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Are Spain’s foreign residents going on holiday this summer?

It seems that the Covid-19 pandemic can’t stop foreign residents in Spain from travelling this summer, even if they’re choosing to go closer to home.

Are Spain's foreign residents going on holiday this summer?
The Costa Brava | Michael Cadieux on Unsplash

Spain's foreign residents are cancelling trips back home and foregoing summer holidays abroad to take domestic holidays this summer instead.

After a callout from The Local, numerous foreigners living in Spain explained how they had been forced to change their plans this summer.

While many are worried about local outbreaks, they still believe that their holidays are important and are not prepared to cancel them completely. A few residents have kept their plans to go back home and visit family in places such as the United States, Scotland or Germany, but most people seem to have booked trips within Spain itself.

German national Claudia says “Normally we go to Germany in July or August, but this year we’ve decided to stay in Spain and go on shorter trips nearby. I think if we didn’t have kids, we might be more adventurous, but as it is, we don’t want to risk anything”.

Many Barcelona residents are opting for local trips to the Costa Brava, so that in case the number of cases rise or lockdowns are imposed they aren’t too far from home.

Teacher Nicola Small and her partner have been taking lots of short two or three-night trips around Catalonia instead of one big trip this summer. This idea has been echoed by many other Barcelona residents too.

Several people told The Local they are opting for holidays where they can drive or take land-based public transport as they’re worried about flight cancellations.

Jay Libove has said that he plans to do a Spain road trip this summer, as well as short trips into France. He says “We can’t just ‘not live’, so we have to adapt. We are trying to stay away from places with large populations”.

A deserted beach in Menorca | Photo by Joan Mesquida on Unsplash

Lorna Turnball, who works in hotel marketing, says she doesn’t have any fixed plans, but anywhere she does go will definitely be going by car.

Julie Stephenson was supposed to go on a rally through Africa this year and travel through seven countries, but she has decided to do a car rally through Catalonia instead called Rally Cats, visiting nine of the most beautiful parts of the region.

Another strategy by many foreign residents seems to be waiting until the very last minute to book trips. American Shanon Ashley says “I’ll be going to Mallorca this weekend and planned the trip as recently as last week. I didn’t want to plan too far in advance in case things were cancelled”.

It seems that quite a few foreign residents however have decided not to travel at all in August, when most Spaniards will be travelling, and wait until September instead, hoping to avoid the domestic crowds. British born Dan Shepherd who runs content marketing agency Hubbub Labs is planning on going on a road trip to Asturias in September.

“We’ve decided to drive in case there are any new restrictions or lockdowns, as we’ll be able to drive back home if necessary and we can book last-minute accommodation. We’ll do activities away from others, like hiking in the Picos de Europa.”

George Chilton is another resident planning on heading on a short break this September.

He’s already cancelled trips to the UK and Colombia this year, but is planning on visiting Menorca with his wife and baby.

“I’m concerned that we’ll lose our flights if there’s another lockdown, but we deliberately chose somewhere close and not too expensive for that very reason. We plan to stay as safe as possible and try and enjoy it as much as we can”.

With so many foreign residents opting to stay in Spain this summer, there may be a glimmer of hope for the Spanish tourism industry who will be relying mainly on Spaniards and expats to stay afloat over the next couple of months.

By Esme Fox

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IN IMAGES: Spain’s ‘scrap cathedral’ lives on after creator’s death

For over 60 years, former monk Justo Gallego almost single-handedly built a cathedral out of scrap materials on the outskirts of Madrid. Here is a picture-based ode to his remarkable labour of love.

IN IMAGES: Spain's 'scrap cathedral' lives on after creator's death
File photo taken on August 3, 1999 shows Justo Gallego Martinez, then 73, posing in front of his cathedral. Photo: ERIC CABANIS / AFP

The 96-year-old died over the weekend, but left the unfinished complex in Mejorada del Campo to a charity run by a priest that has vowed to complete his labour of love.

Gallego began the project in 1961 when he was in his mid-30s on land inherited from his family after a bout of tuberculosis forced him to leave an order of Trappist monks.

Today, the “Cathedral of Justo” features a crypt, two cloisters and 12 towers spread over 4,700 square metres (50,600 square feet), although the central dome still does not have a cover.

He used bricks, wood and other material scavenged from old building sites, as well as through donations that began to arrive once the project became better known.

A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A woman prays at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The building’s pillars are made from stacked oil drums while windows have been cobbled and glued together from shards of coloured glass.

“Recycling is fashionable now, but he used it 60 years ago when nobody talked about it,” said Juan Carlos Arroyo, an engineer and architect with engineering firm Calter.

Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid.
Men work at the Cathedral of Justo on November 26, 2021 in Mejorada del Campo, 20km east of Madrid. Photo: (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)

The charity that is taking over the project, “Messengers of Peace”, hired the firm to assess the structural soundness of the building, which lacks a permit.

No blueprint

“The structure has withstood significant weather events throughout its construction,” Arroyo told AFP, predicting it will only need some “small surgical interventions”.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster visited the site in 2009 — when he came to Spain to collect a prize — telling Gallego that he should be the one getting the award, Arroyo added.

Religious murals on a walls of Justo's cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Religious murals on a walls of Justo’s cathedral. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The sturdiness of the project is surprising given that Gallego had no formal training as a builder, and he worked without a blueprint.

In interviews, he repeatedly said that the details for the cathedral were “in his head” and “it all comes from above”.

Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Builders work on the dome of the Cathedral of Justo on November 26th. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

The complex stands in a street called Avenida Antoni Gaudi, named after the architect behind Barcelona’s iconic Sagrada Familia basilica which has been under construction since 1883.

But unlike the Sagrada Familia, the Cathedral of Justo Gallego as it is known is not recognised by the Roman Catholic Church as a place of worship.

Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral's completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
Visit gaze at the stained glass and busts in of the cathedral’s completed sections. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

‘Worth visiting’

Father Angel Garcia Rodriguez, the maverick priest who heads Messengers of Peace, wants to turn Gallego’s building into an inclusive space for all faiths and one that is used to help the poor.

“There are already too many cathedrals and too many churches, that sometimes lack people,” he said.

“It will not be a typical cathedral, but a social centre where people can come to pray or if they are facing difficulties,” he added.

A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
A photo of Justo Gallego Martinez on display at his cathedral following his passing. (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP)
 

Father Angel is famous in Spain for running a restaurant offering meals to the homeless and for running a church in central Madrid where pets are welcome and the faithful can confess via iPad.

Inside the Cathedral of Justo, volunteers continued working on the structure while a steady stream of visitors walked around the grounds admiring the building in the nondescript suburb.

“If the means are put in, especially materials and money, to finish it, then it will be a very beautiful place of worship,” said Ramon Calvo, 74, who was visiting the grounds with friends.

FIND OUT MORE: How to get to Justo’s Cathedral and more amazing images

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