Monday, December 29, 2008
Ryanair flights from Liverpool to Santiago de Compostela
Neither Ryanair or Liverpool airport include any details of this route as a destination that is “on hold” or otherwise out of commission. Given the fact that the route details are normally maintained – even though booking is not possible when the route is “rested” – the conclusion has to be that the route is now discontinued.
There are a number of possible reasons for this, but all relate to the subsidising (or otherwise) of the route by the Galician Xunta.
One possibility is a combination of the change in regional government since the original agreement was made (which has now ended), combined with negative local press about the clientele that Ryanair were delivering to Galicia.
Regrettably, Ryaniar appeared to promote the route as a short break destination with stag night and binge drinking implications. At least this is how the Galician press seemed to see it, and this may have contributed to a discontinuation in the routes funding.
A further problem is that the flights, although busier in 2008 than 2007, have rarely been full to capacity. Even so, in both April and September we flew on nearly full planes and in July and August there were no vacant seats.
All told, it would seem that the reasons for the route’s discontinuation may be every bit as political as it is economic.
If this is the case, and the Galician Xunta (parliament) are behind the move, they may well have made a grave error.
Santiago de Compostela airport operated only 3 international flights during the entire day on which we departed the airport (in late September).
This is hardly the performance of an up and coming international airport.
When you add to this the fact that Santiago, la Cornua and Vigo international airports operate fewer international flights combined than nearby Porto airport (in Portugal), it suggests that Galicia has a problem in attracting, or supporting international carriers.
Loosing Ryanair may not turn out to be a prudent move, particularly as they now carry more travellers than any other airline, budget or otherwise!
The other problem, as I have said before, is that for all its beauty and charm, Galicia is now competing for tourism (its potentially biggest export) with all of the “now open” former eastern European countries. To make matters worse, these are countries that actively seek the likes of Ryanair and, once they have them onboard, do everything that they can to keep them.
I genuinely believe that any hope for real tourism in the Galician economy may now have come to an end.
Many Galician regionalists may think this a good conclusion, but they should be reminded that the preservation of the language and, much more importantly, the heritage and culture of the region could be supported and nurtured by tourist money.
Where will that money come from now? I suspect that the loss of Ryanair air, and the ripples that it will send out to other commercial enterprises associated with travel and tourism, will be seen in the future as a catastrophic mistake.
Hopefully I will be proved wrong.
Monday, December 22, 2008
That is probably of no relevance at all, but at least it starts off this blog.
Property in Galicia
Property prices in Galicia have yet to show any real sign of falling and, when it comes to older houses, I doubt that things will change.
There may however be some deals on the horizon if you are looking for an apartment.
Apartment building has rocketed over the last 5 years and many Galician towns now have a surplus of new apartment buildings with no buyers.
As yet prices are holding, but sales are not there and the property crash of the south is steadily moving north. I would guess that the prices of apartments in Galicia will fall by up to 30% by the end of 2009, so there will be deals to be had over the next few months.
I have mentioned the clean up of the Noia estuary and also the problems with the bypass, but another development is the “potential” building of a tunnel from one side of the Noia estuary to the other.
The plan is for the tunnel to be just beyond Noia town (which will not ease the traffic jams), but it would cut “round-the-ria” travelling time down – if it does go ahead.
No doubt there will be protests, counter-plans and all the other superfluous stuff before it is ultimately rejected.
All of the above did happen, however as of 2012 the bypass is there and the bridge accross the ria at Testal is under construction as I write. There is also another bridge beyond Noia which has already been completed and which takes 10 minutes or so off the "round the base of the ria" drive.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
The story of Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela started life in the 9th century as a church and monastic development built over the tomb of one of the apostles, Saint James – or so it is claimed!
On the face of it this does not sound terribly interesting, but it is, and even if you have no real interest in Christianity there is a great semi mythical story to it.
It is asserted that St James was sent out in to the world by Jesus to preach "the word of the Lord" and some how found his way to what we now know as modern day Spain. Travelling through the country, James found himself in Iria Flavia (now known as Padron), from where he regularly preached and made Christian converts of the locals.
Later he returned to Jerusalem, but was not welcomed and was in fact beheaded at the Kings orders. On hearing this, former aides in Galicia headed to the Holy lands to retrieve his body which they successfully managed to do.
With his remains on board, albeit headless, they returned by boat to the Iberian Peninsula and moored up at Padron. From there his body was taken to a spot, now known as Santiago, and a burial took place.
Over the next 800 years, due to warring, invasion and the persecution of Christians, his place of internment was lost until, in the 9th century, a hermit witnessed an unusual event.
What the hermit saw was a series of lights in the sky with, it is claimed, accompanying noises. Knowing that Saint James was rumoured to be buried in this area, the man took these events as a signal from God and contacted the Archbishop with his news.
A few days later, after a successful search of the area, the tomb was uncovered and the legend of St James and Santiago set into motion. The King instructed that a church be built on the spot where his mortal remains lay and the early beginnings of Santiago were spawned.
The name – Santiago de Compostela
Compostela is derived from a phonetically similar Latin term meaning something akin to "star field", hence Santiago of the star field or "compostela".
Is this story true? Certainly a massive Christian community believe so and Santiago is acknowledged by the Pope and Vatican as the 3rd most important place in Christendom. True or false it still makes a good tale.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
More on Galicia
One shows Finisterre as you look back at the harbour and old town. As I have said before, this is not quite the quaint tourist town that some would have you believe, but it is the best place in Galicia in which to eat fresh fish.
If you are lucky, it is even possible to see fish taken off the boats – sold in the market – and carried over to the harbour side eatery where you are sat, and cooked on a barbeque in front of you.
For more on this location, visit this Finisterre page in Galicia Guide.
The second photo is a typical little village at the very end of a ria – where the river feeds into the sea at what we would probably describe as an estuary.
In truth I cannot remember where I took this shot, but I think it may have been close to the town of Outes.
If you click on either photo they will be enlarged (slightly).
Saturday, December 13, 2008
A couple of photos of Galicia
towns, places of interest etc that I mention. I will try to rectify that by including a couple here.
One shows the Galician coastline on a bright but breezy day in September 2008 adjacent to an outcrop of land that projects out into the sea close to Ribeira. For those in the know, you reach it by continuing beyond the large sand dune at Corrubedo and continuing until the road quite literally runs out.
At this point there is a lighthouse, lots of rocks and boulders that you can climb on and some massive waves. The view that I have included looks roughly north, although in reality it is at one of the lips of the Muros and Noia ria.
The other shot was taken in July or August 2008 and shows a small section of the Roman walls that surround the old town in the city of Lugo.
You can walk the full perimeter of these massive walls and look down into the old town, or back out towards the new.
As with most things in Galicia there is no charge and Lugo’s capitol does make an interesting and easy place to explore in a day – or even half a day. The alameda in Lugo is easy to find (in fact you cannot miss it) and everything worth seeing radiates out from this paved and gardened area. You will also find lots of cafes at this point.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Eating in Noia
One covers the Santa Maria church just off the alameda and the other relates to a restaurant called Marico (I must confess that I thought that it was called Marisco – my mistake) on the Rua de Galicia in the town centre.
In the case of the latter, the writer is correct in that the ownership of Marico has changes a couple of times, although I believe that it is currently back in the tenure of the original family.
We last ate there in 2005 and the food was good value and the service more than acceptable. For us it was slightly bland, but this is typical (to an English or American pallet) of many Galician dishes. The Galician’s are not fans of spices, sauces and other additions and prefer the taste of the item that you eat (e.g. a meat or vegetable) to a sauce, marinade or paste. This is why every curry house and Indian restaurant dies a death in Galicia – even in cities like Pontevedra.
Following on from that, there is a solitary Chinese restaurant in Noia, but if you are English speaking or Chinese, do not venture into it. The food is regrettably tasteless and, although appearing to be Cantonese, has none of the flavourings of those dishes.
If you are interested in our (subjective) tips on where to eat, you can see this page http://www.galiciaguide.com/Noia-suggest.html which also has links to a couple of reviews and a bar guide to Noia.
You can also take a look at Colin Davies’ “Eating and Drinking in Galicia” page for more info and a very good list of menu/food translations near the bottom of the page. See http://colindavies.net/P-Eating%20and%20Drinking.htm.
Monday, December 08, 2008
Set during WWII it was the true story of how a woman with a nervous disposition coped with and expanded her horizons during the war. I am not a fan of Wood, but the drama was well written, well acted and it was probably the first “half descent” production that I have seen on terrestrial TV all year.
Becoming a commoner again, Wolfie (Martin Adams) won the darts masters event in Bridlington yesterday with a stunning display. His semi final, with an average of over 107 and almost 70% checkout rate, would have annihilated Phil “the power” Taylors efforts in the Grand Slam of darts 3 weeks ago. It was also interesting to see that averages were constantly in excess of 100 for many of the matches, confirming what I have always thought, that the standard in the BDO is higher than that of the PDC.
Still no published confirmation, or otherwise, on the Ryanair Liverpool to Santiago flight route.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
A quick mention about Pontevedra
Although a city, Pontevedra is probably more like a large town, at least if you value it on population and area.
The old town is one of the best in Galicia and the city is full of atmosphere, day or night. It is also good value when compared with Santiago de Compostela or la Coruna – at least when it come to buying a coffee or a drink.
Close to Pontevedra is Sanxeno, an upmarket holiday resort, but one that has little appeal to me. It is not intrinsically Galician and reeks of being man made – which it is! It will make a good substitute for the kinds of beach that you will see in southern Spain, but then again, if that is what you are looking for you may be better advised to go there instead.
There are however some excellent “nearby” towns that are worth a look and these include the very attractive Cambados. The province as a whole also makes some good wine and the scenery and countryside in the area are worth venturing into.
South of Pontevedra city is Vigo. Vigo does not always get a great write up, but is has a small but nice old district and some good beaches.
As you move towards and then beyond Vigo, the influences of Portugal become stronger. One negative aspect of this is the increased commerciality of building projects and beach side developments. The weather is better, but the package style holiday makers are also starting to visit this part of Pontevedra province.
Friday, December 05, 2008
The Eiffel Tower is possibly the most recognised structure in the world. It is a must see attraction for all holiday snappers and, once seen, is never forgotten. In addition to its distinctive appearance, it houses 2 restaurants and an elevator. It offers some of the best aerial views of Paris.
Notre Dame Cathedral has been popularised by the tale of the fictional hunchback of Notre Dame. Its history dates back 6 centuries this grandiose building has many beautiful features including a large rose window and some delicate and ornate flying buttresses.
Sighted at the peak of the hill at Montmartre, the bleached white Basilica of Sacre Coeur is unmissable. It was built in the 19th century, but is now a staple of the Parisian skyline and popular with tourists. It provides good views looking down and across Paris.
The Arc de Triomphe is yet another Paris landmark and one on a massive scale. It was constructed in 1806 and has no less than 284 within it. It sits at the west end of the famous Champs Elysees boulevard.
The Palace of Versailles is promoted as the most beautiful palace in the world and few would argue against the claim. It has 700 rooms and 67 staircases. It also sees an incredible 2.5 million visitors every year. In times gone by it was the royal family’s home, but is now a museum.
The Louvre is the most famous art gallery in Paris. Its benefactor and supporter was Napoleon Bonaparte and he intended it to be an accessible repository of art for all. It receives daily visitor numbers that can reach 65,000.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
An apartment in Rianxo
Anyway, as luck would have it, I have just come across it now.
The url is http://www.northspain.co.uk/ and, having seen the building first hand, I can confirm that the location is in the main town and in a perfect spot from which to explore the rest of Rianxo.
If you take a look at Galicia Guide (in the links list to the left) you will be able to find out more about Rianxo and you will also spot that we rate it as one of the best towns in all of Galicia. In fact if I could live anywhere in the region, Rianxo would be one of my top three or four choices.
So following on from that, the apartment mentioned looks like it would be ideal for anyone wanting a holiday in Galicia and within easy travelling distance of Pontevedra, Sanxenxo, Ribeira, Noia etc.
If you want to visit Galicia, but want to stay in a hotel, villa, rent a car and book flights, take a look at the aforementioned Galicia Guide site for all of your holiday services and arrangements.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
At this time of year I focus my attention on 21 December knowing that, from that day at least, the hours in the day will gradually start to increase again.
I heard from my South African friend yesterday who has recently completed another Camino de Santiago. He was Spartan with the details, but it would appear that all went well.
And…. That is almost it for today.
Clicking on the title link will take you to a new, but as yet, undeveloped blog that I will soon be working at on a regular basis.
And for those who are interested, hits on searches connected with Galicia were, surprisingly, up over the last week or so. Trends have been very strange this year.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Weather, Barcelona, Noia
The next few days are none too exciting with cloud and rain, but next weekend sees a change with Sunday and Monday predicted as sunny but cool. As with everywhere else in the world, the weather forecasts there are never completely accurate.
A better place for the weather is to move to the south and around Spain to the seaside city of Barcelona. http://www.barcelonaweekendbreak.net/sightseeing.html will tell you about the out of season things to do there and even at this time of year Barcelona sees plenty of sun and some milder days. It is also a city that is rich in culture, so you can entertain yourself visiting museums, Gaudi’s buildings or any of the city’s fantastic parks.
Barcelona also has the best and most comprehensive tapas bars in Spain (possibly with the exception of the Basque region), so the eating experience is a varied and unique one. There are some excellent shopping areas in Barcelona in the old town, the main modern part of the city and around the marina.
A further footnote on the Ryanair’s Liverpool – Santiago flights for 2009.
After an even more extensive hunt using different search engines and every conceivable selection of related words, we have still been unable to find any English language statement to the effect that this route has been discontinued! We will simply have to wait for spring next year and see if this route appears on the Ryanair website.