OUR Group announces the twelfth Euromeeting, that is
going to be held in the Spanish Costa Blanca, in Benidorm (Alicante) from
the 1st to the 8th of April 2006. The accommodation has been booked in the
BALI Hotel, built in 2002 and considered the higher building in Europe
(186 metres). It is a 4 stars hotel located
in the Playa de Poniente (western beach), near the sea, with impressive sights and near the amusement theme park “Terra Mítica”. The hotel has 3 swimming- pools, one for adults, one for children and a big lake with a
special design; it is also provided with an outdoor Jacuzzi, restaurants, cafes and shops. An other attractive facility is the “Fitness Center” (sauna, Jacuzzi, gym, massage area, etc), hairdressers and beauty saloon.
In addition to the interesting outings around the Costa Blanca planned, we are organising a visit to the MARQ Archaeological Museum in Alicante, qualified as the best European Museum in 2004 and, for the closing night, a dinner with a show in the “Benidorm Palace”.
FROM 7th till 14th of May this year, 553 pensioners from European saving banks, banks and related institutions from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Belgium, England, Sweden, Scotland and Germany met in
Islantilla (Huelva), Spain. During the meetings current issues were discussed and after heavy debates the
following aims were decided:
• Preservation of health of the older generation
• Stable and secure pensions
• Achievement of national laws for the social protection of dependent people
• The creation of social-political representations at public health bodies, law-making bodies and public institutions working on the issues related to retired and older people.
Some possibilities to reach these goals could be:
• The cooperation with AGE
• The integration of new associations
• Friendship with other organizations
• Communication at a horizontal level.
The Group announced the creation of a web site in many European languages. This will enable us to get information about the association at any time. Every member is invited to contribute ideas and to forward news in order to configure our group effectively.
The members of the general business meeting have rotationally elected Mr Franco Salza from Italy as the new president of this European Group for a period of 3 years. Mr José López will be its Executive
Vicepresident. The management, secretary and treasury tasks will still take place at Alicante, thanks to the facilities and means provided by Mediterranean Savings Banks.
During the Euromeeting, we received valueable information about the “social
protection of the dependent seniors“ from the various reports of the representatives of the different countries. It is a big challenge to equilibrate the different social systems, whereby appears the question: Which one is the best system and can it be realized in every country? Every year, the variety of the tourist fringe events is not to surpass. Our first excursion led us to the village El Rocio at the northern border of the national park
Coto de Donana. In the Whitsun week, the most famous pilgrimage of Andalusia called Romeria del Rocio takes place here. Approximately 1 million pilgrims were anticipated for the highlight on Sunday.
During the breaks, flamenco groups with music and dance cared for a welcome change open air. To that various Tapas, Sherry and refrigerated drinks were served. The next day we went along huge strawberry plantations and passing several stork nests to Huelva at the left riverbank of the Rio Odiel, where you can find one of the largest mercantile harbours in Spain.
We visited the church Nuestra Senora de la Cinta, which has a roof in the Mudejar style (iberic-arabic) and the statue of the patron saint (Madonna of the sailors). At the southern end of the city, a 34 meter high monument of Columbus from the year 1929 guards the bridge over the river Rio Tinto.
In Land-Rovers we took part in a guided tour through the Donana national park. It belongs to the most important bird protection areas of Europe and has a vast number of ecosystems, among otherthings marshland, dunes and pine woods as well as a wet and dry area. Unfortunately it has not rained in Andalusia for almost one year and the soil was completely dehydrated so that we could not exactly see the variety of the flora and fauna. The historical Palos, where La Rabida –the “cradle of discovery“– is situated, is a typical andalusian village with its white, shining houses. In 1492, Columbus and his three ships went out from here to discover the New World. In the monastery La Rabida he made his travel plans with the help of the Franciscan monks. Queen Isabel la Catolica helped him to realize them. The monastery is one of the most beautiful examples of the Andalusian Mudejar architecture. At close quarters, at the feet of the Ibero-american forum, you can find the Caravels-Pier with the replicas of the discovery ships, which were built on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of America. In the exhibition rooms you can find maps, documents and multimedia boards with information about the ships and captains
Additionally to the fringe events, Viajes Halcon offered two further excursions. During the trip to Seville, the capital of Andalusia, Petrus was not on our side. Rain fell in sheets. Hiding under the umbrella, we arrived at the cathedral, that is one of the largest and richest churches of Christianity. At the northern side of the
dome the weather vane Giralda soars, that is the emblem of Seville visible from far away. Inside of the dome with the five naves, you are impressed by the gothic choir stalls, that is locked by a beautiful lattice. In the southern transept is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Alcazar, that is situated on the southeast side of the Plaza del Triunfo, originally was the castle of the Moorish and later of the Christian kings.
Through a Patio planted with oranges you come into the courtyard of the royal life guards. On the southern side the richly structured main facade of the interior Alcazar. A gorgeous stairway leads to the first floor with the rooms of the catholic kings. The Salon de Embajadores (hall of ambassadors), the oldest and most beautiful hall of the Alcazar, is studded with arabic characters and ornaments and possesses a magnificent stalactite astrodome made of cedar wood. In the east of Alcazar is the pictorial district Santa Cruz, that was the Jewish neighbourhood in arabic times, and is now invites you with flower-decorated squares, alleys and a
number of Patios for shopping. After lunch, we passed the area of the world exhibition EXPO 92 –today used as a high-tech spare time park– and arrived the Spanish Square. It was built of colourful mosaic stones in 1929 on the occasion of ibero-american exhibition. The former tobacco factory, a baroque building constructed in 1757 and known from Bizets “Carmen“, today accommodates lecture rooms of the university. A considerable part of the old city wall is maintained on the northern side of the old town centre.
On the left side of the Puerta Macarena, the Madonna picture of the Virgin of Macarena is enshrined in the basilica with the same name. For very reasonable shopping we went to the Spanish frontier town Ayamonte at
the mouth of the Rio Guadiana. Since 1991, a bridge connects Ayamonte with the Portuguese Villa Real de Santo Antonio. On the market-place we tried palatable port wine. A nice week full of events unfortunately passed by too fast.
Thanks to the excellent planning and organization by our vice president Mr Jose Lopez and his colleagues, we have spent some beautiful days in a first class hotel at the Costa de la Luz at the Atlantic coast of Andalusia.
However, until the next meeting many multifaceted tasks for the well being of the seniors have to be fulfilled. We hope that we will be closer to our goals in the next year. With the help of the motivation and cooperation of everybody we will improve the situation of all pensioners in order to enable them a dignified retirement. With this in mind we remain till the next reunion with best regards and many thanks to the meeting’s organizers.
Ruth Rebert and Christa Saia