Galicia, Spain: A Treasure Trove of Culture and Cuisine
From the ragged Atlantic Coast of Death to the white beach of the Islas de Cies, woods, rolling green hills and peaceful rias of the Fragas do Eume to the world’s oldest operating lighthouse, The Tower of Hercules in La Coruna, you can spend several weeks being surprised by ever changing and unexpected sights.
Introduction to Galicia
This guide to Galicia, the province located in the north of the Spanish peninsula focuses on two issues:
There can be occasional hot days in summer which allow enjoyment of the many beaches, but overall an umbrella, sweater and a light rain coat should be packed on any trip at any time of the year.
All mayor cities like Santiago de Compostela, Vigo, Lugo and La Coruna have airports with plenty of flights to Madrid and connections to anywhere in the world. Hire cars are available at the airports and railway stations, but this guide focuses on the use of public transport, which, generally speaking, is poor compared to the south of Spain.
Long distance coaches connecting, for example, Vigo to La Coruna run about two to three times a day and depart from central bus stations. Trains between the major cities run frequently, but local buses from village to village are sparse and the time tables are unreliable.
Buses do stop when a hand is raised but bus stops are often difficult to find because they are not clearly marked. If travel time is limited, the hire of a car is recommended or else the use of a taxi. In smaller villages the price for the trip should be agreed beforehand as not all run on meters.
Who Should Go?
It´s not a place for a lazy, sunbathing holiday but ideal for adventurous spirits and people who don´t mind walking a lot.
Single Woman Traveler
As far as accommodation is concerned, single travelers always have to pay more for single rooms. Galicia is no exception. The cost can be reduced by planning ahead and booking hotel rooms on the internet, On the other hand, hotel rooms are not as expensive as elsewhere. A very decent single room in La Coruna costs about €56, breakfast include and the cheapest was €25 in Finisterre.
Vigo is very well connected with the rest of Galicia and Spain in general by road, airport and railway. For seafood fans, here is a tip which should not be missed.
Go to the port to the part opposite the Club Nautico, then cross over the pedestrian bridge and down on the other side, where you come to La Piedra.
It´s the old fish market and today, stall after stall offers fresh oysters. The visitor selects his choice, then takes his plate to the restaurants behind the stalls, orders his drinks and enjoys a seafood festival.
Several hiking routes of a variety of difficulties crisscross the island, which is also a nature reserve. All of them are color coded and clearly marked and explained in the leaflet you obtain when buying your ticket, so you can choose in advance and bring appropriate footwear if you wish to do more than just lounge on the beach and swim in the crystal clear water.
A drive south of about 45 minutes along the Ria de Vigo leads to Bayona. The pretty seaside town is located quite close to Portugal and the port is dominated by the vast Monte Real Castle. The fortress and castle can be visited and, as it is today one of Spain´s most luxurious paradors, at least a refreshment can be enjoyed after taking in all the magnificent views of the sea.
When returning back to port, watch out for another important sight to visit: the replica of the Caravela Pinta, one of the three ships Columbus set out with when crossing the Atlantic for the first time in 1492.
'Pinta' was actually a nickname; the real name of the ship is unknown. Her captain was Martin Alonso Pinzon and the Pinta, which was the fastest of the three, the other two being the Nina and the Santa Maria, reached Bayona first in 1493 to bring the news of the discovery of the new world.
The replica, anchored in the port of Bayona, can and should be visited. It´s a unique experience to see in what conditions the adventurers and explorers of over 500 years ago defied the seas. On boarding the ship, a replica of Captain Pinzon greets the visitor. A steep ladder leads into the hold, where further reproductions of the supplies the sailors took with them and the treasures they brought back, are on display.
Surprisingly, there is no sign post or indication to direct visitors to the historical ship. You have to look for it among the other many and much bigger sailboats and yachts which populate the port of Bayona. Admission is €1.
The best time to visit Galicia is from May to September. Winters are cold and wet and even in the height of summer, cold spells and rain showers can be expected. But the many sights and discoveries that await the visitor more than make up for a bit of wet feet.
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