Sunday, March 20, 2011
From my sick bed
I will start by saying that if anyone is contemplating visiting Galicia at the moment, April and May are pretty much the best times to do so. The weather is often good as Spring moves towards Summer and the scenery is at its absolute best. Everywhere is bathed in yellow from the daisies to the broom and the place is a sheet of yellow and green. There is also an absence of tourists.
I often do a news search on Galicia related topics and, increasingly, Google are throwing up everything from Wikipedia to commercial network sites in these results. All a bit annoying, but also sometimes enlightening, as in this case:
Apparently, if you have lost your job and are facing desperate times, a company called “Follow the Camino” recommend that you get yourself to Galicia and walk the Camino (with them as your tour company of course). They will provide a guided walk or bicycle tour and, because of your unfortunate circumstances, will give you a 10% discount. I guess that taking a holiday is absolutely the best thing to do if you are worried about your mortgage and bill payments. Here is their final paragraph attempting to entice those who are unemployed:
If you have lost your job in the last twelve months, and you feel you’d like to get away from it all to reflect on what you’re going to do next, Follow the Camino will offer you a 10% discount on all its basic package prices for 2011 holidays if you book by 30 June 2011.
To me this is almost on a par with the relentless loan shark and internet gambling advertisements that fill TV advertising breaks. Let’s get your money when you are down and when you can afford it the least! What the ad also fails to point out is whether you can still get the 10% discount if you have been unemployed for more than 12 months. Perhaps the offer does not apply to anyone who they class as long term unemployed.
This article - http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/03/03/bilingual-countries-like-wales-show-society-can-have-more-than-one-language-91466-28269346/, yet again using the Welsh language to support the arguments for gallego and its bilingual existence in Galicia, appears to take the same reasoning that previously suggested that two languages could not perpetually exist in a society, and turn the logic on its head to state that they can. As Colin Davies has said many times, regional languages are political issues and the same “alternative interpretation” of facts that are used in politics can be used to either support or shoot down the justification for a second tongue.
Unfortunately I will have to bring things to a close prematurely as I am seriously struggling to keep my “always limited concentration” going.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Coach Trip TV show in Galicia
(My minor connection with this)
I was contacted separately by two different people about the Galicia stops of the Coach Trip back in July last year when they were trying to come up with some regional activities for the party to have a go at. My two suggestions were playing the Galician bagpipes (which they used in la Coruna) and preparing and eating pulpo (which they obviously did not). I suspect that part of the problem with Santiago was that they arrived the day after the Saints Day when everything was winding down. This is probably why they headed off to the coast. Lucky Santiago!
If you missed the program, rest assured, you have temporarily been spared the embarrassment of seeing British people behaving badly and raucously in northern Spain. Unfortunately the bad news is that, like every episode of this show, it will be repeated dozens of times until you finally succumb to the torture.
I normally avoid Coach Trip like the plague, but naturally I had to see what they did and it really beggars belief that it is possible to find such a collection of vile people and load them all onto one coach at the same time. Regrettably the outcome is what seems to qualify as entertainment in this age of “everyone can be a celebrity” television.
So, having moaned and complained about Galicia not getting any publicity or TV coverage in the UK ,I have now got my comeuppance - Coach Trip Galicia style.
Perhaps the most telling thing about all of this is that the stats for my Galicia themed websites showed no noticeable increase in visitors as a result of the Coach Trip exposure of the region. One has to assume that the people who watch that kind of show and the people who visit places like Galicia (through choice) are very different. Thank God.
Anyway, now I have Benidorm to look forward to on Friday night, how good can TV get!
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Bill Oddie, the Eurovision song contest and more
Next, moving away from Northern Spain and into the world of ornithology - Some years ago the comedian/actor/singer/song-writer/musician/ornithologist and general know it all Bill Oddy went to great lengths on one of his “bird shows” to point out that robins (i.e. the bird) never land on bird feeders. At the very time that he was saying this we had a robin in our back garden on a sun flower feeder and, as I look out of my window now, two robins are taking turns on a feeder full of fat balls. So much for the knowledge of “so called” experts attained from books rather than real life observation! Stick to the Goodies Bill.
This analogy (i.e. apparent fact versus reality) takes me on to a fact about Santiago de Compostela that has mildly irritated me for some time.
It is apparently a recorded fact that Santiago gets more rain than any other city or town in Galicia with some rainfall recorded on over 300 days every year. I have to confess that Santiago is not somewhere that I go to with any degree of regularity, however I have only ever been there in the rain on one occasion. This leads me to question whether these rainfall statistics are really correct, or whether somehow the rain only falls at night and then dries rapidly before dawn. Then again perhaps I have simply been incredibly lucky. Either way, it would seem that the rainfall must be very brief and fleeting and it makes me (at least) wonder why this apparent “wet and rainy” Santiago image is one that is promoted in some of the free tourist guide booklets. Perhaps the assumption is that tourist like rain.
I frequently refer to the comparative safety and sanity of Galicia when compared to the UK, however it would seem that la Coruna is not quite as safe as I thought – or at least its airport. Last week the coach of Real Madrid was apparently attacked by a man armed with a knife and one of his aids or bodyguards was “cut” during the same incident. It happened as the coach signed autographs in the airport. For those interested in the outcome of the real fight, i.e. Deportivo la Coruna versus Real Madrid, the final score was 0-0.
Now for some serious news. Galicia has a great honour in 2011, namely that of having a Galician born representative for Spain in the Eurovision song contest. Her name is Lucia Perez and she hails from O Inicio and her entry song is titled Que me quiten lo bailao. For those who cannot wait to hear this masterpiece here is a link to the song on youtube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci53hGxsrUQ, you can make up your own minds as to the quality of the entry!
Finally, a bit of external reading for anyone interested in Galician shellfish and the provocative topic of the Galician language.
Galicia is of course famous for its seafood and particularly its shellfish. It is interesting therefore to read that apparently anything up to 80% of “so called” Galician mussels are in fact not from Galicia at all. Many are Chilean mussels, yet they are marked as being native to Galicia. To find out more take a look at this article http://www.fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&country=0&special=&monthyear=&day=&id=40931&ndb=1&df=0.
You can find a rather obscure article about the Welsh and Galician languages with some illuminating statistics here http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/03/03/welsh-and-galician-the-facts-91466-28269345/.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
Statistics that tell a story!
Secondly, I need to correct my glaring error from a previous post where I incorrectly assumed that the Martin Sheen film about the Way of St. James had already been released in the UK cinema and was awaiting DVD and Blu-Ray release. Although released in Spain last year, the film has not yet opened in the UK (unless it has done so over the last few days). As a result, those wanting the DVD or Blu-Ray copy will therefore have a little bit longer to wait.
Like many people with blogs and websites I occasionally look at my visitor statistics to see how people find the sites and the kinds of searches that they use. (These stats counters provide all sorts of information from browser and operating system details to lists of pages visited and even the ISP.)
Unfortunately, having trawled through the last 9 pages of Galicia Guide’s most recent site viewers there have been no unusual or inappropriate search terms used to get to the site. Disappointing as I had intended to make any that I found an amusing part of this post! However, it is also interesting to look at the origin of the visitors and, to give you a picture of that, the last 500 pages views were generated by people from 34 different countries. One of those 34 countries was listed as “without a name”, so I assume that the origin of that visitor could not be resolved – or maybe it was someone from Libya.
Not surprisingly about 58% of those visitors (at 6.18 pm UK time) came from a country whose indigenous tongue is English and that figure generally increases as the day progresses and more US states come online. By 9.00pm in the evening this figure can rise to well over 70%.
Interesting nations listed in the statistics that I surveyed included Iran, Latvia and Macao, but without spending more time looking at the data I cannot ascertain if the viewers were English speakers or nationals using a web Translator.
Another interesting (or probably not so interesting) statistic is that those same 500 page views from 34 countries came from a total of 142 cities, 4 of which could not be resolved to a specific identity.
My reason for going on about this is partly because I am struggling for something to write about, but also because it throws weight to the level of international interest currently shown in Galicia. Many people would assume that this small northern Spanish region was not particularly well known internationally, but with visitors from Luanda in Angola and Hovedstaden in Denmark this is clearly not the case.
This is illustrated better than anything else by throwing in one final statistic. Namely that the single visitor out of the last 500 page views who visited the greatest number of pages was from Speichersdorf, Bayern in Germany. He or she looked at a series of different pages about la Coruna, a Guarda and Lugo and found the site through a search for “a Guarda” – not the best know town in the region.