Local Heart, Global Soul

October 23, 2010

As It was Then, and as It is Now…

Filed under: PORTUGAL,SPAIN — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,


(photograph © Kiwidutch)


Earlier in this blog, on the way back from another day trip in Spain we literally got onto the ferry like the last sardine being squished into the can.


There was no space to exit the car, and certainly no view, so I was determined to come back again and try and get a glimpse of that the crossing was really like.

In days of old, crossing from one country to another within the European Union involved lengthy waits at border crossings, booths housed a multitude of officials and passports needed to be at the ready.

Mind you, in those days we also had a multitude of difference currencies in our wallets, and I remember my very first experience of Spain, so very very different to todays.

My first experience of Spain was when Himself and I were on our honeymoon in 1995. (I know, 15 years married already! yeah!!! ) We were staying in northern Portugal, in the Douro Valley and then went to Villa Real, and Braga… We were touring in the National Park and took the opportunity to pop over the border into Spain.


(photograph © Kiwidutch)


Unfortunately  we went during siesta time and almost everything was closed up. It was hot and we wanted to buy a drink, so eventually found one place that was open, but since we hopped over the border on a whim, we had no Spanish cash on us and our offering of Portuguese money was met with polite refusal. We left thirsty and were back in Portugal within 30 minutes.

My second time in Spain was when we were staying in the Algarve in the south of Portugal. We popped over the border for a Spanish lunch and to find a playground for the kids… we were in Spain for about 4 hours all up…

..the third time we were in southern France (cheap flights of Euro40 return A’dam to Pau  were too good to pass up) and took both the Pyrenees pass roads and the tunnels under the mountains into Spain for day trips. The restaurant on the Spanish side of the border at the top of the Pyrenees  gave us one of the worst eating experiences of our entire lives .. what was meant to be a nice tapas meal turned out to be an overly greasy, tasteless, low quality  rubbish, served with indifference at rip-off prices.


(photograph © Kiwidutch)


Fourth time was the Pyrenees  tunnel trip to Spain had us hunting high and low for anywhere to eat that wasn’t actually a hazy smoke filled bar, and believe me it got frustrating. We ended up at a snack bar where the offerings were marginally better than the restaurant at the top of the mountain (not exactly a compliment) and vowed to eat meals back in France from then on.

These days many things are easier, the Euro Zone common currency means no currency changing hassles, or bureau de change rip-off exchange rates and  the open borders mean no queues.

So this holiday, our regular day trips into Spain have been a vast improvement on my previous Spanish experiences. I’m slowly getting a better impression of the country and Himself and I are no longer able to make jokes about how short the visits have been. It’s true to say that I have now been really enjoying Spain rather than just surviving it.


(photograph © Kiwidutch)



(photograph © Kiwidutch)



(photograph © Kiwidutch)


We might even  manage to sleep a night next trip.. who knows?

We head back to Portugal and as you can see from the video’s of the ferry coming in, and our drive off at the other end, crossing borders these days within the EU couldn’t be easier.

We love it.

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