Saturday, April 21, 2018

Thoughts not from Galicia, Spain: 21.4.18

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


Maria said...

When I first ventured to travel into Portugal, I thought a credit card would be accepted everywhere, including parking garages. Uh uh, nope. The day I discovered that, I was lucky I still had enough cash on me to pay the attendant. I had already previously discovered the ATM wouldn't take my card for some reason. Since then, cash is how I fly.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

This morning 7 am (April 22) the Spanish TVE Noticias just told me that the Feria de Abril had its last, festive day yesterday (Saturday)

I hope you won't come away disappointed...


Colin Davies said...

Perhaps not: Feria de Abril 2018 - Sevilla -
La Feria de Abril Sevillana comienza el Domingo 15 de Abril de 2018 y finaliza el Domingo 22 de Abril de 2018.

On the other hand, it looks like the firewords schedule for tonight, Sunday, took place last night, Saturday. Fear of rain???

Colin Davies said...

Hmm. News item this morning:.

A falta de un balance definitivo, se ha notado un ligero aumento del número de asistentes con respecto al año pasado; un cierre de Feria diferente, con un final atípico, precisamente en sábado y no en domingo, como venía siendo habitual

Something has happened . . .

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Well, even without the feria Seville is still a fascinating place. Have fun.