Beautiful Galicia

Galicia is the so friendly place where we unlearned sailing. Distances were lazy short and winds weren’t really there, so almost no sailing in three weeks with few but great exceptions. On the other side, Galicia is where we learned anchoring. This is again good news for a most relaxed life.

A Coruña was our landfall and first harbor in Spain, on an early morning back in first half of August. It took less than one hour until me and my son found ourselves sitting in an old town Café. The hidden plan was actually to go for some fresh bread for the entire crew. But when we saw the many Cafés with chairs and tables out in the ped zone, we understood that this was the chance to improve our plans. Sitting over the sweet breakfast with the best coffee in days and one or two Spanish croissants gave me some great yet distant memories about business trips to my friends in Barcelona.

Same evening the restaurant conceptonegra.com satisfied more culinary desires that we could think of. Up to my (limited) knowledge, only one other country in the world produces such a wide range of delicious meals and wines (the one in the med of course). Not only tongues and bellies were rewarded after 40 hours of motoring across calm Bay of Biscay. Coruña also enriched our mariner hearts: To our surprise the city hosts the oldest operating lighthouse on the planet. It is more than incredibly 1’900 years old, built by the Romans. It is another place which deserves special recommendation for Coruña visitors: torredeherculesacoruna.com

Costa da Morte was kind to us and soon after we passed Cabo Finisterre, the former end of the world. The general conditions seemed to be quite easy on that day, peaceful and fast downwind sailing. I was just typing a life-around-Finisterre message to a friend when I realized that the boom is going over. This was definitely an unwanted situation.

What did happen? The tectonic circumstances of the cape area caused sudden changes of water currents. We ran straight into a whirlpool. The autopilot couldn’t keep course and our traveling direction changed. The wind still came from behind, but now from the other side. This made the main sail flipping over, known as an accidental gybe. A main sail which goes over all in a sudden can badly damage the rig. Sailors install a so called preventer system which either keeps the boom where it was or makes the shift smooth. Our preventer was set and active for that route and nothing bad happened. Just a few question marks in the eyes of my crew and some smiling faces up on Cape Finisterre rock, I guess.

More relaxing were Galicia’s rias. Rias are fjord-like sea arms going many miles inlands. Weather is sometimes fresh and wet there, as the Atlantic itself is. And so was the sea water: 16-18 Celsius, depending on the bay. The hilly and green area sometimes reminded us of our home country. We learned to anchor in the nicest bays, played on the beaches, and some even went swimming. We went hiking, caught fish, enjoyed sunsets and scenic night views of the villages ashore.

Some of the rias are well protected by dozens of smaller and larger islands, generally rocky, with sandy beaches an patches here and there. The pictures within this blog tell about the beauty of the place.

Also the fast train which brought us to monumental Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela reminded us to Switzerland: fast, punctual, clean, and with a voice message ahead of the next city stop. Each message closed with a very logical and therefore strange reminder: “We remind the passengers who want to continue their journey that they should not exit at the stop!” Sure, what else would you do ;-)?!

Seeing the fantastic new city buildings, museums, harbor control towers, fast train stations and art pieces every here and there, it becomes quite obvious how much fluent the money was in the years ahead of 2008. Now, some Cafés sell a morning coffee plus a large croissant for 2 Euros or even less. Was it ever like that? We don’t know, but we have the feeling that this is not enough to pay the rent and make a decent living. It would be a tragedy, which hopefully will change to the better soon.

Our last days in Galicia brought a lot of morning and evening fog. Vision was sometimes poor and the fog horns were operated. A fog horn replaces the lighthouse in the case of poor visibility. They make Mooou-mooou-mooou-mooooooooou. Fog horns sound like monster cows with some calming patience in their voices. They reminded us that we should move further south.

Galicia’s final statement for us before heading down to Portugal was the Monte Real Club Nautico of Baiona, a jewel of a marina (but same as the other ones with a weak Wifi backbone). Baiona has some most pittoreske narrow lanes, which come to real life late evening when the locals go for dinner. An old fortress and now hotel sets a beautiful counter point. And the Club Nautico sits in between, with a small beach on each side. Look at the picture…

Also if we intend more than ever to cross the Atlantic, Spain will perhaps be the country where we spend most of our one-year traveling time. This is almost sure as we will be back in Spain for another two or three weeks, when entering the Canary Islands. More Queso, more Serrano, more Rioja, more Siesta ;-)!

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