Tuesday, 4 July 2017

A welcome, not without travel hassles

I spent Monday getting ready for Clare to arrive, with an evening paseo to the port and back. Before bed, in case I forgot, I sent a message to Kath and Anto, to congratulate them on their 25th wedding anniversary which is tomorrow. How quickly these amazing years have passed.

Since Clare's Vueling flight from Cardiff was scheduled at 12.45, but is often early, I left much earlier than necessary, walking first to Maria Zambrano station, renew my Tarjeta Dorada train discount card. Just as well I had plenty of time in hand, as I was directed to take a ticket and wait. I took one for 'ticket to use on the day', as I intended to claim a discount on the trip to the airport. When I arrived at the desk to be dealt with 20 minutes later, I was told I had the wrong ticket, and should have taken a queuing ticket for 'advance bookings', and had to queue all over again, half an hour this time. 

Queue ticket numbers were separate numerical streams. I noticed that, depending on how busy each queue was, and how many counter clerks were on duty at the time, clerks would swap from one ticket stream to another, indicating there was no technical difference between a book on the day counter and one for advance booking. I'd received no explanation about where and how a Tarjeta Dorada should be purchased. There was no information displayed to say which queuing stream an applicant should join.

The Tarjeta Dorada, duly purchased, delivered a discount fate to get me to the airport, and I got there just at the right time to meet Clare. It wouldn't, however, deliver a discount fare for the return journey. The reason for this, I guess / I hope, is that registration took immediate effect on the computer network node at the station where it was issued. Updating data to thousands of other network nodes that serve the entire RENFE transportation system would take longer, perhaps the rest of the day. If this is the case, all that's needed would be a notification at point of sale to say 'this discount card will take effect from .... hrs, today or tomorrow. Good enough reason to inform those hunting for a Tarjeta Dorada to queue only for future tickets. 

But I still resent the way I was dealt with by an uncompromising counter clerk, who could so easily have understood and dealt with my traveller's lack of know-how, without giving me grief. In the end, discourtesy is not dependent upon the language used.

We took the train back to the terminus at the top end of the Alameda, then caught the 11 bus which stops outside the apartment. After unpacking, lunch and a siesta, we went to Playa La Malagueta for Clare to take her first swim. I don't think she really believed me how near the beach is to where we are staying, busy roads notwithstanding. After supper we walked into the port and watched the sun set over the harbour. How lovely to have my best beloved to share the experience of this special place with me at last.

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