30 April 2022: Ugly dogs; Bad olive oils; Street bastards, Pilgrims; & Other stuff

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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

In the 21 years I’ve been here, I’ve seen pet dog numbers soar. Particularly of the ultra-trendy but ugly flat-snouted dogs such as French bulldogs and pugs. The former – a brachycephalic breed – suffers from various health issues because of the abnormally short snout and intense breeding. They have a life expectancy of only 4.5 years, and the other flat-faced breeds – English bulldogs, pugs and American bulldogs – only get to 8. Jack Russell terriers have the longest life expectancy – almost 13 years, followed by Yorkies and then Border Collies. The latter have an average of 12.5 years but mine lasted 17.5. Back in 2001 he was the only Border Collie in town. Now there are dozens of them, few of them getting the exercise they really need

Supermarket olive oil – what you really need to know. Here and here.

Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas tell us that: Some 16,000 Brits took European nationality in 2020 (obviously no longer counted as foreign residents). But we don’t know how many got Spanish nationality, although it is generally known to be a difficult and a drawn-out process. expensive and stressful. Tomorrow I’ll re-post my comparison between the Spanish and Irish processes. Covid is making me a tad lethargic today.

From Lenox again:- From The Local: ‘Why is everything in Spain closed on Sundays? . . . Many countries across Europe, like Portugal, Italy, and the UK, have more liberal trading hours legislation. In fact, the European Commission ranked Spain as the country with the second highest number of restrictions on commercial trade in the EU. As Lenox says: It’s evidently down to petty laws, which appear to do little more than dampen commerce. How is it, we wonder respectfully, that the Chinese bazaars are always open, even on Christmas Day?

Pilgrim numbers are shooting up in town. Two unusually large groups of Germans this week. I sometimes stop people to tell them there’a a much prettier variant after O  Burgo bridge. This is usually well-received but I’ve learned not to take offence at those who eye me as if I’m mad. Even worse, those who start edging away from me as I give my spiel.

Some e-scooterists in Pontevedra city are obeying the new law and some aren’t. The latter continue to race recklessly through the narrow streets of the old quarter and what amazes me is the (traditional Spanish) live-and-let live attitude of those at risk from this. I’ve never seen anyone remonstrated with, even by the mother of a small child. Neither e-scooterists nor cyclists.

The EU

The European Travel Information and Authorization System will introduce a mandatory registration and a €7 fee for visitors to most European countries as of May 2023. While some people have called this a “visitor tax,” the stated reason for the program is improved security. According to then-European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker when ETIAS was announced in 2016, “We need to know who is crossing our borders. This way we will know who is traveling to Europe before they even get here. ETIAS states the system will be able to “Assist in detecting and decreasing crime and terrorism” and “Impede irregular migration.” With the system, Americans and visitors from 62 other countries will still be able to travel visa-free in most European nations. That now includes Brits, of course

Quote of the Day 

Tesla drivers – on the road, on the internet, in real and in notional form – are the absolute horror show, a brand affiliation that, no one needs reminding this week, goes all the way to the top. They’ve taken over from BMW drivers, apparently. In the UK, at least

English 

My Hamburg friend last night sent me, in error, a message in German. In this was the word dummdoof, which he says is his invention, meaning ‘very stupid’. Possibly related to dummkopf. Which is merely ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’. I like it and think it should be introduced into English.

Finally . . . 

To amuse . . .   

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

 

8 comments

  1. I love reading your insights into Spanish life, law and culture. Recent emigrant to Galicia, I am dumfounded on a daily basis how different Spain and Galicia are to London life. Small price to pay for this Green heaven we now call home

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    • Just keep an eye out for scooters and mad mopeds delivering food. You will live longer. 😉

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  2. Many many years ago as a wee bairn, I acquired a blue merle border collie. Dad said it was my responsibility to walk him at 6.30am, 4pm and 9pm. At weekends, I took him up in to the Pennines. We played footy for hours (anything to avoid homework). Despite all this, back at the house he happily went from one end of the house to the other pushing a tennis ball. He would do it for hours. We had a house with a garden. Here up north in and around Coruña the blue merles are suddenly to be seen everywhere, mostly pups. You can see they are bursting with energy. They need to be very well trained and need huge amounts of mental stimulus. I fear for those kept in flats, as the blue merle is an outdoor dog and needs space to run in.

    Speaking of being a bairn, back in the 70s shops were also shut on a Sunday in the UK. I dont recall when exactly that changed, maybe it was in the late 80’s. I dont mind Sunday shop closures, there are plenty of walks, beaches and motorbike routes to fill in a Sunday. Spanish commerce though needs a new plan. Amazon are delivering on Sundays, the Chinese bazaars are busy too on Sundays. In nearby Coruña commerce complains that the estimated 400,000 annual cruise ship passengers dont spend money. The thing is, the ships dock at around 7.30 to 8am. The mostly British, Scandinavian and German passengers are off the boat by 9am. Several bus loads will go to Santiago to do their selfies at the cathedral. The rest trek around the city, probably wondering why the everything is shut. Most commerce does not open until 10.30am, some at 11am. They shut at 1.30pm/2pm and re-open at 5pm. By 5pm all the guiris and their unopened bursting wallets are back on board getting ready for a hearty meal in the buffet, or with the Captain if they are rich enough. Do the math, and you can see the problem.

    Compare this to Oporto, which I visited for the first time in 3 years at the back end of this week. On Friday, a normal working day, it was packed out with money toting mostly Northern Europeans. We spoke with German pilgrims, a couple from Holland, and observed a few groups of bachelor parties getting off to an early start. The boats that go up and down the river were full to the brim. The cafes, restaurants and commerce in general were all playing their part. The atmosphere was buoyant, the Portuguese customer service at its best. I was slightly taken aback at a waitress and her beaming smile, or her colleague who came to the table twice to ask if everything was to our liking. The modern trams made movement easy, when our legs became tired. To top it all off, I was able to visit one of several Indian supermarkets to top up on my expansive range of Massalas, poppadums and chappatis. My partner and I were slightly in awe at what has been achieved, and how well it is being done in Oporto. I imagine the investment in infrastructure, such as a modern tram network with 6 lines (a 7th being built), as well as a superb airport that doubles the passenger numbers from our 3 airports combined, probably helps. Or maybe they dont’t suffer from petty local politicians and their confrontaional attitude to public service.

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  3. Yes, it’s always said that Border Collies can become terribly nervous and even aggressive if they don’t get the exercise they need, More so with some than others. I once had 2 at the same time and one was more active than the other.

    Oporto/Porto: I am ambivalent about the changes. Both I and my friends love to go there and, like you, I admire what’s been done there. But tourism is always 2-edged and I miss the lack of crowds that I first experienced back in ’99- If one can miss a lack. And it’s a lot more expensive in ‘hotspots’ like the Ribeira.

    Have you been to The World of Wine (wow.pt)? If not, next visit.

    As for the airport . . . Back then it was almost 3rd world and with not much by way of an industrial hinterland. But look at it now! An object lesson for the Spanish/Galicians which has been comprehensively ignored, for the reasons you suggest.

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