I fully expected to write that we had managed to travel to Pontevedra this morning without problems. Not so. Our plan was to catch the 12.10 train to Pontevedra to meet our friend Colin for lunch. The last few times I have travelled from Vigo Guixar station, the queue for tickets has been interminable and the service slow. So I set off in plenty of time, leaving Phil finishing off this and that, planning to join me at the station in time for the train. Setting off early was more of an insurance policy than anything else. A little like carrying a just-in-case umbrella to ward off rain.
I reached the station a good twenty minutes before the train was due to leave. Just as well I did! The queue was around 10 to 15 people long. Ten minutes later Phil joined me. I was still in the queue. There had been little forward movement. Shortly it became apparent that another taquilla was about to open, this time for "salida inmediata", in other words, immediate departure. We were first at the ticket window. The clerk proceeded to huff and puff and curse and swear at her computer, trying to make it cough up two tickets to Pontevedra with old biddies' discount gold cards.
Meanwhile at the head of the other queue a small row was starting up. An Asian gentleman who had been there for at least ten minutes was getting more and more agitated. He began to say things in English, clearly not understanding what the ticket clerk was saying to him in Spanish. Within minutes both of them, clerk and customer, were shouting at each other, one in Spanish and the other in English. A classic communication breakdown situation. My nosy-parker instinct kicked in and I moved across and asked, in both languages, if I could help. Simple! The ticket clerk needed to see the credit card with which the original internet booking had been made. The customer thought he was asking to see his ticket, not his card, and was getting irate because he had shown all he thought he needed to show. Problem solved, neither party bothered to thank me!
Meanwhile, our angry, cursing ticket lady had indicated we should move over to the window at the other end of the counter. By now we had less than five minutes before the train left. We offered to buy without the gold card, if that would speed things. Or indeed, to pay on the train. But no, she insisted that we had time and went on to punch our gold card numbers slowly into her computer and eventually to give us the tickets, for a grand total of €3.80.
We dashed off to platform 15. The Asian gentleman was still busy at the other ticket window.
We caught the train. It set off about five minutes late!
Now, Vigo Guixar is a modern station. It has only been open for the last three years, built as a stop gap while work began on the new station on Urzáiz. You would think that such a new station could operate without all these difficulties, especially as now the new station on Urzáiz is also working. Maybe they just put all the old computers in the Guixar station! Maybe they just put all the incompetent staff in the Guixar station! One of life's mysteries!
We arrived at Ponters to find a message from Colin to meet him at 2.10 for lunch. We had an hour to kill. So off we went to the Sanfranciso, the "pijo" cafe with good wifi. On a whim I ordered iced mint tea. It came in the following form: a mini teapot full of hot water, a teabag in a neat little box, like the ones you get showercaps in when you stay in posh hotels, and a glass of ice cubes. As a rule when you order iced tea you get a little teapot, with the teabag already infusing as well as it can do in this country that truly has no idea how to make tea, and your glass of ice cubes. It works fine. But this time I had to put my teabag in the already cooling hot water and hope there would still be some kind of infusion. As if in consolation, it came with a tiny square of chocolate, nicely chilled!
Perhaps I should just have ordered a locally made beer. I say this, tongue in cheek, so that I can comment on something I found as a headline the other evening in a local paper. "El bum de la cerveza artesana desata una fiebre emprendedora." loosely translated: the boom for microbreweries is taking off at a feverish rate. I love the Spanish version of boom!
The mint tea, while not really fully brewed, was nonetheless quite refreshing.