It was wonderful spending some time with my family in La Coruña, especially since this time all 5 sisters got to be together, first time in many years, and a big crowd of us met at ‘Bonilla a la Vista’ in Rua Galera, right in the heart of the old town, for a Chocolate and Churros session and a long chat to catch up on news and generally having a good time. It was good to see Adonis enjoying a good old natter with my youngest brother and nephew and they too seemed to be enjoying one another’s company. It also brought happy memories, as my parents used to bring us here for a treat when we were little.
I also had a chance to meet up with Raquel, a very good friend of mine from college in La Coruña whom I hadn’t seen since 1979. Where does time go? This was a very special occasion and we talked for hours until all too soon she had to go back to Santa Comba with her daughter. My only regret is that we were so busy talking, I forgot to take a picture of the two of us together. We’ll just have to do it again! Any excuse, really.
Making the most of the facilities a big town has to offer, we both did a bit of shopping and, of course, Beano and I paid a much needed visit to the hairdresser’s. It was fortunate that Terrier-Terrier Peluquería Canina, (dog groomer’s) http://www.terrierterrier.es was only a 10-minute walk from the motorhome aire at the Marina and that the very friendly and helpful manager, Jesús, gave me an appointment for the Friday morning. He did a great job on Beano and I’ll definitely use his services again when we return to La Coruña.
You can’t go to La Coruña and not try the marvellous local food restaurants along La Ciudad Vieja (old part of town), which, of course, we did with great gusto a couple of times and had such wonderful dishes as Gambas a la Plancha (grilled prawns), Pimientos de Padrón, Lacón con grelos (boiled bacon with potatoes and parsnip tops) and Raxo (fried strips of pork and home-made chips). The local speciality is Octopus and other seafood delicacies, which we have had many times and are utterly delicious, but we just wanted to try something different this time.
Another unexpected surprise was to find The Queen Elizabeth Cruise Ship docked in town! WOW!
We were thinking of going to Finisterre, or Land’s End, the furthermost westerly point in Spain, just south of La Coruña, but the weather was too windy and unsettled and we thought better of it, but I am sure there will be plenty of opportunities in the future.
Thinking we would find kinder temperatures a bit further south, we headed for Arcade in As Rías Baixas, just north or Portugal, where we stopped at the aire on the seafront with wonderful views of the bay and the islands nearby. This is really a very charming location and the sea mist only helped to add an air of mystery and magic to the place: one could see why they say Galicia is ‘Terra Meiga’ (bewitched land): the imagination could run wild!
We went for long walks and encountered the medieval bridge of Sampayo that back in the day was the only connection between the province of Tui and Arcade. and thus, to the road to Santiago de Compostela and the rest of Spain. It is 144 metres long and dates back to the 10th or 11th century and played an important role in the war of independence against the French in 1809.
I was also surprised to find a statue of Christ the Redeemer, not unlike the one in Rio de Janeiro, but nowhere near as big. Beautiful, though!
It was frosty here too first thing in the morning, so we continued our journey south and finally crossed into Portugal on Sunday morning, making this a new country for me. We hadn’t realised that Portugal is one hour behind Spain, so we had an extra long Sunday: Who is to complain?
Vila Chã is another gorgeous location, about 10 km north of Porto, the weather much milder than of late and it has been sunny and warm since we got here. The campsite is lovely and quiet, the staff very friendly and helpful and there is a new shower/washing-up block with modern facilities, as well as an older one.
It is nice to see some people have decorated their static caravans for Christmas and I am sorry we won’t be spending the festivities here. There is a lovely boardwalk along the beach only a 5-minute walk from the campsite and the coastline is very pretty and rocky, as one expects on the Atlantic coast.
The only thing that spoils this place is the amount of guard dogs kept in the houses along the way, as it is impossible to walk past without some gigantic Alsatian throwing itself at a gate, making you jump having a heart attack in the process. I have tried different routes, but to no avail: they all seem to be paranoid about safety using the poor creatures as deterrent. Beano is a lucky boy indeed!
We did a big shop at Continente hypermarket in Vila do Conde a few km north of here to stock up in Portuguese goodies, including a nice bottle of Port which I am enjoying as I write (so forgive the typos).
Our next stop will be Ribeira on our way to Fátima: I am very excited about this as this is the place I got my name from. I can’t wait to see it!