Well, I'm in Irún tonight. That wasn't the plan. But only because I didn't really have a plan, thinking I might drive a couple of hours into France, rather than stop here on the border.
But it was a good decision as I was pretty whacked, having added an hour to my trip from Pontevedra by taking a short cut I'd never used before. And won't be using again. I've passed Irún many times, normally at around 120kph, and had never seen anything of this Basque border town.
Anyway, I drove towards the centre of town but was forced down a side street by the cop putting up a Road Closed sign and, miraculously, found a parking space almost immediately. What I didn't notice – there being none of these in Pontevedra - was that
it was a Pay Zone. So, blissfully unaware, I sauntered off to do a bit of shopping and to take a glass of wine in a nearby bar. This wasn't the smartest bar I've ever been in and the beaker of (allegedly) Rioja wine I was given was surely the roughest I've ever experienced. Almost two hours later, my throat is still sore. It cost 90 cents – less than half of what it normally is – and my guess is that the bottle it came from cost less than this.
Walking back to the car, it struck me, firstly, that there was Residents Only parking in the streets I was passing through and, secondly, that I'd earlier asked for directions from a traffic warden. So, it was quite a surprise – and a huge relief – that there was no ticket on my windscreen.
Then it was off to a Pensión just along from my parked car. Having rung the bell of a flat on the floor below the pension – I thought it was a light – I made my way into the place and got myself a room for the night. Foolishly, I asked mein host – dressed in a vest and shorts – if he could recommend a restaurant and he spent the next fifteen minutes doing exactly that. For about ten places. Which I pretended to mark on the street map he'd given me.
Someone told me years ago that Basques have a different physical appearance from other Iberians. In particular a square head. As a result, I'm unable to stop myself staring at everyone who comes into my purview, to check this out. Thank God it's getting dark.
Well, it's getting on for 9 and so the restaurants will be opening soon. You never know, I might stumble upon one of those recommended by the Pensión owner.
I'll sign off with the news that a police chief has been arrested in connection with the Vendex case and that someone has pointed the investigating magistrate in the direction of regular payments to politicians in the provincial government.
Oh, and there appears to have been a riot in Madrid Monday night. Or, putting this another way, the riot police fired rubber bullets at people protesting about the budgetary cuts. Have the Spanish finally decided to revolt? One could hardly blame them, given what they're reading in their papers every day about politicians and businessmen lining their pockets. Something which they've traditionally shrugged their shoulders at. But which may now be rather less acceptable. I guess it's even possible that an entire political class may end up in gaol. Depending on how corrupt - if at all - the judiciary is.