It is always a great pleasure for us to attend as guests the annual meetings for European pensioners and to renew the friendships made over these past 20 years.
The little homemade bags filled with lavender, made by the Portuguese ladies Isabella and Cremilda for Mother’s day was a lovely surprise, as was the XXth Anniversary CD which Alicia put a lot of work and effort into making. We are extremely grateful to the management team for this unforgettable gift.
At the beginning of May, 220 participants from Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, England and Germany met in Fuengirola in the Costa del Sol for this well organised week.
The Euromeeting motto was: Towards an Age-Friendly European Union. In the plenary assembly, speakers from different countries shared their points of view:
-In order to overcome all of the problems we are facing we need to maintain peace in Europe. We need a cross-border policy for all ages.
-“We are all in the same boat”.
-Tackling unemployment, as well as encouraging and educating people of all ages are top priorities.
-Human dignity and individual personality should be maintained and broad participation in social life should be facilitated.
-Family and social ties, as well as volunteer work are an important aspect for the future.
-In order to tackle poverty in old age in Europe private provision schemes are needed.
Henrique de Melo, the Portuguese speaker received a huge applause for his speech. Through the active debate between all participants at the end of the assembly and with the professional support of the interpreters, the different matters were transmitted more effectively.
We discovered that the Spanish Federation had decided to disassociate from the group. We regret this decision, especially because, in 1993 in Brussels, Spain was the initiator and founding member of the European Group.
In 20 years, the Spanish Presidents Francisco Bernabéu, Pepe Lidón, Pepe López, the Italian President Franco Salza and the French president Jean Claude Chrétien have all ran the European Group with both passion and human warmth.
Our current Portuguese President Cândido Vintém and the travel agency Viajes Transvía with the help of Santiago and Amparo carefully organised some wonderful trips.
For our first trip, we were taken to Malaga, one of the capitals of the Andalusian provinces.
From the fortification of the Castle of Gibralfaro, Mount Faro, we had our first glance of the city and its surrounding areas.
On our walk through the old part of the city, walking past the house where Picasso was born, the Roman Theatre and the Alcazaba, we could not help but notice that there were many crosses of red flowers. Religious associations and communities place them over the city for the Festival of the Crosses (3rd May).
Whilst visiting the Cathedral, we discovered that it took more than 250 years to build; however, the building work was never completed. They did not build the second tower, since the money destined for the building work was used to support the Americans in their War of Independence in 1776.
The true masterpiece of the Cathedral is the choir which has attractive stalls with 103 carved statues.
We spent a whole day in Granada. The nicest part of the city was the old district of Albaicín where in its intricate narrow streets and houses we can see the preserved atmosphere of the Moorish Granada. We enjoyed a fantastic view of the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada from there.
We visited the Carthusian Monastery named “La Cartuja”, which was founded in 1516. The inside was designed in the 17th century following a spectacular Baroque style with fantastic frescoes on the ceiling in the nave of the church, as well as many stuccoed decorations and inlaid pieces made from ivory, silver and mahogany wood in the sacristy.
After our delicious meal at hotel “Ma Nazaries” we continued our visit with the stunning Cathedral, the Archbishop’s Palace. The church, which has 5 naves, is one of the country’s most important buildings of the renaissance style. The façade of the “Main Chapel” which is decorated with sculptures, as well as the chapels in the side areas are part of most impressive elements of the church. In the Royal Chapel, which is situated next to the Cathedral, lay the mortal remains of the Spanish king Ferdinand II and queen Isabel of Castile.
The day after, we explored the old part of Marbella with our guide Raffael. We walked around the Plaza de los Naranjos (which means Orange square), where the city hall and the park with the Virgen del Rocío bridge are located. We then arrived at Avenida del Mar (Sea Avenue) where 13 Dali statues were on show.
Walking past the residence and mosque of King Saud we then made our way to Puerto Banús, the exclusive harbour of the rich and famous.
The second full day was in Cordoba, the third most important city for the Muslims after Baghdad and Constantinople. Right in the centre of the city is the most significant monument, the Mosque-Cathedral. As soon as you walk in, one is overwhelmed by this unique and sacred place in all directions. There are over a thousand marble and red and white granite columns which dominate the interior area. Located at the heart of the mosque is a gothic transept which has a main altar made out of marble. The Mihrab, an octagonal niche with a spherical dome carved with shell shapes represents the symbolic doorway, which blew us away. In the same place as the Miranet, you will also find the bell tower. Another treasure of Cordoba is the medieval synagogue from 1315 which is hidden in the complex labyrinth of narrow streets and patios of the Jewish quarters.
We also enjoyed a delicious meal that day at the “Las Palmeras del Caballo Rojo” restaurant. In the afternoon, we visited the oldest wine cellar of Andalusia, the Wine Cellar of Alvear en Montilla. After the guided tour we tasted the delicious wines.
The small town of Frigiliana is situated in the Axarquía region. Thanks to its mild climate, this mountainous area located in the East of Malaga is particularly known for its sweet wines, grapes matured under the sun and sugar canes. In Frigiliana, you can still find typical narrow streets and white houses decorated with flowers, symbolic characteristics of the region. After going up the steep hill, we enjoyed some breath taking views.
From the Balcony of Europe in Nerja, a viewpoint situated at the top of a cliff overlooking the sea, we also enjoyed some wonderful views of the diverse cost.
After a quick stop at the Benalmádena Puerto Marina we made our way to Mijas. During our walk through the picturesque narrow streets of the old town, we arrived at the Museum of Contemporary Art which holds an important exhibition or ceramic work made by Picasso.
There is a small chapel sculptured in the rocks dedicated to the Virgen de la Pena, the patron saint of Mijas. In the olden days, donkeys were used by the inhabitants of Mijas as a means as transport. Nowadays, the donkey taxis are a popular tourist attraction.
We hope that this solidary collaboration in a united Europe will continue for many more years and we will celebrate together the 25th anniversary of this group.
Muito obrigada e Ate logo!
Ruth Rebert and Christa Saia