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'Surprise' in Spanish Oscars

The Goya Awards, Spain's version of the Oscars, took place in Madrid at the weekend and many commentators have expressed their surprise at the recipient of the winning film.

La Soledad, a small independent film, beat off competitors to win best picture - last year won by Volver starring Penelope Cruz - while Jose Luis Torrijo also picked up a best actor accolade for his performance as Pedro in the movie.

The film also bagged a best director award for the work of Jaime Rosales.

"This is a historic moment for Spanish cinema, because never before has such a strange and radical movie won the award," Rosales commented.

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"Rare" map comes home to Spain

A rare map dating back to the 15th century was today returned to the Spanish government.

Last year the 526-year-old map which is based on work by ancient astronomer and geographer Claudius Ptolemy in his influential atlas Cosmographia was stolen from Spain's National Library in Madrid.

Now those taking Spanish holidays can see the map in its rightful home.

"This remarkable map has had a profound influence on how we understand geography today.

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Spain offers 'better quality of life'

An extended Spanish holiday could be just what the doctor ordered for British consumers fed up with public services, education and the weather, according to one commentator.

Spain has been included in a list of top scoring countries in a quality of life index compiled by NatWest.

The bank's IPB Quality of Life Index placed Spain at seventh in the list of ten countries rated by expats who surveyed it on factors such as quality of life experience including housing, public services, weather and the natural environment and other lifestyle indicators.

"The chance to work or retire abroad to a place in the sun has long been a desire for many Brits and it is interesting to note for those considering the move to wider shores that the grass can indeed be greener on the other side," observed Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

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Brits passport problems exposed

Britons looking to take flights to La Manga for Spanish holidays should endeavour to keep their passports safe after the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) revealed the top ten passport disasters as noted by their staff.

The advice comes as the IPS urges travellers to check their passports well in advance of booking their Spanish holidays as changes being introduced mean that first-time adult passport seekers may have to wait up to six weeks for their passport.

According to the IPS, more than 225,000 passport-holders reported their British passports lost or damaged in 2007.

"Without a valid passport, you run the risk of missing out on your trip abroad, or having to waste time and money organising a replacement," Home Office minister Meg Hillier advised.

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Madrid Olympics would 'boost Spain'

Madrid is a city that is growing in popularity among international tourists taking flights to Spain for Spanish holidays, it has been reported.

Meanwhile, Mercedes Coghen has claimed that if Madrid wins its 2016 Olympic bid, hosting the Games could help Spain to become the world's most popular holiday destination.

She added that Madrid would become a "must visit" city as tourism is at the heart of the Spanish economy.

"Hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games would provide a perfect platform on which to build Madrid's international profile as one of the world's top holiday destinations," the bid leader enthused at the International Tourism Trade Fair in the city.

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Flooded family flee to Spain

A couple from Covingham in the UK were forced to flee the wet weather of England and relocate on an extended Spanish holiday after their stationery business went under - under water during the July 2007 floods.

The Wiltshire couple took flights to Spain after their home - from which they ran their business - was flooded by four feet of water.

Andy and Linda Voaden took flights to Alicante before heading to their holiday home in La Zenia after they decided they could not run their business from a hotel room.

"We were lucky to be able to come here.

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Murcia is "up and coming city"

"Intelligent" investors would do well to book their flights to Murcia in order to take a look at what the city offers, according to one commentator.

According to BuyAssociation, the "intelligent" investors looking at Spain are likely to be focusing their attention on Murcia, which it describes as an "up and coming city".

Paul Collins, property editor at BuyAssociation added that the city is gaining importance thanks to its new international airport, which allows more Britons to take flights to Murcia.

He added that Spain is likely to always be a favourite among British holidaymakers.

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Traditional honeymooners opt for beach

The months of January and February may see spikes in bookings of flights to La Manga and flights to Murcia, after it was reported that beach holidays are still popular among those taking traditional honeymoons.

Hitched.co.uk reports that while the "world is your oyster" paradise destinations and beach locations are still enjoyed by conventional couples on their honeymoons.

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Tennis at La Manga Club

La Manga Club was recently named as the "best" choice of Spanish holidays for "sporty types".

According to the Telegraph, the resort is only 30 minutes drive away from Murcia airport and caters to adults as well as children wishing to improve their skills in tennis at its "excellent" tennis centre.

As well as attracting famous footballers and golfers, La Manga Club is frequented by many tennis stars and is the winter training base for the Lawn Tennis Association.

The Lawn Tennis Association is the governing body of tennis in the UK.

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Honeymooners told to 'book early'

British couples looking to marry and then take their honeymoon overseas have been advised that it is better to book early in terms of bagging the best deals.

In order to guarantee availability for a honeymoon, Francesca Moore, spokesperson for hitched.co.uk, reported that it is best to book travel roughly 11 months in advance.

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