Friday, 28 March 2014

Getting back to Galicia

Up at the crack of dawn yesterday. Well, OK, so 6.00 may not be quite the crack of dawn but it was rather bleak and cold, that kind of cold that late winter/early spring throws at you sometimes. By 7.02 we were getting on the Metropolitan line to Finchley Road and then across the platform almost straight onto the Jubilee Line to London Bridge Station. This is a large and confusing station. We spent some time hunting for the ticket machine to collect our pre-booked tickets to Gatwick airport, knowing that we had precisely 12 minutes to get our tickets and find the correct platform. But all was well and by 8.18 we were sending messages to our son to reassure him that we had caught the train and so were unlikely to miss out plane. 

Gatwick is enormous! Airports should not be the size of small towns. The train drops you off at South Terminal and it’s just as well that there is a shuttle service to North Terminal or we might have been doing a route march. Our flight did not have a designated gate until 10.10. By the time we had stomped to gate 105 it was 10.25 and the plane was already boarding. Such is the size of the terminal! 

Santiago de Compostela airport on the other hand is tiny: a kind of clone of Porto airport in Portugal. The architects who design these small airports must have rubbed their hands in glee at the idea of Galicia having THREE airports, all competing with each other and with Porto. The artwork at the airport is interesting too! 

We found the bus to Santiago but were unable to get it immediately as we only had €50 and the driver would not accept them. So we had to go back into the airport and have coffee, thus changing the money-laundering note (I read somewhere that Spain uses more €50 than any other country, possibly because of money-laundering!) and then caught the next bus. The fare was only €3 each so I suppose it’s understandable that the driver wants smaller denomination notes. 

Finally at around 5.00pm, Spanish time, we arrived in Vigo, some six months since we left. We had intended to be back in a month or 6 weeks at the most but things conspired against us. 

But here we are! In no time at all we had:- 

          recharged the mobile internet dongle at the Vodafone shop; 
          restored the out of date numbers on our Spanish phones at the Telef√≥nica shop (if you don’t use the phone for a while they assume your number has lapsed);
          put some credit on said Spanish mobile phones; 
          met an old friend by chance at the bus stop; 
          gone food shopping! 

The last task was interesting! I scouted around for the checkout with the shortest queue (self checkout has clearly not arrived in Vigo supermarkets as yet) and joined it. Then I was almost barged out of my place by a lady (a lady? really?) who informed me that I was in her place. “I was there!” she told me. Oh, no, she wasn’t! She was half way up the aisle looking at tins of soup or something. But then her friend joined it, confirming that she was indeed queuing with her and advising her mate in future to leave her trolley in her place. Not quite what I call queuing etiquette but I let it go, not feeling in the mood for an argument. 

Now this is not the first time this has happened to me. And just before we came away I went to an Italian film and workshop about how Sicilians and most southern Mediterranean people use gestures and body language, Here’s a photo of us all making strange and meaningful gestures. Great fun! One thing that came up in discussion was the wonderful British queue. I wonder if there is a gesture that signifies “Oy! Get out of the way; that’s my place in the queue even if I walk away for a while!” 

I must remember to ask my Italian teacher when I go back to Blighty!


  1. Think you'll find it was the 500, Anthea. 'Bin Ladens', as they used to be called.

  2. You're right. It was the 500s. Do £500 notes even exist?