Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain.
Life in Spain 1:-
- Tax amnesties here are never what they're claimed to be. They're essentially a trap and there's always some 'small print' designed to catch and penalise people who think they're regularising their tax affairs without penalty. Often - if not always - they'll face a fine of some sort. Eventually. For: 89% of those who sought an amnesty over their foreign holdings back in 2012, have still not been audited by the the Tax Office, La Hacienda. Painful but at least slow. With luck you might die before you get done.
- HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas who tells us of an article in El Ideal reporting that what we foreign residents like are; the food, the street life, the buen rollo; the climate; and the people. What we don't like are: the bureaucracy; the lack of initiative; the low salaries; and the poor spoken English. No comment from me, except that I couldn't care less about the level of English. Though, yes, it is something that at least the President should be better at.
- I've got this note of a quote from someone but I can't recall who: Except when you're a victim of it, the Spanish justice system seems to be a bit of a joke. Possibly a Spaniard with experience of it.
- Second HT to Lenox for this NYT laudatory article on Spain's healthcare system.
Life in Spain 2: Moans:-
- I'm still finding it impossible to access the site of the Spanish national rail operator, Renfe. So I wasn't surprised to see that renfe.com is rated 1.0 out of 5. And that someone had posted on Tripadvisor: It’s the most dysfunctional website I’ve ever used. Fortunately, one can get train times from the Corte Inglés site.
- Corporate Spain seems to me to show a lack of concern about their customers having to waste time to get things done. So it is that today I will be making my 3rd visit to Banco Pastor/Popular to close my account and withdraw the cash in it.
- Another case in point . . . Having moved banks, I've had to change all my direct debits. Doing this with Telefónica(Movistar) yesterday, I was told that the current bill - due June 1 – was in process and couldn't be stopped. After Pastor has rejected it, I have to go to the Post Office and pay the bill there. Even more irritating than this were the dogged attempts by the employee to sell me:- 1. A new package which would raise my bill, and 2. A second mobile phone. In the end, I had to put down the phone to stop the spiel. And then there was the bloody machine follow-up call asking me to rate the service! As I've been saying for years, I'm not sure Telefónica really understands the concept of customer orientation. They just play at it, using IT technology but retaining monopolistic corporate attitudes.
- The issue of a high speed train from La Coruña right down to Lisbon has been resurrected, after Le Crisis killed it years ago. I can't imagine it'll be operating before 2040. If ever.
- Six years after the Galician government announced it was going to coordinate the development of our 3 suboptimal airports, it has now admitted that localism has totally prevented this and that the relevant 3 cities continue to engage in subsidy battles that are doing the region no favours at all.
- On the day I was witness to a near collision between 2 drivers each in the wrong lane on a roundabout/circle, I read that the new turborotondas - which have lanes painted on them - have significantly reduced the accident rate. We need more of them.
- I daily watch 'pilgrims' enter Pontevedra's old quarter via the Portuguese Gate and then - for the most part - turn immediately left down the camino to leave the city across Burgo bridge. Meaning they don't see the gem of our old quarter. About which I am rather ambivalent. I often give pilgrims a (free) tour of our wonderful casco viejo but I'm not sure I really want more tourists there.
Finally . . . You have to laugh . . . Donald Trump – quite possibly the most divisive politician in world history – has complained that current developments show that “We’re not together as a country.” Nowt to do with him, it seems.