Thursday, May 26, 2011

 

The Camino, the Galician economy & getting to Galicia

Several years ago my wife told me that she would write a step by step guide to the main Camino de Santiago, namely the route that runs from France to Santiago de Compostela, also know as the French Way.

From that time to the last couple of weeks I have been able to moan, complain and ridicule her seeming lack of progress.

However the whole thing is now complete and it runs to 33 stages and tens of thousands of words. It would seem that the pressure is now on me to look at ways of setting it out in an easily accessible way and then transferring all of the content from word documents to html pages. At a first glance I am wondering if it may be several years before I have transcribed the whole thing onto the website. Next time I ask her to undertake such a mammoth project I will encourage her to take her time and deliver it to me bit by bit.

A friend with a business in Pontevedra tells me that the heat wave there continues with temperatures getting as high as 33 degrees centigrade. Unseasonably hot for the time of year and, with a lack of rain, it could be that the forest fires start early this year!

The same friend also tells me that the economic situation, as it is experienced by people on the ground and not those basing views on newspaper reports, is getting worse. Several of her acquaintances who were fully employed professionals up to a couple of years ago are now grateful for part time work and short term contracts. In addition, many are even prepared to travel some distance for such opportunities – very unusual in Galicia where a 10 km journey to work is considered almost unreasonable.

Perhaps the most exasperating aspect of this recession in Spain is the apparent busyness of the cafes and bars from lunchtime onwards. This gives the misleading impression that things are buoyant, people are relaxed and that there is always money for a coffee or a glass of wine.

The reality is that the people seen indulging in this café culture activity are primarily local government employees of which every city, town and village has an abundance. Once the short working morning is concluded these bureaucrats retreat to their favourite bars and cafes where they indulge themselves in casual conversation for the remainder of the day. Not a bad life, but one that is at the expense of those employed in the commercial world and the tax payers of the EU’s contributor nations of which we (the UK) are one.

I have mentioned a couple of times that my websites about Galicia are in fact experiencing record visitor levels at the moment. However the relationship between visitors and interest in holiday arrangements is a very loose one right now and it would seem that browsing rather than making firm plans is the name of the game. Having said that the same friend mentioned above, who runs a tour company in Galicia, has actually had to turn some business away because of double bookings and high enquiry levels. Hopefully things are showing an upturn when it comes to the tourist industry.

For those interested in Galicia’s largest and most prosperous city Vigo, here is an entry page that will allow you to explore it in more detail - galiciaguide.com/Vigo-index.html. Vigo is not renown for its beauty or architecture, but with its newly found status as a popular cruise stop-off it is seeing increasing tourism and this is probably why its small medieval district has been spruced up over recent years.

Finally, I have been looking at the ferry and car option as a way of getting to Galicia rather than going down the Ryanair and hire car route. At the moment I am trying to determine the feasibility of each option with the former being cheaper, but also adding (over the course of a 3 week break) well over 2,000 miles to the clock. I will probably do a post about this over the next week or two and add useful links for anyone interested.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

 

Euro Song Contest

I mentioned some weeks ago that Spain’s Eurovision Song Contest entry was sung by a Galician lady and yesterday saw the big event itself.

The song faired somewhat poorly (to say the least) and whilst both Colin Davies and my wife liked it, I thought it firstly: pretty poor and secondly: not in the mould of current winners. That said, it was superior to the UK’s Blue entry and in a different class to the embarrassing Jedwood. How does that rubbish pass as entertainment and are Jedwood really male, they look and sound like very effeminate girls to me.

Staying on the Eurovision song contest I was, until a few years ago, under the impression that this event still had some status in Spain. That was until I asked my wife to enquire about the views that her Spanish family had on it during a “big” Sunday lunch. The response did not come in words, but rather laughter. They appear to consider it every bit as much of a joke as we do – or at least those in the young to mid life age range.

Interestingly I have noticed a significant increase in traffic to my Galicia related websites. In fact visitor levels are, for the moment at least, back to the 2008 highs (when Ryanair were flying there from 3 UK airports). Whether or not this will translate to more tourists for the region is another matter, but it is unusual that interest in the region seems higher now that during the 2010 Jubilee year.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

 

A week away

My visitor stats tell me that my "fair weather" readers have now left me in droves following the return of Colin Davies and his daily Galician blog.

At one point in January I was getting 70 to 80 readers per day which is pretty impressive for any blog, but I am now back to a quarter of that amount.

Thanks to the few who loyal readers who remain.

In truth I am not all that disappointed by the change. Firstly, it signals Colin’s return and secondly, it takes the pressure off me to try and make at least a couple of posts per week – this has always been challenging in more ways than one. So, with the status quo returned I will feel no pressure to try and write when, in reality, I may have nothing to say or write about.

So, with that short observation out of the way, I will sign off for the next week as I venture off to the East coast of Yorkshire (specifically Filey) for the next 6 days. We will be staying in what sounds like a very impressive little house in the centre of the town and no doubt exploring the surrounding coast and countryside. I hope that the weather remains good and that today's strong wind abates.

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