Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, 14.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

  • Not good news for Spain. Or bits of it, at least . . . British tourists are flocking to Turkish resorts and cashing in on the country’s currency crash. Antalya airport, on Turkey’s southern coast, has overtaken Palma de Mallorca and Tenerife as Thomas Cook’s most popular destination for holiday-makers this summer.
  • The reaction in Spain to excessive numbers of tourists has been well publicised. If you're planning to come here, you should find the article below instructive. Even if 1 or 3 of the suggestions are a tad unrealistic.
Life in Spain
  • My elder daughter in pregnant in Madrid. So, I've just sent her this article. I was amused by the last para re differing bedside manners as between here and elsewhere. My daughter, who is very Hispanisised, told me a while ago of one such negative-for-her experience, but also stressed there'd been others much more positive. The good news is that she's not exactly behind the door at being direct herself and at asking questions. Good job she never reads my blog . . . Serpents' teeth and all that.
  • It seems from this that the recent collapse of a spectator stand in Vigo was one of those accidents waiting to happen. Does this mean that responsibility will be accepted, that heads will roll, and that compensation will be paid? I wouldn't be terribly optimistic on any score. But at least the chances have been increased by the fact there's no one dead who can be blamed for everything.
  • In Spain, you can buy stamps in a tobacconists. Assuming they have them in stock. Yesterday, the one I went to didn't. So I was compelled to go to the central(only) Post Office and experience a long wait. There I found the machine which issues ticket numbers wasn't working, meaning I'd have to join a long queue. Whether this would turn out quicker or slower than usual, I didn't wait to see. It must be August.
The EU
  • It's on holiday.
The UK
  • Brexit 1: Richard North on the failure to strike a deal with the EU: It is doubtless true that, by opting for a "no deal" exit, Mrs May would enjoy a brief spell of popularity with a section of her party and the "kipper" tendency. But that would be short-lived. It would last just as long as it would take for the effects to become apparent. With that, the Conservative Party should expect electoral annihilation. Even against Corbyn – should be not be deposed by his own members – the Tories would struggle to win. Received wisdom suggests that they would be out of office for a generation. So, does this mean it's never going to happen? Who knows?
  • Brexit 2: What we do know is that The Times tells us this morning that: “Rees-Mogg Tories” draw up their own blueprint for a hard Brexit. And that: Conservative Brexiteers plan to challenge Theresa May directly by publishing their own 'positive' blueprint for a hard Brexit. Things can only get worse before they get better. Assuming they ever will.
  • Brexit 3: And ex Trade and Industry Secretary, has asserted that even a no-deal would be better than the status quo. I look forward to Dr North's reaction to this.
  • Brexit 4: An interesting insight from a Guardian article: There is more than accidental complicity between Labour and the Tory no-deal Brexiters. They share utopian arousal at the thought of revolutionary opportunities available in chaos.
  • Visiting the UK: Not good to read that, due to one factor and another, some poor folk from outside the EU – e.g. Americans and Canadians - are having to wait up to 3 hours to get through immigration on arrival at London's Heathrow airport.
  • Boris Johnson: Another nice cartoon from The Times:-

Galicia and Pontevedra
  • The various organisations and bodies in Vigo are already exculpating themselves and blaming others for the collapse of the stand which left more than 300 people injured, 5 of them 'seriously'.
  • Meanwhile, the headlines are of bochorno, which has various meanings, two of which are 'embarrassment' and 'shame'. Not sure on whose part.
Finally . . .
  • Even on what might the the correct (filtered) Google Analytics' numbers, readership for this blog shot up yesterday. Mention of cocaine???
© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 14.8.18


How to be a better tourist: 10 ways to stop upsetting the locals: Gavin Haines, Daily Telegraph

Crowd-control measures in Venice, anti-tourism protests in Palma de Mallorca, mounting pressure to bring tourism under control in Barcelona: 2018 has witnessed a sharp rise in anti-tourist sentiment throughout Europe. From Amsterdam to Dubrovnik, Hvar to San Sebastian, locals are becoming increasingly vociferous about the impact tourism is having on their environment. Oversubscribed cities are implementing policies to mitigate the effects of mass tourism, but there are also calls for tourists to take responsibility for the issue as well.

Last year the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), for example, launched a campaign – dubbed Is It Too Much To Ask? – to promote sustainable practices amongst travellers. “The campaign identifies a series of pledges that tourists should make in order for them to be more responsible in their travel behaviour,” said Rochelle Turner, research director at the WTTC. “There is a responsibility on the tourist.”

According to Richard Hammond, CEO of Green Traveller, tourists are generally responsive to the idea of reducing their impact on the destinations they visit. “It’s about appealing to their better instincts,” he told Telegraph Travel. “It’s about asking how they can have a better holiday by being more sustainable.”

With that in mind, Telegraph Travel has identified some key things travellers can do to make destinations better for locals, the environment and, ultimately, themselves.

1. Consider going somewhere else
“If you’re considering travelling to a very busy place you might want to think about the alternatives,” said Turner. “Think about some of the secondary or tertiary cities that may be equally beautiful or equally interesting.” Utrecht instead of Amsterdam, Verona over Venice, for example. This will likely improve your holiday experience: as well as having fewer visitors, lesser-known destinations also tend to be cheaper. “It’s more of an interesting thing to do as well,” said Hammond. “Often it’s more rewarding.”

2. Avoid the “honeypot” sites
“Whether it’s Barcelona or Botswana, there are always going to be a lot of people going to the 'honeypot' sites that everyone knows about,” said Hammond. “If you do a little research often you can go and visit a similar site elsewhere but have a much better experience because there are far fewer people visiting it.”

3. Go in the shoulder season
An obvious way to ease pressure on a destination – and to have a better experience of the place – is to avoid visiting when everyone else is. The weather is often just as good in the shoulder season and most of the shops and restaurants are open. The added bonus? It’s usually a bit cheaper.

4. Ditch the guidebook for a day
And leave your phone in the hotel, while you’re at it. Just go out there and get lost, follow your nose. “If people were to think: ‘On this trip I’m going to experience five things that I can’t find in a guidebook’, then perhaps everybody would have a better experience,” said Turner. “They would certainly have a less congested experience.”

5. Stay in locally owned accommodation
Profits made by hotels owned by locals are more likely to go back into the local economy than those from giant multinational ones. That’s not to say, however, that you should shun international chains, which tend to occupy larger premises and therefore employ more people (and have a higher turnovers). If you do opt for a big hotel brand, though…

6. Ask questions
How much of the food served in your hotel is sourced locally? Are your sheets cleaned locally? Were they made locally? What is your hotel doing to reduce its environmental impact? “It’s about asking these questions and making companies realise that these are issues that are important,” said Turner. If the hotel appears to be doing little to support the local economy or protect the environment then it might be worth thinking about taking your money elsewhere.

7. Learn the local language
If you can converse with the locals in their language it might make them feel more accommodating. The old trick of pointing and talking loudly in English is just likely to get on their wick and reinforce the idea that tourists are a nuisance.

8. Buy local
One of the big issues in Venice is the amount of local shops that have closed to make way for tacky souvenir shops (it is deemed more profitable to sell tourist tat than regional produce). With that in mind tourists would do well to avoid buying cheap souvenirs (which have likely been imported from abroad) and instead spending their money on regional products in local shops.

9. Reduce your plastic waste
From the beaches of Goa to the streets of Rome, plastic waste is a blight on the planet. So try not to add to it when you’re on holiday. “Take your own bottle of water that you can refill, rather than buying a new plastic bottle every time,” advised Hammond, who also suggests shorter showers in areas where water is scarce.

10. Be respectful
As well as feeling outnumbered by tourists, people in destinations like Venice are becoming increasingly angry that some tourists are disrespecting their town (holidaymakers have, for example, been seen jumping in the canals). Wherever you go, abide by the local laws, respect the local customs and dress appropriately. Ultimately, give locals one less thing to complain about.


Sierra said...

You Brexiteers keep strange company:


Maria said...

11. Don't expect to be considered "gods" and understand YOU don't live there, you're just a guest. Be a thoughtful guest, not the first one the host wants to boot out the door.

Also: https://blogs.publico.es/strambotic/2018/08/balconing-fun/

Colin Davies said...

@Maria. Nice addition.

@Siera: Yes, we Brexiteers have some strange bedfellows. When I was a Catholic, I had pederast priests in my group. When I was a lawyer, I had bent solicitors in my group. As a Brit, I have some racists and some psychopaths in my group. And as a Brexiteer, I have both sensible Richard North and the mad Nigel Farage in my group. Such is life. Unless you belong to a group of one, it's inevitable. So, not sure what your point is.