Saturday, November 29, 2008
Santiago flights from Liverpool
We have both searched extensively in English and Spanish and, other than a single unofficial press release, have been unable to find any convincing confirmation that the above Ryanair flight has been permanently cancelled.
Hopefully, the route will continue again next year, but for now we will simply have to wait and see.
For the last too seasons the flights have run from April to October, so I guess that the only way to confirm or otherwise is to keep checking to see if a flight can in fact be booked within those dates!!!!
At this moment in time it cannot.
The housing market in Galicia remains very quiet, but as yet the slowing down has not been reflected in falling prices. True to the Galician way, I doubt that the economy or other hardships will influence the prices at which owners market their houses. Time will of course tell.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
For the whole of last week, ITV4 showed several hours of live coverage (every day) of the new Grand Slam of Darts competition. That, for those of you uninitiated in the sport, unities the two factions of the BDO and PDC for the only time in the season and pits everyone up against 13 times PDC World Champ, Phil “the power” Taylor.
Regrettably, Martin Adams (Wolfie), who in reality is the top BDO player, elected to turn down his invitation for “political” reasons. A great, great shame as his absence clearly diminished the event which, not surprisingly, was won by Taylor in its second year (he also won the inaugural event last year).
It would seem, from bits and bats in the press, that the presence, back-biting and unpleasantness of the PDC chairman, Barry Hearn, may have had something to do with Wolfie choosing not to play.
Hearn has done some good things for the sport, but he is a divisive figure motivated purely by self interest and now, at a time when the two associations could possibly compromise in some way, he seems intent on creating bad feeling. I think I even heard him refer to the BDO players "as amateurs".
I seem to recall John Lowe winning £102,000 in around 1984 for a 9 dart check out when he was a BDO "amateur"!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Saunas and home sauna kits
Buying a home sauna sounds expensive and ostentatious, but there are a vast array of sauna kits on the market and they cover many price ranges. Recently many products like Jacuzzis and saunas have become affordable and the addition of “kit” form makes the sauna a prime example.
Saunas in kits
Self assembly sauna kits come in 2 types, the first is a materials only sauna kit and the second is a prefabricated sauna kit. Both types include a stove or heater plus the lining materials and bench seating, but there are big assembly differences.
Material only kits
Material sauna kits include the materials required to build a sauna into a room, attic, cellar or cabin/shed.
These basic kits come in pieces and they require sizing, cutting and fitting to the customised dimensions of the room in which the sauna will go. These kits require DIY skill and a descent tool kit.
Prefabricated (semi-assembled) sauna kits
Prefabricated saunas arrive as an almost completely assembled sauna. The walls, ceiling and floor are single units that only require bolting together.
These kits are usually stand alone saunas and the options include windows, a door and, for outdoor saunas, a sloping roof.
This kind of sauna kit takes 2 or 3 hours to assemble.
Why buy a sauna or sauna kit
A sauna will help you relax whilst opening and cleansing the pores of the skin. It is a healthy pastime.
Saunas can be taken wet or dry. The addition of splashed water on the sauna’s hot rocks creates a mist called a steam shower. This is popular and claimed to be good for the body!
A different sauna heater
Infrared sauna heaters are an alternative to conventional sauna stoves. They make the skin feel warm, but without any humidity. They are ideal for saunas in former bedrooms, or rooms with limited ventilation.
More Galician flight worries!
Clickair are the budget wing of Iberia and, as a new “airline”, their timing has not worked out in quite the way that they must have hoped.
It seems that at the beginning of 2008, more and more options for direct flights to Galicia opened up, whilst now it seems that 2009 will see some of them disappearing again!
I just hope that we do not go back to the days of the “Iberia monopoly” with the unenviable options of £1,000 return flights to Santiago, or a connection via Madrid or Barcelona – the latter taking 8 or 9 hours and consequently wasting a day!
Update 2012 - Now only 3 flights a week by Ryanair from Stansted to Santiago de Compostela. Still goodish value, but hard to get to if you live in the north or beyond.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Galicia, radiators music
Over the last couple of years traffic seems to drop suddenly at the commencement of October and continue to decline until 26 December. At this date, the numbers start “on the up” again as the site gets “hotter” as the New Year approaches.
So what, I wonder, is the reason for traffic numbers for a tourist site continuing to be buoyant in recession in a way that they would not be in boom?
A friend of mine believes that more people take holidays during bad times than good times as a means of escape, but the logic of this is floored if you are short of money. Then again, if responsibility were a trait of the western world’s finances we would not be in this economic mess anyway.
Going back to the Ryanair decision to stop the Liverpool to Santiago flights (yesterday’s post), I suspect that they may have made a blunder. My galiciaguide.com site saw higher levels of traffic this year than last and that must mean a greater interest and awareness of Galicia as a place to visit. It would naturally follow on from that that flight levels are on the increase, but perhaps it is simply the world economy that dictated the decision.
Also, here is another great youtube video from the band Cock Robin. On reflection, and now with ownership of the CD, I have decided that this is their best track. It was a hit in 5 or 6 EU countries, but not the UK or USA! I hope this link works http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mJVTlILNLbI
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Noia estuary cleaning
Good news, re: Noia, is an announcement that in a couple of years time the cleaning and clearing of the ria (estuary around the town) will commence. It is intended to get the port working again and will make the entire coastal area surrounding the town more appealing. This plan has been in the "idea" stage for a long time, but apparently it has now got the official go ahead.
Long overdue, but good news non the less.
Update 2012 October - There has still been no attempt to clear the accumulated silt etc from the estuary. Right now it is an isaw and it stinks when the sea is out. Prior to the last elections one of the parties lined up bulldozers and other heavy equipment at the entrance to the Noia bay and stated that they would clear it if elected. Apparently all the equipment was gone within a week, even though I am told that they were the winning party!!!!
Friday, November 21, 2008
I know that I have mentioned this site before, but if you are interested in staying in a villa close to Noia and Muros in a place called Freixo, this house is worth checking out. You will find details of it on http://www.casa-romero.co.uk/, and I have absolutely no connection with the property or its owners.
Unfortunately, I also new of an apartment in Rianxo that had been bought by a British family with (I think) the intention of holiday rental, however this was some time ago and I have forgotten the details. If I come across them again I will include them in a post.
Ryanair flights to Galicia
There is still no English language confirmation that Ryanair are ceasing their Liverpool to Santiago de Compostela flights indefinitely, however in this case, no news is probably bad news.
We have used this route several times and it has been great in every way – even the Ryanair service has been excellent on every occasion and we have even been seated next to major celebrities like the Liverpool football manager, RB.
The negative side to this is that flights in April and May and September and October have seen many vacant seats. So much so that Ryanair actually started keeping the first 6 rows and last 6 rows free from passengers at one point.
All bad news when it comes to the viability of the flight – even with the support of the Xunta.
The other unfortunate aspect of this scenario is the seeming lack of marketing and publicity for this route. Ryanair are very restrictive when it come to advertising (they have never even contacted galiciaguide.com for any!!!) and I suspect that many of their potential customers are unaware of this particular route.
Unfortunately, it seems to have been caught up along with a collection of other weekend style destinations that are promoted as stag and hen breaks, or cheap booze weekends. This is not what Galicia, and more specifically Santiago de Compostela, are about and if this is how they have been promoted it will not have helped the “sell tickets” cause.
Even so, perhaps a reprieve is still possible, or even the taking over of this route by another budget carrier like Jet2 or Easyjet. It would be good for me if one of these two airlines would do the business and fly from Leeds/Bradford or Robin Hood airports.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
More on Noia
Firstly, when we are in Noia we stay in either, an apartment just off the alameda (town square), or in a house in a district of the town called el Couto. This is one of the older parts of the town and from the windows and balcony we look directly down to one side of the main town centre.
The photo in the last post shows part of this view, however what it does not show is the hill behind the town and the panoramic views of the surrounding area.
I especially like this district of Noia because it represents all of the values that I still remember from being a kid. Here are some examples of what I mean:
People frequently do not lock their doors when they go out.
You cannot walk up any street without a conversation and you are always asked if you want something to eat or drink – saying no is not always easy!
If you want something/want to know how to do something/or just want a chat, you can knock on any door and the resident will be forthcoming with anything that you want.
People want to know about you, what you have been doing and what you think. They are not going through the motions when they do this, rather, they are genuinely interested.
Everyone says “hello” or “good day” and handshakes and kisses follow verbal greetings. No one ever ignores you.
People are smartly dressed. In the UK we have now taken casual to a new level – it is called being a mess. If you want to see how we should dress, just take a look at black people in the UK, they are nearly always smart, stylish and they look good. They have a pride in their appearance that most white people in the UK have now lost, however in Noia it remains.
Seeing someone who weighs over 250 lbs is still a rarity! Most people are still smart and SLIM (although this is starting to change).
The price of a coffee is still at a level that makes it affordable to all and at the drop of a hat. American coffee chains do not exist, neither do their prices and the quality of real coffee in Galicia is very high.
Eating out is also something that you do not need to budget for.
All in all (an “Earth Wind and Fire” album title as it happens), it is items like those on this list that, for me at least, make or break the quality of life. In Noia, that quality is still there.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The holiday town of Noia is located at the foot of the Muros bay in the region of Galicia, just above Portugal, (Northern Spain). It is 34 km from the historic city of Santiago de Compostela and lies adjacent to the coastal region of Porto do Son, popular with Spanish holiday makers.
Noia started life as a fishing village, but now has a population in excess of 16 000 with many of its inhabitants working in Santiago.
During the spring and summer months Noia becomes a thriving holiday town, primarily catering for Spaniards wishing to escape the heat of the Costa’s. In August alone, some eight million Spaniards travel north from cities like Madrid and Barcelona to the more temperate climate of Galicia with its green scenery and spectacular beaches - many visit Noia.
Holiday makers to Noia
Over recent years foreign visitors have started to frequent Galicia on an increasing basis, exploring its scenic countryside and visiting cities like Santiago de Compostela. Pontevedra, Lugo and Galicia’s other towns and villages.
What makes Noia worthy of note is not just its location, but its history and appearance.
Noia has existed for well over a thousand years and was, for 700 years, the seat of the Archbishop. It has two churches dating back to the thirteenth and twelfth centuries and many other ancient buildings in its original medieval quarter.
An unfortunate feature of Noia, but one typical of this region, is the constant presence of decrepit old buildings adjacent to well maintained ones. This is the result of the land registration laws, or a lack of them, in Galicia. If you can ignore this failing, then Noia is an attractive town with many tapas bars, plenty of shops and the feel and atmosphere of a genuine Northern Spanish town.
Noia still has a thriving market and the locals speak their own language known as Gallego.
In cultural terms the Galicians are Celts, so do not expect flamenco dancing and spanish guitar playing. Instead ypu will find that the traditional instrument is the bagpipes and the dancing is very much in the "folk" style. If you are from Scotland or Ireland you will feel at home here.
Further regional quirks see the most popular crop vegetable as the potato, although it is usually poached in a seasoned liqueur and has a pale orange hue to it when served.
Noia’s nearest beach is called "la playa de Testal". It is only a five minute car journey away and several other beaches can be reached within 30 minutes.
A short drive out of town and into the country will see you quickly gaining altitude, Galicia is hilly and sometimes mountainous, but this adds to the views and scenery. You will also notice the smell, Galicia is a forested region with pine and eucalyptus, the latter grown as a crop. Wildlife also abounds and large eagles (buzzards) are common place in the skies.
Although Noia is worth a visit on its own merit, it is also ideally located for visiting other seaside towns like Muros, Porto Sin and Boiro and of course anyone holidaying in this region of Spain is bound to want to see Santiago de Compostela.
In summary if you want a Spanish holiday, but one away from the tour operators, crowded beaches and commercialism of the south, then Galicia and Noia may offer a welcome alternative. If you do travel to this part of Spain, remember it does have seasons, so visit between May and September and be prepared to try and speak a bit of Spanish!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
RyanAir - Liverpool to Santiago de Compostela
The main reason for this is my interest in things that prevent or ease back problems (which I have) and also general health and healthy living.
Over time this has included other things like shoes and even swimming pools – which support the body in a balanced way.
In other words this blog will be back to business as usual.
And, to reinforce that statement, my next scribbling will be about my favourite Galician location, the beautiful coastal town of Noia from which my wife originates.
Flights from England to Galicia
Here is some very bad news. It would appear that (based on a report in the “la Voz de Galicia” newspaper last month) RyanAir are going to suspend their Liverpool to Santiago de Compostela flight schedule indefinitely.
Since opening this route RyanAir have “rested” the schedule over winter (i.e. October to April), but it would appear that they have no current plans to start it up again in 2009.
If this proves to be the case it will be a great shame since this schedule offered those in the north of England cheap and easy access to Galicia.
Hopefully RyanAir may have a rethink and theXunta de Galicia may find a way of subsiding these flights through RyanAir to a greater degree. If not, they will be partially closing the door on Galician tourism at a time when it needs it the most.
2012 Update - they did not change thir mind and there has now been just one British departure airport for Santiago from Ryanair for the past 4 years - sad.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Blogs about Galicia
The other blog that I am aware of that relates to Galicia is of course that of http://colindavies.blogspot.com/ with his “thoughts from Galicia”.
At present I am a little bit worked under, so this will have to suffice as my latest entry. Normal service should be resumed before long.
Thursday, November 06, 2008
The internet and travel directories
I should start by narrowing IT down to those involved with the internet.
I have worked in this area for several years now and I have found web designers, IT gurus, webmasters, you name them, to be the most voluntarily helpful people around. Admittedly, this help comes via the email, but I doubt that any other industry has people who will volunteer assistance, offer free advice and just generally be receptive to the approaches of others like those involved in the internet.
I first noticed this when I decided to email one of the top SEO experts on the planets via his open forum. I was a newbie at that time. This guy travels the world giving lectures and seminars and has numerous DVDs and books etc. His forum was full of complex discussions with webmasters of multinational company’s websites, but I thought “what the hell” and emailed him anyway. Within 30 minutes he had replied with answers to all my questions and some other sources of information – How’s that!
Then today I had another totally unsolicited piece of very useful advice. I had submitted a site to a directory and the webmaster emailed me to point out a potentially damaging error on one of the pages. This had no benefit to him and obviously took him away from his operational tasks, but he spotted something and had the good spirit to let me know. How many other industries can you say that about.
Next, for those of you who want to search for information on travel (anywhere in the world), or alternatively, if you have a travel or tourism related website, take a look at this very high quality directory. It is called http://www.farflungshores.com and it really will act as your one-stop resource for finding travel sites covering every destination and topic around. It is easy to navigate, lets you rate the sites that you visit and is professionally structured. The main directory search index includes countries like Australia and Spain, and travel subjects like cruises, beach vacations, flights and tickets, and travel agencies. Check it out.