26 September 2021

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Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza

Here’s the estimable Max on the oldest synagogue in Europe – in Barcelona.

It takes all sorts. . . An El Pais headline: Volcano tourists cause congestion on La Palma, with plane tickets going for as much as €500. Needless to say, the presence of these folk is not helping the locals deal with the challenges thrown up [sorry] by the erupting volcano.

Talking of seeing things, a HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for the citation of this gallery of fotos of the 10 prettiest walled towns in Spain.

And talking of barriers . . . Following a 1967 referendum in which almost 100% of Gibraltarians voted to stay British rather than become Spanish, a highly piqued Franco closed the border with Spain. It wasn’t opened until 1982 and then only partially. At the formal ceremony, it was found that the key to the huge gate wouldn’t work and the festivities were suspended while a locksmith was summoned and set to work on the troublesome lock.


Last evening I got to visit the newish WOW complex in Gaia, across the river from Oporto. Based in some old stone buildings of the Croft port company, it’s mightily impressive. Last night was for good eating and drinking with friends but this morning will be for the wine and cork museums. And perhaps some more eating and drinking at lunchtime, before heading back to Pontevedra. A nice detail . . . The Golden Catch fish restaurant and the Root & Vine vegetarian restaurant are adjacent and food can be ordered from either.

Incidentally, there was a young chap in Oporto handing out brochures on WOW. Or, rather, trying to. When I asked him for one, he was so taken aback he smiled and thanked me more profusely than I could have expected.

Finally . . .

I’m almost embarrassed to say that, thanks to my mother’s view that garlic was the food of the devil and only used to disguise the flavour of bad meat, I didn’t get to taste it until I was 23, as garlic salt on – of all things – baked beans on toast. Other first tastings which have knocked my socks off are mango – ‘The king of fruit’ – and alioli. The first while in hospital after a motor-bike accident in the Seychelles when I was 19 and the second, considerably later, in a port on Majorca which I like to call Anthrax but which is actually Andratx.

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