25 November 2021: A Travel Special

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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’

The very heavy rain anticipated during my 5 hour drive to Santander never materialised. Though it did rain – quite lightly – during the middle hours. And there was none of the snow a neighbour had warned me might be falling near Gijón. Arriving in Santander, I was actually greeted by the sun.

The day had started badly when I’d failed to make contact with one of my 2 BlaBla passengers about leaving an hour earlier than planned, so had to stick with the original time of 9am. Despite having paid for the trip, this young guy then irritated me by not showing up at all. Meaning I could have gone without him at 8. He goes by the name of Yaiza, so I can only guess at his nationality. Within the meeting place of Pontevedra station, there was a man about his age of 20 asleep on the floor in a corner. Thinking this might be said Yaiza, I stood over him and called his phone to see if it rang. But had no more luck connecting with it than I’d had in the previous 2 hours.

Well, I was, indeed, nearly sent back to Pontevedra . . . At the Brittany Ferries check-in, I handed over the certificate obtained after my recent booster Pfizer jab, as it contained details of both that jab and the Janssen jab of last May. But I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to board the Galicia, as the date of the Pfizer jab wasn’t at least 14 days previous. Fortunately, I had the Janssen certificate and suggested they’d discard the second 2-jab certificate and use only that one. Which, happily they did.

I theorise that the QR of the 2nd certificate gave the date of the Pfizer jab and the reader wan’t programmed to recognise that the earlier (single) Janssen jab meant I was was ‘fully vaccinated’ for the purposes of UK entry.

If so, this would explain the hour I wasted on Tuesday night trying to get my certificate accepted on line for my Locator form.

So . . . If you’ve had a Janssen jab and want to get into the UK, only show this one and don’t hand over the certificate relating to another jab within 14 days of departure from wherever.

The newish Galicia of Brittany Ferries is a fine boat there are a few differences between it and previous BF boats I’ve been on. Not all of them welcome. The company clearly has to compensate for the losses of the last 2 years, so it’s not surprising that the services on the Galicia seem to me to have been designed by an accountant with an eye to maximum profitability. But the staff are as excellent as ever.

One of the negatives of the Galicia is that wifi is no longer available throughout the trip. You can get 30 minutes free and then choose one of 3 ‘Premium’ options. In compensation for charging you, BF now claim that the wifi is of superior quality than it used to be. Which wouldn’t, in fact be very difficult. BF says that putting your phone into airplane mode significantly improves things. Which is irrelevant if you want to use your laptop now which your’ve just written a blog post.

The Galicia has, you’ve guessed it, a Galician theme, with some Spanish elements thrown in. But I wonder if the company – or any of its employees – knows there are at least 2 places in Galicia called Bretoña. At least one of them is reckoned to have been settled in the 6th century by monks from Brittany, possibly having first come from Britain.

Years ago, I went to the most northern of the Bretoñas – expecting to find some sort of memorial there- but there was nowt. Which is odd, given how much the Galicians make of their alleged Celtic heritage.

Well, time to get on with my reading, now that the Spanish chap next to me talking to his mother has taken her – and her concerns about him – off loudspeaker.