8 October 2021

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 

Back in 2019AC (ante Covid). A total of 347,578 ‘pilgrims’ registered their arrival in Santiago de Compostela at the end of one camino or another. Then there’d be others, like me and my old friends, who never bother with getting a Compostela certificate on the basis of daily stamps obtained along the way/Way. Most of these officialised pilgrims arrive via the French Way, though the less busy Portuguese Way has been growing in popularity for the last 5 years or more. As of end September, the official total for 9 months of this year for pilgrims registered in SdC was 140,000. This is way down on the numbers expected for a Holy Year but the latter has been extended by a charitable Pope and, all being well, next year should see a number way in excess of 400,000 – arriving via one of at least 40 modern caminos. So, big business. As it is, October has seen quite an increase in numbers passing through Pontevedra. Maybe because the hotter weather of the summer months is now over. Or would be, if we weren’t having an unseasonably warm 10 days..

I believe gin is still an exceptionally popular drink in the city but I note that vermú/vermút (vermouth) is coming up on the inside. Indeed, the Rias Baixas of southern Galicia have added a Ruta del Vermú to our many Rutas del Vino. Back when I was an (illegal) 17 year-old barman in the UK, vermouth was only served with gin – either as ‘gin & It’ (with sweet Martini) or as ‘gin & French’ (with dry Martini, but now it seems to be served as a stand-alone snifter. The brand name I’ve heard most often is St. Petroni. Which is actually made by a Galician company – from the Albariño grape, naturally. Assuming St. stand for saint/Santo,I ‘ve no idea why isn’t called San Petroni. Nor do I have any idea who Petroni is/was.

Talking of drinks . . .I once read there were 42 ways to order a coffee here in Spain. Here’s advice on how to do it wherever you find yourself.

En passant, I’ve never, in 21 years, heard anyone order una celta here in Galicia. Nor un café con gotas. I must get out more. But meanwhile I’ll try for one or both of them in La Coruña today. Or at Pontevedra’s train station.

A couple of my female friends here in Pontevedra are very nervous of cats. Passing a couple of our 800 feral creatures (in 10 ‘colonies’) last night, it struck me that perhaps this isn’t the best city for them to live in. The ladies, I mean. Not the cats. Who seem to live a life of well-fed luxury. And are possibly less nervous than said ladies.

If you go back to yesterday’s foto of the arsey car blocking the exit of a petrol station, you’ll see a pinkish building behind it. This is occupied by some of the squatters we hear so much about these days. But nothing, I’m told, has been done about them for some time, for 2 reasons:- 1. The house is owned by the municipality, not private persons, and 2. They’re ‘good’ okupas who don’t bother the neighbours. No need, then, for the services of one of the companies who ‘negotiate’ with squatters. Who might well operate a lot more down South than they do up here.


Reading Daniel Defoe’s book on the Great Storm which hit southern England in 1703, I noted it was commonplace to attribute the carnage to God’s wrath* but, at the same time, thank him for his mercy in not killing oneself. Much the same attitude is still struck by US Evangelists today when, for example, a tornado whips through a mid-western farm, killing all the (blameless) family except the survivor. Especially if the family Bible is left intact. 

* From the Wiki article: The storm was unprecedented in ferocity and duration and was generally reckoned by witnesses to represent the anger of God, in recognition of the “crying sins of this nation”. . . .  It remained a frequent topic of moralising in sermons well into the 19th century. When people came to their senses. Which is yet to happen among a considerable percentage of Yanquis.


The article on coffee starts with the line: Practically every expat or regular visitor can remember their first words in Spanish. True enough. Mine, at 17, were Mi sastre es rico. ‘My tailor is rich’. Older Spanish readers will recall, I’m sure, that this was the first – bizarre – phrase in a one-time popular text book on English. Possibly the only one on sale and, even more possibly, personally vetted by Franco, to ensure there was nothing in it which offended him. Quite a lot did. 

Finally  . . .

My bank told me yesterday that €60 had gone into my account. I guessed it was my annual income from Google ads that have been clicked. All hail Google. And inquisitive readers, of course.

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