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.
Travel Odds and Sods
- First impressions while driving for an hour or so through Belgium:-
- The road tarmac here is inferior to that of France
- There are no speed signs. Meaning no limit, as in Germany?
- The villages and towns are less picturesque than in France.
- No petrol(gas) nor roadside services for very long distances. And none of the Spanish-style signs telling you there's a petrol station off the highway.
- The Ardennes forest is truly immense.
- When you can find them, the petrol(gas) pumps are confusing, as in France. See next item.
- The petrol pumps . . . At a clearly self-service Total place in France, there were no instructions on the pump, and the screen didn't go blank when I inserted the nozzle in the tank. Nor did the petrol flow. Noticing there was credit card slot, I put mine in it and got a message about the limit being €150. As instructed, I tapped in my PIN and then filled the tank. A while later, my bank told me I'd been debited €150 plus the cost of the fuel but the former charge had been annulled. I wondered if it'd been a mistake. But the same thing happened in Belgium, except the charge (deposit/bond?) was a mere €125. The wrinkle at the latter petrol station was that, after I'd followed the instructions on the little screen, I was told Pump 4 wasn't operative. So I moved to Pump 1 and filled up. A while later my bank told me that I'd been charged €125 by both Pump 4 and Pump 1 but these charges had also been annulled. So . . . the €150/125 pre-charge seems to be the norm. Maybe in Germany too. I will soon find out. Meanwhile, my guess was that Pump 4 didn't work because I'd unwittingly put the nozzle in the tank before I went through the credit card process. The joys of travel.
- I had my first experience of Cologne's impressive tram network last night. Looking forward to using it a lot in the next 10 days.
- Early this morning, in a café, I found it to be untrue that everyone in the city speaks English and would understand what a café americano is . . . But we got there using hand gestures and the words big and black. Though I did wonder for a few seconds what they'd bring me . . .
- We're staying again in a Premiere Classe hotel in West Cologne, but I think it's 2-star, as against the 1-star place in France. Something must explain why the hotel is very much better overall and our room 2-3 times bigger. Or less tiny, to be more accurate. On the internet, the price for this room varied from €49 to €64 but the hotel declined to deal direct at the former. So we booked on line. Germany is not Spain.
- The hotel is fine, except for the wifi, which – oddly - is inferior to that everywhere in Portugal. As ever, I wonder if this is really the hotel's fault.
- I'm guessing that the hotel owners are not well pleased at having 10+ prefabricated huts on the other side of the street, presumably housing some of Cologne's (in)famous refugees.
- I also had my first taste last night of the local beer – Kölsch – which I quite liked. But I've been warned not to ask for this in nearby Dusseldorf because of a local urban rivalry far greater than that between Liverpool and Manchester even.
- Liverpool, by the way, is one of several cities with which Cologne is twinned. I wonder if this gives me privileges here.
- And now the really good news . . . I was worried how much a coffee would cost me here, having paid €3 a cup in France. It had been 'only' €2.20 from a machine – albeit a superior one using beans – at a roadside pastry shop in Belgium – but I was afeared it'd be much more in Germany. But, no. My großen schwarzen Filterkaffee this morning also cost me €2.20. And a normal/smaller coffee would have been even 'cheaper', at €1.75. Everything is relative, as I'm fond of telling my daughters.
- For my younger reader(s), here's how to make friends in Spain.
- The plan to move Franco's bones to somewhere less celebrated could still go very awry. They might well end up in Madrid's cathedral, making this a shrine for unreconstructed 'fascistas'. See here and, more specifically, here.
- Word of the Day: Tutear. (For the record, I never use Usted.)
Finally . . .
- England beat Spain at football, in Sevilla, last night. This is a pretty historic result but the local Cologne newspaper today features a report on it of only 8-10 lines, against the full page it devotes to previewing tonight's match between Germany and France. Which struck me as a bit odd. Perhaps they have an early evening deadline.
© [David] Colin Davies: 16.10.18