Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The (so called) Battle of Salamanca in 1812 was the beginning of the end for Napoleon and beginning of the rise of Wellington's career. It really should be called the Battle of Arapiles for this, about 10 km south of Salamanca, is where it actually took place. David Jackson provides basic information here and I just want to add that the mistake made by the French commander was to conclude that the cloud of dust behind the “British” lines was the start of a retreat, rather than what it really was - a supply train coming from Salamanca. When he desàtched some of his troops to attack it, he opened up a breach in own lines, allowing Wellington to chuck away the chicken leg he was snacking on and to pronounce - “Gentlemen, the day is ours.” The battle is commemorated in a lovely little museum established in Arapiles through the efforts of a local Spanish scholar. Two or three years ago, he told me the tourism folk in Salamanca wouldn't include it in their literature because they didn't want people to leave the city. Which is a great shame. So, if you're anywhere near Salamanca, go and visit the museum and stand on the exact spot where Wellington was gnawing his chicken leg. If you'd like more details on the battle, click here.

If you were to suggest that Spain's daily horario was, at best, unproductive and, at worst, pretty damn stupid in the 21st. century, I suspect most Spaniards would agree with you. Not that many have a 'midday' zizz these days, leaving me in the minority. Anyway, here's an article on how the crisis has impacted on the Spanish institution of a 3-hour break between 1.30 and 4.30.

The good news – insofar as there is any good news coming out of Spain these days – is that, nationally, tourism so far this summer is 8% up on last year. Here in Galicia, though, hotel occupancy was at a disastrously low 40-45% in early July but has now risen to a less-than-exciting 60%. The detail behind these numbers is that, nationally, the Germans and Brits are coming to Spain's well-known resorts, whereas Galicia is the summer playground of the Spanish. Who are feeling pinched. And unhappy about the cost of petrol in getting here from hotter parts of the country.

Which reminds me . . . There's a bit of a controversy brewing in 'Galicia's answer to Marbella', Sanjenjo/Sanxenxo. An empty block of flats has a large sign on top of it, saying that the flats are available to rent or buy. Also to gypsy families. Given how much Spaniards detest gypsies, this smacks of a certain desperation on the part of the owner. Anyway, there've been allegations that this is racist. Which is odd, as I would have thought one could argue it was the opposite.

Having a drink with a friend down in Veggie Square tonight, I was surprised when she commented on how noisy it was around us. Coming from a Spaniard, this really meant something. And then, suddenly, almost total silence. One of the customer's had bumped into the waitress and a heavy glass ash-tray had smashed on the concrete floor. So, I have my solution. And just need to stock up on ash-trays.

I spoke of God yesterday. Today, I feel obliged to give Him thanks for the lovely ladies of Pontevedra and for their unique way of dressing. If that's the right word. I should also thank Him, I guess, for the eyes with which to observe them.

Finally . . . Whether you have teenagers or not, I think you're going to enjoy this poster, sent to me by my Vigo friends, Anthea and Phil.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

1812?? Aren't you putting the turning point of both men's career a little late? If you absolutely need a symbolic date for such a thing, the 1808 2nd of May Madrid uprising is much more fit for the start of Napoleon's downhill journey; and the Battle of Vimeiro, in the summer of the same year, as the start of Wellington's rise.

Colin said...

Yeah, but you only know this 'cos your friend in Santiago wrote a book about this period.

Opinions differ. So I thought I'd invent one.

Candide said...

Oh, guys, if we go by cause-effect then it's already Nappy's decision to rule over the whole of Europe that announced his downfall.

Don't get me wrong, he was brilliant. Somehow. He was just a bit too greedy.

Ferrolano said...

Uhm, are there any modern day politicos who fit that same bill???

Anonymous said...

Hi Colin,

The last paragraph reminded me of the phrase "Dichosos son los ojos que te ven". My grandfather used to say that to all the young and beautiful women he could. Good taste increases with age.


SF Bay Area

Colin said...

Nice one, Jorge. I will remember that. Or at least try to.

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