The Anonymous Widower

Is Spain Looking Both Ways On Brexit?

This article on the BBC is entitled Spain Brexit: PM Sánchez Threatens To Vote No Over Gibraltar.

The title says it all.

On the other hand, Spanish rail companies seem to be very keen to invest in the UK and also create new and innovative trains for the British market.

  • Amey, which is a subsidiary of the Spanish public company Ferrovial is heavily involved in big projects all over the UK, including the South Wales Metro.
  • The train builder; CAF, is supplying lots of trains and coaches for UK operators and building a factory at Newport in South Wales.
  • Another train builder; Talgo, is on the short list to build the trains for High Speed Two and is proposing to open a factory at Longannet in Scotland and a research centre at Chesterfield

It does appear, that big Spanish companies see the UK as a place to do business.

In connection with the Longannet factory, there is a feature article about the factory in Issue 866 of Rail Magazine.

This is the last paragraph.

As for Brexit, which is known to be a concern for other firms, Talgo said in a statement that its plans were “Brexit-free”, claiming there is a huge potential UK market as well as export opportunities.

The article also says that Talgo need more manufacturing capacity and the brownfield Longannet site, with its space and excellent access by rail and sea, fits their needs.

I also suspect that manufacturing in Scotland will help them secure sales in important English-speaking markets for their innovative high speed trains.

November 22, 2018 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Has The World Cup Draw Been Kind To England?

When the draw was made for the World Cup, I didn’t pay much attention.

Perhaps, I should because England and Belgium were drawn in one the last two groups, they are playing virtually last in every round of matches.

So they are getting a good look at those they might meet in the future.

I don’t know how much of an advantage it is! But we shall see!

July 1, 2018 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

The Spanish Like Their Beer

I took these pictures in Spain

I actually drunk four or possibly five different varieties of gluten-free beer in my week in the country.

I was also surprised to see gluten-free Brewdog and beer from St. Peter’s in El Cortes Ingles.

 

July 2, 2017 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Beer In Spain Makes Up For The Lack Of Rain

Before I was diagnosed as a coeliac, I used to like my beer. For a few years afterwards, I could drink bottles of Guinness from Park Royal, but like the brewery they are now history.

But in this trip to Spain, I have drunk four different gluten-free beers and as I post this, I’m seinking a bottle of Estrella Damm Daura and very reasonable it is too!

I used to get it from Waitrose, but her upstairs got it replaced with the aptly named Celia.

One day, I intend to share a bed with a Celia, whilst we drink appropriately bamed bottles.

I’ll add that to my bucket list!

By the way Cecelias need not apply!

I

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Coeliac, Food | , | Leave a comment

From Madrid To London

As the hotel at Chamartin didn’t have a restaurant and there wasn’t any tea or coffee making facilities in the room, I went for an explore at about four and found the station opened at 04:30.

So as I didn’t have any soap or shampoo with me and my luxurious four-star hotel didn’t provide any, I went back to the station as soon as it opened, after a breakfast of an EatNakd bar.

As I was hungry, in the most strange of hotels, I decided that the best thing to do, was take a train to Barcelona, then a TGV to Paris, followed by a Eurostar home.

At least the train companies seem to have systems that men you can get a keenly priced ticket from a machine without an ego or communication problem.

I found out by a roundabout way, that contrary to my informant from Spanish Railways at the airport, there were no trains to Barcelona from Chamartin, but one left at 05:50 from Atocha.

So it was a taxi to Atocha station at a cost of twenty euros, which I could have done the previous night for nothing on my ticket from the airport. Talk about the airport information guy, being a Spaniard in the Works.

To add insult to injury, there were several hotels in the area of Atocha, one of which was a brand I trust!

I bought the ticket to Barcelona with ease for €59 and after going through a full airline style security check, I just made the AVE high speed train to Barcelona. It was a Siemens train and like it seems all of their products had been designed without litter bins, although it did have an ash tray.  The latter was unneeded as the train was non-smoking. I did get a reasonable drink in the buffet, but of course nothing to eat was gluten-free.

The change of train at VBarcelona was pretty quick, but I did need to buy another ticket from the ticket office, rather than an intelligent machine.  I also had to go through security again to get back on the platform, where I arrived to get the TGV Duplex to Paris. Just 25 mins after arriving at 08:55, I was on my way to Paris. There are four trains a day for Paris and I paid a full fare of €170. Seat61.com has a full description of the journey.

This railway line up the Spanish and French coasts to the Rhone valley, is one of the best train rides in Europe. I didn’t chose to be on the top deck of the train, but that is where I was allocated a seat.

The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees

This picture shows the snow-capped mountains just before Perpignan and this shows the Etang de Thau before Sete.

Etang de Thau

Etang de Thau

They don’t show in the picture, but there were lots of greater flamingoes in the lakes. I never realised that these birds were so common in France, until a holiday in the area in about 1975.

Once in Paris at 15:53, I didn’t hang about but just jumped on the RER at Gare de Lyon for Paris Nord and the Eurostar. An hour and twenty minutes after arriving in Paris, I was leaving.

I finally arrived in London at 18:30 or just thirteen hours forty minutes after leaving Madrid.

This journey will get quicker, as for quite a way along the south coast of France, the trains don’t run on high speed lines. I can’t find any references to the distances on the journey, although Madrid to Barcelona and Paris to London are given as 621 and 495 kilometres respectively. Map Crow gives the Barcelona to Paris distance at 831 kilometres. I know this isn’t accurate and is probably a bit short, but that gives a total of 1947 kilometres, so my journey was at an average speed of 142 kmh. This compares with an average speed of 200 and 220 kmh on the first and last legs from Madrid to Barcelona and Paris to London respectively.

If the centre section was capable of an end-to-end average of 200 kmh, then a time from Madrid to London of under ten hours should be possible, especially if it was one train all the way.

 

February 12, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Leaving Marrakech

I got to the airport in a rather scruffy Fiat taxi and then had the problem of buying a ticket.

There appeared to be only one place to buy a ticket and I spent about two hundred pounds getting a ticket to Madrid, where I hoped I could sort the mess of this holiday out. There were no easyJet or British Airways desks, as I suppose everybody buys their tickets over the web these days.  And there were no Internet terminals like you get in most big UK airports.The ticket desk didn’t take credit cards either, but at least the cash machine worked well. I can’t remember when I last paid cash for an airline ticket. If I ever have!

But it all worked and at 14:00 I was on my way in a smart Iberia RCJ-1000 to Madrid. I hadn’t flown in one of these before and it was certainly more comfortable, than the British Airways 737, I’d taken on the way to Marrakech.

I looked at the menu and noted that they had some gluten free snacks, so I thought I’d have some with some water.  But unfortunately, they weren’t carrying any gluten-free snacks and I couldn’t buy any water, as I didn’t have any Euro and they didn’t take any other currency.  They wouldn’t take a credit card for two euros either. However, the stewardess did bring me a free glass of water, with which to take my Warfarin.

I had thought that once in Madrid airport, some sanity would prevail, but the only ticket to London would cost me eight hundred euros.  They did say I could buy one cheaper from an Internet terminal. But the design of the terminal was totally for Spanish and must rate as one of the worst pieces of design, that I’ve ever seen.

So if nothing, I learnt that unlike with trains, don’t ever turn up at an airport without a ticket. I have done this before from Greece. But that was a couple of years ago and I did pay about two hundred odd euros for an easyJet ticket to London.

So I thought the best thing to do, was go to the centre of Madrid and find a hotel. The helpful guy at Spanish Railways advised me to go to Chamartin and sold me a ticket for a couple of euros.

February 11, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

A Warm Welcome In Irun

Michael Portillo’s documentary on travelling by train from Bordeaux to Bilbao gave me the impression that finding your way from the French to Spanish railways systems is easy.

So I went into the station at Irun and asked if I could buy a ticket to France. I didn’t get an answer from the guy in the ticket office, but I heard him swear under his breath. Railwaymen the world over tend to be cherry souls, who are usually willing to help, but this oaf was by a long way the worst I had met. He made the staff at Osnabruck, when I was abandoned by Deutsche Bahn, seem to be some of the best customer service people, I’d ever encountered.

I then looked around for a helpful notice, that might say you took a taxi to the nearest French station and it would cost you so many euros.  But there was nothing!

I had noticed taxis outside, but was reluctant to take one, as they would probably charge a British tourist a hundred euros to go a couple of kilometres.

In the end, I walked into the town and asaked a couple of teenage girls, if they could help a lost traveller. After all, I did hope that they had learned some English.

They had and told me to walk to the Metro station with the blue sign, from where I could get a train to Hendaya. I knew that I could get a train from Hendaye, as the French call it, to Biarritz.

December 10, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Virtually Deserted Station

Abando station in Bilbao is the main station fromn where the citry connects to the rest of Spain.

A Virtually Deserted Station

A Virtually Deserted Station

But it seems not very often and as my next destination was Hendaya, it wasn’t any use. So I would have to take a coach to Irun. But the coach would take under two hours, as opposed to an early morning roundabout route by train that would take over six.

It would appear that most of the trains, metros and trams are owned and controlled by the Basque regional government and it looks to me as an outside observer, that they don’t believe in connecting their part of Spain to the rest of the country or for that matter, France. It does seem though, that the whole area could benefit from better train links.

December 10, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Bilbao’s Heritage Signs

I would assume that this is a sign, which gives information about Bilbao’s heritage.

Bilbao's Heritage Signs

I can make a guess at reading Spanish, although the only thing I can read here, is that it is about a convent from the seventeenth century.

But then if Bilbao wants to attract more visitors, it really must improve its maps and information.

I know it’s all very political, but how many foreign visitors to the area, can speak the local language?

December 9, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Itinerary For The Trip To Bilbao

I’ve now firmed up my trip to Bilbao and home.

Sunday, December 8th

I fly out on the easyJet flight, EZY3325, which leaves at 18:25.

I have booked into the Silken Gran Dominie by the Guggenheim Museum for two nights.

Monday, December 9th

Tuesday, December 10th

I travel by train to Hendaye from where I get a train to Biarritz.

Bilbao-Hendaye – 6:40 to 11:28, 9:15 to 13:51

I have booked the Radisson Blu for two nights.

Wednesday, December 11th

I shall find a very good restaurant on this day, as it will be six years since C died.

Thursday, December 12th

I travel by train to Bordeaux, where I’m booked into the Le Boutique Hotel for one night.

Friday, December 13th

I take the TGV to Paris and then the 20:13 Eurostar to London.

December 5, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment