Friday 30 September 2011

I Love Ryanair...

Yes, you read it right. After weeks now of worrying about all the hidden charges I was expecting to pay, my first flight with the dreaded low-cost Irish airline turned out to be the most stress free I have ever taken.
Now, I admit I have never booked with either Virgin or Easy Jet, and maybe if they had flown from Malaga to Santiago I might have chosen one of them instead. But they don't. Previously I have flown with Vuelling (OK) and Monarch (OK) and both were cheap and efficient, but not THIS cheap and efficient. I moved straight from daughter's car to seat 18A window (it's open seating I was told - well, of course it is!) without the slightest increase in my blood pressure and with a strong sense of faith in Sense. The Polish steward (inexplicable and frankly completely impossible accent in both English and Spanish) made all of us laugh with his dramatical salesmanship of perfume, Snickers and "Vodka!" and as we landed there was a starter's trumpet. Everyone in the midsection of the plane spent most of the time in hysterics. I loved it.
Mr. Ryan o' Naire, you got my bizness man.
And if all goes well with The House of the Little Fox that might amount to quite a bit. One and three quarters of an hour from south to north. Sixty euros return(could even have been cheaper as I found out with another booking for later next month though more on that when the time comes). All of this is going to become more and more important as I contemplate the downside of being a country away from my daughter and granddaughter in order to follow that loco pilgrim dream you all will likely know about by now (and if not scroll down and WHERE have you been?).
I decided this time on a rental car. "What colour is it?" I asked, anticipating wondering around in the semi-darkness looking for an Opel Corsa amongst many. The key fob was duly checked: "Lancelot", she said. "That's yellow."
"Yellow? Are you sure?" I said surpressing a giggle. Yellow cars are still rare in Spain as the colour yellow is traditionally associated with bad luck.
"More or less yellow," she confirmed. "Anyway, if you click the key it will sing to you."
Such a delightful possibility could only be spoiled by explanation.
Lanceleot was indeed yellow, or kind of light gold. Rather pretty. Sparkly and yellow inside too. I have an older Corsa at home and when at my daughter's drive their Astra, so this was a piece of Tarta de Santiago.
Easily now negotiating the ring roads around Santiago I found myself singing the theme song from Camelot (since Lancelot was my trusty guide for those of you with short-term memories):
"A law was made a distant moon ago here
July and August cannot be too hot
And there's a legal limit to the snow here
In Camelot."
I started to laugh so hard that I completely missed a turn and had to go the roundabout once more.
"That's Galicia!!!" I said aloud.
Car and bags parked at the Hostal Alameda - now known as my second home - I ventured out to find pimientos. My usual haunts were closing up as it was by then 11 at night. But oddly, I had had the image of a certain restaurant in my head even before I headed towards the Suso. Skirt the cathedral, down past the Palacio de Rajoy, down the steps...and I walked bang slap into a Quemada, all in delightful and fumerous flame and being nicely encanted by a man from the 15th century.
No, I hadn't walked into a time slip, as Laura does in St. James' Rooster (you'll see). This was a nightly occurance during the Mercado de Medieval I was told. The brujo sang and clapped. He indicated when we should sit and listen and when to leap up and disclaim. My chiperones arrived and my Estrella, and my second. Somewhere later I sent over una jarra of cerveza to the musicians which included a cherub-faced gaitero who might have been chosen to play before the gates of Jerico. With a nod or a sideward glance he brought the others (percussion mostly) in to join him at the right moments. I was captivated, entranced. In love.
"You play better than Hevia! Better than Carlos Nuñez!" I said as I was taking my leave. "Como te llamas?"
The comparison to Galicia´s most famous gaita player went down well.
"Soy Pablo," he said delightedly. "Desde Orense."
"Estoy enamorada," I said as I made my wobbly way down the Rua de San Clemente and "home".
I would NEVER behave this way in Marbella. The opportunity would never present itself. Que lastima: what a shame!
Santiago!!! I'm home...
(P.S. I have missed out the bit where I nearly fell over the drum case.)
Oh and by the way, it's 25 degrees today and not much colder by night. If this is climate change you'll ALL be moving to Galicia.
Pix to follow. Post Script Novemeber 2011: I no longer love Ryanair. The honeymoon is definitely over! And as for Michael O'Leary........

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Competition Winner! (and Banned Books bonus)

In the absence of a post this month (the first time ever), and in honour of Banned Books Week 2011, I am adding a link to a webpage called Banned Books online which is part of a much larger collection of free books. And of course if you have Kindle you must check out the Gutenberg Project for over 36,000 free books.

I am calling an early end date to the competition as in fact I have a clear winner for a couple of weeks now. Congratulations Los Hitos del Camino for correctly identifying (rather publically!) that the marker stone is on the corner of Rua de San Bieito. The other street I was looking for was Rua Travesa and yes, you do know where they are: just a hopskip from Casa Manolo, the best pilgrim restaurant in S de C by far! A copy of Peregrinos de la Herejía winging its way (literally - with me) to Santiago in the next few days.

I have had over 230 really wonderful and encouraging responses to my questionnaire and today I am preparing charts and a report prior to looking into financing arrangements. It's not going to be easy. Mortgages in Spain are no easier to come by than anywhere else, and for a single self-employed woman "of a certain age" damn near impossible. (Note the word "near".) But I have Plans B and C at hand too and hopefully a plethora of gods and goddesses on my side.

Mike Doolley says "Thoughts Become Things": I have a band on my right wrist which reminds me of that 24 hours a day.

"If you build it, they will come..."

More adventures next month.
P.S. I am keeping the Questionnaire open. It will take you only 3 minutes (7 easy anonymous questions). Please do continue to submit because your participation and opinions are TRULY NEEDED:

Here's the survey LINK:

And here's the Banned Books link: