Granada Gang Accused of €3.5 Million Ticket Scam at Alhambra Reply

Alhambra tourists Granada

Did the Alhambra seem unduly crowded last time you were there? Public prosecutors want the 45 defendants to pay Granada tourist site €6.6m in damages

Valme Cortés writes for El Pais in English: Public prosecutors say that between 2002 and 2005, a 45-strong network of tour guides, hoteliers, travel agents, and monument employees made around €3.5 million from selling entrance tickets to the Alhambra palace in Granada.

The alleged scam involved hoteliers and travel agents taking the money for entry tickets from groups of tourists, and then cutting a deal with staff at the Moorish complex, one of Spain’s most-visited historical sites, who would let them in, either without tickets or using forgeries. After a 10-year investigation, public prosecutors are calling for prison sentences of between four and nine years, along with heavy fines, for the accused.


Senior Home Swaps? Social Network Seeks to Help Seniors Travel Reply

senior residential swaps

CTV–Conventional wisdom would hold that a move into a retirement home means that a pensioner’s days of adventure are over. But a new social network in Slovenia wants to change that and make globetrotting easier for older folk with wanderlust who want — or need — the services of a specialized residence for seniors. “Once the opportunity arose, I quickly decided I wanted to go to Spain,” said Jozica Kucera, a 77-year-old widow from Slovenia. In late July, she swapped her room in a retirement home in the northern city of Topolsica to spend a week at a similar facility in Mataro, a Mediterranean beach town near Barcelona.

She speaks no Spanish, though has German and some English “but we’ll find a way,” Kucera told AFP before leaving. “I’m not afraid at all. I wonder how elderly people live there.” Travelling in the opposite direction was Miquel Ribas, an 82-year-old Spaniard who stayed in Kucera’s room while she occupied his.


Spanish Filmmaker David Trueba’s Oscar Race Begins Reply

Vivir Facil cast

La–Los Angeles, Oct 17 (EFE).- The movie “Vivir es facil con los ojos cerrados” (Living is Easy with Eyes Closed, 2013) opened the 20th edition of the Recent Spanish Cinema festival in Los Angeles, a showcase of Spanish film and which marked the start of the Oscar race for the film by director David Trueba. It is among the 83 contenders for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards contest which officially kicked off Monday with winners announced on February 22 next year.

“It is always a mess. It’s better to be inside than outside, its like the World Cup final, its better to play it than watch it on TV,” Trueba told Efe Thursday on the red carpet outside Hollywood’s iconic Egyptian Theater just 500 meters (500 yards) from the Dolby theater where the golden statuettes are presented every year.


Paris Picasso Museum to Open After Renovation Process Reply

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso once said, “Give me a museum and I’ll fill it.”–That wager has been frustrated in Paris for five years due to repeated delays, infighting and controversy. The renovation of one of the world’s largest collections of one of the 20th century’s most prolific and influential artists which should have been completed long ago will finally see the light of day. The long-awaited reopening, which has already been pushed back twice already in the past 12 months, is finally ready for unveiling  on the October 25, the birthday of the legendary Spanish artist. He was born in 1881 in Malaga, Spain, and spent most of his adult life in France before his death in 1973.


Spanish Lawmakers to Vote on Palestine Statehood Reply

Spanish parliament Madrid

The Spanish parliament will reportedly vote on recognizing Palestine as a sovereign state.–According to media reports on Thursday, the move by the Spanish parliament comes nearly a week after British lawmakers voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state. On October 13, the British Members of Parliament voted in favor of the motion with a majority of 274 to 12 after a six-hour debate.

Throughout the debate, the plight of the Palestinians was reportedly highlighted by many MPs. Meanwhile, the UK ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, said public sentiment in Britain and around the world has shifted against Israel following its recent 50-day onslaught on the Gaza Strip.


World’s First Flamenco University to Open in Madrid Reply

Bailaora flamenca Spain

El Paí–On a sweltering late August afternoon in the center of Madrid, workers are putting the finishing touches to what will be the first educational institution anywhere to offer an undergraduate program in that most Spanish of art forms, flamenco. Uflamenco, or the University of Flamenco, has taken more than a decade to get off the ground, explains Antonio Suárez Salazar, the 59-year-old cantaor, or singer, better known as Guadiana, as he leads us into the welcome cool of the four-story building that in October will open its doors to around 400 students of flamenco dance, singing and guitar from around the world.

Waiting for us inside is Pepe Habichuela, one of Spain’s finest contemporary flamenco guitarists, and patriarch of the Carmona family, from which sprang the three members of the now-defunct group Ketama, which played a lead role in reviving and popularizing flamenco three decades ago.


How Spain Got the World’s Highest Concentration of Elevators Reply

Elevator record Spain–When you think about Spain, the first thing that pops into mind is undoubtedly one word: Elevators. No? Well, maybe it should be. Compared to other countries, Spain’s elevator supply looks remarkably, well, elevated.

At face value, there’s a pretty simple reason why. Spaniards are some of the world’s pre-eminent apartment-dwellers. In 2012, roughly 65% of the population lived in apartment buildings, much higher than the euro-area average of 46%. (The only other European countries that compare to Spain in terms of apartment-living are Latvia and Estonia, which are both also around 65%.)


Spanish Comedy Club Uses Facial Recognition to Charge by the Laugh Reply

Teatreneu Barcelona

Big Brother is Watching you Giggle

Ross Miller writes for The–A comedy club in Barcelona is charging patrons per laugh. This is real, according to the BBC. The Teatreneu club, in partnership with ad agency The Cyranos McCann, has installed tablets on the back of each seat equipped with facial recognition software that can apparently detect when you laugh. The going rate is 0.30 Euros ($0.38) per laugh, up to a maximum of 24 Euros ($30.45). In other words, buy 80 laughs and the rest are free.

The system was reportedly intended to be used as an experiment / case study and then successfully raised the average ticket price. It is now, again according to the BBC, being “copied in other theaters around Spain.” (I repeat out of incredulity, not mistrust: Europa Press covered the debut in April.) This is the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in a comedy club, and let me be clear, comedy clubs aren’t pretty places.


Arizona Rescue Group Helps Save Horses, History Reply

Monero mustangs

This story is only marginally related to Spain, as it was the Spanish who introduced horses to the Americas, but we liked it and hope you will, too.

Text and photos by Jeannie Applegate for the Green Valley News–A rescue group south of Green Valley, Arizona is helping save some special Mustangs, and could be preserving history as well. In July, seven mares and their seven foals arrived at Equine Voices Rescue & Sanctuary. The horses, known as Monero Mustangs, are part of a herd of about 130 that recently lost their protected rangeland home in New Mexico and were in danger of going to slaughter. The Monero Mustangs are direct descendents of America’s most historic mustangs, including Spanish horses, Indian ponies and early cavalry mounts that once roamed the American West in great numbers.


Human Towers of Tarragona – In Pictures Reply

Human tower Tarragona

Team members climb over one another to add further layers to their tower during the 25th edition of the Contest Castells, which is held every two years.

The–The tradition of building human towers, or castells, dates back to the 18th century and takes place at festivals in Catalonia, where teams – ‘colles’ – compete to build the tallest and most complex towers.

A castell is considered successful when it is loaded and unloaded without falling apart. The highest castell on record was a 10 floor structure with three people in each floor.