27 June at La Coruna
Tuesday 27th we made our way across the bay from Ares to the historic port city of La Coruna. We followed the massive cruise ship Independence of the Seas into harbour with slight trepidation – but the place is big enough to absorb a thousand or so ‘Brits on Tour’ without batting an eyelid. We took on diesel for the first time since La Trinité sur Mer, which proved to be a less painful experience than I had feared. Despite a severe lack of wind for much of our time in Spain, the Perkins has proved to be fairly frugal in pushing us along at 6.5 knots. I’ll have to brush off my O level algebra and perform a quadratic equation to work out the balance between generator and main engine consumption – something that I’ve been avoiding for a couple of years!
Marina entrance is between the cruise ship and the fort
We are in the Marina Real, pretty much in the heart of the old town. There is a lovely square a hundred yards away and the whole area is criss-crossed with narrow streets jammed with smart little shops and eateries in equal numbers. The integration of old and new architecture is well managed and there is more of a sense of a thriving town here than we have seen anywhere since Gijon. It’s more glamorous than Gijon, much richer and you can see why it’s a cruise liner destination. I had assumed that the passengers came in order to visit Santiago de Compostela, but the majority of diehards seemed content to wander the backstreets looking for calamares and chips.
The delicacy here is ‘percebes’. It looks like the feet of some small, mildly exotic bird (especially when polished up and sold as a keyring) but in fact it’s a barnacle. A very fancy one to be fair, the goose barnacle ‘pedunculata pollicipes pollicipes’ as it is often known. At €70kg for the most sought after, we have yet to try some…
Need to find a decent recipe…
Tuesday afternoon was dominated by laundry. We seem to have accumulated quite a lot of it and the facilities at the marina looked unlikely to cope – and would have involved a long vigil sat in a small room warding off other boat owners and watching the stuff go round. So we set off in search of a ‘Lavanderia’. They agreed to do the lot and it would be ready for 6:30pm. We then went to do some retail therapy at the Corte Ingles, on the other side of town and sampled some Galician beer in one of those lovely little bars where they automatically bring you some ham and cheese on a slice of baguette. We returned to pick up the washing at 8pm, only to find that they had in fact shut at 6:30pm but hung on for us because they could see that we wouldn’t have any bed sheets! They refused to take extra money.
By the time we were sorted, it was time to go to the airport to meet our daughter Anna. We researched the airport bus carefully, located the bus stop and were there in good time. Enough time to have an ice cream as some compensation for running out of time earlier to cook supper (retail therapy is rewarding but does not fill every hole… ice cream does!). We stood waiting for the bus for thirty minutes; many went past, but none looked remotely interested in us or the airport. Eventually Julie accosted a random bus driver who informed us that the airport bus drivers were on strike. Taxis were plentiful though and shortly afterwards we were sitting in our hire car with an hour to kill. We ventured off the airport site and found one of those classic small town bars with some old men playing cards, the football on the telly, a barman with stories to tell (if you speak Galician) and a short menu of ‘raciones’. Now we know what ‘raxa’ is: pork bits and chips. Anna’s flight was just late enough to let the dinner go down!
Tomorrow, we complete our pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela…