Real Club Náutica Portosín, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain
April 30 – May 19, 2021
We’re back! As you probably know from my latest post published May 17.
After landing April 30 and jumping aboard two hours later we found ourselves home. Further more a surprise package greeted us. Since we hadn’t ordered anything the box was a puzzle. Until we opened it and discovered our Dutch family, Deborah, Thijs and Tika, had sent us edibles and artistic cards for first morning aboard. How wonderful is that?!
Every time when we returned to Hoorn they ensured we had a breakfast treat accompanied by a card made by Tika. Now, five years from when we first wintered in their home town they had done it again. An amazing surprise and one we most definitely relished the next morning.
After an absence of over a year we wondered how the boat would look. Thankfully, we knew the lines had been monitored daily by Juan and the Marineros here. They even checked below for us. Plus, we did get some photos.
When we first stepped aboard we noticed JUANONA looked bit green on the deck and dry below. Nothing some elbow grease (and power washing) can’t cure. Which is what we did for the next four days thanks to perfect weather of sun, light wind and fairly warm temps.
A quick haul-out and power-wash JUANONA looked good and within three hours, back in the water. We didn’t have to go on the hard for some nights because no painting was needed. Besides, the job had to be completed due to JUANONA’s radar tower meant the lift couldn’t be used until we were finished. So, we couldn’t have gone on the hard :)
Now onto food. With provisioning list drafted, redrafted, reorganized, and continually updated we began stuffing JUANONA with ingredients for living at sea for 30+ days. Fortunately, there’s a supermercado in the next town over (Noia); and, with a rental car we’re not having to lug cans, bottles, etc., in backpacks and duffles (like we’ve done numerous times previously).
We also needed to check expiration dates on stowed food from 2019 AND earlier. This resulted in two buckets of, well, you can see for yourself…
To ensure we had ready-to-eat meals in case of stormy seas Max became a guinea pig for options. Not wanting to deprive him of these gastronomical treats I opted out. Smart move as all of them quickly found their way into de buckets. Yum, right?
Thinking of provisioning I have to say it’s more than just food to consider. I do understand that changing to fresh clothes isn’t usually possible, especially during a 30-day passage when water is premium, i.e., drinking it and cooking with it takes priority over bathing in it. Yet, there’s a fine balance, especially when it comes to personal hygiene. And, this is where non-food provisioning comes in…
We’re in our v-berth one night and I look over to see Max searching on Amazon.es. In the search field I see “underwear hombres quick dry.” Uh-oh. Not good. I ask him how many he has. He said “three.” I said “keep searching.” The good news is Rudy had done the math before he got on the plane, so he is fully provisioned via undies hombre. I sincerely doubt ANY female would do the same. At least not the ones with whom I’d share a 39+-ft boat for 30 days…
After a week and two weekends of preparing for our crossing we checked the forecast on Monday (May 10). Weather promised some typical Galician fare: sun, clouds, possible drizzle. Good to go on a road trip.
We id’ed some places we haven’t seen and headed off the boat the next morning for two nights ashore. Knowing we’d be on water for a month or so we opted to tour inland to Ribeira Sacra, an area known for its vineyards.
In an interesting article, “Ribeira Sacra, The Heroic Wine Region” by Kristjan Markii, I read the name (Sacred River Valley) actually comes from a mistranslation. Some records from 1124 refer to the area as Rovoyra Sacratale or the sacred oak forest. Five centuries later a priest either by mistake or purposely altered it to Rivoyra Sacrata (holy rivers-riverbanks). Since monasteries sprouted like mushrooms throughout the region, there didn’t seem to be any reason to question the renaming of this oak forest. Makes sense to me. Besides, whatever the nomenclature, it translates to: wine and history. I’m in.
Our first stop was the Mosteiro de Oseira, the Cistercian monastery dating from 1137. After several upgrades and downfalls throughout the years the monastery returned to some former glory in 1929. As part of one of the Caminos, peregrinos or pilgrims stop here as they walk towards Santiago de Compostela. Not that we’re pilgrims but we discovered we could tour the premises and possibly hear some monks chanting.
We arrived and knocked on the reception door only to find it closed. Until Max knocked again and it opened. A woman greeted Max rather formally but warmed up when she saw how excited we were to actually be there. She didn’t know we’d been on a boat and were keen on being somewhere else. And, boy, was it truly fantastic. She gave us a 45-minute tour, and I easily could have wandered for many hours more.
I do admit, though, that some religious statues can be a bit freaky, such as this one with hair. I didn’t get too close to find out who as I just wanted to keep walking.
After our tour we asked if we could hear the monks doing their Gregorian Chants. Our guide responded affirmatively and said to return in an hour. We left and found ourselves at a small café/bar just outside the entrance gate. There we partook of Spanish ham, bread, water and coffees. Not a bad intermission in our touring.
Upon reconnecting with our guide we trooped off (quietly) through several long corridors. We reached a small room where two of the 11 monks in residence sat in silent contemplation. Then we heard something rolling down the hall, which turned out to be a young man pushing an elderly monk in a wheelchair. Okay, three here and none are looking too spry and vocally beautific.
Within 15 minutes while we also tried to look solemnly meditative five more entered including a young female novice. Of the now eight religious figures I figured the median age was 75. Now I’m wondering how long their “singing” will last and is there a way to exit graciously and piously.
But, no need. What a glorious surprise! One older man began with others following and all I will say is both Max and I got emotional. No photographs or videoing allowed. Yet, that only added to the feeling of being present, right there, nothing to do but absorb the musical notes in perfect harmony. This tour would be hard to beat. It set the bar for our inland excursions pretty high.
Before we left a visit to the gift shop offered Max the opportunity to purchase some of the liqueur made on site (no thanks) and some edibles (chocolate bars and marmalade, also made by monks, okay, I’ll buy).
We knew the libations came from this site due to a documented display. As you can see, one of the makers enjoyed his task. He must have sampled a few.
Filled with gratitude for witnessing just a sliver of monastic life we exited and drove though green countryside made even greener due to the rain. But, it’s beautiful.
Driving required some skill due to the narrow lanes twisting through many of the small villages.Villages equating to sometimes two houses. Light traffic coupled with rare large truck encounters made it fun versus nerve-racking.
Researching places to stay on the fly we landed at a parador, one of Spain’s historical landmarks converted to a hotel. If you can, try one. They offer fabulous stays in both rural and urban sites and usually combine sleeping accommodations with restaurants and sometimes a spa. Ours had all. We splurged on an excellent dinner but no spa-taking. Not complaining in the least. The Parador de Santo Estevo out-marveled other places we’ve managed to stay and, as some friends and I say, it’s definitely a “Betsy” place :)
Originating in the 6th-7th century or thereabouts the parador evolved with three cloisters reflecting three time periods: Romanesque, Gothic, and the third Renaissance. We strolled through all three and found them very suitable for our stay.
After walking through the parador and exploring the little hillside behind it, we felt a bit restless. With plenty of daylight left (doesn’t darken until past 10:00pm) we left for another country drive. This time for a popular view point and a Roman bridge. Both situated on the Via Nova, part of the Roman Road XVIII.
The view point called Miradoiro de Cabezoás offered another stunning landscape as we peered across and down to the River Sil winding through the its Canyon. Noted as one of the deepest points along this gorge we just stood and gazed with local flora of chestnuts, oaks and broom framing our view. FYI: broom is a bright yellow, flowering bush profusely decorating the hills around here. Considered the national flower of Galicia we saw it tied to the front of cars when we first arrived. After asking why we discovered it’s to keep witches and devils at bay. Hmmm.
Another another twenty minutes or so found ourselves peering at a Roman Bridge spanning the River Bibei. Constructed between 114 and 119 C.E. the original structure still exists (with some minor repairs now and then).
We tried to envision how they built this, including the road we were traveling–Via Nova. But, with no expertise in civil engineering my brain just spun and decided to settle on simply “looking.” To increase the visual intake, my model agreed to pose.
Unfortunately, he left his armor back on the boat.
The next morning we departed the parador after I could tear myself away from the excellent coffee. Accompanied by hunks of freshly baked bread with plenty of marmalade and butter I could have stayed much MUCH longer.
Our next destination featured another ancient site, one Max found: a Roman military camp. Seemed appropriate based on all the other surrounding Roman digs. Plus, he does look good in armor.
We parked at the end of a small road with no other vehicles or people in sight and followed a path to the river’s edge. Surprised, we saw our travels still followed along that old Roman road.
The walk opened up to a large expanse of ruins with some signage explaining what stood in front of us: Aquis Querquennis.
Only occupied for fifty years (79 to 120 C.E.), it must have taken a lot of guys and stones to build this camp. But, we read they also incorporated hot baths into the design so at least they could soak any sore muscles.
Unfortunately, the construction of a reservoir in 1949 flooded the site. We could still walk around and in parts of it, enough to acquire a sense of this encampment. With the clouds filtering the sun off and on provided our solitary touring an ethereal feel.
And, to provide an element of realism I had my personal Roman soldier as a guide.
Leaving the countryside we headed towards Galicia’s third-largest city, Ourense. Two years ago we’d bathed in public hot springs off of the River Minho. Due to CoVid the city had closed those but Max located some private ones (5 euros each for three hours). Sold. We loaded a bag with suits and towels, parked our car on the opposite side of the bank and trekked across a pedestrian bridge to the springs.
No photos allowed but we snapped a pic of one of the larger pools from the balcony prior to leaving.
After an hour of hopping from pool to pool–multiple ones of varying temperatures, including cold baths–we exited relaxed and with a faint eau de sulphur.
One night remained of our Road Trip in Ribeira Sacra. But after driving to one small town and realizing we’d been to it during our last road trip here, we decided to return to JUANONA.
We managed a few other tours, only these were day trips. The first being a return to a lovely old city usually filled with peregrines, those pilgrims mentioned earlier.
Wanting to revisit the cathedral in Santiago de Compostella we checked to see if it was open. It was, and very empty compared to our visit in 2019.
And, just the other day we drove an hour north up the coast to Finisterre, touted as the western-most point of Spain. We had been to the town Fisterra (2 miles or so from the actual point) in the summer of 2019 with our friend Robbie aboard and then with my sister Betsy and her friend Missie in September that same year. They had walked 130+ miles of the camino where we met them in Santiago de Compostella. From there we drove to Finisterre so they could touch the furthest end of the camino.
We documented the spot…
and then returned back to the marina where Max made dinner using potholders our neighbor Brook made us for our 2001 voyage. Still going strong.
We’ve cooked most dinners aboard, actually, they were just salads; but, we had acquired a taste for the local padrones peppers in 2019. This led to a scouting expedition during our travels only to discover them in our own backyard, a pizzeria in Portosín. With a glass of Albariño we devoured them all.
Like previous travels we’ve met fellow cruisers. Either on their way north to return home or south to continue exploring: Judy and Graham (Brits), Nicky and Mike (Aussies), Erica and Fred (Dutch), and the most recent sailors Montaine, Denis and their three sons Pierre, Simeon and Yann (French).
Most of my photos are of all of the boats leaving in the distance, but I did manage to get a few close-ups of s/v PEN KREO as they pulled away from the dock yesterday afternoon.
On May 17 we retrieved Rudy from La Coruña airport after the successful quest of getting him here, which required a lot of folk. And, just a bit more provisioning, where Rudy discovered the supermercado carts could use a bow thruster to help turn corners.
Unfortunately, I just found out Rudy likes snicker bars as much as I do. I’m contemplating increasing our supply just a wee bit. But, on second thought I don’t want JUANONA listing to whichever side I decide to sit. So, perhaps Rudy liking those bars as much as I is the better diet plan for moi. Then again, 30 days at sea, 12 snicker bars, two in competition… I may rethink that.
Now it’s time to leave with some last minute laundry. But, we made certain to say final good-byes to the amazing marina staff: Carmen, Carmela, Elena; and, the Marineros–Rudy, Juan, Max, and another one who was the first Marinero we met as he helped us dock in 2019.
So, until we arrive on another piece of land, I’ll take my leave. And, when we finally arrive on Orr’s we have an excellent bottle of vino to celebrate :)