Saturday, November 10, 2012

Driving down from Galicia to Lisbon yesterday at a steady 120kph, I was passed by more than 400 Portuguese cars in less than 4 hours. At speeds up to 180kph, or even 200kph. It was like a Spanish autopista of ten years ago. Before the police cracked down, using mobile radar traps. My guess is Portuguese traffic cops have yet to resort to these, even as a revenue exercise. Just think of all the cash foregone at, say 100 euros a time. It could probably bring the Portuguese economy out of the doldrums.

Another odd thing was that the majority of these cars were (black) estate cars. My first thought was that they were travelling salesmen going home for the weekend but the streets of Lisbon suggested the Portuguese as a whole have a love affair with this type of car. Likewise with something at the other end of the spectrum – the two-door Smart Car, of which I've seen dozens in less than two days.

Anyway, I spent 3 hours walking the streets of Lisbon yesterday afternoon. And treating myself to a birthday beer in one of the delightful squares The weather was sunny and warm and the city was surprisingly full of tourists of all hues. With many courtesy of Geriatric Tours or some such organisation. Saga Travel? The Brits, of course, stood out with their clothes of the dullest tones. And the Germans with their quiet opulence. I joined some of them in a trolley-car ride from the lower quarter to the upper quarter and only discovered when getting off that I should have paid when I got on. No longer having British standards, I neglected to mention this to the conductor/driver.

I'm pretty sure this phrase has never before been used in the history of mankind but Lisbon rather reminded me of Ferrol. Both have seen better days; both have buildings of great beauty cheek by jowl with astonishing tat; and . . . both have names of 6 letters.

After a few hours in Lisbon, I set off for the house of my friends in Cascais – a 30 minute journey. Or 60 minutes if you either follow the satnav's directions too diligently or ignore them all together. Suffice to say we had words several times but made up when it had taken me to their door. Or, rather, their Portuguese neighbours' door, as there are two number 97's in the street.

One small problem this weekend is that I have lost my only remaining pair of reading glasses. Well, that's not quite accurate; I reversed over them after they'd fallen off my lap and into the road as I'd got out of the car.

But enough of this trivial froth – of frothy trivia – here's an El País article (in English) on a town in the South which is representative of the sort of thing that used to happen in Spain during the long property boom. It should make interesting reading for anyone who believes the oft-quoted (by estate agents) view that you can rely on a notary and don't need a lawyer.

Finally . . . Here's advice for those who want to cleanse the internet of information that might end up in the files of a would-be-employer, or the like.

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