Glorious Galicia!

4 Aug
Our journey south from La Coruna to Portosin

Our journey south from La Coruna to Portosin

I have a confession to make….

Before we set off on our travels, I had some pre-conceived ideas about coastal Spain, based only on a brief trip to the Costa del Sol. I had fears of hoardes of package holiday tourists, bars offering Sky Sports and Full English Breakfast, high-rise hotels etc. How wrong could I have been?! Galicia is an absolute gem!

Galicia is an autonmous region in the far North West of Spain, Although the coastline is wild and rocky, with huge windfarms on almost every hilltop, it is indented with loads of sheltered inlets (or rias). The landscape is lush and green and every ria has its share of secluded sandy beaches. Here and there, you’ll find small towns and villages, enough to get fresh provisions and to sit ashore with a beer or two and enjoy watching the Galician world go by. No high-rise buildings, no English newspapers, in fact, very few people speak English at all.

Ria de Muros, Galicia

Ria de Muros, Galicia

We found the people to be charming, very friendly and only too willing to help us. They seemed to appreciate our clumsy attempts to speak Spanish and, once we realised that, in this part of the world, Gallego is the main language, everyone was very pleased to help with mastering the pronounciation.

The climate in Galicia is probably what keeps it hidden from the masses. You really can experience four seasons in one day here. It can go from fog, wind and rain to brilliant blue skies and baking sunshine and back again in the space of an hour. The prevailing winds are northerlies but it seems that as soon as the wind blows from the south, the fog and rain comes with it. We had our fair share of both – rain and sun – but still had a brilliant cruise round the coast.

On Tuesday 26 June, we left La Coruna (A Coruna in Gallego) and headed west for an anchorage 42 miles along the coast at Laxe (pronounced ‘lashay’ – I only found this out later!). We arrived at 8 o’clock in the evening and, after 3 attempts, we got the anchor set and settled in for the evening and for our first night at anchor on Two Choices. We were woken several times during the night by the anchor alarm, but after deciding that we weren’t dragging, just swinging, we altered the alarm settings and have had no further problems since.

Laxe has a beautiful white sandy beach, worthy of the Caribbean or the West coast of Scotland. However, we were keen to further our travels south and so we passed up the opportunity for a paddle, had a quick trip ashore in the dinghy for bread and petrol and headed for our next hop round Cabo Villano to Ria de Camarinas.

Camarinas has a tiny marina but we opted to anchor in the bay for a couple of nights and had several trips ashore to explore the town and enjoyed a meal at the Club Nautico Camarinas. We met a couple here on a 36ft catamaran who had crossed Biscay only a few days after we did. They reported having a horrendous crossing with 65 knot winds and mountainous seas. It shows how fortunate we had been!



Ria de Camarinas... or is it Norway?... or Canada?

Ria de Camarinas... or is it Norway?... or Canada?

As with all the Galician rias, we could have stayed much longer in Ria de Camarinas. But, unfortunately, time was against us and we pushed on south. I was keen to visit Finisterre (Fisterra) and to walk to the lighthouse, particularly after reading ‘Attention All Shipping’ by Charlie Connelly. I had romantic notions of standing in isolation at the edge of the ancient world, gazing out into the west and feeling the wonder and mysteries of what might lie beyond the horizon. So, to Finisterre we went! And to the lighthouse we trekked…..along with several dozen others, to be greeted at the top of the hill by a multitude of tat…sorry, souvenir sellers and a cafe selling burgers and chips. I’m informed that it is not dissimilar to Land’s End… In spite of the unashamed commercialism of the site, I enjoyed the walk (I think more than PT did!) and the view and we saw our first pilgrims… they DO wear sandals!

The end of the world..

The end of the world..

Once again, we spent the night at anchor at Fisterra, having had a wander around the town and the obligatory beer. Thankfully, the conditions were settled; not a place to be when the weather gets up.

Our next stop was Muros, in the next ria down. We’d had several reports of poor holding and evil black mud at Muros and we experienced both. The town is charming and our visit ashore followed the usual pattern, first locate a ferreteria (hardware store) to feed PT’s cravings for interesting bits and pieces to fashion solutions to problems that are yet to arise on the boat. Then, locate the pasteleria (cake shop). Then, finally, find a nice looking bar to have a beer and raciones (tapas, but bigger portions). At about this stage in the proceedings, we got word that, independent of one another both Berni and Barb had booked flights to come and visit the following week. Our first visitors! Great excitement!

After Muros we had only a short hop across the ria to our final destination for the time being at Portosin. We set off late in the morning with a brisk breeze on starboard quarter and had a great sail across, reaching 8.5 knots at times. We were welcomed warmly at Portosin by a veritable army of very efficient marinerias. We were then booked in by the equally efficient and friendly Carmela in the office and were given all the information we could possibly need about the area. First class service; it was looking like I’d made the right choice for the next three weeks.

Sunset at Portosin

Sunset at Portosin


2 Responses to “Glorious Galicia!”

  1. Nick August 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

    so glad that you are having such a fantastic adventure – your prose is so descriptive that it makes me feel that I am almost there with you!

    Keep up the excellent work and above all enjoy yourselves!


  2. Arnie August 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    A blog worthy of Boswell, supplemented by f-stops and framing. Have really enjoyed the fruits of your labours, giving Google maps a bashing in the process.
    My right foot is pumping up the lilo as I write, my left hand burnishing the Xmas cracker compass and my rt index finger typing. Who says men can’t multi-task?
    OK so I’m jealous. Yachting and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance, perhaps!

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