Tuesday-Thursday, July 16-25, 2019
Remember when I said we basically glided for two days and nights down the Bay of Biscay to Gijón? None of the traditional rock ‘n rolling due to the ocean rollers that can ‘knock your head right off your shoulders’ (from a Schooner Fare song). Well, our east to west sails along the north coast of Spain made up for our smooth north to south passage.
For 60 miles we slipped and sloshed our way through water throwing a liquid temper tantrum.
Occasional dolphins created a welcome reprieve during our roller-coaster motor-sailing.
With relief we turned into Ria de Ribadeo for the night.
Not so fast. Not only did a weedy bottom in places force us to re-anchor, but we continued to roll up, down, and around on swells. After a sleepless eight hours we upped anchor as soon as it got light and headed for the Ria de Viveiro.
But after reading that this anchorage can be rolly, we said let’s keep on going, which is how we ended up anchored in a lovely bay off of Cedeira late in the afternoon.
So began our cruising the Galician coast of Spain.
We explored the town, enjoying lunch in a little square where the town had smartly planned an activity playground for kids while adults sat at tthe outdoor cafes enjoying local fare.
A path along the river took us behind the town where we passed senior citizens out for their morning stroll and, when returning to town, spotted a father and son walking the exposed river bed at low tide.
Besides a blissfully calm surface in which to sleep this town gave us the gift of meeting Pam and Mark, two Brits heading in the same direction. When dinghy-ing back to JUANONA from town, we headed near their boat but with enough space to turn off in case they didn’t wave back (our litmus test for how receptive others are to two cruisers disrupting their peaceful solitude). Fortunately they were as glad to meet other English speaking cruisers as we. They invited us aboard and conversation flowed :)
After our stay in Cedeira, we headed to the Ares, the next Ria south of us with Pam and March appearing later in the day.
Over the next three days we relaxed off this small beach resort,
where we joined other locals and visitors in slowly walking the boardwalk
and, of course, sampling local seafood :)
Tucked amidst some trees at the far end of the beach we found a cafe with some decent WiFi and across the street a few blocks away a fantastic laundramat. Unfortunately the WiFi only really worked that one day at the cafe but clean bedding and clothes offset that inconvenience.
With Caribbean-color water tempting us, we dinghied to one of the beaches for an evening swim.
Our ‘swim’ ended up as a quick dip instead for the water temperature resembled Maine’s more than any tropical warmth.
With the start of summer holidays beginning in full force we’d been a bit concerned about crowded harbors and anchorages. But our fears were unfounded. We discovered plenty of space along this coastal region, an assurance other sailors had mentioned.
And, it appeared some cruising boats never left as witnessed by the tatters of a country flag…
Our next rendezvous put us in A Coruña, a port whose history included…
the world’s oldest working lighthouse (more on that latter)…
…and a landing for those arriving from sea to continue their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
A misunderstanding put us In two different marinas. Pam and Mark moored at the Darsena located in the town center while we turned into the first marina when entering the harbor. Although even on the outer part of the city it was an easy, five-minute walk into the old town.
Generally it takes us a bit to become accustomed to the quicker tempo of a metropolis after the peace of a quiet village. But, with an afternoon of walking through the old town we settled into the city’s pace. Which picked up, as did we, when learning we had arrived just as one of the largest parties was beginning: the Medieval Festival :)
Beginning Tuesday night and continuing through Sunday, locals outfitted in medieval dress manned booths selling wares of non-edibles (headscarves to amulets)
and edibles (Iberica jamon to honey), some appearing mighty odd.
But, the best offerings of the festival appeared in the form of acrobats,
who didn’t seem to faze some kids despite in-your face ‘greetings’,
and, a fire-breathing dragon, which did cause at least one child to scream in holy terror (check out the video, pretty horrifying for a kid).
I fell under the spell of this festival with its blending of GAME OF THRONES + LORD OF THE RINGS + WIZARD OF OZ. Not what I was expecting in a region known for its Catholicism.
Delicious street food served as our lunch and dinner fare for most of our days there where we partook of kabobs, actually MANY kabobs. It’s also where we learned the importance of vigilance against theives.
As Max stood in front of a booth deciding what food to order three women, grandmotherly in appearance, crowded around him. He felt pressure where he kept his wallet inside a Velcro-closed pocket, and when he realized it was gone quickly grabbed the woman’s arm. Suddenly a young man standing nearby pointed and yelled ‘the thief went that way!’
Well,s he hadn’t gone that way. In the confusion all the thieves got away. Within 15 minutes the police ‘discovered’ and returned the wallet, minus cash but with credit cards intact. How they knew where to find the wallet so quickly made the entire episode seem a bit suspicious, but Max was relieved to only have lost some cash. He now pins that pocket closed with a safety pin.
A Coruña also where we found a perfect retreat from the street melange: a cafe with great WiFi, peace for writing all accompanied by good java.
I discovered even more relaxing hours during two glorious massages by Rita at the Oriental spa located right on the main plaza. Now that’s a true luxury.
We met up with Pam and Mark
for some amazing mojitos (while learning of some special rum)
then joined the stream of happy revelers navigating the narrow lanes with Mark encouraging Max to demo a head scratcher.
The days were hot under the sun but really pleasant in the shade. By afternoon an onshore sea breeze kicked in, providing free A/C to all. In the late evening the air cooled off a bit more, warranting a blanket for sleeping. With most of Europe experiencing acute heat waves, this part of Spain was bathed in cooler temps. Talk about luck.
We explored beyond the old town gaining an appreciation for this Spanish city. Just walking out of the main plaza placed us amid modern life, including seeing a peaceful protest against the local telecommunications company.
Walking further on we saw an evocative photography display, ‘Castaway Women’. With over 10 portraits, the photographs captured the terror, exhaustion, and relief experienced by these migrants. In the image below Olmo Calvo caught a group of immigrants found in a rubber dinghy next to the Libyan coast. The Spanish NGO, Proactiva Open Arms, supplied the life vests and later rescued 60 people also attempting to cross to Italy.
The expression ‘there but for the grace of god go I’ seems appropriate.
Crossing to the other side of the peninsula we prominaded along a boardwalk rimming a pristine beach, a feature of many of these coastal cities and towns.
And, where one beach goer would possibly rue her time in the sun.
A cool sculpture at the end of the beach reminded us of the popularity of surfing
and always of my brother and nephews’ love of the sport. So, I just had to pose (as seen in cover photo :)
The Spaniards definitely appreciate their ocean access. In all of our stops along this coast kayakers, paddle boarders, divers, jet skiers, and swimmers joined sailors and power boaters on and in the water. But, nothing beats the pure joy of seeing kids leaping off land and splashing down in the ocean, which occurred frequently along the city’s harbor.
By Thursday A Coruña had become a familiar face. Having adjusted to city living we settled into an easy routine of visiting favorite haunts (roaming the old town, running miscellaneous errands, and provisioning as needed).
Additionally, Thursday, July 25th is one of the most popular holidays of the year: the Feast of St. James, the patron saint of Galicia and of Spain.
He’s the reason (well, at least way back when) why all those pilgrims make their way to Santiago (‘Saint James’ in the galician dialect) de Compostello where he’s (supposedly) interned. And, why the Festival’s spirit reached an even higher pitch. Which is truly interesting considering how joyfully pagan we felt.
Yet, aboard JUANONA we had highlighted this day for another reason. With that, I’ll close with something I never got tired of during our time in A Coruña: