Galicia – with a population of around 3 million – boasts three international airports, in La Coruña, Santiago and Vigo. So it’s something of an irony that the I spend so much of my time ferrying visitors from and to Oporto airport, down in northern Portugal. This, of course, is because the Galician airports – possibly out of internecine rivalry – have failed to get their act together with either Ryanair or Easyjet. One wonders if things would be better if the ultra-nationalists got their way and Galicia seceded from the Spanish state. My guess is worse.
Anyway, I went down to Oporto again this morning, taking my younger daughter for her early-ish flight to Liverpool. Crossing the Miño river, which forms the border between Spain and Portugal at the southern end of Galicia, we immediately noticed –and then smelled – the pall of smoke which hangs over the countryside as a result of a recent spate of fires there. Surprisingly, the Miño seemed to act as a barrier, not just to the fires themselves, but also to the aftermath. There was very little smoke and no smell on its northern bank.
I have two major questions about Portugal:-
1. Why can’t they design a car park entrance which allows you to take the ticket out of the machine without the need to at least climb halfway out of your window. If not get out of your care entirely?
2. Why is the gents’ toilet in the airport always closed because someone is (allegedly) cleaning it?
Finally . . . Reader Moscow has answered my query of the other day – about why Spain has progressed so much more than Portugal in the last ten years – with the rejection of any suggestion that it has anything to do with EU transfers. Spain, he says, is simply a richer place. Maybe so. But Britain is richer than Spain and I wonder if there’s any UK city which has seen anywhere near as much investment as Pontevedra has in the last decade. Like doubtless many other cities around the country. So, is Spain a more entrepreneurial and productive place than not only Portugal but also Britain? Not to mention France and Germany, neither of whose per capita income, I suspect, has seen similar growth. If not, where has all the money come from? And is it still legitimate to go on treating Spain as a ‘poor’ country for purposes of EU grants and subsidies?
Tailnote: Here’s the reference for the first chapter of my elder daughter’s second novel, which she describes as “A fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” It’s set in a fictionalized Cuba and several folk have been kind enough to say they enjoyed the first instalment. So, give it a try. And tell her if you like it. An author - well, a novelist at least - needs all the encouragment he or she can get. It's a lonely profession.