Start of the Bayona rally to Aldan via Isla de San Martin 42:16.5N 08:49.1W
Alan Franklin/Lynne Gane
Sat 9 Aug 2014 08:50
|Dear Family and Friends,|
Tuesday 5th August.
All the rally participants have arrived and we have been bumping into them before the official start today. We are practicing all the new names and it might well take until the end of the rally to learn them all! We have also met Alfredo Lagos, an amazing gentleman of 89 years accompanied by his son, (to be honest I think it must be his grandson, he looks very young!) Today we all met up and took a coach south of Bayona to an ancient Celtic village near the top of a mountain. The roads were frighteningly steep with sheer drops less than a meter from the road, the views across the coast wonderful. The village itself has the remains of round houses with granite walls, all close together and enclosed with more defended walls. Historians think that they built here near the summit for safety and walked down the mountain to fish and trade tin and other metals, but when the Romans colonised this part of Galicia, and provided safety from attack, gradually there was no need to make such a long journey and the settlements were abandoned. We visited a monastery by the sea, and if you are going to live a monks life this is a good spot, beautiful climate, wonderful views!
Our route took us through the mountains with wonderful views and the wild horses, similar we are told to Dartmoor and Exmoor ponies. Although the horses and long horned cattle live unaided throughout the year, they are rounded up once a year in a wild west style carrel for the owners to brand the animals and separate the foals for the meat market.
We finished our evening with a splendid feast at Alfredo’s house, meeting his family and grandchildren who are utterly charming. His house sits on a hillside, (one of many overlooking Bayona,) built centuries ago, it is a wonderful character property built of granite and wooden beams with wonderful views across the bay. We were served mini tapas canapés, ham croquettes, slices of matured local cheese, a slightly denser texture to cheddar cheese, made in cow’s and sheep milk, pastries of seafood, canapés of soft cheese and membrillo, to name those I recalled. This was followed by cold pork and salads and a selection of small sweet pastries, chocolate cups with chocolate cream, almond pastries, mini eclairs, walnut cake and fresh fruit. The finale was a fiery spectacle of spirit which they set fire to in a large earthenware bowl on feet. A master of ceremonies adds sugar to this, burring both the sugar and the alcohol, in the dark the blue flames are pored from the ladle in a steady arc back towards the bowl, whilst the guests watch the mesmerising display. After about 15 minutes the drink is ready, it is difficult to describe the taste exactly but here goes, smoky burnt caramel with the taste of spirit somewhere behind that. I think it is something of an acquired taste but many liked the pungent sweetness to end the meal. It goes without saying that the wine flowed and flowed, the talk stretched long into the night and friendships begun and renewed, thank heavens we made a late start to the following morning.
Wednesday 6th August
A late start, followed by a quick walk to the local bakers who sell a wonderful selection of artisan breads and pastries. Why do bakers abroad always look more enticing than the solid bready offering in the UK, we have some great national pastries ourselves and yet you hardly ever see them, BRING BACK PROPER BAKERS UK! We tried a soft style baguette and a slightly sweetened bread dusted with icing sugar and having a very soft texture and tasting like custard!
With our fuel tank problem sorted, we think it was just a stuck tap, and a fuel top up, we set sail for Isla De San Martin, a short hop across the bay. We anchored by a beach of pristine sand, in the lee of the island. Rocky shores reach steeply down into the clearest water you can imagine. So inviting was the blue green colour that could I swim better I would have dived in! The temperature of course was more akin to England, being washed by the Atlantic swell. After a leisurely lunch, (feeling much more relaxed now than when we set sail!) we took our dingy ashore, beaching on a thick carpet of shells, (complete heaven for beachcombers.) Our short walk took us rock climbing across the shore boulders, inland climbing stout walls with 5 foot drops, over fallen tree trunks and through unobliging thorns to the other side of the island where we had lovely views and could admire the ruins of a monastic mill and fish salting building. And yes it was back the same way! With more scratches we retired for a quiet evening bobbing gently with the waves.
Thursday 7th August
After a late and misty start, we set sail for our next port of Aldan, at the head of an inlet at the mouth of the Ria De Pontevedra. Like many of the rias granite hills rise from the sea, houses and in the village centres apartment blocks too, colonise many of the flatter places to build. The country is green with trees often conifers and something akin to eucalyptus, bathed in Atlantic mists and weather similar to uk low pressure systems, just slightly warmer, it must be wetter here than inland. In the ria we passed mussel fish farms, floating platforms with ropes of mussels beneath them, before anchoring among the fishing vessels. Aldan is a sleepy fishing town, not an obvious tourist destination, indeed we attracted the ire of local fishermen by anchoring in the designated anchorage! We took the dingy ashore to stretch our legs and walked around the bay, sandy beaches give way to foreshores of lazy lines to the colourful flotilla of small wooden and GRP boats, afloat in the shallow waters. Many of these look as though they are used for fishing and as we get ready for another dinner ashore, the fishermen are casting their nets from the side of these small boats in the shallow and deeper waters of the inlet. Alfredo hosted another wonderful evening, in the grounds of Pazo Torre De Aldan, with a 12th century fort built to defend against Viking and arab pirates and its adjoining house. Built of granite, the austere exterior off a small street leading away from the shore, gives way to a courtyard and the house with external gallery to the upper floor. The courtyard had a massive canopy and BBQ chimera to die for. With this climate, al fresco dining is a regular opportunity. In the grounds of many older buildings there are some outhouses like the one pictured below which are like huge exterior larders, their curious design is the stop the rats getting in.
Fat and delicious mussels, eaten casually under the trees with a glass of white wine, were perfect, followed by a sit down tapas of spanish omelette, a large flat chicken pie, (Josh this ones for you!) softly cooked octopus, olives and crusty bread, followed by a selection of different flavoured sponge cakes, (chocolate of course, walnut, vanilla,) and almond pastries, fresh melons and washed down with much more wine. As the first evening there was another spirit burning finale.
I hope to attach some photos, just have to retrieve the resized ones, hope you like them. I have added descriptions but when added to the blog these disappear, suggestions of how to avoid this would be much appreciated!