Sunday, June 29, 2008
Old article about Noia
The Galician coastal town of NoiaSome time ago I wrote several short articles about places and points of interest in Galicia and published them in various ezines. As I am currently pressed for time and stuck for something to write quickly, this is one of them. It is now 3 or 4 years old.
The holiday town of Noia is located at the foot of the Muros bay in the region of Galicia, just above Portugal, in Northern Spain. It is some 35 km from the historic city of Santiago de Compostela and lies adjacent to the coastal region of Porto do Son, popular with Spanish holiday makers.
Noia started life as a fishing village, but now has a population in excess of 16 000 with many of its inhabitants working in Santiago. During the spring and summer months Noia becomes a thriving holiday town, primarily catering for Spaniards wishing to escape the heat of the Costa’s. In August alone, some eight million Spaniards travel north from cities like Madrid and Barcelona to the more temperate climate of Galicia with its green scenery and spectacular beaches.
Over recent years foreign visitors have started to frequent Galicia, exploring its scenic countryside and visiting cities like Santiago de Compostela and Galicia’s other towns and villages.
What makes Noia worthy of note is not just its location, but its history and appearance. Noia has existed for well over a thousand years and was, for 700 years, the seat of the Archbishop. It has two churches dating back to the eleventh and twelfth centuries and many other ancient buildings in its original mediaeval quarter.
An unfortunate feature of Noia, but one typical of this region, is the constant presence of decrepit old buildings adjacent to well maintained ones. This is the result of the land registration laws, or lack of them, in Galicia. If you can ignore this failing, Noia is an attractive town with many tapas bars, plenty of shops and the feel and atmosphere of a genuine Spanish town. Noia still has a thriving market and the locals speak their own language, Gallego.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Questions re> buying property in Galicia
From time to time I get emails asking specific questions about the housing market and buying property in Galicia. There are a couple of reoccurring questions that come up repeatedly, so here they are with the answers.
Question - What about land grab, is this a big problem in Galicia?
Answer – NO – THIS PROBLEM DOES NOT EXIST IN GALICIA. Land grab, or the supposedly legal acquisition of land and property is specific to certain regions of Spain. There are 17 autonomous regions and each has its own government with significant powers. In a couple of these regions, powers have been given that allow compulsory purchase of land and property for a specific purpose (e.g. low cost local housing). These powers do not exist in Galicia.
Question - Why are house prices in Galicia staying stable and not collapsing like much of southern and central Spain?
Answer – Galicia has never seen inflated and unsustainable rises in real estate values like some other parts of Spain, so there is no levelling out of house prices based on the economy. Equally, Galicia’s housing market has a limited number of foreign buyers, so the absence of these buyers has little effect on demand and consequently prices.
The prices of just about everything in Galicia remain stable, irrespective of what happens elsewhere in Spain. Hopefully this will continue to be true for some time.
Question - Are there good safeguards for foreigners buying property in Galicia?
Answer – Appoint a solicitor (just as you would if you were purchasing a house in your native country) and the buying process will be safe and secure. Gamble on doing everything yourself (without solicitor’s checks) and you may not get what you expect. This is true in every country, so follow the right procedure for this big and important investment.
Question – Are house prices likely to fall in Galicia?
Answer – Probably not, or at least not by very much. But this also takes the risk out of buying because you know that values rarely fall.
Friday, June 20, 2008
I am a big fan of google (a very big fan in fact) and of Microsoft too. Both of these companies get a lot of stick, but generally for doing nothing other than providing a superior service to their inferior competitors – and they get wrongly lampooned for it.
In this instance however I do think that google are being a tad unreasonable.
This requirement, however it is disguised, is aimed at locking email accounts, webmaster accounts and adsense accounts (and no doubt others that I do not have) into the same unified account. It has no benefit to the account holder (or they would do this automatically themselves), so the motivation must be based upon some kind of information collection requirement.
I appreciate that google offer a heck of a lot of service, and at no direct cost. I also appreciate the pure (no commission) exchange rate that they offer on adsense earnings not paid in dollars, but I do object to this uniformity of account holding.
In the email that I received from them today (prompting me to update asap), I was informed that the new account would offer additional services. I just hope that this does not prove to be as disappointing as the so called “enhanced services” offered when blogger requested a similar style (email address only) login a year or too ago.
The result of that was that this blog actually lost half of its text formatting with the update – and those features have never returned.
Still, google remain the best search engine and offer far and away the best advertising formats and returns for advertisers and webmasters alike.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Nothing in particular
It is interesting that, despite all the doom and gloom over the economy and the typical EU manipulation of the pound Stirling to damage the UK’s exchange rate, my European websites seem to be getting more visitors than ever.
It is also a surprise that one of the most popular pages on the Galicia Guide site is the villa rental page, which suggests that many are still booking holidays in the region – perhaps they are from North America!
One feature that have noted with regard to web stats for this particular site, is the more balanced number of searches that find the site.
A couple of years ago there were very few search engine hits for cities and towns like “la Coruna” or “Pontevedra”, most hits came from the global term, Galicia. So these changes must suggest a greater awareness of not just Galicia, but also its provinces and major cities within it.
Final Note – after a very poor early summer, much of Galicia is now enjoying much better weather with sun and some warmer temperatures.
Monday, June 09, 2008
It was made all the more enjoyable by the inclusion of Mark Petchey and (I think) Barry Davies as the commentators, rather than the sickening John Lloyd and gut cringing Andrew Castle.
The latter two of which clearly have some perverse fantasies about Roger Federer and talk about him as if he were some kind of God. At Wimbledon last year I do not know how many times the two of them said, “I love Roger”!
My pleasure at the match’s result, an absolute thrashing of Federer by Nadal (6-1, 6-3, 6-0), was enhanced by Lloyd’s reaction as he did the post match analysis during which he was almost reduced to tears. If I were Roger Federer, I would want some kind of restraining order on Lloyd as his obsession with “Roger” seems far from healthy.
The match itself was a one sided affair and Nadal’s victory never seemed in doubt, particularly as Federer never gave the impression of thinking for one second that he could win.
As ever, the BBC put the result down to Federer playing badly (God forbid that it might be something to do with Rafa’s brilliance), but non-the-less, the gap between them increases and the head to head count becomes (I think) 11 - 6 in Nadal’s favour. Is it possible that all these results mean that Nadal might actually be better than Federer?
Sticking with the tennis (a rare indulgence for me), the women’s event was a big disappointment with Safina knocking out my two favourite females (I mean female tennis players) in Elena Dementieva and Maria Sharapova on route to the final. But the situation was made worse with her final opponent, Ana Ivanovic, being a player who I do not like, so I was unable to support the conqueror of my two favourites.