Tuesday, April 21, 2009

 

Another excuse

I keep intending to write something about property in Galicia, but having been out of action internet wise for the last few days I have been unable to formulate any worthwhile thoughts. I will however make a post on this subject some time very soon.

I regret more and more having booked flights from Stansted to Santiago and wish that we had taken the Oporto option from Liverpool.

Ultimately this would have saved us travelling time, secure car parking costs and, worst of all, saved money on the extortionate car rental that the exchange rate is inflicting on British tourists in Europe. That is because car hire is cheaper in Portugal than Northern Spain.

The booking is made though, so we are stuck with a poorly thought out decision.

I noticed yesterday that Alabrino wine was on sale in Asda at £5.80, a saving of about 90p on the normal price. At the weekend we went into Threshers, but we were told that they did not stock Albarino – at least not in the market town of Otley.

Having disconnected my PC in order to do some decorating my unreliable Skype phone now has a different failing. This time it tells me that it is set on mute. That means that I can now hear a caller, but they cannot hear me.

My Master’s degree in software development seems to be of little benefit when it comes to the mysteries of Skype phones. I solve my family and neighbours IT problems, can build a PC from scratch, build website, etc etc, but I cannot manage to turn the mute off the blasted Skype phone. That dammed device is an absolute mystery to me and has been a pain in the **** from the day that I got it.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

 

Good value in the UK

There are a heck of a lot of things that I prefer about Spain to the UK, or at least the north of Spain.

One area where the UK does have its European counterpart at a disadvantage is in shopping – and that means shopping of almost every type.

This means that you have more choice in Britain, but with two other massive pluses as well.

The first is price, where clothes, household items and electrical items (e.g. from a washing machine to a laptop) retail at a fraction of the price in the UK that they do in Spain.

The other big plus is the “sale of goods act” in the UK. This means that if there is a problem with something you can take it back and get a replacement, or your money back, without any problem. Indeed most large stores will do this in a minute or two with no requirement other than to see your receipt.

In Spain even attempting this is a near waste of time, retailers do not treat shoppers with any respect once they have the money. Taking back a faulty item is nothing short of a waste of time.

Anyway, here is an example of something that I bought today that I know will have cost at least double (and probably triple) the amount in Galicia.

At the UK Wilkos store I just purchased a branded colour HP printer with two cartridges for £30.

When you consider that each cartridge retails at £12.99 it becomes evident that the printer’s real cost was a mere £4. I would be surprised if the printer is on sale for less than 99 euros in Spain and that will probably exclude the 2 cartridges. I also know (as this was a gift for someone) that if the printer malfunctions in a couple of months that the store will give me my money back.

In Spain this printer will only be available in HP agents (i.e. computer stores) and you will pay through the nose!

Monday, April 13, 2009

 

Random thoughts

Having just read Colin Davies’ blog and got confirmation that it is a 3 hour round trip from Pontevedra to Oporto (Portugal), I am now regretting the decision to fly from Stansted to Santiago rather than from Liverpool to Oporto.

The decision was based on what to do “transport wise” once we reached Oporto, but it may have been a good idea to go on that route and sort out a solution before hand rather than take the “pain in the backside” option that we ultimately selected.

In any event we are stuck with it now!

It seems that no sooner have I written about visitor stats for Galicia increasing, than they drop back down again. I will have to keep that information to myself in future.

I mentioned that I would again post about property in the northern Spanish zone at some point, but that will have to wait, possibly until my next post. Needless to say there are no huge drops in house prices generally, however some owners actually are keen to sell and there are some bargains around. I may well post details of a couple of these competitively priced houses when I make the post.

The weather in Galicia is not too hot right now and the outlook over the next few days, for Noia at least, is slightly disappointing.

Finally, I saw that I had made 317 posts when I added my last entry, yet my dashboard now tells me that I have only made 315. So far blogger has removed over 15 of my posts over the last few months for no apparent reason and without informing me of the fact. Not a very good show!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

 

The AGA and a birthday

I have been informed that the AGA (Anglo Galician Association) has a new domain, so anyone wishing to join, use their forum, or make any kind of contact with them should go to the following website (which is operational):

http://www.angalas.com

As I have said before, please do not contact me with regards to this association as, whilst I am friends with its founder, I am neither a member nor a source of information about what it does and how it operates.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that visitors to my various websites about northern Spain were down on a similar period last year. Well the last week or so has seen those numbers start to return to the levels of 2008. Whether this is a temporary restoration, or a more permanent one, time will only tell.

After attending my Galician father-in-laws 70th birthday last weekend the conversations not surprisingly centered around Galicia and Spain. However, and not for the first time, he was the first to jump to the defence of Britain and the British when another relative compared British tourists with their German counterparts in an unfavourable light (something that I do a lot).

I guess that I have to admit that, in a massive swing in national loyalties over the last 20 years, he now has more loyalty and a greater feeling of patriotism towards Britain than I do. I certainly did not see that one coming when I first met him all those years ago. It is just a shame (in fact a tragedy) that a similar response in no longer evoked in an ever increasing number of the indigenous population.

Providing I can remember, I will add a future post about Galician property prices and their “relative” failure to fall in accordance with the rest of the country. Something that few without an understanding of the Galician mind set would ever fathom.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

 

General thoughts

I was recently emailed by someone informing me that the direct flight from Heathrow to la Coruna is now operated by ClickAir (part of Iberia) rather than by Iberia themselves.

A relative insignificance, but an important one if you are trying to book that particular flight.

We have finally made some plans to return to Galicia this year, but not until July - many months away.

It is interesting, or rather depressing, to see the impact of the exchange rate on vacation/trip expenses for a European break. Car hire was the most noticeable difference, with the cost up by almost half of the complete cost from last year. This does of course reflect the pounds abysmal performance against the Euro!

I also continue to see a diminished level of tourist and property interest in Galicia based upon the websites that I run about this area. However, the same can also be said with reference to most of the other European destinations. The disappointing thing is that there is no sign of any change or upturn.

I certainly have a great deal of sympathy with any business based around tourism, accommodation or any associated service, as these enterprises must be struggling to stay afloat.

For those in the UK, home based vacations are on the upturn with many choosing to book a holiday within Britain. This is no doubt good news for local hotels and tourism centres and I notice that my home county of Yorkshire are finally running national advertisements on TV to promote the beauty and heritage of the area.

London too is seeing a big increase in visitors from “within” as short breaks and heritage trips take the place of longer overseas vacations. To get some idea of why, you can take a look at what this city has to offer at http://www.londonweekendbreak.net/sightseeing.html (the sightseeing page). London is not the cleanest of cities, but it does have a lot to see and a lot to do for people of all ages and interests.

Finally, we bought 3 bottles of a very good Australian wine on Sunday. We had tried it a couple of weeks ago when some neighbours generously gave me a couple of bottles for sorting out some computer problems for them. We subsequently looked for it in our local supermarkets, but it was (by our standards) quite expensive, so we declined to buy more. While down in London over the weekend however, my wife spotted “the same” at Waitrose, an insanely expensive supermarket, but on offer at £3 off. At this price even I was tempted to hand over my money, but despite the attempted persuasion of the checkout person to buy 6 bottles, we stuck with the 3.

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