Huelva, Spain, Tuesday November 29, 2016

My last week of this trip to Europe is approaching. Today I am taking the bus to Faro, Portugal and the next day the train from Faro to Lisbon where I will spend my final six nights before flying back to Phoenix.

My Swedish roommate, Olle, left yesterday morning for Cadiz. He is driving an antique car, for which he says he has a buyer in the Canary Islands, and he is trying to the car on a ferry to take it there. He says the ferries are booked up, which is logical at this time of the year, when Europeans are anxious to spend some time in warmer climes. He says he can make enough profit by selling the car in the Canaries to pay for his vacation trip.

We spoke some more of politics, and Olle told me that the reason he does not like Hillary Clinton is because of all of the crooked enterprises she owns. That was a new one on me. He said he read it online. Not even Donald Trump accused Hillary Clinton of owning crooked businesses. It turns out that he does not read the mainline press and prefers right-wing, invented news stories, otherwise known as fake news.

I read today on The Economist website that almost half of Americans get their political news from Facebook. If that is true, that is terrible news for democracy, given all of the “news” from fake news websites that make their way into the Facebook news feeds. However, we Americans are not the only ones who are reading more and more fake news stories. Many lesser-educated Europeans are, also.

While I am digressing, let me relate what I read about an Eastern European who runs a fake news website. He makes money from it when people who visit his site click on advertisements. He had no political preference in the US election. His sole goal in running the website is to attract as many readers as possible.

At first, he began running fake anti-Trump, pro-Clinton news stories, but he didn’t get enough response to make a profit. Then he switched to pro-Trump, anti-Clinton news stories, and the visits to his site and ad clicks skyrocketed. He didn’t make up most of the fake news himself. He plagiarized many of his fake news reports from other websites. This is only an anecdote, but it confirms my suspicion about what type of people are most likely to be taken in by fake news.

Getting back to travel, it was chilly and still overcast when I left the hostel this morning to walk to downtown, but finally it was no longer raining. As I sat out, I snapped this picture of the youth hostel when I stayed the past two nights. It is an enormous building considering the few of us who are staying here. The employees greatly outnumber the guests. Notice that patches of blue are starting to appear among the clouds in the sky.

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Because it was still chilly when I started for town, I wore a long-sleeved T-shirt covered by a sweatshirt, and a jacket on top. By the time I returned in the late afternoon, I was sweating and carrying the latter two articles of clothing.

The picture below is of a typical residential street in Huelva. Most Spanish do not own stand-alone houses. They purchase apartments, which they call pisos or flats. Each one has to have its miniature balcony, of course, even though the balconies are not large enough to sit on. I almost never see anyone at the railing of a balcony, although sometimes I do see laundry on them hanging out to dry.

You’ll also notice there are awnings at street level. These awnings mark small businesses that occupy the ground floor of most buildings, whereas the upper floors are dedicated to apartments.

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One of my missions while downtown was to make sure I could find the right station to catch my bus to Portugal today. Some Spanish cities have multiple bus stations, and even this small city has two train stations despite the fact that it is at the end of the line for rail traffic. To the best of my knowledge, there are only two sets of rail tracks that cross the border into Portugal along the who border. The other Spanish rail lines all stop before the border.

The street pictured below is typical of most of the streets in the downtown area. Again you see business at street level and tiny balconies marking apartments on the floors above.

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I had been told that there is not much to see in Huelva, and my walk around town yesterday confirmed that. I was also told that there are interesting things to see in surrounding towns, which one can reach by bus. However, as I had only one full day in the city, I did not take any bus trips into the countryside.

The church below caught my eye on my walk back to the hostel, because it looked so new. After I took the photograph, I read on a plaque that it is a modern restoration of an older church that once stood on the site. The church was closed, so I could not see what was inside.

I am not a religious person, but in Spain, the most magnificent buildings are usually churches and cathedrals. Every little hamlet has its church, although many have fallen into disuse, because the Spanish are also not as religious as they once were. If you have read my Kindle book, A Senior Citizen Walks the Camino of Santiago, you know that some of the places I stayed when I did the pilgrimage were former churches that had been converted into pilgrims’ hostels.

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My bus for Faro, Portugal doesn’t leave until 4:15 pm, but once I leave the hostel, I will be encumbered with my suitcases and will probably not be able to see much more of Huelva. I have a small suitcase that I use as a carry-on bag in the airplane with my tablet computer, ebook reader, etc., plus a slightly larger one, also small enough to be a carry-on but which must be checked under today’s rules, because it is where I carry such items as the my Swiss army knife, tube of toothpaste, petroleum jelly to rub into my feet in the morning, etc.