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Showing posts from December, 2015

New Year in Sol

Madrid closes iconic Sol metro station to beef up New Year security
The metro station at Puerta del Sol, where thousands of people gather every year to welcome in the New Year, will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. 

Madrid’s regional government confirmed on Wednesday that the underground station would be closed between 9pm and 12.30am on Wednesday 30th December and  from 9pm on Thursday 31st because of New Year's Eve preparations.

Trains will pass through Sol station but will not stop. The closure will affect metro lines 1, 2 and 3. Those wishing to reach Sol are advised toget off at nearby metros such as Tirso de Molina on Line 1, Opera on Line 2 and 5 or Callao on Lines 3 and 5.

 Sol metro station will also open later than usual - at 7am - on January 1st.

The closure has been ordered by Madrid’s police in a bid to limit overcrowding in Madrid’s busiest and most iconic meeting place, where every year, thousands of people gather to welcome in the New Year and…

Boxing day

Why is Boxing Day called Boxing Day?
Boxing Day: a time for napping, playing with all the toys you got your hands on at Christmas, and stubbornly refusingto change out of your pyjamas unless there’s a major sale involved.

But what is Boxing Day, other than a day when trains are crap and shops are packed? And how did it get its name?

So. The very, very basics: Boxing Day is the day after Christmas – December 26, celebrated in the UK.

It’s a bank holiday, so banks are closed, shops open later, and public transport definitely isn’t reliable. There are also loads of post-Christmas sales.

Boxing Day’s history and origins are actually fairly contested, as no one is certain of how it got its name.

Some theorise that the name Boxing Day comes from the post-Christmas tradition of churches leaving a box outside their doors to collect money for the less fortunate, while others believe it’s to do with ships, when those aboard would open a box of money to give to a priestin aid of the poor.

But t…

Spain's demographic problems

Deaths outnumber births in Spain
Recession and high unemployment have encouraged many citizens to (1)seek/search/look better prospects abroad
Spain, long concerned (2)for/of/about its ageing population and emptying countryside, has passed a milestone in population decline, recording more deaths than births in the first half of this year.

Deaths exceeded births by more than 19,000 in the first half of 2015, a turnaround from a year earlier when there were nearly 4,000 more births than deaths, the National Statistics Institute (INE) said.

Spain has not consistently experienced more deaths than births since its 1936-39 civil war or the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, according tonews reports. Deaths (3)shortly/briefly/quickly exceeded births in early 1999, but demographers considered that a blip, while now they see it as the start of a longer trend.

The INE predicted last year that a trend of more deaths than births would begin in 2015 and the gap would continue to widen until 2062. It said t…

Lottery calculations

What are your mathematical chances of winning Spain’s Christmas lottery?
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no point standing in line at La Manolita lottery seller
For generations, Christmas in Spain has been inextricably linked to a lottery known as El Gordo (literally, The Fat One) because of its large prizes.

For a few hours on the morning of December 22, millions of people throughout the countrytune in to the radio or television to hear students from San Ildefonso school – a former orphanage – sing out the winning numbers. Images of winners uncorking champagne bottles and tearfullyembracing one another get airedfor days afterwards.

In terms of brand recognition, few companies can compete with the Spanish Christmas lottery, which has been held since the early 19th century.

Besides paying out more than any of the other state lotteries organized throughout the year, the Gordo is pickedaccording to a different mathematical formula.

All the other lotteries are chosen by selecting a num…

Flat or house?

Spain: A nation where two-thirds of population are flat-dwellers
More Spaniards live in apartments than anyone else in Europe, but why do they seem to favour flats over houses?
Spain has the highest proportion of flat-dwellers in Europe and the lowest percentage of people living in houses, according to a new report by Eurostat.

The latest figures on European housing reveal that two out of three Spaniards live in a flat, while in countries such as Britain, Croatia and Norway, more than 80 percent of people live in houses.

Flats are also a popular form of accommodation in Latvia - where 65 percent of the population live in a flat - Lithuania (58 percent) and Greece (57 percent).

But unlike their flat-dwelling European cousins, most Spaniards own their own homes - 80 percent own while only 20 percent rent. They just prefer those homes to be flats and not houses.

Six out of ten Europeans live in houses, so why do Spaniards prefer flats? One answer is that Spain is a heavily urbanized soci…