18.12.2009 - 18.12.2009
And with that, I was in Spain, on dry (well, dry-ish) land, and sadly needing to leave fairly quickly.
But it was not that easy.
Spain, I rapidly discovered, was shut. Apparently both the previous day and next day were holidays in Spain, and with yesterday being a Sunday, today had been turned into one as well. And Spain was essentially a ghost country. Walking along the main street of Vigo at 11.30am, I saw one vehicle and one other pedestrian. Nothing was open, not even McDonalds, which did not bode well as I had no food or supplies. I was in a bit of a pickle.
I had gone to the railway station, planning to catch the 13.33, only to be rapidly laughed down. Attempts for 2 later trains also failed. Apparently, there was no space on any eastbound train today, full stop. Hmmmm. Buses, I thought? Erm. No. No space. Well, I thought, it might be more expensive but surely i can hire a car and drive to the border. Nope: none of the 3 rental offices were open either. Feck.
Eventually, I managed to get a ticket – the sole remaining ticket – Eastbound for the following day. It will be a long day of many changes and will delay me a while, but i have no choice. So i paid up, took the ticket and then went to find somewhere to stay. It was empty outside, overcast and gloomy, if not that cold. The one hotel whose name i had noted down weeks ago in case i did need to stay turned out to be full, so i started looking at random. The next two were also full. I decided there and then to double my budget and take the first bed I could find at 50euro or less. The next place offered me a holiday special price which turned out to be 198euro. Erm. Thanks but no thanks. At least for now. The next one was 20euros, and i accepted without even bothering to look at the room.
And with a ticket out and somewhere to stay, there was nothing for it except to explore the ghost town of Vigo. I went around the harbour and watched some of the unloading of the Green Cape from a distance, strolled around the Marina and wandered around the old town. Though much of the city is not desperately exciting, the old town at least still retains hints of its old seafaring past: Jules Verne had once visited, and Vigo is even mentioned in a couple of his books. The old parts are quite nice indeed, and even the main street is not too bad. I decided fairly early on that I would like to see the city again (a) on a nice sunny day and (b) open.
But I had also forgotten that this was Spain, and they do things different on holiday: by midday, cafes and restaurants started to open. Pockets of groups of tourists could be found around the old town and harbour. By 7pm, the town was full of wandering locals out taking a stroll, and every restaurant and cafe was packed. Now, i wouldn't starve through lack of open establishments: Just a lack of a reservation.
Yup, Welcome back to Europe.