Miscellaneous dump for oddities
Went to Spain by Britanny Ferries on the Pont-Aven. Being two of us we booked an inside two berth it was tiny. Couldn't even find the second bed until I noticed a catch in the ceiling (deckhead for nautical types). Had a £30 upgrade for the return, bed was not any more comfortable but at least we had two low level bunks and didn't have to take it turns to breathe.
Northern Spain has several languages Galician, Spanish etc and hence different spellings exist for the same place or thing. I cannot guarantee that I have been consistent with this as I relied on various sources.
We managed to leave Doreen's phone, my kindle and snack bars in the van. Doreen's phone managed £39 in fees for emails updates etc over boats satellite system. She won't abandon a switched on phone with data roaming selected ever again.
Driving in Spain 1
Here as you approach a village you sometimes get two flashing amber lights, a little further on another set which change to red as you approach and just before you come to a halt go back to flashing amber. One way of getting you below the 50km/hr speed limit. We later found that this was only done in this region.
Driving in Spain 2
There are differences in the driving experience in Spain compared with the UK. Away from the larger cities Spanish drivers stop where they want to including double parking. The first time I saw a Spaniard abandon his car on a zebra crossing I was shocked but I gradually got used to it.
Driving in Spain 3
One thing I never got to grips with was the speed limit when you were leaving a village or town. Often there was nothing that I saw that told you you were out of the 50km/h area so sorry to all those I held up. The TomTom was often posting a speed limit different to what you had seen (or hadn't seen) and this with a brand new map.
Spanish for Beginners
Apparently Spanish is an easy language to learn because its structure is similar to English. The same can't be said for its pronunciation. "ll" that is obviously "y", ñ = nyuh,"v" now why wouldn't you expect it to sound like "b". The city Gijon is pronounced something like "Heehon".
Camping and Not camping.
Northern Spain has many places where you may stop overnight, normally for nothing or very little, this is assuming you obey the rules about "no camping behavior". So no chairs or tables, BBQ, awnings even putting your stabilisers down is mentioned as not allowed. I'm sure using ramps as we often did is also forbidden. Some are just on a normal mixed parking place others have waste water disposal grey and toilet emptying and fresh drinking water available. Sometimes there is a nominal charge for using these facilities. They are normally well signed with a picture of a motorhome.
Of course there are also plenty of campsites as well.
Rubbish Bins and recycling
We noticed that people delivered their domestic rubbish to plastic 'dumpsters' rather than have individual collection from wheelie bins.There are frequent roadside recycling bins as well.
So I started this holiday with something like sciatica extending down my left leg as far as my knee I saw the doctor before I left and he gave me cocodemol and a laxitive for the side effects. In Oviedo I tripped and jolted my shoulder. Doreen, who has a bad back anyway, tripped up going into a shop and a magic spray was produced, she did a similar thing later in the holiday. She had a sore ear and we went to a doctor near Quiroga, who said she needed to go to hospital the hospitial was 40 minutes drive away and on our route. Spanish service is a lot quicker than ours but as I waited in a coffee lounge I had the smallest cup of coffee ever.
We stopped for an oldish man at a zebra crossing but he showed no signs of wanting to cross. We then noticed every little village seemed to have a little old man standing doing nothing but perhaps look at the traffic, is this the Spanish equivalent of the West Country village idiot?
We encountered these miniature cups of coffee in Italy last year. At least they understand the word Americano here, even if it doesn't increase the volume by much. The cup in front of Doreen's purse wasn't the smallest I encountered, that was in a hospital cafe where I was served up a cup that belonged in a dolls house and it was half full. Black coffee = solo, ordinary white coffee = Cafe con leche.
Overall we were disappointed with the poor and sometimes bizarre nature of our dining experience. Meals were cheap, staff very kind and helpful although no english spoken and we only have very little spanish. We didn't find the Tapas experience that we were expecting, most places offered a first plate second plate type of menu with an optional dessert. The first plate was often a type of soup, made of white beans, a lump of belly pork, and sometimes a sausage, in one mussels figured. Salad was often very basic and chips and fried egg often figured in second plates. Fish when we had it was often bony, sea bass were very small and I think some of the fish was untranslatable, but one of the bonier ones could have been wrasse. We realise this could have been partly our fault not going up market enough but to be fair in some places the same sort of menu was on offer everywhere. Had some nice wine. The meals on the boat were ok and cheap. About three days before the end we started fantasizing about english fish and chips we stopped at Honiton to fill that need.
Our discovery was that we could cook Tortilla in the double skillet but that the supermarket Tortilla that you paid 3€ for was ten times better than the one you paid €1.5 to €1.8 for.
Camino De Santiago
Driving in northern Spain you encounter signs like these everywhere they denote a pilgrimage route to Santiago del Compostela. There are lots of these routes some starting from as far away as France. If they walk and get a card stamped as they go that entitles them to use Hostels enroute provided by the church. You read that after they get their certificate (at least 64km walking) most carry on to Fisterre which is designated as km 0. This is because long before it was a Catholic church pilgrimage to St James' relics at Santiago (allegedly) it was a pagan route to the end of the world. We followed the lady shown below from the bus station hmmm suspicious.
A Pilgrim, marked by a white scallop shell on her back
Siesta, shop opening and meal times.
Not everywhere in Spain observes the siesta but all the places in northern Spain that we visited did. So shops open about 10am to 2pm then reopen at 7 or 8pm. Cafes and restaurants normally stay open throughout the day but don't serve food in the evening until 9pm. Being an early bird it takes some getting use to. But the time zone has an effect and the Spaniards seem to like it the way it is.
They keep Central European Time CET with due allowance for daylight saving time This does not seem logical at first sight. Finisterre is 9 degrees west of the Grenwich Meridian, London. 15 degrees is an hour. So you would expect the time zone to be either the same as London or perhaps an hour later but local time is an hour earlier. This clearly does not accord with Solar time so in the west we encountered a sundial that was, in summertime, two and a half hours slow. Things get complicated travelling between Spain and Portugal (which keeps GMT or BST). This is especially true near the border for your phones and tablets which might be getting their signal from the wrong time zone.