Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Striking stuff!

RENFE, the railway people, have been on strike today. I do not know what they were striking for. I only hope it was something worth striking for. As a result of their union action, we had to rearrange our plans for today, but only slightly. Our intention was to meet a friend in Pontevedra, a 15 minute or a 30 minute train ride away, depending on which train you catch. With the availability of trains being questionable, we had to consider buses.

Searching on the internet proved very unproductive so this morning I phoned the bus station. This is always an interesting experience. I have never phoned the bus station without the following things happening. On the first try you get get the engaged tone. When you call again it rings and rings and rings and nobody answers. This process is repeated through several attempts until eventually your call coincides with someone being in the office there and not already using the telephone.

So I got times of buses and then became a little more ambitious. I happen to know that people often catch a bus to Pontevedra from a place on Calle Arenal which cannot really be called a bus stop as there is nothing to indicate that buses stop there; people just seem to know to congregate there. As that is closer to our flat than the bus station is, I thought we might catch the bus there. I wondered if the helpful bus station lady could indicate to me which of the buses did actually stop there. No chance! She knew that some buses did so but she did not have that timetable information. This sort of thing has happened before when we have sought more than the most basic information about the bus service in this area!!

Armed with our information, we walked to the bus station, at some speed, I have to say. (But walking is good for you. Here is a link to an article all about the benefits of walking!  It is much better for you than riding an electric scooter on the pavement, but that is a gripe for another day.) As we were on the last minute we went straight down to the bus bays to make sure we caught the bus. The bus driver told us off for not having tickets already - “In the bus station,” he lectured us, “ always buy your ticket from the ticket office.” Hmm, I thought, and miss the bus! Besides, I have bought the ticket on the bus many times before! I did not say any of that our loud but just gave my best smile and paid our fare.

Off we went. And the bus stopped to take on passengers half way along Travesía de Vigo, another place closer to our flat! By a circuitous route it wound downhill towards the Guixar train station at our end of the town. It did not stop there, however, but went along the street (Calle Arenal) half way back into the town centre, turned at a roundabout and went to pick up passengers at the not-an-obvious-stop I described earlier. This manoeuvre meant that it took a good 15 or 20 minutes to get out of town and finally onto the motorway.

In this way we found out that the 12.20 bus from Vigo bus station does indeed stop on Calle Arenal and we now know more or less what time to be there to catch it, should we want to do so again in the near future. Learning by doing! It would have been so much easier, however, if the bus station information office employees just got their act together and provided a little more than the basis minimum information?

Perhaps they need to do more walking to stimulate brain activity!

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