Monday, November 08, 2010

This month finally sees  the debut in Spain of Martin Sheen’s “The Way”, described by someone as “A lovely, leisurely and often highly moving odyssey in which Sheen plays a bereaved dad walking a pilgrimage across northern Spain with his son's ashes in a metal box.” Click here for a personal invitation from the man himself, who’s of Galician extraction. And here for a bit of media commentary.

Another thing about Spain I’ll probably never understand, however long I live here, is the law relating to the building of property near the sea. Or anywhere, for that matter. Hardly a week goes by without a tale of someone’s house (normally that of a foreigner) being demolished; or that of someone else (normally a Spanish film star) being saved from this fate by retrospective legalisation; or a huge block of urban flats being ordered to be knocked down within a few days, after 20 years of court cases and failed appeals. Both Mark Stucklin over at Spanish Property Insight and the editor of Typically Spanish News have recently gone into print on this subject, with the latter calling for some much-needed common sense. Alas, as he says, there seems little likelihood of this happening while we see so many levels of government having a say, from the local and provincial councils, to the regional administrations, let alone the national government and dear Marta Andreasen at the EU. That’s because the culture of petty party politics still reigns at the local level in Spain, and cases of favouritism, if not outright corruption, remain widespread. If only the order came from [Madrid] to sort out this mess, Spanish tourism and the economy would get the rapid boost it so desperately needs. I fear, though, that no one is showing the needed political will, and I see the EU as the only body which can force a way forward. Possibly but my own view is that effective pressure from Brussels is as unlikely as a local outbreak of common sense. So, folks, the watchwords remain caveat emptor. Especially along the coast.

Anyway, by dint of intensive research, I’ve discovered how to get to Oporto airport without having to spend a minimum of a 77 euros on a toll gadget-plus-fees and/or a detour onto crowded N roads. Available for a fee . .

Someone arrived at my blog today after searching for the ugliest part of Spain. There’s no region less worthy of this accolade than Galicia, in fact, but the much larger issue is  . . . What conceivable reason can there be for such a search? It takes all sorts, I guess.

Finally . . . I discovered today that the curator at the fosa museum normally asks if everyone is happy for his commentary to be in Gallego. So it seem he was doing me a favour by deciding to do it in Spanish for the group I was part of. Now, that’s the sort of linguistic harmony I have absolutely no problem with and am now even more impressed with his diplomacy than I was yesterday. And I’m rather glad now that I didn’t make my joke about demanding a Gallego commentary when I reserved my place on Friday last.

Tailnote for new readers: Excellent news . . . My daughter has now posted the tenth chapter of her new novel, “The Second Death of Juan La Roca”. Set in a fictionalised Cuba, this is “A fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.”. If this entices you, click here.


Alberto MdH said...

Galicia is not the ugliest part of Spain, but Vigo is certainly one of the ugliest cities (We, vigueses work very hard on it) In truth, the landscapes are beautifull, but the architecture fron the 60's onward has been a race to the bottom that has even become a kind of "style": El Feismo Gallego (Galician ugliness) And Vigo is a accumulation of those horrors (San Xenxo also has strived for ugliness but, being a tourist trap, they lack "personality")

That style of building is specially common (and striking) in rural areas and has the same reasons than the legal insecurity of coastal buildings: widespread favouritism and corruption

Colin said...

Thanks, Alberto.

I agree and disagree about Vigo. It has, of course, one of the most magnificent settings in the world but the approach roads to the centre are lined with monstrosities. Some (burned out shells) are quite beyond belief. And the city does have its fair share of ugly flat blocks. But, on theother hands, there are some gorgeous blocks, streets and squares. And I believe they're talking of restoring what casco viejo the city has. Depending on cash, I guess.

The city suffers, of course, from being young and from being denied its proper status by the pijos, funcionarios, politicos and burghers of Pontevedra. This rivalry is age-old, as you'll know. Read Chapter 28 of Borrow's The Bible in Spain, at www.colindavies.netborrowsgalicia.htm

Alberto MdH said...

The restoring of the Casco Viejo started a couple of years ago it's starting to look better but a lot of work remains to be done. But, at the same time, the the city has greenlited Valery Karping's plan to build next to the Casco Viejo and a plan to build massive buildings around the Plaza de España.

Also I think that is wrong to put the blame in Pontevedra. Vigo's economy could have grow more being the provincial capital, but the principal responsibility lays with us, the voters who have tolerated the negligent urban planning and the corruption for so many years.

The worst part is that when someone from outside the city points its deficiencies the response is to attack the messenger and ignore the critics.

Sierra said...

But do the vigueses have the colour-sense of the Lugo apartment-builders?

Ferrolano said...


Ugly cities abound in many parts of Spain and for many, many reasons. The “Casco Viejo” of Ferrol is no exception and all the while that there are people insistent, that no matter what, ALL buildings in the barrio must be restored in the proscribed manner, at a prohibitive cost, then the buildings will be allowed to stand and rot until they completely collapse and the site can then be cleared in favor of a new construction.

Sure, in old Ferrol as in many cities, there are some fine examples of buildings and architecture that are worth saving and must be saved – but others? Let them go and start looking at how to harmonize the new with the old to create a living kaleidoscope of buildings and architecture through the ages. A neighborhood needs to be representative of all styles and people and not just as a museum.

For the buildings that should be saved, there may need to be a less obtrusive and more equitable manner to assist with the cost of modernization and renovation. If for example, wooden windows are required in place of aluminium, have the local authority pay for 100% of the difference – which of course is only the start as wood has a higher maintenance cost than aluminium. Yes, this suggestion may be a recipe to further fraud, but this can be covered – found guilty of fraud and you lose the whole thing as a penalty. A few of those cases will slow down the abuse.

Alberto MdH said...


Even more, look at this:

Also imagine you are a cruiser who has just arrived in Vigo and your first sight in the city is:

Bus driver said...

Colin the film called The Way could be the biggest load of rubbish you will ever watch.
Here is the webiste and if you go the the area about the actual Camino you can see they have got the route very wrong.
Does not say a lot about the film maybe I think.

Maricar said...

Catch the best news update through tn noticias

Search This Blog