Friday, May 11, 2018

Thoughts not from Galicia, Spain: 11.5.18

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.

  • Apart from hostelries, I've seen a lot of public toilets in Spain during the last 3 weeks and feel qualified to make this critical comment: If you take the 11 things every facility needs - yes, 11 - it's very rare indeed that you get all of them. In truth, too many places have only 4 – a toilet bowl, water to flush with, a wash basin, and tap water. This would be unthinkable in a Spanish home. So one wonders why it happens in so many public buildings. On reflection, it's 12 if you add cleanliness. And, if you inlcude a toilet brush, 13.
  • We've been in Baeza for the last day or so and what a difference between here and Córdoba. It's a delightful town, full of magnificent renaissance buildings and devoid of tourist groups following someone with a raised umbrella. Not to mention the evil I forgot to cite yesterday – hordes of noisy Spanish schoolkids who've learnt from a young age not to consider the comfort (and personal space) of others.
  • To be positive, I can report that the women's toilets in the Casino restaurant in Baeza, I'm advised, have all 13 requirements. They also do an excellent menú del día.
  • We went nearby Úbida last evening and it was just as delightful, with even more impressive Renaissance buildings.
  • Another reflection after 3 weeks travelling . . . The opening hours of Tourist Information Offices – assuming you can find them – are idiosyncratic. Some are open when they say they will be and some aren't. Some open at weekends and some don't. All of them seem to operate on hours that are more convenient to employees than to tourists. Well, that's my perception anyway.
  • And yet another reflection . . . Maps provided by said tourism offices vary greatly. In Granada, having got a little lost on the way down from the Alhambra, I was pleased to have in my hands a map from a guide book bought more than 25 years ago, for it was far superior to the one supplied by the tourist office.
  • Disappointingly, the synagogue in Córdoba is closed for something or other. But, as in most Spanish cities these days, money can be spent getting into a nearby museum of Jewish history of the place.
  • Here's a bit of Andaluz for you – seen on a wall in Baeza:- Son todoz zerdoz.
  • Also seen on a wall there, dedicated to a man who was clearly born very angry:-
  • Finally . . . Reader María says the webpage of the LoinShop company is all in Korean. I went and saw that it was offering safron, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey with jalea, whatever that is. Clearly aimed at visiting Koreans, then. Of which there appeared to be quite a lot. I wonder if Jewish Koreans are doubly profitable . . . .
  • Reading the local paper in Granada I was surprised to hear that a senior manager and 23 of her staff at the Alhambra are being investigated for corruption. 'Irregular contracts' was, I think, the nub of the accusations. In respect of the audioguides. Well, there's a lot of money being earned there these days, so temptation must be high.
  • This NY Times article talks of democracies backsliding towards authoritarianism and includes Spain as an offender. I'm not sure the majority of Spaniards would see things that way but it does seem clear to some of us that, under the current right-of-centre PP party, things have moved in that direction. Yet the latest polls still has them as the leading party if an election were held tomorrow, with 23-24% of the vote.
  • The writer of the article cites the fact of democratic institutions being designed by the outgoing authoritarian regime to safeguard incumbent elites from the rule of law and give them a leg up in politics and economic competition after democratization. One would have to say this is very true of the PP elite, many of whom have been/are the children and grandchildren of Franco regime politicians. You need to read the article to see what 'constitutional tools' are used to achieve the objectives of such folk.
  • Fortunately – says the writer - elite-biased democracies can successfully reform their social contracts over time to become more egalitarian and representative of average citizens rather than sliding back into dictatorship. But . . . This is not easy or common. To happen, it requires patience, magnanimous leadership and citizen faith in the promise of what democracy can deliver.  Hmm.
  • Right on cue . . . Spain acted on Wednesday to block pro-independence politicians in Catalonia from voting in ex-leader Carles Puigdemont, now in Germany, as their regional head with a deadline looming to form a government and avoid fresh elections. . . . By moving to suspend the law, Madrid is likely to thwart the fifth attempt this year to put forward a leadership candidate, all of whom are either in prison or abroad. Puigdemont has now tried twice.
  • Talking of authoritarian regimes . . . . EU officials are braced for a 'nightmare scenario' as anti-Brussels radicals prepare to govern Italy. . . .The formation of such a government – which could still unravel at the last moment – will stiffen German resistance to any form of EMU fiscal union or debt pooling. It effectively dooms the Macron plan for a eurozone budget, leaving monetary union almost unworkable in the next global downturn.


Sierra said...

"I wonder how Brits resident in the EC before the accession of the UK got their pensions."

A good question - weren't there exchange controls in operation up to the early '80s? Remember it was difficult getting the proceeds of a UK house sale whilst working abroad

P.S. Wish could get a simpler Captcha system - if you're getting less comments, that's the reason

Eamon said...

Sierra I just type my comment, sign on with my google account and go straight to publish your comment and don't bother with the robot nonsense because sometimes you can spend ages clicking on different pictures.

Anthea said...

I think jalea is what the British call royal jelly, something bees use to feed lavae in the hive to promote creation of a new queen. Experts vary in their opinion about how good it is for humans. Shops selling honey use it as an excuse to increase the price of their honey.

Colin Davies said...

@ Sierra: Yes, there were controls in the uk back then. But also in spain. I ducked out of a house purchase in 84 coz i wouldnt be able to remit sale funds out of Spain if I ever wanted to. But pensioners back then must have been able to get their (monthly) money in/to Spain somehow. Or die of hunger . . .

As for the Comments. I don't get asked to do anything, of course. So was unaware of the Captcha nonsense. I just say I am not a robot.

I will check to see if it can be made easier for others. Especially, I guess, those who don't have a Google account.

Colin Davies said...

OK, have removed Word Verification. Didn't realise it was on . . .