Sunday, 29 March 2009

Wandering around in the windy weather.

Yesterday Vigo once again celebrated, or perhaps just continued celebrating, La Reconquista. There was a craft fayre in the casco vello which looked remarkably similar to the medieval fayre I saw a few years ago in La Coruna but I suppose that craft did not change much over that time. Lots of people were in costume, the gaita band was playing and in the Plaza de la Princesa a sculpting competition was going on: lots of artists hammering and chiseling away in the clothes of yesteryear.

Although the sun was still shining, the weather had definitely changed; the temperatures had dropped and the wind had an edge to it.
Una ola de frio (literally a wave of cold) was forecast for the whole peninsula with snow alerts in some inland places. This is perhaps a consequence of my having bought (and worn) sandals this week and having made gazpacho yesterday. Hmmm, I wonder if it works the other way round as well!

Nevertheless, in the afternoon we set off for a small seaside place along the coast from Pontevedra, O Grove, where they seem not to be aware that the elections are over - or maybe they are still hoping!

The chess team was playing there and once more I was going along for the ride ... and the tourism. The match was played in Pub Vinilo, the Vinyl (as in the old pre-CD records) Pub. An interesting venue with a low, beamed ceiling, a clock on the wall made from an old 78 record and a couple of rows of seats which could have been liberated from a superannuated cinema, it was well worth a visit. Above the bar were two-foot high figurines of Humphrey Bogart, Woody Allen, Alfred Hitchcock, Groucho Marx and, somewhat incongruously, Robert Smith of the Cure. Other items of decor were a printing press dating from 1958, long before printing went digital, and a chess table superimposed on an old treadle sewing machine frame complete with its foot pedal and drive wheel.

The chess team played on a sort of stage at one end of the bar under the spotlights where presumable musical acts play at other times. At one point someone paused on the street outside to observe the progress of one of the ganes through the window. Celebrity of sorts! On the door was pinned a notice: Xadrez Bregoan, silencio entre 17.30 y 21.30. Anyone who came in for coffee was duly shushed!

While the games got underway I went for a walk, re-exploring a place I had last seen one very hot summer's da
y in 2007. This late Saturday afternoon, the sun was shining most of the time but the wind was biting. Although the tamarind trees were in bloom, the wind was blowing the clouds over and even the seagulls looked cold. The water looked even colder. It had been my intention to walk across to the nearby island of La Toja, a local beauty spot, slightly upmarket and boasting a casino. However, by the
time I reached the bridge my hands were turning blue and so I headed back to the Vinilo for a cafe con leche to thaw me out.

After the match, which was won by the way, we made our way to A Solaina,
a seafood restaurant on the (very cold and windy) seafront where for around 20 euros apiece we feasted on a range of delicious fishy odds and ends including, just for a change, pulpo.

And finally, on our way home I discovered a common interest with one of the Spanish chess players: cookery. New man DOES exist in Spain! He and I swopped recipe ideas and mutually bemoaned the difficulty of finding the right herbs and spices in Vigo!

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