Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 25.7.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Note: Yesterday I made one of my periodic trips to the lively city of Oporto, primarily to lunch with Lenox Napier – of Business Over Tapas – and his partner Loli. My write-up is at the end of this post. 

Life in Spain:-
  • Here's The Local's list of architectural wonders here in Spain. Modern ones anyway.
  • And here's Don Quijones on the Madrid-Barcelona financial stand-off.
  • My daughter in Madrid sent me this foto of a building there and asked if I could guess what it had originally been, according to an old chap who'd lived there and chatted to her about it. I did, successfully. But, in all honesty, it's not hard to do:-

I say it's not hard to guess what it was but my lovely neighbour, Ester, has just come to take more of my lemons and her first thought was that it was a convent . . . . 'because of the bars on the window'.

Some more Spanish idioms, kindly supplied by reader María. (That narrows it down . . .):-
  • Another saying for not mixing up things: No mezcles churras con merinas. These are different breeds of sheep, apparently one more pricey than the other.
  • And for an old maid: Se quedó para vestir santos. Because it used to be spinsters who had the job of dressing the images of the saints in the churches.
Nutters Corner: I can do no better that to cite this page. And this imbecile was a Congresswoman. The one who believes a prayer meeting in New York brought Trump into power.

Today's cartoon:-

I made it! I made it! I'm into the quarter-finals!


Arrived at Valença station at 8.15 for the 9.11 train. Bought a ticket, after deciding not to go with the 8.35 train about to leave. With time to kill before the 9.11 train (Is it too Anglo to ask Why not 9.10??), I hied to a nearby café, as neither the staion café nor its Gin Room were open. There were 4 customers already there but the silence was quite deafening. There was actually a (single!) TV on in the corner but the volume was so low it could hardly be heard. 

I perused the local paper and discovered that, though airline passengers and businesses are flowing in ever-increasing numbers from Galicia to Northern Portugal, at least one thing is going in the opposite direction – nudists. Not many naturist beaches south of the border, it seems.

Flicking the paper, I was rather taken aback to see 2 whole pages of ads for prostitutes in North Portugal's various towns. These appear in Spanish papers as well, of course, but in the Portuguese case most are accompanied by fotos. And they aren't of the ladies faces.

The train from Valença left on time at 9.11 but stopped almost immediately at an unscheduled station, apparently to let pass a train coming from the other direction. Single track?? So, by the time we got to the first proper station, we were already 12 minutes late. But the 120km (very pretty) trip takes 2.5 hours, so there was plenty of time to make this up.

When I asked the ticket collector if he spoke English, he gave the standard Iberian reply: “Only a little”. In Spain, this is almost invariably accurate but, in fact, he spoke excellent English and was most charming in answering my query about the return train and in wishing me a good trip, with a pat on the shoulder.

In the end, it was a strange trip. We stopped for 15 minutes in Barcelos and then we were moved to another train which was said to be leaving earlier for Oporto. This new train didn't stop at any of the 4 stations before Caminha in Oporto that our original train had been scheduled to stop at. My timetable suggested it could only be the 8.35 train which had originated in Vigo and had left Valença 31 minutes before mine. If so, it was 90m late getting into Oporto while I was merely 25 minutes late. Oddly, the last time I got the train from Vigo it was 40 minutes late into Caminha because it stopped at many stations it wasn't scheduled to. I thought at the time this was because it was Sunday. But perhaps the Portuguese national carrier just makes things up as it goes along. As British Rail used to before it was privatised. And as it will do again, if Jeremy Corbyn even gets to power and re-nationalises it.

Travelling can be such fun . . . Especially on Portuguese railways, or CP as it's known. I hurried to Caminha station to get the 4.46 train back to Valença  No such train showing on the board at 4.30. No such train showing at any platform. No information at the so-called Information desk next to the ticket counters – Sorry, we don't do trains. Only do Oporto. Join the ticket queue. By the time I got to the ticket desk it was 4.50 and I was told I should have got a train to somewhere else at 4.46 and changed at Nine. Which information was not on the timetabe I'd printed out from the CP web page on Sunday night. More to the point, the 4.46 train was delayed until 5.35 and presumably wouldn't anyway have made the connection with the train to Valença. As I said, shades of British Rail.

I finally got a train an hour and a half later. Allowing me to get back to Pontevedra just in time for the 10.30 start of the 4th concert of our annual Jazz and Blues festival. More jazz than Blues, unfortunately. So, I didn't go to it.

Finally . . . I had a wine at a café opposite the station. It wasn't great but at 1€ a glass, what can one realistically expect?

incidentally, there are surely state-managed railways that are very well run. Japan springs to mind. And perhaps Germany and even France. Apart from the above, there were various other indications that Portugal doesn't number among these. But I won't bore you with details.

Finally on the trip  . . .  Here's a foto of something you are bound to see if you take the (excellent) Metro. At the ticket machine:-

I guage that the minimum time each newcomer wrestles with the system is 5 minutes. At Caminha, there was a CP employee standing by to help but it seems he's only allowed to intervene and become at all useful after this point. He's the one in the yellow jacket, of course. Doing nothing.


Lenox said...

We had a great time with Colin in Porto - a good lunch and fine conversation, all in a mix of English, Spanish, bad Portuguese and... in one of those absent moments that can come to us all, an 'efxaristó' instead of an 'obrigado'. Whoops. Colin: Loli and Lenox mandamos un saludo a tus lectores.

Anthea said...

Just as a matter of inaterest, are you under the impression that trains runnbetter now in Britain that they used to in the days of British Rail? Simply not true! Such a mish mash of different companies is a recipe for chaos!

Colin Davies said...

My limited experience is, yes, of better services. Albeit at astronomically higher prices. Especially if you can't book ahead. Or be an old person.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Lenox. I very much enjoyed our lunch and look forward to the next one. Here or there.

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