Yesterday I had one of those frustrating customer service moments that happen occasionally. I’m flying back to the UK on Thursday for a couple of weeks and wanted to book my ticket for the bus from Pontevedra to Oporto airport. So off I trotted to the bus station here. Looking around the bus station I couldn’t see a relevant ticket office so I went to ask at “información”. The dialogue went something like this:
Me: Can you tell me where I can buy a ticket for the AUTNA bus to Oporto airport?
Assistant: You can’t buy one here. You have to book by internet.
Me: Ah, but I’d have to print the ticket and I don’t have a printer here.
Assistant: (Shrug) Well, I’ll give you the phone number of the company.
Me: Can I buy the ticket on the bus?
Assistant: (Another shrug) Well, yes, but it can be full when it gets here from Santiago. (Dismissive shrug.)
Great! So I have information I already had, a timetable with the phone number of Autna and their web address but that’s all.
It reminded me of the first time we ever came to Pontevedra and arrived at this same bus station. We asked for information about buses into the town centre, only to find that the assistant didn’t really know. She thought one had just gone and didn’t quite know how long it would be until the next one. She looked at our luggage and said, “No van ustedes muy cargados” – “You’ve not got a lot to carry” – and proceeded to give us directions to walk to town. It’s not along walk but distances always seem longer when you don’t know the route and besides it was quite a warm day. She neglected to tell us that the train station was just opposite and we could get a cheap taxi from there. No joined-up thinking!
I could cite other customer service disasters but I won’t. The Spanish are lovely people but from time to time their customer service lets them down.
Apart from such incidents, our stay in Pontevedra has been very good. The chess player has been moderately successful, although he would say he’s not playing at his best.
I’ve seen some interesting sights, such as the ladies using the old “lavadero”, stone washing place, on the way to the chess club.
I’ve heard some marching bands of dubious quality and of limited repertoire in the centre of town.
A couple of afternoons have been spent chillaxing (that, so I am informed, is the correct term for chilling out and relaxing) beside my friend Colin’s pool. Well, actually, doing a fair amount of swimming in addition to chillaxing.
And then last night we ate out at “El Pitillo”, one of our favourite eating places in this fine city, with Colin and his lovely daughters.
Not a bad life!