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.
I'm still motoring south and this post comprises just . . .
- The more you journey through Spain, the more you realise what a glorious heritage is has from both its Islamic and Christian(i.e. Catholic) eras. My perception is that Spaniards are gradually coming to a real appreciation of the latter. They are also coming to realise there's money to be made in burnishing its marvellous Jewish past.
- With the possible exception of the city of Mérida, Extramadura truly is a largely undiscovered part of Spain. This is despite it being the source of most of Spain's tough conquistadores. Cáceres and Trujillo are both well worth a visit.
- An oddity is that , if you look at the stuff published by those foreigners who do visit the region, the border city of Badajoz usually doesn't figure. This is despite its Moorish relics. I'm viewing these today and will report in due course.
- Meanwhile, I can say that, having arrived last night, I think I now know the bar serving the least appetising tapas and the worst white wine in Spain La Cervecería LaUnión in Joaquín Costa. Astonishingly, most of the reviews on Tripadvisor say it's an excellent place. Friends of the owners, I guess. I agree witth 'local guide' Julian García, who certainly can't be one of these.
- After doing Badajoz's old quarter this morning I'll be heading for Zafra, an enticing place from all I've read, including a couple of pages in Morton's A Stranger in Spain. As elsewhere, I expect it'll have been tarted up since he was there in 1957. Then tomorrow on to Sevilla for the last day of its famous Feria de Abril.
- Évora in Portugal is another old city well worth a visit. But expect to pay a prince's ransom if you want to get there quickly from Oporto. Having left Aveiro early yesterday morning, I was a tad shocked to find the toll charge near Évora was c. €26, about the same as the cost of the petrol. It explained why, for the last hour or so of the journey south west of Lisbon, mine was about the only car on the road.
- Évora's Sao Francisco church – restored since 2014 – has a bizarre chapel attached to it, where the walls are composed entirely of human femurs and skulls, from 5,000 corpses. If you're lucky, you won't have to wait to get a good look at it while some woman manages to talk non-stop for 20 minutes about a pile of bones.
- As I've advised before, make sure you have plenty of cash with you if you're travelling in Portugal. Or a range of cards. For the acceptance of credit cards is quixotic, to say the least. One toll booth will accept your card but another won't. Ditto petrol stations. Annoying.
- Virtually every decent road in Portugal is now – post an economic crisis – a revenue-generating toll road. The modern ones use a system of gantry-based cameras to clock your car and dock money from your credit or debit card. The system isn't now as complicated as when it was first introduced but it's still bad enough. Some folk don't bother to get onto the system and pay nothing for these roads. The risk is that, if the police stop you to check, you'll be both charged and fined. Other says the police are so aware how challenging the system is that they don't bother to do this with foreign cars.
- The Mercure Rio hotel in Badajoz, is a decent place, with a public cafeteria attached if you just want a coffee, rather than the €7.50 breakfast in its restaurant.
- Extremadura is renowned for being very cold in winter but very hot and dry in summer. So naturally, it's raining today. And cool. It's not been a great spring throughout Spain.
© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 21.4.18