Group of European Pensioners from Savings Banks and Financial Institutions

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Index of documents > Euromeetings Magazine > Euromeetings Number 6



THERE are few European regions that offer the fantastic images under the sun of the Mediterranean Sea, offered to us in the south of Spain. The attraction of this landscape is the patrimony left by Arabs and Moors. They not only gave Andalusia its name (Al-Andalus), but, during their 700-year permanence, they also left their culture and civilisation until our days. In Andalusia, the flamenco, bull fights and the sherry are everywhere. Moreover, the Costa del Sol offers, with its 332 days of sun a year, relaxing holidays on the seashore.

 

Because of this, the General Assembly that we hold each year took place in ISDABE, the international residence of Estepona-Andalusia, where the employees of savings banks spend their holidays. This Euromeeting, in the month of May, was attended by 406 people from Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Italy, Germany United Kingdom and, for the very first time, Sweden. Thanks to these annual meetings we can be informed about the work done by our representatives, and find out about the development of our plans. In order to strengthen our demands, it is absolutely necessary to present a decision before the UNESCO in Brussels, because, until now, no authority has worked for the pensioners’ interests.

 

We all know that the way we have taken is very difficult; but we trust that, someday, we will achieve a common European level. That is the reason why we will try to build a social Europe from the bottom, with all our might and a single voice, in order to be able to defend the human rights of pensioners.

 

While the members of the Management Board were having their meeting, the Mayor of Estepona invited those accompanying them to visit the city. Estepona, an old colony, as shown by its archaeological evidence, is a typical coast town from Andalusia. Its winding streets, white houses with iron balconies, and the Plaza de las Flores (Flowers Square), make up the centre of the city. Its beaches are long and beautiful, and the view reaches out to the Gibraltar Rock. We also visited the bull fight place, with its museums and its weekly street market.

 

The German group stayed one more week in Estepona; thus, they were able to participate in the celebrations in honour of San Isidro, the protector of farmworkers. It was a beautiful experience to walk along the streets decorated with palm trees, and to watch the procession with proud riders and music bands attired with traditional costumes.

 

UNICAJA invited us to spend a day in Málaga and in Nerja, visiting the caves. We visited the cathedral in Málaga. Its construction began in the 16th century and it finished in the 18th century. One of the two towers, 'La Manquita', is not finished. The plant of the cathedral is gothic, and the principal facade fas Baroque elements. In the choir are placed 40 images made by Pedro de Mena. The organs were built in the 18th century. In the Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions, they explained to us some ideas about the economy and the traditional lifestyle of the area. Among others, the guilds of fishermen, seamen, millers and vine-growers, were represented in their respective rooms, with their typical tools. The ceramic painted figures on the first floor show us scenes from popular life. In the idyllic patio, the representatives from UNICAJA presented us with Málaga wine and tapas, and they offered presents to the visitors.

 

In the afternoon, we passed by near the Puente de las Águilas, in Maro, in our way to the famous Nerja Caves. This cave, discovered in 1959 by some children playing, is one of the greatest and most important natural monuments of the world. The size of the rooms and its varied formations of stalactites and stalagmites, offer the visitors an incredible view. Undeniably, the peak of this cave is the Sala del Cataclismo, where there is a big group of stalactites and stalagmites of 60 metres of height and 18 metres of diameter. The ornaments of the Sala de los Fantasmas or the Sala de la Cascada are also impressive. Moreover, there are also wall paintings dating from all the prehistoric ages between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, when this cave was inhabited. After this incredible visit, we were able to enjoy a magnificent view from the Balcony of Europe, in Nerja, a viewpoint placed above sea level, on one of the projecting rocks of the coast, with the sierra at its back.

 

In the evening, we attended a show of the Escuela de Arte Ecuestre Costa del Sol. The horse show represents the authentic tradition of the equestrian art in Andalusia. Following a perfect pattern, the ladies and gentlemen perform graciously their jumps, pirouettes and dances. The choreography, the chosen music and the colourful light effects made this show become an unforgettable event.

 

A very tiring, but unforgettable, journey was the day spent in SELWO, a nature park inaugurated in 1999. We started our safari walking, but we rode in jeeps later on. It is an expensive reservation where we could see more than 2,000 animals which live there in semifreeedom. In the Cañón de las Aves we watched different kinds of birds and we obtained some information about them. In the Ruta de la Sabana, we saw antelopes, gazelles, giraffes, zebras and elephants. And in the Ruta de los Valles, tigers, lions, buffaloes and bears. In the lakes, there were hippopotamus and crocodiles. We had lunch in some kind of huts outdoors, and we were surprised by some 'wild and masked' aborigines, who screamed at us. We were lucky; we were able to escape and return safely to ISDABE.

 

Mr. García, from the travel agency of Caja San Fernando, informed in the afternoon a representative of each group about the holiday offers in Spain, and he invited us to have dinner in the 'Cortijo de Cortes', a farm transformed into a restaurant.

 

Sunday was a free day. We could choose between different excursions: Ronda, Mijas or Gibraltar. The German group reserved for the excursion to Ronda. Following a road full of curves, steep slopes, ravines and caves, we arrived at the mountain town. Ronda is situated in the humid and wooded mountain area of 'la Serranía'. The city, built upon a plateau 780 metres above sea level, is divided into two parts by the deep ravine of Guadalevín. The ravine is crossed by three bridges. The most impressive, the Puente Nuevo, has a road that leads to the old city. Walking along its quiet and narrow little streets, you soon get to the Church of Santa María la Mayor, built in 1483, that was originally a mosque. Its minaret was transformed into a bell tower.

 

 

The simple but beautiful City Hall is decorated with a very long gallery on the superior floor. From the House of Don Juan Bosco, with its terraces, balconies and stairs, decorated with flowers, we could see the magnificent Puente Nuevo over the cascades and the houses hanging on the rock. However, the best view is from the street market, from where you can even see the peaks of the Serranía of Ronda.

 

The yacht port of Puerto Banús is situated on the west side of Marbella. With almost 1,000 anchorages, it is one of the mythical symbols of Marbella. A person who does not even own a boat, will have here the chance to admire the luxury yachts of supermillionaires. There is a walkside along the pier, with white houses of Arab-Andalusian style where elegant coffee shops are placed, or restaurants where you can enjoy delicious fish, or distinguished boutiques.

 

Mrs. Luna brightened our warm Spring nights in the terrace of ISDABE with a programme of different shows: music, flamenco and traditional Spanish dances. We could also enjoy delicious 'tapas' and a sherry served very artistically.

 

Mr. José Lidón has been able, one more time, to achieve a very satisfactory organisation of the Euromeeting. The German group wants to thank the Spanish hospitality and the nice stay in Arunda with Mr. Luis Mesa, and the excelent organisation of excursions by Mr. Antonio Luna.

 

See you next year!

 

 

Ruth Rebert and Christa Saia (Düsseldorf)