In the morning the weather was quite perfect and there was an inviting blue sky over the verdant green hills in the distance in exactly the direction that we were planning to drive. Desperate for a cup of tea or two we went for breakfast, which again, although it was not exciting was at least a serving of bread and jam rather than the stodge cake.
Today we drove north and we were heading for the coast and the beach and because we liked the place so much planned to drive back later through Santiago de Compostela. Without a map we inevitably got lost almost immediately as we attempted to negotiate the busy town of Padrón and this involved a couple of u-turns and, to be perfectly honest, quite a lot of uninformed guesswork. Finally, after wasting twenty minutes or so, we found a brand new road that had only recently been opened and we were driving effortlessly towards the Atlantic and the town of Santa Uxia de Ribeira, which is a fishing town and famous for the quality of its shellfish.
The reason for Galicia’s seafood reputation, and this goes especially for the shellfish, is the unique flavour that results from the fresh water from the rivers that create the rías and it is claimed that the cockles, mussels, octopus and squid have a taste that is unrivalled anywhere else in the world and because of this, the price of shellfish harvested in Galicia, is almost double that of the rest of Spain.
On the recommendation of the owner of the hotel we were heading for the beach at the Dunes of Corrubedo National Park that he assured us was an unspoilt beach park with large sand dunes and unique wild flora and fauna that could be found at the very end of the Barbanza Peninsula just past the town of Ribeira. We arrived at about eleven o’clock, parked in the shade in an empty car park and gave the staff in the café a bit of a wake-up shock when we sat ourselves down for a drink.
After refreshment we walked through the pine trees and through the sand dunes and arrived on a magnificent sandy beach with its Blue Flag fluttering proudly in the breeze. There was miles of it, lush golden sand dipping away into the sea where the gentle breakers were rolling in and crashing onto the beach in a most reliable way. And the best thing was that it was practically deserted with plenty of personal space available for everyone. This was as far away from Benidorm as it is possible to imagine, no beach bars, no watersports, no sunbeds or umbrellas and no football shirts or lycra.
Galicia is keen to encourage tourism but I hope that they do it in a sensible way and places like this don’t get swept away in a package holiday tsunami. The Parliament of Galicia has introduced a range of initiatives aimed at increasing foreign tourism to the region and in recent years overseas visitors have started to visit Galicia, exploring its scenic countryside and its cities, towns and villages, but as yet this is only a trickle and currently less than one thousand ex-pat Brits live in the Province.
Galicia is a popular holiday choice with Spanish people living in the south and central cities of the country because they like to holiday in the north to escape the oppressive heat and enjoy Galicia’s famous seafood. In August alone, eight million Spaniards travel north from cities like Madrid and Toledo to the more temperate climate of Galicia with its green scenery and spectacular beaches. The climate though is changeable and the region is often referred to in Spain as the wet or rainy region. Despite this, it is those in the south and central cities of Spain that flee to Galicia in July and August to enjoy the hot, but not oppressive, summer weather. The local geography is also dramatically different from that of the central and southern regions with meadows, hills and mountains and is known affectionately in Iberia as green Spain.
Fortunately the weather wasn’t changeable today and we enjoyed a couple of hours or soon the beach alternatively sunbathing amongst the rocks and swimming in the spectacularly clean water of the Atlantic Ocean. As we sat and enjoyed the natural beauty of the beach it slowly began to fill with Spanish families and although there was still plenty of space for everyone it felt much busier now so we decided to leave and try and find somewhere nice for lunch. There was a fishing village on the other side of the bay that we thought looked most promising so we set off to try and find it.