A Glimpse of Galicia

Our recent trip took us first to Galicia for three nights.  Our journey was a long one and took about 12 hours of driving, but with plenty of stops for refreshments and a little sightseeing along the way.

Because we live in the province of Malaga in southern Spain, we went west and then up through Portugal.  We made a sightseeing stop in Porto to stretch our legs and to see the Dom Luis I iron bridge which was designed by a partner of the famous Eiffel.

I loved this shot of the bridge (below), although it´s not the best in the world, as you can see boats under it, cars on it, people walking across, the metro rail above it and a helicopter flying over it.

Our hotel  near Portonovo was called Hotel Peregrina.  This is a word used for a female pilgrim, but also for scallops, which are the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrims walk which has many footpaths and trails across Spain and from beyond.  On our travels we saw plenty of scallops.

The first day we went to visit an Island called La Toja which juts out into one of the Rias Baixas.

It has a chapel covered with scallop shells.

And of course, the boat trips to see where their famous shellfish is grown.  We saw mussels, and ate plenty too.

Naturally, they were proud of their scallops.

Later we headed off to a nearby city, Pontevedra, the capital of the province.  The city built up over time from the middle ages as a trading port.

The next day we drove northwards to Santiago de Compostela to see the beautiful cathedral, reputedly the burial place of St James (Sant Iago) and built between 1075 and 1122 – no mean feat when you see it!

It´s famous for it´s “Botafumeiro” (do look it up if you´re interested) which is swung via a pulley and is filled with incense.  One tradition says that it was used to mask the stench of the many unwashed pilgrims – which did make me giggle.  Sorry about the photo quality.

It´s a pretty city too, there´s plenty more to see apart from the cathedral.

We travelled back from Santiago on our last afternoon in Galicia on a quiet coastal road and stopped off in a beautiful fishing village called Carril, when the sun finally came out for us. I briefly felt like Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote here as it had a “Cabot Cove” feel to it!

It´s famous for its clams, and we peeked into the storage area to see the boxes and boxes of clams waiting to be sent off to restaurants, shops and all over Spain.

A final stop in “our” town of Portonovo, and the sun was still shining, so we took a walk along the beautiful sandy beach front.  People was still bathing and enjoying the sunny evening, but accustomed as we are to the heat of Andalucía, we didn´t brave the water.

And then it was our last night in Galicia.  We ate a superb dinner of rice and lobster, and it was time the next morning to start the next part of trip to Asturias.  But more of that another time. Do hope you enjoyed sharing our journey with us!

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Galicia and Asturias – Where You Could Never Go Hungry!

Oporto - still beautiful in the drizzle

We´re back from an incredible 8 day, 3500km trip to the north of Spain.  We drove west from Malaga then north through Portugal, stopping off briefly in Porto then to our first base of Sanxenxo in the Rias Baixas in Galicia. After three days in Galicia we headed east and based ourselves for four days in Ribadesella in Asturias and then finally headed back south, stopping off in León and then staying the night in beautiful Salamanca.  Our final leg of the journey home allowed for two quick stops in Caseres and Mérida….phew, what a trip!

I thought I´d do a few posts on this trip over the next few weeks, and share some of the experiences we had…food, drink, sights.  I do hope you enjoy them.

Galicia is very famous for its Pulpo a la Gallega, so we enjoyed this several times.  A particularly good one was eaten in the beautiful town of O Grove.

Pulpo a la Gallega - in Galicia

We took a boat trip, which was fun despite the rain, to look at the Rias (which are estuaries) and to see where the oysters, mussels and scallops are cultivated.  We were fed freshly caught mussels, steamed open and served with a young, local white wine.  Perfect.

We ate SO many...the trays full of steamed mussels just kept coming!

In Santiago De Compostela, which is the destination for pilgrims and walkers on the Camino De Santiago (a mediaeval pilgrimage route), we admired the incredible cathedral and enjoyed a slice of their local cake (made with almonds and adorned with the symbol of Santiago – or Saint James – the Patron Saint of Spain).

Delicious with a strong cup of coffee

We also enjoyed several empanadas during our time in Galicia – which are made with both meat and fish.  Very tasty snacks indeed.

Hard to resist...so we didn´t!

In a very pretty fishing village called Cudillero, where the houses appear to be stacked one on top of another, we ate our first Fabas.  Galicia and Asturias have a great culture of soup type dishes made with their local white beans and served in different ways.  Another tradition is to put a huge tureen of the dish on the table and you just keep serving yourself until you can´t eat any more.  What a fabulous idea!

Go on..you can manage a few more!

These were served with local clams, which are bigger than the ones we typically see in Andalucía and the dish is called Fabas con Almejas.

HUGE and delicious clams

One day we went to Covadonga, which is a beautiful mountain top Sanctuary and took a picnic to eat further up at the lakes. The weather was so bad that when we got there we could only see fog so we drove back down to the River (the Sella) and enjoyed our Bollos Preñaos (which translates literally as pregnant rolls!) and Empanadas by the river.

Gives a whole new meaning to "a bun in the oven"!

The delicious rolls are made with bread wrapped round chorizo and baked as a ready made snack.

Empanadas with a river view

Dinner one evening was a delicious salad made with mushrooms and bacon and served with a delicious rosé wine.

Messy Mushrooms

Alongside this we tried a variety of local Asturian cheeses.  The most famous is Cabrales, a pungent blue cheese which we really enjoyed.  Our car was a bit stinky when we got home as we bought some back!

Gorgeous stinky cheeses!

We also ate an amazing rice and lobster dish, Asturian Pote (a vegetable stew with pulses), beautiful beef and ribs….but we were obviously hungry or greedy and never got to take photos of these.

A beautiful mediaeval town in Cantabria is Santillana Del Mar, and we found an amazing bar that did a huge selection of Pinxos (like larger sized tapas).

Decisions, decisions....

We managed to work our way through a few of them with no problems. Well…it was raining and we were waiting for the downpour to stop!

I´ll have one of those, ooh...and one of those...ooh and...

Our final night in Ribadesella we ate a wonderful Hake and Prawn casserole – but only remembered to snap it as we had almost finished.

Sorry...but we were hungry after a busy day of sightseeing

Near Leon we ate another incredible bean dish.  This one was made with what they called “Cinnamon Beans” (because of their beautiful colour) and was cooked with smoked pancetta.

Cinnamon coloured beans...so tasty

And finally, our last night in a very lively Salamanca was spent wandering around the city by night looking at the beautiful buildings and enjoying a variety of tapas.  These were Callos (tripe with chick peas) and Albóndigas (pork and jamon meatballs).

Tapeando en Salamanca por la noche - Nightime Tapas in Salamanca

So, it´s back to reality for us, but with happy memories, full stomachs and lots of ideas for new recipes in the months to come.  Hope you enjoyed sharing a little of our holiday with us.  Of course, it wasn´t all eating and drinking….next time I´ll show you some of the beautiful sights.  ¡Hasta luego for now!