Monday, 31 July 2017

Always Nice to Leave: Always Great to Return

Two weeks holiday in Portugal has made a pleasurable break from Paradise. Spain is a wonderful place to live, but a short time away can help put things in better perspective.
Certainly, our first day back in EspaƱa (I went on vacation with my Spanish companion Loli), we watched the Noticias de la Primera on the TV. A woman wearing an alarming-looking heavy gas mask and a protective suit spent the first ten minutes of the news reporting the referendum in Venezuela – a story that oddly hadn’t appeared of much interest to the Portuguese news channels. But here, we are subliminally reminded of the threat of Unidos Podemos each time the fiendish activities of the mad chauffeur from Caracas is featured on the telly. Don’t agree? Whither Turkey TV time with the equally mad Erdogan?
Lisbon was full of tourists of course, and the Portuguese speak English, French, German... but never Spanish (much to Loli’s indignation). We ate well, took a trip around the city in a tuc tuc (Spain is missing a trick with these little three-wheeler cabs), listened to some Fado and bought endless fridge magnets and tee shirts.
And the obligatory bottle of port, of course.
Unemployment at 9.8% is relatively low in Portugal, and jobs are often posted in the windows of shops and restaurants. In general, the government seems rather more on the ball than the one in Spain, with an offer of ten years tax-free to any foreigner who wants to buy a house and take out residency.
We met Colin Davies, who is a fellow blogger, in the dramatic city of Oporto after taking a cheap local train ride up the coast from Aveiro where we had been staying. Colin writes about Spain from his home-base in Pontevedra, Galicia. He introduces his daily posts with a quote that I like: ‘Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable’. So true.
Coming back into Spain (no passport control, no customs... just a sign saying ‘you are now in Spain’ - suck on that Brexiters!), we stopped for lunch in Antequera, Oh, the noise! It’s good to be back, I shouted to Loli, who was sat next to me stirring a decent cup of coffee.
Yes Darling, she bellowed in return, patting my hand absently.


  1. We travel all over Europe, weeks at a time, in our stealth van, which is equipped for sleeping two, cooking, eating and working. Whenever we drive back into Spain, the very first thing we do is stop in the first bar along the road and have a coffee - just for the pleasure of being treated like human beings instead of the correct but frigid reception in shops and restaurants in the rest of Europe. The contrast between Portugal and Spain is minimal, but the contrast between Spain and the rest of Europe means that that first cup of coffee is almsot a life saver.