When thinking of Spain lots of people do not think of forests, wooded hills, mountains and GREEN spaces.... but Galicia has this in abundance. And why is it so green - well of course the rainclouds travel across the Atlantic and on meeting that North West corner of Spain let go the rain. And being close to the Atlantic coast there is also quite a bit of fog and this was the situation when we flew into Santiago and drove down to the little town of Salvaterra on the River Minho , right on the northern border of Portugal.
This place was my lovely daughter-in-law Anabel's homeland and this was my first visit there to meet her extended family. We had taken a flight with Ryanair from Stansted at a reasonable hour and many thanks to our most helpful neighbour Ross who drove us to the airport. Usually I am travelling light but with Chris, Anabel Maya and me , our luggage , pushchair and baby carseat it was a bit of a squash in the compact rental car- and trusty old Sally Satnav helped us navigate our way to Salvaterra.
Even with the rain and fog on the
drive you could get a feel of the sweeping landscapes and they are very good roads with some tolls available... And worth it to have pretty quiet traffic. Here the mountains are granite and so the stone is used for house building, walls and interestingly used traditionally for support poles for the vines in the many vineyards.
Of course it didn't rain all the time and we had some fabulous days exploring the area.
Well known for its seafood Galicia does not disappoint with dishes of pulpo (octopus) and huge platters of langoustines, crabs, scallops prawns mussels . Not to mention being able to pop into a local bar where they serve whatever is on the grill platters of steak, Galician sausages and ribs. And you can wash that down with local wines and Galician sparkling cider. Eating out was pretty awesome.
And so to Celts... it was a bit of a surprise to me to be visiting the remains of a most amazing Celtic settlement high up on a steep hill overlooking the Atlantic coast at the mouth of the River Minho at A Guarda ..this place is Castro de Santa Trega and it was home
to 3000 to 5000 people at one time, being built up in The Iron Age with more development during the 1st and 2nd century BC. Perched high up they could keep an eye on trading and vessels coming in and out of the river to the sea. All of this of course comes at a price ..1 euro for entry and to drive up the road to the top - bargain of the week!!
The site was used later by the church to build a chapel and pilgrims way lined with stone crosses. Certainly this is a site not to be missed if you are in Galicia with the views of the coast below absolutely stunning. And below the hill in the town and harbour of A Guarda you will find plenty of seafood restaurants to satisfy your appetite.
A visit to Baiona another sunny day with its pretty harbour and castle on a promontory proved to be a great success and a very leisurely walk with Maya enjoying a playground, climbing and walking on stone walls and digging in the sand. She has been brilliant on this trip and seems well adapted to travels and it is
so easy to keep her amused....she especially likes CBeebies app on the ipad !!!
Anabel's family home is in a country setting with scattered houses, fields, vineyards and woodland where she grew up but the newer town has developed closer to the river where the bridge crosses to Portugal. There are some lovely walks to be done along the riverside, and along quiet country lanes through vineyards, wildflowers and stands of eucalyptus trees and on one hilltop to see some amazing rock formations.
Out last night was in Santiago de Compostela and unfortunately the rain and fog had returned so I didnt see it at its best ,,but I loved the old town narrow streets and colonnades and its majestic park ,,,but was somewhat disappointed with the cathedral - yes its huge and the front is covered with scaffolding but it seemed in need of a great amount of restoration - it did not wow me like the cathedral in Cordoba or Valetta or Albi.
Galicia is certainly a place where you could do at lot of exploring and it might just tempt me back for some of that amazing seafood too.
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