Tuesday, September 29, 2009

 

Our rental car in Galicia

I think that this will be my last blog about our July/August trip to Noia and this one relates to our hire car.

Usually we get something along the lines of a Peugeot 207, but prices were so high this year that we went for the most basic car that was on offer and the result was a Fiat Panda.

Frankly I do not know what to say about this car. On the one hand it was without doubt the worst car that I have driven since my first ever car – a 1980’s something Morris Marina. But on the other hand I discovered on our return to the UK that these things only cost about £6K.

The big issue that I had with the Panda was that it was very narrow, but also very high, and every time that we went around any kind of bend or corner at more than 20mph it felt like it was going to roll over. This in turn meant that we simply did not do any of the driving and exploring in Galicia that we usually do.

In short we did less miles in this car in 23 days than we usually do in one of our one week long visits to the region. The impact of this on our vacation was quite significant as it pretty much tied us down to Noia and the surrounding area. Ultimately it went some way towards spoiling the holiday.

On the upside I do have to admit that, as a “town car”, the Panda is pretty good. Because it is short and narrow, but with a high driving position, it makes parking, tight manoeuvring and general city driving easy. It also has massive head space for someone over 6ft. That said it is not the car for anyone who wants to venture into the country or, God forbid, drive on a motorway. I would also hate to drive this car in high wind. Maybe it would blow over, or maybe it would just blow to pieces, either way, I hope that I do not have to drive one again.

So the moral of this entry is, if you want to do plenty of driving whilst on holiday do not go for the most basic and price conscious hire car!

I just hope that I take my own advice next time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

 

Good neighbours

When we stay in Noia we are either based in an apartment next to the alameda, or a house that looks down on the town from the district of el Couto.

The latter is my favourite and, over the last couple of years, we have confined all of our visits there.

There are a number of reasons why I like this location and one of the main ones is the people who live in the houses opposite and close by. All have known my wife since she was a baby and all make us feel welcome during our visits. So much so that it is hard to leave the house and walk down to the town without being engaged in conversation by someone. That being a good thing of course.

Another big bonus of staying in this area is the amazing hospitality that you get to enjoy and here are two examples, both from the same lady.

Within a day of arriving we were being offered a home made empanada of any filling to be made just for us at any time that we wanted it.

What we actually suggested was that, rather than taking an empanada away with us, we eat it with the family at a time to suit them. So the following day was arranged and pork was the filling.

When we arrived the following day the empanada was ready, but we were ultimately unable to eat more than a thin slice as courses of fried and grilled squid, pimientos de pardon and king prawns preceded it. A massive Tiramisu was the dessert.

About 3 or 4 days later and, after expressing an interest in a traditional Galician stew, we got back to the house from the beach to find a note on the kitchen table.

It basically said, I have made you the stew that you wanted to try, it is on the stove and, if it has cooled down by the time that you get back, just heat it up.

Naturally it was delicious and we came home with the recipe.

Regrettably that kind of thing no longer happens here, or at least in my bit of here, so it is great to turn the clock back and experience proper neighbourhood spirit.

Giving a plug to a wholly unconnected topic, here is a site called http://www.rollergaragedoor.net/door-types.html which will tell you all about the different types of aforementioned doors.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

 

No water!

Going back to my rough list of things to write about, I am reminded that during our July and August break in Galicia we had some big problems with the water supply.

It started a couple of days after we arrived. We had already spotted that the main road into the town was being dug up and that the drains and main water supply were clearly visible. That, you would think, would make it difficult to break them, but then again when is a road ever dug up without some kind of catastrophe.

The next thing that we knew was that the taps were dry, the toilet would not flush and, having spoken to some neighbours, we quickly discovered that the whole central area of the town was in the same state, i.e. no water.

Water did arrive about 24 to 30 hours later, but for the following 2 to 3 days it was a dirty brown and suitable for nothing but the toilet.

Here however is where Galicia comes into its own with springs (fountains) everywhere that have fresh natural water pouring out of them.

For us it was a case of walking 20 metres to the nearest spring and filling up bottles, buckets and anything else that we could lay our hands on.

Having a shower was unfortunately out of bounds for about 3 days, so washing with cold water was something of an awakening.

The day after a full clean water supply resumed we woke up to know electricity and initially thought, “here we go gain”, however it was just one of the fuses that had tripped, so we were back in action in minutes.

I have not added any links for a while, so here is one about different types of garage door (http://rollergaragedoor.net) which “may” be of interest – but only if you are about to replace the said item.

Next post will be about one of the other items relating to our Galicia/Noia trip.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

 

The taste of food!

Each time that I visit Galicia I never fail to be amazed at the taste of fresh food, be it meat or vegetables.

As you get older you start to think that perhaps your senses are less acute and that the reason why chicken has no taste and peaches taste of water is because your senses are dulled.

This is not however the case and, in Galicia, eating anything from a peach to some chicken served as tapas with some drinks literally makes my mouth water. It really makes you realise that in the UK everything is sterile, treated with chemicals and probably fed with them too.

The biggest example that I can give is that having eaten the aforementioned chicken (wings) I could not stop licking my fingers. This is something that I never do and not only because the food never warrants it, but because I consider it a disgusting practice. Even so I could not stop myself from doing so.

Prawns (or shrimp if you are from the USA/Canada) are really tasty and they do not feel like water-filled lumps of cardboard. They are meaty, chewy and full of flavour. In fact when we eat them, which we do a lot, we never use a dip or a sauce, we simply sauté them in oil with garlic and that is it.

Pork, beef, and every kind of shellfish also have tastes that I remember from being a kid. It seems that food still has a taste and a texture and it also has colour too. Chicken is a yellow colour and egg yokes are orange. Peaches are large and juicy, but not watery and onions are sweet rather than acrid the way that they are in the UK.

The big question therefore has to be – what are we doing or not doing with our produce and livestock in Britain? Lamb always seems to taste pretty good and pork is generally OK, but that is about it.

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