2023-04-21 – movable missions

Last Updated on 29 April 2024 by gerry

There is great variation in how different ATMs here handle cash withdrawals in terms of fees and exchange rates. A useful guide has been compiled to the ranges of fees charged by Spanish banks on Triptipedia. From this list we can see that a number of banks charge no fees at their ATMs: Kutxabank, Banca March, Deutsche Bank, ING, Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa (BBK), Unicaja Banco, Eurocaja Rural and Banco Pichincha. Unfortunately these banks are not very common in this part of Spain. I’ve figured out we would have to go to the Marseme capital, Mataró, or Barcelona to make use of them. All the cash machines closest to us charge fees ranging from 4 to 7 euros and offer extremely poor exchange rates.

I got up today with a zeal to go on a mission to Mataró to get to the bottom of this problem and figure out which of the fairest banks in terms of fees offered the fairest exchange rate on a Starling bank card, which in theory shouldn’t need an exchange because it offers its own relatively generous EUR->GBP rate when the transaction is in Euros. The trains southbound from Santa Susanna operate roughly every half hour on the hour / half-hour. So at 11.50am I hurried along to the station to catch the noon train. It nevered appeared. There was a bilingual announcement explaining something about a problem in Barcelona with work on overhead lines, but I wasn’t sure if that was the reason for the non-appearance of the train I wanted to catch. I decided to ditch my bank machine mission and instead simply concentrate on getting some fresh fruit and veg for our Friday night dinner from the market in Pineda de Mar. It’s a 25min walk to Pineda de Mar and I reckoned my feet were more reliable than the southbound trains today. There were plenty of trains coming in the opposite direction, so I was confident I’d not be walking home with the shopping.

After buying what I needed from the market, I went into Pineda to check out their main supermarket, which is called Consum and one I haven’t shopped in before. Al had sent me a nice recipe for a chickpea curry and there were a few extra things I needed to find and I was delighted that Consum had everything I needed. In fact it is possibly the best supermarket I’ve found yet. I might even come here again for my Monday shop rather than heading across the fields to Carrefour. They have more of the veggie protein items than most supermarkets including some veggie frankfurters which are the first sausages I’ve been able to get.

On the way back to the station, I spotted a train heading south, so I guess whatever the problem had been was now fixed. It was just shortly before 2pm. As entered the barrier-less station I could see my train home coming down the tracks heading for the platform opposite, which prompted a slightly nervy dash down the steps, through the underpass and up the steps to jump on.

Alison had embarked on her own shopping mission today to checkout the Espais Susanna where Carrefour is located. There are some other shops over there and she was able to get some bits and pieces she needed.

I had one more mission today. Each year Catalonia celebrates the feast of their national saint Sant Jordi on 23 April, just like other countries with Saint George as patron like England and Georgia. They’ve turned it into a festival of love and literature, when men and women exchange roses and books. This year 23 April falls on a Sunday so unusally there is no public holiday, but the whole weekend becomes part of the festive goings-on I suppose.

I was keen to get hold of a rose for my loved one myself and on this mission I discovered walking the back road to Malgrat de Mar gave me a whole new perspective on the life of that town. There was a Social Club in the open air on the way full of people playing boules and the street along which the florist shops are found was full of many family groups, carrying single roses. It was very interesting to see how each of the three florist shops offered different level of rose presentations. There was much excitement buzzing around the whole area and the main square was alive with kids playing football right next to parents watching their children perform ballet on the outdoor stage with cafe terraces full of people drinking coffee and beer. I chose my rose and headed home for Friday night date night.

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