Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 22.8.21

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable. 

– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Max Abroad here gives his list of Spain’s most beautiful cities. Personally, I’d put Santander at Number one and would be dubious about Madrid and Barcelona, compared with, say, Cádiz.

Oh, no! Another bloody article eulogising Galicia and Asturias. It reminded me of something Cees Nooteboom wrote 21 years ago in ‘Roads to Santiago’ – to the effect that there was so much to see in northern Spain that, if it were picked up and plonked down in France, a million folk a year would visit it. But because it was in Spain, hardly anyone did. How things have changed.

I was in the magnificent Cañon del Sil last week and told my travelling companion that, as the wine terraces were so steep, they had to use goats to harvest the grapes. When she seemed a tad sceptical, I admitted I’d been joking. And confessed they really used trained monkeys.  Oh, and I was also one of many hundreds at Cathedrals Beach. 

The above article cites the Courel mountain range, through which passed – in the winter of 1808 – the unhappy British soldiers retreating to La Coruña from Napoleon’s army. This map show the exact route for the troops, under the famous – to kids of my generation – Sir John Moore. Some of it now forms part of the Camino Francés. Which you can bypass – especially in winter – by deviating for a while on the more southern Camino de Invierno.

Sir John Moore, by the way, has a rather magnificent tomb in la Coruña, very well maintained by the citizens of that windy city,

An odd conversation in one of Pontevedra’s squares last night:-

I’d like a shandy, please, with gaseosa(lemonade).

We can only give you a bottled shandy, with lemon juice.

Don’t you have a bottle of gaseosa in the bar?

No. We’re a paf(pub).

Well, you must be the only place in Pontevedra which doesn’t but, OK, I’ll have a glass of Godello.

We don’t do wine.

What! A bar that doesn’t do wine?

As I said, we’re a paf.

OK, bring me beer, if you do them.

It turned out she was serving not from one of the 3 full-range bars in the square but from a limited-range disco club off the square. And I guess she used paf instead of cloob because this means a brothel in Spain these days. Twenty-odd years ago, it was ‘American bar’. There’s a lot of them.

Here’s something with which to extend your knowledge of Galician. As it happens, there was a young lady in the square last night whose skirt was even shorter than the one described in the first phrase. Hardly worth wearing. Except, perhaps, as a belt.

The UK

This report differs significantly from the comments of my recent visitor from the UK on the subject of mask-wearing there. But it’s possible there’s a great deal more of it indoors than outdoors, even though – unlike in Spain – that’s no longer compulsory in the UK. 

Quote of the Day

After hearing Biden talk of ‘the intelligence community’ . . . Everyone belongs to a community these days. Is there a terrorist community?


Reading beTween the lines is England’s 2nd language.

Finally  . . .

In contrast with Spain, swearing in the UK is said to be decreasing. It says here.

Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here