Obsessively checking the weather means we can adjust our plans to eek out the best of the sunny days and where to be when it’s not so nice. We also search a whole variety of websites to help choose where to go. As Phil Roberts, my boss back in 1984, used to regularly say “We are where we are” and prophetically add “We shall see what we shall see“. Indeed….! On our travels Lesley and I never usually ignore the chance to visit a UNESCO World Heritage site. However WE, for reasons not entirely clear to us, decided on this occasion to give Santiago de Compostela a miss.
Santiago de Compostela – “The famous pilgrimage site in north-west Spain became a symbol in the Spanish Christians’ struggle against Islam. Destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the 10th century, it was completely rebuilt in the following century. With its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings, the Old Town of Santiago is one of the world’s most beautiful urban areas”.
After overnighting at Brandoñas where the camp site owner -a very welcoming and friendly woman – plied us with free Café con Leche’s, pastries and chocolates, what’s not too like. With rain forecast to be set in for the day, instead of Santiago we choose to turn south and parked up for the afternoon at a huge empty beach at Carnota in front of a newly shuttered concrete pad. The next day (whilst we were out on a walk) the concrete pad had grown a fish.
Next day we made an appointment at the end of our pilgrimage, a wine tasting at Martin Codax.
Martin Codax is the largest producer in Galicia of Albariño wine. The co-operative was founded in 1986 by a group of 50 winemakers and currently comprises 2,400 tiny vineyard parcels individually managed by 550 families. We quaff a lot of Sauvignon Blanc (purely for its anti-inflammatory properties!). When we found that consumption of Albariño also protects against heart attacks, well…
As the only patrons we had an exclusive visit to the winery. We tasted 5 wines including the one we know (the cheapest) and the more expensive varietals normally outside our everyday price range but they all had BLIC….!
According to bluffer guide to wine -“BLIC” is a useful acronym to use when describing a wine.– balance, length, intensity and complexity. “Good wines are ‘good’ because they have a BALANCE of sweet fruitiness and fresh acidity. They have great LENGTH that leaves the taste on your tongue after you swallow. They have INTENSE fruit flavours you can identify. And they’re COMPLEX – If you ever want to describe a wine like an expert just rattle through the BLIC”.
Suitably inspired and with the night closing in, we headed off to a free overnight spot near Combaro, Pontevedra.
Whilst Rías Baixas brings fame to the area for wine making. Rías, the deep, sunken river valleys that have formed inlets around the cities of Vigo and Pontevedra are the heart of Europe’s shellfish industry. Spain produces 200,000 tonnes of mussels a year, nearly half the European market, with 90% produced in Galicia. (they must have some great body-builders…..groan)
Unbeknown to us we had parked outside a shellfish factory. So before dawn dozens and dozens of men and women assembled chattering noisily, then like lemmings they headed en-masse to the waters edge to rake up large bucket loads of mussels and clams. As they say “the world’s your mollusc“!
A lucky piece of research and we found a beautiful walk not far off route, along the Fraga River Trail. This easy walk winds its way gently uphill, the path semi-shaded by the trees as if to keep it secret. Nature has overtaken this place and it’s now difficult to imagine what the landscape was like when the 29 water mills along its route were all in operation. Several of the mills have been reconstructed and the information boards suggest more than one is still used today by some families to grind corn.
Constantly by your side the stream passes over multiple small, naturally beautiful waterfalls, with the water flowing over and around the rocks in its way, creating classic splits, cascades and many beautiful pools.
We cut the route short after we had to retrace our steps when I found I’d dropped the lens cap off the camera. (Well it could happen to anyone, couldn’t it?). Right ‘no time to angabout’ we have to head south and Portugal.
Ok so it’s unsurprising that the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing us to change our plans. The UK is about to go into lockdown, France is already locked down. Now Spain is about to go the same way, meaning we need to get out of Spain just in case they ban travel. However our changed plan is complicated by Portugal’s 5 day travel ban starting tomorrow for the Day of the Dead celebrations, hey ho.
But, before leaving our last task is to top up with fuel. Best price in Spain €0.89 per litre. Portugal reputed €1.30.
Dave & Lesley