For the UK delegation, Valencia is one of the easier destinations to get to provided you can put up with the giant Orange experience, better known as EasyJet. I am always impressed with the speed that you are processed at Valencia Airport, even us non-Schengen aliens. Less than five minutes from plane through Immigration to the baggage hall and then an amazing 4 minutes before the bags started to arrive. A record that sets the target for Bucharest to beat in 2011!
Getting into a Taxi I realised that Fernando Alonso had a day off from F1 because he was my taxi driver! Never before have I experienced a Seat taxi be driven at over 160kph and delivering me extremely quickly to the impressive portico of the Sidi Soler (known to some older British alarm manufacturers as the Seedy Sailor) hotel complex. Well worth the 30 for an F1 drive!
The hotel presents a cool, relaxed environment and the greeting from the staff set the tone for the GA.
I missed the reception on the Saturday evening as I arrived too late but later the bar rapidly became the place to renew old acquaintances and meet new people.
Sunday morning Valencia showed us why it is such a popular resort for us Northern Europeans, blue skies and pleasantly warm temperatures and the first chance of the year to enjoy an al-fresco breakfast surrounded by palm trees and singing birds.
Our hosts, ASE, the Spanish Association, had arranged the perfect days for us to relax, enjoy the climate and socialise. After a bus tour of the rice growing fields and some quaint old local houses we entered one of Valencias gems, the Albufera Nature Reserve and its surroundings. And what better way to enjoy its lake and canals than a guided tour by boat, with our excellent local guide, Mercedes. That trip was special from many reasons but two things stand out in my memory; one member had a the longest camera lens I think I have ever seen, but when he showed us the picture of Heron that had taken with it, all was forgiven. Although you did wonder if he could have saved all the effort carrying that heavy lens if he had just waited for the boat to get closer, which it did!
The other memorable moment was the reaction speed of at least four delegates who stopped one of our illustrious Italian colleagues from falling in whilst trying to catch a hat that our General Secretarys wife had thrown to him to stop the sun burning his rather shiny head!
The boat landed us at LEstabliment Restaurant in El Palmar where the reputation of Valencian cuisine was fully upheld. An interesting mixture of seafish, shellfish, eels, snails and more, all washed down with some fine local wines. After lunch we returned to the hotel to drop off those members who needed a siesta after such a good lunch whilst another group took the opportunity to visit the City of Arts and Sciences including the Hemispheric and the Principe Felipe Science Museum.
Monday started with the same al-fresco breakfast, something to remember in the depths of a British Winter when even our birds dont eat breakfast outside. Our Partners then went off for their days activities visiting the World famous Lladr Museum which those members who forgot to hide their partners credit cards will be reminded of everytime they look at the new porcelain in their lounge! This was followed by a visit to the old part of Valencia including: Plaza de la Reina, Plaza de la Virgen, Basilica, Cathedral, El Miguelete, Palacio de las Aguas Ceramics Museum. Rounded off by an excellent lunch at the Oceanogrfico aquarium,.
The delegates, meanwhile,were working hard in the various committees which, apart from a short hiccup over whether we had a quorum because some delegates were involved in more than one committee at the same time, the day passed very quickly and we ended with excellent, informative presentations from the Head of Security of Valencia Port Authority and the Caja Madrid.
A quick wash and brush up an back on the coach to the 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner at the Veles y Vents restaurant at Valencias Port. This futuristic building features a continuous aquarium running around the circular walls so it looks like the fish are watching us rather then the other way round! And what an sight they had to watch. A unique gathering of Euralarms former Presidents demonstrated the breadth and depth of experience that has guided the organisation for 40 successful years. Each former President who spoke added just a little more of the history of Euralarm which everybody appreciated and Tony Lambs wonderfully amusing anecdote about how European standards are created brought the speeches and presentations to a perfect close.
Dinner was excellent and, as the fish raced past our table, we couldnt help thinking of betting on which one would be round first the next time!
All too soon it was time to go back, tired, well fed and happy to be part of such a great organisation.
Sometimes, a plenary session after such a good night can be a bit of let down but not here, a full programme of committee and section reports shows just how many things Euralarm is doing to help our industry everyday. And then all too soon it was time to bid adieu to our friends and head on back to the airport, this time much slower, more likes Alonsos grandfather, and then join that wonderful thing an EasyJet baggage drop queue!
Sitting in the departure lounge we talked about the GA and how well it went, informative, educational, great companionship were just some things mentioned and the we were brought back to reality by something just a few microns thick, Icelandic ash, and a delay to our flight. Even Euralarm cannot solve the ash problem!
Chairman of TC Marketing