Sneak Peek

Spain’s Costa Brava Celebrates 100 Years
Exactly a century ago, local journalist Ferran Agulló, writing about this 1,240-mile stretch of cliff- backed beaches, referred to it as the Costa Brava – the wild coast. To celebrate their new title, the Costa Brava is staging a birthday party through September 2010. Art and photographic exhibitions and concerts highlighting the area’s rich artistic history will last through September 2010. Costa Brava’s four major music festivals will all include special centennial concerts. Eight restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars, and three for Ferran Adrià of El Bulli in Roses. Adrià and fellow Michelin-starred chefs Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Gerona and Jaume Subirós of the restaurant at Hotel Empordà are creating a centennial menu, and restaurants all along the coast will feature traditional dishes from the past 100 years. Contact Valesa if you want to arrange a culinary tour in this lovely area.

UNESCO chooses two new Biosphere Reserves in Spain
UNESCO’s international conservation programme has added two sites in Spain to its World Network of Biosphere Reserves: the island of Fuerteventura and an area covering 11 municipalities in Portugal and Spain. The biosphere of Fuerteventura and part of its offshore waters includes a wide range of ecosystems with a rich diversity of marine species, promoting sustainable ecotourism. Fuerteventura is also an EU model for implementing renewable energy. The other area, the Gerês- Xurés reserve, covers almost 260,000 hectares of territory in Spain and Portugal. It’s a mountainous area between northeastern Portugal and Orense in Galicia, Spain. UNESCO aims for both countries, and their local communities, to benefit from each other’s experience under a joint management plan for sustainable management of the area’s ecosystems. The decision brings the number of Biosphere Reserves up to 40 in Spain.

Lisbon seeks rebirth on the river
Lisbon attracts many tourists, so now developers hope that new river banks will increase tourism. Parts of the Tagus river bank have been closed for years; the goal is to transform this 10 mile-long area into a new, popular leisure spot for Lisbon. The government is building a new international airport and bridge on the south bank, while dozens of other projects already have financing. Column Pier, extending from Commerce Square at the heart of the old city, will be rebuilt. This pier was once the gateway to the city by boat, but became inaccessible over the past decade when Lisbon’s subway network expanded. New projects include museums, residential buildings, a new cruise ship dock, a marina and even a swimming pool complex. Contact Valesa for more information and/or architectural tours of the new works.

Orient-Express Hotels Sells Lapa Palace Hotel, Lisbon
Orient-Express: Owners and managers of 51 luxury hotels, restaurants, tourist trains and river cruise properties operating in 25 countries, sold Lisbon’s Lapa Palace hotel to a private Portuguese investor for $41.8 million USD. Orient-Express Hotels’ President and Chief Executive Officer, Paul White said, “We have previously stated our intention to dispose of non-core assets. Lapa Palace has become one of Europe’s most distinctive hotels but we felt we had developed it and grown our business there as far as we could.”

Chardonnay now an official variety in Rioja
The Riojan government finally authorized a set of new varieties following approval from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture and the Rioja regulatory commission. The new white varieties are Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Verdejo, as well as the native Maturana Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, and Turruntés. The red varieties now incorporated into the latest regulations are the little known Maturana Tinta, Maturana Parda, and Monastel. Major producer Baron de Ley has revealed it will now plant the newly approved red variety Maturana Tinta. Contact Valesa if you want to arrange a private tour in the Rioja of the latest and/or most traditional winemakers in the region.

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