The train in Spain

by , under expeditions, life

It does not stay mainly in the plain. It goes THROUGH ALL THE MOUNTAINS. Usually the tunnels are so short that we barely have time to unwrap one of the sweets we bought to suck in tunnels against ear-blocking.

Also, even the slow regional trains (“commuter train”, the English on-board announcer voice called it) require seat registration. Not that it helped us on the way back from Pontevedra where we spent the day with friends who happen to be on holiday in Galicia too, because there were two men sitting in our reserved seats so we went to sit in front of them, where a woman who got on later was supposed to sit so she went to sit on the other side. I don’t see the point of it really — well, for long-distance trains, but not for something that stops at the bottom of every hill. I wonder whether you have a reserved seat when you’re an actual commuter with a season ticket, implying that you have to take the exact same train every day, or have to get a reservation-only ticket from the machine. Needlessly convoluted and restricting in my book.

I must say that the trains are mostly comfortable. And the signage is excellent, in two languages if there are two, with English subtitles in larger places, which caused a sign in Pontevedra to say


in Castilian, Galician and English.

No(n) pasar

I don’t think ‘trespassing’ is the right translation here: it’s a sign at the top of an up escalator. Escalators at this station (Pontevedra) run extremely slowly when they’re unoccupied, so you can see which way they’re going, and as soon as someone steps on they go at normal speed. ‘No entrance’ is silly for an escalator and I can’t think of the appropriate term right now. ‘No way through’ I suppose.

(ETA: “No entry”. Thanks, selcaby! Dealing with four languages at once does strange things to my vocabulary.)

irunsign trenbideak

This and the next picture are from IrĂșn, of course, where the other language
is Basque. “Argibideak” is a splendid word and I may take to using it for my
own files containing information.


  1. Felix

    And to think some sci-fi/fantasy writers pull letters out of a satchel to make up exotic-sounding names, when real-world languages can be so strange. Nice story!

    Speaking of which, maybe “One Way” would be a better translation for that escalator sign?

    • Irina

      A better English sign, sure; but it wouldn’t be a translation of the Spanish and Galician at all. It says “do not pass” (momentary vision of Balrog, dismissed).


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