Friday, 29 February 2008

What's on this weekend in Vigo? 01st-02nd March

Que hacer este fin de semana en Vigo?

The Funny Bones are playing at Manteca Jazz this Staurday night with two sets. Their fusion of funk kicks off at 00:30 and the second set at 02:00 Entrance cost €3 Find them done in the old town Calle Carral No.3 just off Plaza Porto do Sol.

I use to be able to do these late night gigs but with two young kids it's hard enough getting through the day!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Specialty shops of Vigo

Have you ever wanted to go into a shop that only sold the item you're looking for? Specialty stores although small, provide a staggering range of possibilities for that one thing you're after.

Here in Vigo these family run businesses, handed down from generation to generation, were once the cornerstone of every day life, but now are struggling in the face of the big supermarket chains and hyperstores and many have shut their doors simply because they can't compete on price. Which is a shame as they offer personal service and friendly advice, which is a far cry from their high-powered counterparts. However they can still be found and enjoyed if you know where to look.

These specialty shops are from a bygone era and specialty really is there middle name. They can sell everything from watches to umbrellas One of my personal favourites is the one pictured above, a Zapatilleria or a Slipper Shop in el barrio Calvario, Calle Urzaiz. This shop is almost entirely dedicated to slippers, I say almost because the word zapatilla originally only meant slipper but upon the arrival of sneakers, trainers or whatever you like to call them, were also given the name zapatilla. So I guess in a way this allowed Zapatillerias to branch out and diversify without the need for re-invention!

Another favourite of mine also in Calvario is a shop which has two specialties, which I think couldn't be further apart from one another; knives and umbrellas. Every conceivable space around the walls of the shop and ceiling are crammed with every possible type of umbrella, the counter is the only place along with a small portion of the back wall that is devoted to knives.

These shops are an intriuging insight into the past and if you get the chance go take a look, before they're all gone!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Tapa of the Week - A Slice of cake...

With a cafe con leche. This again just illustrates that tapas aren't bound by any rules.

Also: Sorry to all of my readers (I think there's four of you now!). I know it seems this is turning into a tapas blog, but last week was a bit hectic, rest assured that normal service will resume shortly.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Anglo Galician Association

An Anglo Galician Association has been formed. Membership merely requires an ability to speak good English and a connection with Galicia. The one in Spain, not Poland. Anyone interested should write to

The association is open to anyone who is Anglo simply by virtue of speaking English and wanting to be a member. Obviously, though, one wouldn't want to exclude the non-English speaking partner of an Anglo who wanted to be a member and who was able to persuade his or her partner that they did too. Putting this another way, the association would be for anyone of any nationality who speaks English and lives or plans to live in Galicia.

Please use the above email for all correspondence.


Monday, 18 February 2008

Tapa of the Week - Spanish Omelet & Empanada

Two pieces of bite sized Tortilla de Patata (Spanish/Potato Omelete) this is a tapa regular and you'll find it almost everywhere, the strips of baked pastry are Empanada (Galician pie is about the easiest way to describe an Empanada!) filled with mussels. These we got with dos Estrellas in Cafeteria Castelo, Avenida de Florida.

The tapas I write about come free with drinks, unless stated otherwise.

Un Pincho, Una Tapa or Una Racion?

An update to my one of my previous post regarding What are Tapas?

I should clarify that there are three sizes of tapas: something that can fit in your mouth that more often than not comes with a toothpick stuck in it is called un pincho, una tapa would usually be served on a small plate (saucer) or dish and una racion on a large plate with enough to share around.

I hope the above helps to clarify any misconceptions you had about tapas? If any one has anything to add please feel free to drop me a line. One thing is for certain though. Tapas are anything and everything!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Vuelo Vigo - Londres

I wrote not long ago, about Clickair flying direct to London. Well it seems things are more or less confirmed, with only details to iron out.

After a year and half of meetings between Clickair and Provigo an organisation that promotes Vigo. It has finally been decided to start flights between Vigo and London this summer. With the possibility of flights starting as early as May. But there needs to be a lot of work done to open the route in this short space of time, it would be more realistic to expect a June commencement date.

Clickair will be offering 3-5 flights per week between Peinador and Gatwick airport, with the cost of tickets between 20-80 euros. If Gatwick cannot be secured then there is option for Stansted or Luton.

One of the reasons I think a Vigo-London route has been so long in the coming, lies with the fact there are three other airports within 160km of Vigo that offer flights to London. It will remain to be seen whether there will be enough bums on seats to justify flights between the two cities. One thing is for sure, no doubt time will tell.

There is also talk of opening a route between Vigo and Brussels, as the European Fisheries Commission is setting up shop in Vigo and have been busy over the past year renovating a grand 19th Century buildings along Vigo's "Golden Mile". Now I'm sure all those busy bureaucrats will be bustling there way between Brussels and Vigo before you can "I wish I had thought of subsidising that first..."

What's on this weekend in Vigo? 16th-17th Feb

Que hacer este fin de semana en Vigo?

Here's just a couple of my selections...

Why not go and see Xose Manuel Budino, a local lad from across the bay in Moana and let his interpretation of Galician folk music on gaita (bagpipes) rock you!

His 2008 10th Anniversary "Home" tour comes to the Centro Cultural Caixanova de Vigo tomorrow Saturday 16th February at 20:30. Tickets €8-12 and can be purchased here.


For something a little different why not hop a long to hear local boy Samuel Levi perform his version of pop on guitar.

See him live at La Casa de Arriba, Iglesias Esponda 7, Vigo. Tomorrow Saturday 16th February at 22:00. Entrance free.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

El Centro Comercial A Laxe in Vigo

Today saw the doors open to the public of the all new A Laxe Centro Comercial. Situated right on the water front with the Port of Vigo and the Real Club Nautico on either side and linked by footbridge to el Casco Vello, Vigo's historic quarter behind. Inside spread over three floors, you'll find 45 shops and restaurants and a large fully equipped gym with spa, as well as parking for 500 vehicles located underneath the complex

The idea behind A Laxe was first conceived back in 1992 with a project called 'Opening Vigo to the Sea' now after four years of construction A Laxe is charged with the responsibility of bringing life back to el Casco Vello and revitalising the area, commercially and residentially.

A Laxe comes from the Galician word door/gate. In the 16th century walls were erected around the city to protect it from invaders. However the walls were taken down in 1869 as Vigo boomed economically and rapidly expanded. The complex is so named as it is situated at the exit of what was once one of the gates leading into the city.

The building is in stark contrast to its surroundings, and is obviously trying to represent the future of Vigo whilst regenerating the past in el Casco Vello.

I only hope this proves to be true as there is no doubt that el Casco Vello is in need of revitalising and although this was being achieved, albeit at a rather slow pace, A Laxe is now hoped to be the catalyst in speeding this process along.

A Laxe position is located just behind 'Liners Quay' where the summer cruise ships dock. The largest cruise ships in the world visit Vigo each year and thousands of passengers disembark to take in Vigo for a day. Cruise passengers can access A Laxe and make there way through the complex and access el Casco Vello via a footbridge leading directly to the old quarter.

Unlike it's northern counterparts, Pontevedra, Santiago and A Coruna. Vigo is the economic powerhouse of Galicia and has never relied on tourism alone, to achieve this goal, it has on many occasions done it at the expense of it's past.

This latest venture sees a fusion of the two, Vigo's future directly linked to its past. Tourism is now one of the key aims and local initiatives are focusing hard to bring the tourism dollar to Vigo.

Work is also due to start on the reconstruction of the 'Liner Quay' and Marina with a budget of €260m and with completion in 2010 will again help to revitalise this area. Only time will tell if this fusion is a success.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Cultural Learning's

One of the hot topics on many blogs about Spain is cultural difference. This is something that will always arise when dealing with Spain, and as many people will tell you "Spain is different".

One of these blogs, which stirs such heated debate is Notes from Spain this is a great site and Ben really likes to get under the skin of the Spanish psyche.

These "debates" primarily involve participants from Britain, America and of course Spain. There are a few Spanish out there who don't like hearing negative criticism from either party and are quick to take offence. I'm sure a turbulent shared history no doubt plays a part in this. Most comments from the aforementioned American or Brit come across as constructive criticism not as an assault on the very fabric of Spanish existence, but you wouldn't think this when you read the Spanish replies! Either way it makes for a great read and delves deep into what makes the Spanish tick. All in all very thought provoking.

Seeing how a Spaniard becomes very defensive if anyone criticises or makes comments that could be seen as an attack on their way of life, it is interesting then that Spain is a country made up of 17 autonomous communities and a number of them are actively seeking independence from Spanish rule.

The question then must be asked what is a Spaniard? And who are these "Spaniards" who so staunchly defend what they believe. Is there a common unity underlying all this nationalist separatism in Spain, or are we really seeing the only true "Spaniards" making these comments and if this is the case, then where do they reside, Madrid?

My own personal experience of my time here in Vigo, Galicia has been a very enjoyable one. I have found the people to be warm, welcoming and generous. And have never had any bad experiences to mention. I've found integration into Galician life relatively smooth, although I admit that things are made easier if your wife is from here!

The people here do seem to possess a closed face to strangers, especially on the street; they'll take no heed of you, as if you don't exist, no acknowledgement, it seems as if common courtesy to your fellow human being takes a back seat. At first it was quite off putting, but with time you begin to accept it. I don't know if this is endemic to Galicia or is a nationwide trait in general?
The above defenitely needs further attention, more on culture later.

One thing I don't think I could ever fully get used to here is, driving...

Monday, 11 February 2008

Bloomin Blossoms in Vigo

We've been having some glorious weather over the past few days and it looks set to continue until the end of the week. It's the type of weather that you would wish for all year round.

The blossoms seem to agree and are starting to show there colours all over the city, although this early blooming isn't unique to Vigo or Galicia, it's seems to be a worldwide phenomenon. If it is due to global warming, then seeing these beautiful flowers in bloom makes it that little harder to see the darker side of the problem.

Hang-on, maybe here in Pontevedra blossoms are suppose to bloom at this time and if so, I can lift my head out of the dark shadow of global warming and breathe a deep blossom scented sigh of relief.

Will keep you posted...

Saturday, 9 February 2008

What are Tapas : Tapa of the Week / Pan y Queso

Tapas are a defining part of the Spanish culture, encompassing an endless myriad of possibilities, from a simple bowl of crisps, to an elaborate dish, which becomes a meal in itself. Therefore catering for every taste, every diet and every occasion.

Where and how tapas originated is not clear, but it's most likely source is Andalucia; tapa is the Spanish word for lid, here the locals would cover there sherry (an Andalucian forte) with a sliver of ham or slice of bread to keep the flies from enjoying their favourite tipple.

Tapas can come free with the drink you just ordered or from the menu you've just ordered from. They can be an appetiser, a starter or a main. Enjoyed at anytime during the day or night. It's a relaxing, sociable experience.

Tapas are really without definition, they can be something and everything. What is for sure, is that they're a great way to slow the effects of alcohol on the system and if you are out on the town, why not do a tapas crawl and not have to worry about where your going for dinner, only know that dinner is where you've been!

Every week I'll be bringing you the best tapa or tapas I've had on my outings:
This week is one of my favourites, it's a no-frills get back to basics, fresh bread with a slice of local Galician Tetilla a wonderful soft creamy cheese made from cows milk. Cost 0€

Friday, 8 February 2008

Vigo Carnival - Entroido 2008

The time of Carnival is upon us, held before the days of Lent. It's a time of feasting and practical joking, a time to let your hair down, to break from conformity of everyday life. Now everyone knows the biggest Carnival is in Rio de Janeiro, but to get back to where it all began one needs to travel to another continent, to another time, before Brazil before the Americas.

The Carnival we see today dates back to the middle ages, but it's origins can be traced back even further, to pagan times. The word Carnival comes from Italy, where they call it Carnevale that literally translated means "end of meat" as the consumption of meat is forbidden during Lent, so the few days before are a time for gorging and feasting!

Started by the followers of Catholicism it soon spread throughout Catholic Europe, with each nation putting it's own regional spin on the event. Here in Galicia the small town of Xinzo de Limia is home to the longest Carnival in Spain.

In Galician the Carnival is referred to as the Entroido and runs for approximately seven days. During these day's people take to the streets in fancy dress. Men will be dressed as women and vice versa. Children to take part in the festivities, with nurseries to schools having their own fiestas, encouraging participation, children can be seen walking to school in fancy dress with painted faces, loving every minute of it!

In Vigo the Entroido started on the evening of Thursday 31st with the major organised events being put on by the Council. Plaza de Constitution was the focal point for the first night, beginning with a round of impromptu song, the idea here is to sing what you like, with out fear of being hung drawn and quartered! It's all just for fun after all!

Also we see 'El Meco' which this year takes the form of a horse, representing a social or political issue, this year is PXOM who are responsible for urban planning, they were caught up early in the year trying to bulldoze a families house but paying less attention to two multimillion euro apartment blocks built with no planning permisson, among other things.

El Meco is crowned and placed on the throne, then on Tuesday will be put on trial, and be accused of bringing ill to the city over the past year. The Friday night saw more of the same but with more music and dance.

On Saturday night was a Mardis Gras parade with floats and musical performances, fancy dress and traditional Galician dress, this masqueraded it's way through the streets, very colourful indeed, more reminiscent of the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro! Thousands were out lining the streets, enjoying the spectacle! Sunday was for the children with many activities including bouncy castles, costume making, puppet shows and more... just one big party for kids!

Monday evening was events for bigger kids and a Festival of Folk, which put a more Galician twist on events. With traditional dance and music, the sound of gaiters (bagpipes) filling the night air, stirring the Celtic side of me!

On Shrove Tuesday 'El Mecos' time is up. Onlookers gather at the Praza do Rei to listen to the charges, a mock trial ensues but with a flimsy defence El Meco is sent to the flames, witnessed by thousands of on lookers.

Ash Wednesday and it's time for the mourners to come and once again the people of Vigo turned up in their thousands to witness the burial procession. Starting from Paseo Alfonso XII and winding it's way down Vigo's 'Golden Mile' before taking a left and heading down to the port before concluding at the Estacion Maritima. Crying could be heard from the procession from those who lament poor El Meco. One last testament is read to El Meco and then with fireworks overhead brings a close to Entroido 2008.

All in all a very well organised event and a lot of fun had by all who attended, although the usual gripes were heard from the usual corners, such as, blocked streets, traffic jams, an increase in the amount of people double parking...etc... Definitely looking forward to next years spectacle.

Just a quick note: Another event took place on Sunday 3rd February, that was slightly overshadowed by the Carnival and that was the day of San Blass, the Patron Saint of Drunks and Unions... that's definitely one for another blog!!!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

A place to hang your washing is very important in Vigo!

This is at the top of a 15 story block, so I had the camera at maximum zoom and since it only has a 3x optical zoom, the picture is a bit fuzzy and it didn't help that I was shaking. Anyway, enough of the excuses.

The question is, do you think this hole in the building was intended for the purpose it's being used for and if so, would you agree, that a lot of emphasis is placed on where to put your washing, when constructing apartment blocks?

Monday, 4 February 2008

Vigo - London

Clickair it seems, may be starting flights from Vigo's Peinador airport to London Gatwick, within the next 2-3 months will post more information as soon as I can lay my hands on it!