towns. In particular, there are regular bus services between Granada and Baza. Bus and coach travel in Andalusia is a comfortable and affordable way to see beautiful countryside.

For further information on the town and region of Baza, contact the Tourist Office:

Museo Municipal de Baza
Plaza Mayor No. 1
Tel/Fax: 958 861 325

Or the Town Hall :

Ayuntamiento de Baza
Arco de la Magdelena
Tel: 958 700 691

For more like this visit our website Alcista.org

Which are the best Hiking Boots?

North face Hedgehog Hiking Boot

If you are going walking in the countryside or “campo” as they say in Spain then you are going to need a good pair of boots to protect your feet.

We bought a couple of pairs of THE NORTH FACE Hedgehog Hike Ii Mid Gore-Tex boots and tested them out in various weather and terrain conditions.

Although the boots are not cheap, around £100, the first impressions were really good from the start. The boots slip on easily and are extremely well padded and comfortable inside. However they needed to be walked in to test them out. Quite often new boots have to be “worn-in” to get them to mould to the shape of your feet. They often cause blisters when new until your feet become a bit more callous in the areas of rubbing.

We didn’t get any of this at all. After 3 days in different weathers we have had no problems with the boots at all. The first day was warm and dry and the other two days were wet, muddy and cold. The boots performed perfectly in both situations neither being too hot, too damp or cold. The material is Leather and “Goretex”.

After coming back home from the muddy walks we hosed the boots down under the garden tap to remove the soil and once they dried they looked as good as new.

We cant say if they are the best boots in the world but we can say we are happy with them and can recommend them without hesitation.

You can check the prices of these boots here on Amazon by clicking the affiliate link here

THE NORTH FACE Men’s Hedgehog Hike Ii Mid Gore-Tex High Rise Boots

Beef Steak with baked Baby Plum Tomatoes with garlic & Dijon Mushrooms

In our little village, the neighbours like to bring fresh produce around to the house as and when it gets harvested. This week we had Virgin olive Oil from this year’s press from Manuel and tomatoes and garlic from Maria, who also gave us this recipe. It is very quick and simple but makes the most of the local fresh produce.

Serves 2, 30mins

Ingredients

2 large steaks

150g Baby Plum Tomatoes

6 cloves garlic – chopped

100g mushrooms

75ml Virgin olive oil

50g Butter

1 Tbls Dijon mustard

Salt & Pepper to taste

Parsley to garnish (fresh or dried)

Method

Halve the tomatoes and place in roasting tray with garlic and olive oil. Bake in med oven for 15-20 minutes 170C

Meanwhile quarter the mushrooms and place in a saucepan on a medium heat with a little water and the Dijon Mustard, stirring occasionally.

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a large frying pan and fry the steaks for 2-4 minutes on each side depending on your preference (2 mins rare, 4 mins well done) leave to rest for 5 mins.

While the meat is resting take out the tomatoes and sprinkle with chopped parsley

Serve and enjoy

Visit our website for more www.alcista.org

The “Padron” Certificate

What is an Empadronamiento and how do I obtain one?
In Spain the “padron ” or “certificado de empadronamiento” refers to the process of registering with the town hall (ayuntamiento) as a resident of your municipality. The process is simple and does not require that you have your residency papers in order. It is free to register and does not incur any additional taxes (if you own your home, you will be required to pay municipal taxes anyway). 

A certificado de empadronamiento can be obtained from the Town Hall

It is important for all residents in a municipality to register in order for the local government so that you are added to the electoral role and the local councils receive the proper amount of funds necessary to run the village/city and maintain infrastructures. Whether you are purchasing property or renting a home, it is in both your own and your community’s best interest to make the little effort required to go down to the town hall and register.  This way, you will ensure that your sewage system continues to run smoothly. Rubbish will disappear on schedule and your local health clinic and post office will be adequately staffed.
The only requirement is that you need to be living in the community for at least 6 months a year. 

What do I need:

Passport or NIE number

Copy of Escritura for your property

Steps:

  • Go to the Town Hall with the appropriate documents
  • Tell them you want to register
  • Ask for a “Certificado de Empadronamiento”.  This is requested on a regular basis when you are applying for other things.  This costs approximately 2 euros.  Please note they are only valid for 3 months but you can request one as often as you need.

    If you change address either to another property in the municipality or outside you must inform the Town Hall of the change.

Visit the website for more Expat articles https://alcista.org/

The Best 4 Apps for Learning Spanish

It’s best to learn at least some Spanish language before you come to Spain as this will give you a head start when you arrive. It’s not possible to become fluent in any language without speaking face to face with native speakers so you wont start learning for real until you live there.

There are YouTube videos out there which will tell you you can learn a language in 4 weeks or even 2 days! Not a reality, it takes time and patience and practice. Lots and lots of practice!

memrise great video lessons

It takes at least a year to learn a language and that is by spending many hours every week studying, speaking and listening. There is no shortcut!

The only YouTube video we have seen which is honest about this was by a Language Teacher who learned Arabic in 1 year. (click here for video) He suggests there are 3 key steps.

  1. 0-3 months. Desk top studying of apps, books, videos and tapes to get your basic vocabulary to about 4000 words (equivalent to a 2 year old) About 6 hours min per week.
  2. 3-6 months. One-on-one speaking and listening face to face with a native speaker using picture books and magazines to use as conversation pieces. About 6 hours min per week. 
  3. 6-12 months. Live in the culture and speak to as many native speakers as possible to increase your listening and speaking skills.

Learning to speak and listen is the best way to learn. Writing and reading skills can be learned later. This is how a child learns, they don’t go to school until 4 years old!

However there are some great apps for our mobile phones which can teach you some of the basics you will need to get started and which will mimic the steps 1 to 3 as listed above.

Here are our favourites

1. DuoLingo

The best app?

This is our favourite and one of the most popular. Lots of different styles of learning including reading, listening, speaking, spelling, grammar tips, short stories and much more.

You can get the app for Apple or Android, or you can use the website version.

There are points and awards given and you can compete against other users in the League Challenges.

You can set your daily goals from easy to intense depending on your aspirations.

2. Memrise

We liked the video clips on this app of people talking in the street who are all native speakers. Its not as long to complete all the levels as it is on DuoLingo but the videos and speed tests will suit some people. web version here

3. Hellotalk

Includes audio lessons and a translator function. you can chat with real people in the messenger section. website

4. Tandem

This app enables face to face video chats with native speakers which is free. There are also paid teachers on there who you can pay for 1-on-1 lessons over video chats. website

Why am I starting to Blog?

My wife Jacqui and I moved to Spain from the UK in may this year with our 4 little dogs to start the next chapter of our lives in a new country.

We bought a run down house in Andalusia and began to renovate it bit by bit using my skills obtained from 30+ years in the Construction industry. We travelled down in a second hand motor home which we bought in the UK before we left. The plan was to travel down through France and Spain with building equipment, some of our personal belongings (and the dogs!) taking our time over a few days. We were then going to live in the camper for a few weeks whilst I set about working on the house to make it habitable.

God had other plans! After about a week of travelling and staying in motorway service stations at night we were excited to be on our last leg of the journey on day 7 of the trip and looking forward to reaching the new home. With 100km left to travel we heard a horrible noise and the engine started to emit black, billowing smoke!

After calling the AA in the UK we were rescued, taken to a local garage and told that our new mobile home was out of action for a few weeks at least!

After spending 3 days in a broken camper on an industrial estate in Spain we decided to hire a van and move to our new home anyway an make it habitable in 1 day!

We arrived at our new home on day 11 and began to frantically clean the house and find a corner of the floor where we could put our mattress from the camper. There was electricity but the water had been shut-off because there was a leaking pipe which had previously flooded the house and not been repaired. First job was to find a builder’s merchant and obtain some plumbing supplies to fix the broken pipe. This was a priority because we needed urgent use of the ablutions!

Anyway we were here! Over the course of the next few days and weeks we gradually purchased all the domestic furniture, appliances and homewares to settle in to our new life. We also purchased a second hand Spanish car from a local garage and sent the hire van back. We had learned a few words from the language app Duolingo before we left but it was nowhere near enough to have a conversation in Spanish. We tried hard and through lots of gesturing and use of translation apps we eventually got what we needed to get done. It was difficult though but with hind sight it got us further on than we would have done without the breakdown. Such is life!

We have been here 7 months now and are looking forward to our first Christmas in Spain together. We have 3 grown up kids back in the UK who we are visiting in January for a week to catch up and give pressies etc.

Now we are settled the plan is to build a website to share our experiences and give the benefit of our knowledge gained to others thinking of coming to Spain! These blogs will form the main page of the website and links to useful resources will be added along the way. Onward and upwards!