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Updated: May 2024

Sitges News Update April 2024

Sitges News April 2024

Sitges News Round Up

As ever, Sitges has made the national and international news.

On the positive side, the town is apparently the happiest in Catalonia and the 16th happiest in Spain. This is according to the annual ranking carried out in honour of the international day of happiness (16th March) by YouGov, as reported, for example, by infobae.com. And as for the happiest town in the whole country? We can’t get it out of our heart. Can anyone help, help us? (10 points if you guessed without clicking the link).

Talking of the beach (boys), there is unhappiness in certain quarters about the town hall’s management of the sand situation. It’s a good job the worthy folks at YouGov didn’t talk to the San Sebastià restaurant owners quoted by La Vanguardia (paywall), who see their livelihoods imperilled by the disappearing sand. Apparently, it’s not just that storm Nelson recently washed a lot of it away. It’s that other towns have a more regular and efficient system for dredging sands from ports and river mouths, where it’s not wanted, and dumping it on beaches, where it is. For their part, the town hall state there’s no point spending too much money on this before May and June, when storms traditionally arrive that could undo all their expensive efforts. 

Another source of environmental unease concerns the Autodrom which, as mentioned in a previous article, was one of the first motor racing tracks in the world. As reported, for example, by eixdiari.cat, a new project to develop the area for premium international showjumping events has finally been given the go-ahead, after years of political wrangling. It is envisioned that starting in 2026, Sitges (the Autodrom is officially in Sant Pere de Ribes, but never mind) will become the premier European location for show-jumping in winter, when it’s not practical to continue in the north of Europe.

And what of the unhappiness? Well, local political parties the CUP and Guanyem Sitges have protested the project for environmental reasons, and because urban planning rules have allegedly been ‘modified’ to accommodate the multi million euro investment. By the way, the old track will be preserved for motor events, though these will be corporate style, featuring classic cars, not for motor racing. 

Still on the subject of cars, many media outlets, including escuderia.com, reported that this year’s Classic Car Rally was the best in recent memory, and certainly in terms of the number of participants, which almost reached one hundred.

And staying with transport, the town hall announced the installation of free, secure bicycle parking near the station, in an experimental project via the Benito app. There are currently only 6 spaces, but if successful, the project could be expanded. You use the app on android or iphone to see where there are spaces, and then to secure or unlock your bicycle or electric scooter.

The town hall also announced a free cooking workshop in honour of el dia de Sant Jordi (St George’s day) which is the traditional romantic day for Catalans. Participants will learn how to make 3 recipes: a rose made from strawberries and kiwi; a ‘Sant Jordi Tapa’ consisting of toast with cheese, olive and red pepper; and a St Jordi’s day dragon, made with potato, vegetables, tuna and avocado. Places for the workshop, which takes place on 19th April at the Municipal Market in Catalan, are free but limited. Write to sanitat@sitges.cat or call 938109100.

New to el dia de Sant Jordi in Catalonia? On 23rd April, gentlemen are presented with a book, whilst ladies are given a rose. Some anglo – saxon observers have serious questions about this. Isn’t it insulting? Shouldn’t we be triggered? Well, many a gentlemen has so much still to learn. Why not give it to him clearly set out, in writing? And for many an earnest, harried lady, wisdom is not the problem. It’s learning how to ‘smell the roses’ (definition: to relax; to take time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life). Give a lady a visual clue; she’ll figure the rest out for herself. So you see, we think the Catalans have nailed it. But you can interpret it as you wish…we won’t be offended!

Finally in Sitges, the town hall has announced that young readers (both boys and girls!) from 6-12 years old, who can read a specified list of 8 Catalan children’s books in May, will be rewarded with a ‘super reader’ certificate. The reading marathon takes place in the libraries of Sitges (click the link for how to register). Children will be presented with books to read including ‘Wilf and the Alien Invasion‘ or ‘Did someone Fart?‘ We might just give our kids a rose.

Catalonia News Round Up

As for Catalonia, many outlets carried stories about the ongong water crisis. According to Mundo Deportivo, the region’s reservoirs are still only at 17.6% capacity after the recent rainfall, though this is an improvement on the 15% we reached in February. 

Whilst restrictions are being placed on household consumption of water, it isn’t necessarily your shower, or even your pool, that is the biggest risk to supplies. As Politico reports, Catalonia is not just the region with the longest lasting drought; it’s also the centre of pig farming. In Osona, for example, there are 7 times as many pigs as people. Not only does intensive pig farming use enormous quantities of water; the dumping of their faeces also pollutes ground water with nitrates, so that in places, the levels are 10 times higher than the WHO recommended limit. The Catalan government is planning to restrict the water available for such farming, meaning fewer animals will be produced. Be ready for increases in the price of pork.

Fresh fish may not be the answer either. El Nacional reports that a quarter of traditional fishmongers have closed down in Catalonia since 2016. This, it is suggested, is because of changes in eating habits, a decrease in the percentage of people who eat at home; The constant bureaucratic inspections; the failure to reduce VAT on fish as has been done with other foods; and a lack of consumer knowledge of different species of fish. This trend, which is repeated across Spain, is leaving only packaged fish in supermarkets. which tends to be more expensive. The fishmongers’ unions lament that if things do not change, people across Spain will soon be eating profitable packaged fish from all over the world, to the benefit of international corporations. Instead they should be enjoying a wealth of fresh Mediterranean fish, to the benefit of the local economy and their personal health. 

Catalan news would not be complete without some squabbles with Madrid. As idealista.com reports, one of those spats is on the subject of rent controls. Catalonia introduced these some time back, but theirs were vetoed by Madrid, in part because they wanted to introduce a policy for the whole of Spain (which came into force in February).  As part of the national scheme, home owners put the details of their property into an online portal, and this uses an index to tell them the maximum rent they can charge. Now, the Catalan government wants this system to incorporate its own index for properties in Catalonia, as it considers its own index to be more relevant. 

On the main bone of contention, i.e. the independence subject, many outlets report that former Catalan president Puigdemont, who has been living in self-imposed exile since the unauthorised referendum in 2017, has moved from his temporary home in Waterloo to ‘northern Catalonia’ (AKA the Catalan region of southern France). The reason for his relocation is that he is running to be Catalonia’s president again, in the elections taking place on 12th May. If he wins, he hopes to return without being arrested, due to the amnesty law passed by Pedro Sánchez.

Last time he was in Spain, Puigdemont escaped arrest (and the country), by tricking the helicopter that was chasing him. He swapped cars inside a tunnel. Clearly, the pilots had never watched any one of dozens of Hollywood movies that could have kept them on their guard. Meanwhile, current Catalan president Pere Aragonès has declared that a legal referendum on Catalan independence will eventually be inevitable, as reported by Euractiv

Away from politics, nationalgeographic.com published an interesting article on 6 villages in the Pyrenees of Catalonia that reveal hidden histories of the region. Trips to these beautiful villages will take in a UNESCO Starlight Reserve (one of the best stargazing locations in Europe); volcano hikes; ancient fire festivals; hot springs and medieval churches. 

Spain News Round Up

As far as Spain is concerned, it was widely reported (e.g. in The Telegraph) that an EU commissioner sparked fury by declaring ‘Gibraltar is Spanish’ during a visit with the Spanish government. The fury was not limited to the Brits or Gibraltarians: even Spanish politicians reprimanded commissioner Margaritis Schinas. Perhaps this was because, as reported a few days later (e.g. in the Olive Press), Spain and the UK are close to reaching agreement on a Gibraltar deal, resulting in some kind of shared sovereignty. A sticking point was control of the airport, which is an RAF base, but progress has apparently been made even here.

Staying in the Gibraltar area, globalinitiative.net reports on the killing of 2 police officers in the Cádiz region, as part of the war against drug trafficking in the Straits of Gibraltar. According to the article, Spain is currently experiencing a wave of drugs and violence. 

Elsewhere, surinenglish.com reports that food prices have increased by 38% over the last 3 years in Spain, across all major supermarkets. The two with the highest relative increases, were Alcampo and Carrefour. Although Alcampo remains as one of the cheapest relative to other supermarkets, Carrefour has moved from being one of the cheapest to one of the most expensive in real terms. Not only this, but Carrefour has recently had to recall a popular product because it may cause problems for people with respiratory illness or weakened immune systems. The product in question is Nectar of Bio Firming Serum.

What with all the increases in food prices, it seems Spanish auhorities are keen to ensure visitors from outside the Schengen Area will not go hungry. As reported by the Majorca Daily Bulletin, tourists may be asked to show they have enough money for their stay.

Enough, in this case, means a minimum of exactly 113.40 euros per day. That is to say, the Socialists said 110; the Partido Popular 120; and a selection of Basque & Catalan nationalists, communists, and members of Vox, proposed a set of numbers from 45 to 862. After two weeks of negotiations, three resignations, and various clandestine agreements to support each other in forthcoming elections, 113.40 was proposed as the number that saved the most face for everyone.🤣

Finally, if you are looking for residency, one of your possible avenues to that objective will soon be closed. As widely reported across Spanish and international media (including Politico), Pedro Sánchez has declared his intention to eliminate the Golden Visa law, meaning foreigners will no longer get residency in return for buying property for over €500k. This follows a 2022 declaration by the European Commissioner, in which it was stated that European values are not for sale, and countries were urged to scrap such schemes. 

Here at Sitges for English Speakers, we hope you have enjoyed this overview. Don’t forget our site is packed with useful information. Looking for lawyers, plumbers, electricians, or carpenters that have been recommended by our community? Wondering about which restaurants our long standing residents of Sitges rate highly? Want to know what events are coming up in the town? Looking for information on buses and trains? Want to know about renting or buying property? Or getting your TIE? Or Schools? You will find all this and more on our site. Plus, you can get updates from the site by following our public Facebook page, and you can add your voice to the Sitges conversation by joining our private Facebook community.

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