About Me

My Photo

When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Twinned towns of Alfaz and Albir

Popular Albir promenade
The towns of Alfaz and Albir are probably one of the most popular for UK ex-pats to retire to along the Costa Blanca - they actually come under the same council and Town Hall. Alfaz is probably considered more "Spanish" and residential whereas Albir has that cosmopolitan Mediterranean lifestyle that so appeals to the Brits.

Alfaz, located some 3km outside of Benidorm holds a most unusual record - after London it is home to the largest population of Norwegians outside of Norway! Albir, twinned with Alfaz is certainly becoming a favourite holiday destination for many - culturally and visually about as far removed from Benidorm as you can get despite the close proximity. The Town Hall is responsible for both areas, Alfaz and Albir - the beach bit wedged between Benidorm and Altea and the Mayor in charge is Vicente Arques.

The Mayor himself lives in Alfaz and loves how effortlessly all the different nationalities integrate. As well as the Norwegian community there is also an equal volume of British and Dutch nationals living within the town... and not only retirees, there are plenty of young families leaving the UK as is evident from the many children at the British school, Sierra Bernia in Alfaz. They are currently undergoing a publicity campaign to ensure that all ex-pat nationals are registered on the Town Hall padron, as the council receives funding for each and every one from Central Government. This in turn pays for the local police, healthcare centres and schooling like in every town across Spain and so imperative that whichever municipality you live in you are registered. Many worry that it will have tax implications therefore avoid doing so, but it has nothing at all to do with tax. Ironically I find that often they are the ones who will use the facilities yet moan as they are understaffed - you can´t have it both ways!

Stunning view of Albir from the lighthouse walk
Vicente´s greatest wish would be to "join" Alfaz and Albir by building a bridge - they are divided by the busy N332 (where McDonalds is located) but national roads come under the realm of central government so unlikely to happen. If you enjoy walking, and I don´t mean from bar to bar, then Albir must have some of the most beautiful landscapes within the Costa Blanca. The El Faro lighthouse walk is within the natural park of the Serra Gelada, a protected zone and a very popular pastime, especially at the weekend. The Town Hall restored the building at the bottom of the lighthouse and opened up an information and exhibition centre, which is open in the mornings.

Talking to the Mayor in his office
I met with Vicente and learnt that he has been in politics for 6 years now - prior to which he was the director of a school in Altea. Combined with the fact that he has two young sons himself he has first hand experience of dealing with the trials of parenting. When asked what he felt were his greatest accomplishments in the last 4 years, the opening of the new state of the art Polydeportivo (Sports Centre) came high up on the list, especially as it engaged the youth of the community and gave them numerous sporting opportunities. The track is frequently used by professional sports men and women from overseas, who come to train in the milder Winter climate. The council have certainly been busy as they also opened a brand new police station, built a modern Town Hall extension and also opened up a social centre.

Vicente told me that each day is different and often a challenge, particularly in the current economic climate where funding has been cut. It is not what can be deemed a 9 to 5 job - he is on call and available 24 hours a day. I have often seen him at various presentations and openings in the evening and at weekends. It is not a career path he would encourage his children into he said - having said that he will be standing for re-election again.

Always a fantastic selection of seasonal fruit & veg
Alfaz is home to the Mendoza wine bodega - a family run business where you can take a tour of the vineyards and see the bottling and production plant - definitely worth a visit. The weekly market is held every Friday morning on the road running outside the secondary school, on the approach into the town - just follow the crowds and women pushing shopping trollys! Albir´s weekly market, now open for around 3 years is held on a Sunday and has regenerated the entire area. It is just off the main road running through Albir, on the site of the municipal car park. One unique thing which Albir has is a purpose built cricket green - the Woodbridge Oval and the only one in the vicinity - the next closest is in La Manga.

Alfaz and Albir are both on the number 10 bus route... so hop on and spend a morning there - who knows, it may become your home one day!

Relevant articles
Albir Lighthouse walk

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you would like a reply to your comment please also send it to: info@BenidormAllYearRound.com