7 August: Farewell to you, Spanish Rias...

Escapade of Rame
Richard & Julie Farrington
Wed 9 Aug 2017 22:53

42:07.2N  008:50.5W


It’s a short trip across the Ria de Baiona to the port where news of the New World first reached the rest of civilisation.  Maritime history plays a big part here, with various sculptures commemorating aspects of Columbus’ epic adventure, battles with the British and the huge significance of the sea for this part of Spain.

Baiona from the south west


The port itself is dominated by the Punta de Buey which has been fortified for centuries and is now a huge Parador, containing a rather smart 4* hotel and a couple of restaurants, as well as fine ramparts and views north to the Cies Islands, south towards La Guardia and across the Ria.  Colonel Maltby did not think much of the fortifications themselves, but they did provide us with a very pleasant walk and a coffee in the hotel.  From there we climbed to the imposing statue of the Blessed Virgin on Punta Sanson and then down into the old part of town for a late lunch.  Late even by Spanish standards, as we only managed to squeeze in somewhere for the ritual squid/Padron Peppers and prawns just before the kitchen shut at four thirty.  Are we going native?  When we arrived in Spain back in June we were invariably the first customers in the restaurant for lunch or dinner…

Castellations for beginners?


The statue of the Virgin Carmen


Suitably sustained, we splashed out a shiny Euro each to visit a replica of Christopher Columbus’ flagship the Pinta, which is moored in the harbour.  At just 56 feet, she is not much longer than Escapade.  She carried a crew of about 30 men on what must surely be one of the bravest expeditions ever undertaken?  Most people at the time knew that the earth was flat and thought that these chaps would simply fall off the edge of the plate somewhere out west.  Onboard, it reminded me of a Scottish trawler with the steep tumblehomes, basic focsle and navigation areas and the airless hold where they must have kept months of supplies alongside spare gear and living space.  Interesting that the hammock was a discovery they made in San Salvador: before then, sailors slept on the deck.    

Flagship of the Atlantic Rally for Columbus


Back onboard for a late siesta and some navigation planning which led to a decision to sail the following morning for Oporto (based on the weather forecast).  I sacrificed my power nap to raid the supermarket for a couple of essentials (chocolate, actually).


We went ashore at 2300 in fine Spanish style and went to a free concert laid on by the town ‘concello’ in the lovely square in front of their offices.  Ruben de Lis is a Galician guitarist/singer of some renown with a broad repertoire who had the large Spanish crowd singing along quite happily.  We particularly enjoyed his skit on Santana (particularly a neon-lit guitar version of Samba pa Ti) and a tribute to the wonderful Spanish guitar composer Rodrigo.  Less successful was the contribution from the local dance school: I thought we might get some flamenco lessons, but no, three young ladies (who ought to concentrate on their academic studies in case the dance career doesn’t work out but probably made their grannies proud) did some slightly ungainly gymnastics, nominally in time to the music.  Reminded us of some hilarious school concerts when the girls were very much younger…


We realised that we might have overdone the ‘going native’ bit when we tried to eat after the show (which finished a bit after midnight – it was free after all!).  Amazingly, the kitchens were all closed, so we had to settle for a beer and a small plate of bread and cheese as everyone else went to bed.  Well, it was a Monday night, after all…


Malters departs in the morning for sunny Bristol, whilst we leave Spain behind and move south into Portugal.  We’ve really enjoyed the last few weeks here: the places have been very varied, always interesting, always friendly, invariably good value, often very beautiful.  The weather has not stopped us from doing much although it has not been as hot as other parts of Spain or Europe for the most part. 

The Cies Islands from the south


Highlights? Gijon because it was unexpectedly lively, the majestic Picos de Europa, the backstreets of La Coruna, the Rias Baixas and the Islas Atlanticos (Cies Islands), the Irish Cruising Club rally, the seafood and the Albarino wine, the percebes and the razor clams, and of course the cheery mechanics and shipwrights who dropped everything to help us with that beastly outboard, the bent pulpit and the fire extinguishers.