Friday, January 11, 2013

My experience with the Ferrol Parador continued to disappoint. Checking in with a member of the Adams family, I felt there was a smell of death about the place. But my friend Richard told me later it'd been reprieved and only the restaurant would now be closing. The promised seascape turned out to be a view of the car-park but my disappointment at this was tempered by the realisation that there's no view of the sea from any room. Only of the naval dockyards. For which I certainly didn't need the binoculars I'd bought.

I've mentioned a time or two that a gaggle of Brits came down to Galicia in the 6th century and settled in an area around Mondoñedo and Bretoña in the north of Lugo province. There's not much trace of them now. Well, none, to be exact. Though there is an English Virgin statue of Mary in the cathedral of Mondoñedo. Which is large for the size of the surrounding town. As well as sombre and bloody cold. However, this statue appears to be one that was rescued from the profane hands of Henry VIII's iconoclasts and has nowt to do with earlier Brits. But I digress . . . Bretoña lies 20km up the hillside from Mondoñedo and, if the place is at all aware of its intriguing origins, it hides this well. There are signs for “The Church of Bretoña” but, as this seems to be made out of breeze blocks, I wouldn't recommend a trip to see it. In fact, I wouldn't bother making a trip to Bretoña at all, as it's a particularly unprepossessing town-let. Mondoñedo, though, has the cathedral – with its museum (also bloody cold) – and a famous tart, so might justify a short stop on the way up the Cathedrals Beach or en route to Los Picos de Europa or Santander, Bilbao, etc. By 'tart' I mean pastry, of course.

I can't say I was too surprised to read today that the Spanish are the biggest users of smartphones in Europe. I imagine they'd also walk away with the accolade for biggest users of smartphones while driving a car. Just imagine what the situation would be if they weren't constrained by “not having the best networks, the fastest connections nor the cheapest tariffs.”

So, who would you say was the head honcho in Europe? Who's the person who gets things done? Who saved the euro from meltdown last July (in time for the August holidays)? Well, it's Mario Draghi, head of the ECB, of course. Whether he should be is another question and Peter Lavelle of IberoSphere goes into it here. It's a less than ideal situation he says, and “insofar as Draghi is a central banker, this is deeply undemocratic. And he’s obviously unable to deal with the myriad of problems in the Eurozone, not least the unemployment crisis. Yet, so long as the Eurozone remains this half-formed thing, it’s easy to see the situation enduring. Officially, Draghi will continue to set interest rates, which will influence both the cost of borrowing and the value of the euro, as always.” It's a rum state of affairs.

Finally . . .

Today's Good news.

- Guy Hedgecoe of IberoSphere advises that “History was made this week in Spain. For the first time that anyone can seem to remember, a political party admitted to corrupt practices. So the admission of guilt was welcome at a time when corruption seems to have become such an endemic part of Spanish politics.” But it wasn't all good news. Click here for the full story.

- It you take toll roads now in Spain, you're unlikely to be bothered much by other drivers, many of whom have decided to economise and take the old N roads. The companies who run the roads are screaming in agony but no one cares about them.

- The mayor of Madrid has said 'The buck stops here" as regards responsibility for 5 people being killed in a stampede in a city disco which took a cavalier view of safety regulations. She didn't mean her own desk, of course, but that of her deputy. Who's been  pushed onto his sword. She'd never entertained the thought of resigning herself, she said. She is, by the way, the wife of ex-President Aznar. Which appears to have been her only qualification for the job.

P. S. Apologies for the duplicated para in last night's post. I must have copied and pasted rather than cut and pasted. It's a technological bear trap out there.


Sierra said...

Hopefully they will finish the gap in the A8 by-passing the descent into Mondoñedo. There always seems to be a traffic accident on that stretch of road whenever I pass.

Lenox said...

Down this way they are generally known as 'a giggle of Brits'.

Colin said...

@Sierra. Yes, it's a daunting stretch. My worst experience was driving up it in a thick fog. One plus of driving up to Bretoña is that you pass the engineering works on a huge viaduct which will carry a part of the unfinished A8 stretch. Mind you, there was no one working there, which might or might not be significant,