Monday, September 22, 2008

Nothing to declare?

I had a lovely trip. The people in Barajoz were wonderful. We did a fair amount of work on the project during the day, but they laid on lots of cultural events in between.

They are very proud of their cuisine and the local jamon, which is the best in Spain. So we were lucky enough to eat quite a few typical meals, including one of their winter staples of soup and meat and chickpeas. They are also influenced by Portuguese cooking as the border is only 5km away. So we also sampled beautifully cooked salt cod, with delicious tomato sauce.

They took us to see the town of Caseres, which is a World Heritage site and has architecture dating from the Romans, through the Moors, to Christian and Jewish settlements.

And I was given a beautiful Spanish fan, which the women still use, because day time temperatures can go above 40C! I'm not very good at using it yet, I lack their deft flick of the wrist, but I will practice using it when I'm away on holiday.

Madrid airport's new terminal is very impressive, I'll post photos later, and contrast it with Heathrow's Terminal 5, which is drab by comparison, like someone who always uses magnolia paint just to be on the safe side.

We got caught up in the new passport control at Heathrow, which was a shambles, kids in new uniforms looking like it was their first day at school sending people down blind roped-off canyons because they hadn't bothered to check if their routing system was working, a passport control officer literally snarling at poor Chinese student who couldn't understand her, folk taking your photograph, with no explanation as to why or what they would do with it.

I haven't experience such naked aggression on arriving in the UK before, I thought I had landed in another country. Then you arrive in Terminal 5 and suddenly you're a potential customer again. Customer Service should apply on arrival, not on the other side of passport control. I only saw one mature female customs/immigration officer treating people with the dignity they deserved.


Blogger BarbaraS said...

Good to see you back in one piece; glad you enjoyed it; sorry to hear how awful T5 is in Heathrow...

1:35 pm  
Blogger PI said...

Sounds great apart from Heathrow - delightful as ever. Gosh I don't miss airports. The food sounds delicious and healthy.
spotted old Dali!

3:48 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

What a lot you've told us here in so little! Glad the trip was so interesting, and interested to hear about your feelings on re-entry, unpleasant though it was.

I've yet to get the hang of salt cod...

2:54 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

What a good time you had.
I wish people treated each other with dignity.
It's not hard and it's rewarding for giver/receiver..
It's comfortable/comforting human behaviour which gets chucked out too often..

6:08 pm  
Blogger apprentice said...

Thanks all. I agree with you Jan it is sad how seldom common decency asserts itself these days.

11:56 am  

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