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Published: August 1st 2010
Kilometers per hour have me confused. At least that's the excuse I had planned on using. The fact that the GPS converts my speed into miles per hour is totally beside the point and was a trivial piece of information I was prepared to completely ignore.
When we got into our mini rental car (they even gave us a black one!) I was prepared to make good time and be ahead of the pack. I've driven in Costa Rica after all and if you were reading our blog while we lived there, you know how bad those roads can be. Spain would be a cake walk.
We headed out in our new Ibiza for our 6 hour trek to the Northwestern coast. Our destination was a small village called Dodro in the Galicia region. I was a little worried about driving in Madrid as the street signs can be a bit confusing. Thankfully, we picked the car up at the airport and I could jump right on the highway.
120kph is the standard speed limit for the highway here - about 75 mph. I can say that very few people actually drive this SLOW. I was being lapped!
Psshh.. but I would not be bested and with free reign to open up the lil 4 cylinder, I decided to merely "move with the flow of traffic" at a speed the "locals saw fit to set". Needless to say, after stopping to eat lunch, stopping to get gas and stopping to check out a castle, we still made it to Galicia in 6 hours. The little car did a good job, even if she did die a bit on every hill we hit. There would be no "shooting the gap" today.
Since our plan of travel is usually to have no real plan, there were a few things we considered checking out along the way to break up the trip.Our first stop was a castle in Medina del Campo. Castillo de la Mota as its called, was a fortress built in the 15th century. It bears the scars of cannon shot and was eventually turned into a prison for a period of time. If only those walls could talk. An impressive sight, easy to find from the highway and definitely worth a side trip.
We then stopped off for my new favorite food, a tortilla. A tortilla
here is basically an egg omelet, quiche type of thing filled with potatoes, cheese, ham and whatever else the local eatery feels like throwing in it. Quite good and generally safe compared to the various veal dishes or mystery sausages I've seen.
The temperatures started to drop significantly as we got higher into the mountains. The more green it got, the colder the breeze and the more windy the roads. By the sixth hour, I was way behind on my siesta and feeling the effects. Seeing the signs for Dodro was a true welcome as I knew our resting place was close.
We'll spend the next two nights at the Pazo de Lestrove - a beautiful stone compound that served as the Archbishops' holiday residence in the 16th century. The stone corridors, archways and rooms give it a very medieval feel and I'm waiting for the ghosts to show themselves.
Dinner was served at 10pm and we didn't leave to head back to our room until 1:30am. We were not the last folks to leave.
I also tried a new food this evening - octopus. Now I've had octopus as a sushi dish and didn't care
much for it then. Why I thought I may like it grilled is beyond me but in a effort to try new things, I did manage a few bites. If you can stomach cutting off the suction cups and layer of fat, it was actually pretty good. Tastes like scallops which I love but something about that occasional fatty texture was simply not sitting well and the suction cup... well.. enough said. I can say I've had my fill and will not be going back for seconds.
So why Galicia... the Viking Festival of course!
The Viking Festival is a local celebration of the town of Catoria's history as a defender against Viking attacks. Every year the townsfolk get together and reenact the Vikings coming to shore and being defeated. Complete with Viking ships that sail into the harbor and townsfolk that dress up like the Viking invaders, the people of Catoria defend their shores in a celebration with free flowing wine, abundant food and Celtic bagpipe music. The celebration last two days and should be quite a good time.
Personally, I think any time you can jump into a local festival or celebration, you're going to
have an experience unlike any other. Our Catoria festival journey begins at noon tomorrow - well, today. I assure you, pictures will be abundant.
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