Friday, August 24, 2007

You know you’ve lived in Spain when

Hi again,

In Facebook you can join all sorts of groups and one I have just joined is called “You know you’ve lived in Spain when”.

It’s for everyone who has spent more than a holiday in Spain & for whom some of the following are true....

1) You think adding lemonade, fanta or even coke to red wine is perfectly acceptable. Especially at lunch time.

2) You can't get over how early bars & clubs shut back home - surely they're shutting just as you should be going out?

3) You aren't just surprised that the plumber/decorator has turned up on time, you're surprised he turned up at all.

4) You've been part of a botellon.

5) You think it's fine to comment on everyone's appearance.

6) Not giving every new acquaintance dos besos seems so rude.

7) You're shocked by people getting their legs out at the first hint of sun - surely they should wait until at least late June?

8) On msn you sometimes type 'jajaja' instead of 'hahaha'

9) You think the precious aceite is a vital part of every meal. And don't understand how anyone could think olive oil on toast is weird.

10) You're amazed when TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.

11) You forget to say please when asking for things - you implied it in your tone of voice, right?

12) You love the phenomenon of giving 'toques' - but hate explaining it in English

14) You don't see sunflower seeds as a healthy snack - they're just what all the cool kids eat.

15) You know what a pijo is and how to spot one.

16) Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: 'bueno,' 'coño,' 'vale,' 'venga,' 'pues nada'...

17) You know what 'resaca' means. And you had one at least once a week when you lived in Spain.

18) You know how to eat boquerones.

19) A bull's head on the wall of a bar isn't a talking point for you, it's just a part of the decor.

20) You eat lunch after 2pm & would never even think of having your evening meal before 9.

21) You know that after 2pm there's no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.

22) If anyone insults your mother, they better watch out...

23) You know how to change a bombona. And if you don't, you were either lazy or lucky enough to live somewhere nice.

24) You're either a Los Serrano person or an Aqui no hay quien viva person.

25) You don't accept beer that's anything less than ice-cold.

26) The fact that all the male (or female) members of a family have the same first name doesn't surprise you.

27) The sound of mopeds in the background is the soundtrack to your life.

28) You know that the mullet didn't just happen in the 80s. It is alive and well in Spain.

29) You know the differenc between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao...and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!

30) On a Sunday morning, you have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.

31) You don't see anything wrong with having a couple of beers in the morning if you feel like it.

32) Floors in bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a bin?!

33) You see clapping as an art form, not just a way to express approval.

34) You know ensaladilla rusa has nothing to do with Russia.

35) When you burst out laughing every time you see a Mitsubishi Pajero (thanks Stuart Line for reminding me of that one!)

36) You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria Jose, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion...



I thought I ought to tell you I’ve just joined a social networking internet community called Facebook and I am fascinated. It has loads of possibilities and works a bit like lifeblog from Nokia phones but combined with functions you see on My Space, Ringo, etc and the networking opportunities are endless.

If you want to try it out go to and if you want to be my friend there, then invite me and the networking will begin.

PS Anne, thanks for the tip.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Today is our 24th wedding anniversary

Good morning,

On 21st August, 24 years ago today, Eladio and I got married. We had actually met in June 1980 so that means we have known each other for 27 years. And what can I say? Just how lucky I am really because marriage can be a lottery and mine has been the best.

Tonight we will be going out to dinner to a new Turkish restaurant in Madrid. But next year our plans will be more adventurous as for our Silver Wedding anniversary we plan to celebrate with a big party and the honeymoon we never had when we married. Places in our plans: India, China, Africa – somewhere exotic and far away.

That will certainly be something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, happy anniversary Eladio.

With love

Phoebe, a new member of the family


We have a new member of the family and it’s a tiny Siamese coloured kitten we found in the street on Sunday when we went for our walk. We immediately adopted her as we knew that if we left her on the street she would be fodder for the cars driving past. She was very very hungry and very thin but now she is gradually improving through the treatment of love and attention she is getting from us all. My Father is not that impressed with her and neither is Henry the cat. We had hoped he would foster her with some sort of paternal instinct but he just ignores her. However for the 4 of us she is like a new toy and we are all absolutely in love with her. I can’t stop taking pictures of her as you can see below.

Dearest Phoebe, welcome to the family.
Cheers Masha.

Phoebe's arrival

Trip to Santa Pola 14th to 18th August

A typical street in Bolulla
Hi again,

Last Tuesday My Father, Eladio and I went to stay in our apartment in Santa Pola on the Costa Blanca for the last stint of our holidays. We bought the place in May 2000 as an investment and holiday home but now we go less and less. Up till this Summer we used to spend at least 2 weeks in August every year there but now we are getting tired of the place. So this time we went more to check the place out than a real desire for a holiday there.

It didn’t turn out to be a great idea as I was plagued with a constant headache and sort of strange “tummy” which I had brought with me from Madrid. So that meant no reading and our holidays in Santa Pola are usually all about reading. Even so we went to the beach each evening for a quick bathe and an hour long brisk walk which always made me feel better afterwards.

We managed a dinner at La Picola, our favourite restaurant which is on the road between Santa Pola and Elche. It has a beautiful terrace filled with flowers and plants and the food is just so good. I didn’t do the dinner justice though as I just was not hungry.

La Picola terrace

La Picola restuarant entrance
On Friday we did another trip down memory lane and drove to Algar, a waterfall oasis in the mountains of Alicante, to have lunch at the Don Juan restaurant which we have both known since we first met some 27 years ago.

From Algar we drove to Bolulla a few kilometres up the road. Bolulla is sort of my village in Spain as this where my Spanish roots started when my Aunt Masha bought a ruin of a house some 35 years ago!!! We went to get the village festival magazine which we were told included an article precisely on my Aunt which I was extremely interested in reading. We also took the opportunity to buy the village fiesta T shirts for 2007.

Bolulla church
On Saturday, our last day, we went to the Santa Pola market which is very much worth going to. It is here Eladio buys his shoes every year or so. This year he also bought some fashionable white Summer shoes which you will see in the picture. We also got 3 lovely Hibiscus plants in yellow, red and salmon. I just hope they last the winter in Madrid.

Eladio's new shoes
From the market we drove back to Madrid, longing to be home really. And so once again we are home and our holidays are now over.
Cheers Masha

Eladio planting one of the hibiscus at home

Monday, August 13, 2007

A visit from Ponferrada, a funny stomach and off to the coast for the final lap of the Summer holidays.

Hi again,
On Friday night we had a visit from Marta, my oldest niece and her husband, Fernando, commonly known as “Ministro”. They were staying the night with us as the next day they were flying to Paris to visit friends for a few days. Their visit was a great excuse for a dinner party once again this Summer. After much deliberation I prepared Mexican food: fajitas, guacamole, chile con carne, etc which actually proved to be a bit heavy. And to finish us all off Susi made “mojitos” for us all. The picture is of us raising our glasses of mojitos.

Unfortunately the next day I felt quite ill with a bad stomach and even worse head. But it wasn’t due to the Mexican meal as I have had a funny stomach on and off ever since our holiday in Galicia. Probably too much sun has something to do with it.

And tomorrow, Eladio, my Father and I are will be going to Santa Pola for a few days for the last stint of my Summer holidays. The girls will stay behind, of course, as Oli has to work and Susi has to revise for her September exams. She is having great difficulty concentrating and is getting fed up of me reminding her to study all the time. Quite a frustrating experience for us both!!

That’s all for now,

PS picture of dear Henry flat out having a siesta one Summer afternoon in El Bosque

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Home again, Summer in El Bosque – 3rd to 7th August

My Victoria sponge cake. Maybe when I retire I could open a restaurant!
Hello again

Settling in again meant putting on numerous amounts of washing machine loads, including the towels we had bought in Portugal. It also meant putting the house into running order with lots of tidying up to do.

We had come back to a heat wave with an increase of more than 10º compared to León. So, thank God for the air conditioning we installed in January. Even so, we seem to be forever dressed in bathing costumes, or in my case a simple beach wrap.

Still on holiday, we have stayed in Madrid rather than heading for the beach basically to be near León because of Eladio’s Mother. Also we wanted to be here for José Antonio’s operation. We also wanted to create the right working atmosphere for Susi who is having trouble studying in August while all her friends are having a good time. Truth to tell we are enjoying being on holiday
at home

We have been out to dinner with José Antonio and Dolores on Saturday night at Filo in Madrid. We had dinner on the terrace and I think it was the hottest night of the year. We have also had dinner out with our friends Roberto and Mari Carmen who seem to be having a great summer too.

I have also been doing quite a lot of cooking and playing with my new toy. On the cooking scene I made an onion and ham quiche the other day which turned out great after I had thrown away the home made disastrous pastry and replaced it with some shop bought pastry! Then yesterday I made a Victoria sandwich cake from a recipe I used to use as a child. The picture proves how well the cake turned out. It is, by the way, my Father’s favourite English cake. What he likes most I think is the English icing.

My new toy is my N95 phone. I have discovered the MP3 and have now loaded it with over 40 of my favourite songs. The sound quality with the headphones is spectacular so I often find myself behaving like a teenager and lying on my bed listening to tracks like “Bridge over Troubled Water” at full volume. It is an incredible experience.

José Antonio was operated on yesterday and we went to see him in the afternoon at the hospital. He had a room to himself and a sofa bed for Dolores; all very comfortable. Eladio and I had sent him a basket of fruit rather than flowers but I wasn’t very impressed with what I saw when I got there. The operation was a success but the recovering from it is probably the worst part for the patient. He will be discharged tomorrow but I think what will really speed up his recovery will be the arrival of this beloved daughter Sarita tomorrow night from China. He had plans to go with her to Montrondo next Monday but that just maybe a little too soon. I wish him a great recovery from these pages. Love you Toño!

And this is goodbye from me now, until my next post with more news of our daily life on holiday in Madrid.

Cheers till then,


Montrondo, León, the Hospital, Benavente and home again

The family house in Montrondo
MONTRONDO 28th July to 31st July

So from Galicia we drove to Montrondo in the province of León. We had had a great holiday in the Rías Bajas but were looking forward to the annual family gathering in Eladio’s village which this year was to be held on Saturday 28th July.

We arrived on Saturday just before the celebration lunch and found we were literally the last members of the family to get there. It was great to see everyone but specially my two daughters Susi and Oli whom I hadn’t seen since we left for Galicia.

This year’s event was very similar to most and the only people missing were my beloved nephew Miguel who couldn’t get away from his job in London and dearest niece Sara who is still in China, until the middle of this month when she will be back in Europe for good. Even so, we were 25 for lunch!! Lunch, as always was cold cuts (jamón, cecina, etc), potato salad, tuna pie and roast lamb. The left overs are then eaten for the following dinner and lunch. So by the time we leave we are all a bit fed up with the cold roast lamb!!!!!

The exception to the similarity was the surprise we had prepared for their parents, José Antono and Dolores, both of whom have taken early retirement from teaching this year. Marta, my oldest niece had prepared a retirement couple’s kit for them and after the lunch the fun began. They were told to sit in the middle of the dining room (really a stable!) and each niece and nephew handed them an article from the “kit” and read out a funny rhyme to describe the article. Amongst other things these included walking sticks, sun hats, a pack of cards and a crossword book. The real present was a magnificent state of the art suitcase for their retirement travels. Judging by their faces I think they were quite pleasantly surprised at what we had prepared.

Toño and Dolores during the retirement surprise

The sisters in law/las cuñadas: from left to right: Pili, Dolores, me, Adela, Yoli and Marisa.
A good time was had by all this year. The best thing about the gathering is the quality family time spent together as well as the fun moments. This year there were quite a few and always perpetrated by the one and only Andrés, one of my favourite brothers-in-law whose sense of fun is quite accentuated. On one occasion he dressed up as a woman in some old clothes found stored in a chest and on another he started a water fight with my daughters boyfriends which turned out to be a proper water battle. Just before he finally surrendered he dressed up again, this time in full waterproof clothing from head to toe. I’m afraid I was laughing too much when that happened to be physically able to take a photo.

My fun loving brother-in-law Andrés dressed as a woman!

The girl cousins, just Sarita missing.

Eladio and his Mother, Ernestina.
We stayed until Tuesday evening as the gathering was cut short this year because Eladio’s Mother who is 85 was due for a replacement hip operation in León on Thursday 2nd August but was to be admitted on Wednesday 1st August. The poor lady’s hip suffers from enormous wear and tear and thus she is very homebound and hardly mobile at all. So we are all hoping the operation will give her a new lease of life. But of course we are also worried how it will turn out and how she will be affected. She was a little nostalgic as we left and just a little dubious that she might never go back. Just before she left, one of her village cousins, Dolores, came to see her to say goodbye The picture of the 2 of them together is very touching.

Ernestina with her cousin Dolores who came to say goodbye.
The girls had gone back to Madrid on Monday and took my Father. Oli had to work and Susi has to study all month for exams in September.

LEON 31st July to 3rd August

In León we stayed at Isidro and Yoli’s house. Isidro is Eladio’s youngest brother. They have 2 lovely daughters, Laura and Alicia. Ali is our God daughter and is the youngest of the 13 cousins! We spent a lovely time with them and many a pleasant meal in their garden. Yoli is quite a cook and turns out meals in record time.

Yoli and Isidro's house - Yoli preparing the table for dinner.

Laura and Alicia with their pets, Nano and Lolita
On Wednesday afternoon, before Eladio left to spend the first night of his Mother’s stay at the hospital, we did a bit of tourism in León, something we never do as we are usually with the family. So, as if we were on a Parador route, we went to visit the Hostal San Marcos, a 12th Century Monastery which was used to lodge pilgrims on their way to Santiago. It is the most beautiful renaissance building in Spain. There we took pictures inside and out, including the statue of a pilgrim which has become something of a tourist spot in León. We had a lousy cup of tea in the cafeteria for over 5 euros each. The teapot had one tea bag in it!!! But the place was magnificent, so paying that much for the tea was well worth it.

Eladio and I by the pilgrim statue outside San Marcos.

Hostal San Marcos - Leon's Parador

The rest of our time in León was spent at the Hospital – El Hospital de León. Eladio’s Mother was operated on Thursday morning and Eladio was there to see her off. Yoli and I joined him and Pili and Andrés and Adela and Primo in the waiting room for patients’ families. Isidro came too so there were 8 of us in the family waiting room. The operation was supposed to last 2 hours but t must have lasted 3 as we were not called into the information room by the doctor until after 12 o’clock. Eladio and Pili were given the good news that the operation had been a success. However we were not to see Ernestina until she was out of the recovery room and that could take anything between 2 and 5 hours. Pili, Adela, Eladio and I hung around the hospital all day waiting and it turned out to be nearly 8 in the evening when she was brought up to her room. By then there were 11 of us waiting to receive her. It made feel so bad about my Aunty Masha who when she was operated on her broken replacement hip a couple of years because of an accident was absolutely on her own. Some have so few, some have so many. Life is not very fair!

We were bowled over to see Ernestina arrive with a glow and smile on her face looking absolutely great for someone her age who has just undergone major surgery.

So Eladio and I left the next day, certain the operation had been a success and in the knowledge that she was fully looked after by the rest of her sons and daughters. The only one who wasn’t there was José Antonio, who himself was to undergo surgery on a hernia in Madrid yesterday.

BENAVENTE – lunch at the Parador.

Eladio and I left León on Friday after visiting his Mother one more time. Eladio suggested we had lunch at the Parador in Benavente on our way home and I jumped at the chance. This was the final one on our Parador Route. We are now determined to become card holders and stay at some during the year. We have just read that there is a new in La Granja de Segovia, so perhaps that will be first on our list.

Eladio posing outside the Parador in Benavente.
So after a marvellous lunch there, we set off home to Madrid. After so much travelling and living out of a suitcase we were really looking forward to being home again with the girls and my Father and above all sleep in our own beds.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Diary of our holiday in Galicia

The first of many "horreos" we were to see in Galicia.
Day One - Monday 23rd July 07
Cambados, O Grove, la Toja and Sanxenxo

Breakfast at the hotel was to be a sumptuous affair with a huge selection of fattening goodies such as pancakes, toasted croissant and a host of cakes baked locally. The only healthy food in sight was freshly squeezed orange juice.

The first day we visited the coast of the peninsula we were staying at on the Ria de Arousa. This included visiting Cambados, O Grove, the island of La Toja and Sanxenxo. At Cambados we bought quite a lot of local produce such as “orujo” / aguardiente, the Galician equivalent of schnapps – quite potent stuff. We also got a bag of chorizos which we regretted later as they smelt out the suite of our hotel. The Rías Baixas are famous for Alvariño white wine which is just delicious, fresh and very slightly fruity. At Cambados we bought a box of Terras Gaudas, one of the best brands. Cambados is a beautiful old town with a small sea front and a port which we were to recognise later at most of the other towns in the area. They are all very similar and equally beautiful. Cambados is also the home of a Parador which as soon as we saw it we decided we would stay there next year. This same feeling was repeated in nearly all the places we were to see during the week. Paradors are state run hotels which are usually monumental buildings in the best locations and they are a guarantee of quality for accommodation and food.

Daddy and I in Cambados - the only day we needed a raincoat.
From Cambados we headed to the famous town of O Grove and the small island of La Toja or A Toxa as it is called in Galicia. We had been recommended a restaurant by my friend Ana Valdivieso in O Grove called La Posada del Mar. She got a ten out of ten for her recommendation. Wonderful food we had, specially the scallop pie (empanada de zamburriñas). Thanks Anita!

Eladio and my Father outside Posada del Mar

Eladio in O Grove
After lunch we took a walk around the town and from there headed off to see Sanxenxo, perhaps one of the most famous holiday places in Galicia. The beach there is spectacular.

In the afternoon we went back to the hotel for a siesta which began at 7 pm and finished at 8.30! That’s holidays for you. Then in order to work up an apetite for dinner we went for a walk on the seafront of the town we were staying at, Vilagarcía de Arosa. So we walked till nearly 11 at night and even then were not hungry. However we had another recommendation from Ana and it was a restaurant in Carril round the corner from where we were staying called Loliña. Ana said it was the best restaurant in Galicia in her opinion and it turned out to be ours too later. However that night it was closed as it apparently closed on Mondays. So we didn’t know where to go but ended up going into a tiny little restaurant on the sea front where we were the only guests. The menu had only 2 items but the place was perhaps the most romantic we had ever been in. So if you every visit Carril, be sure to go to Loxe Mareiro. We will remember it for ever after.

Outside Loxe Mareiro in Carril
Day 2 – Tuesday 24th July, 07
Rianxo, Muros, Death Coast and Finisterre

Holidays are supposed to be for resting but we are the not that kind, as we always want to explore new places and find spending too much time on the beach a bit boring. So Tuesday was dedicated to visiting the Rías Baixas above where we staying and right up to the supposedly most westerly point in Spain, Cape Finisterre (Spain’s equivalent to Land’s End) on the Costa da Morte – the legendary “death coast” near where the Prestige tanker spilt its ghastly oil a few years ago and contaminated the whole coast. Finisterre has the fame but the real most westerly point is another cape a bit further up called Cape Touriñan which was just a bit too far to visit that day.

On our way up we visited the historic little town of Rianxo which has a gem of a church as most of the Galician villages we visited turned out to have too. They are often of Roman origin and made of the beautiful local stone and they all have steps leading up and a Galician cross or “cruceiro” outside.

The church in Rianxo
From Rianxo we worked our way round the peninsulas and stopped at a breathtakingly beautiful harbour town called Muros. There both Eladio and I were tempted by a plate of crayfish which Galicia is famous for. However it is only really recommended in the months which have an “R” in it and that is definitely not July or August. Unfortunately the crayfish was later to play havoc on our stomachs over the next couple of days. However, we were that unwell enough to stop eating the lovely Galician fare during the rest of our holiday.

Eladio in Muros
From Muros we made our way up to Cape Finisterre. I have a thing about capes, specially those that are significant and most recently Eladio and I have seen the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa and Land’s End in England. So here was another cape to add to our collection. And it was not disappointing as you can see from the pictures. I was not able to enjoy the scenery very much as up on the top of the hill overlooking the Atlantic ocean, a small emergency occurred on the work scene so I spent most of my time on the cape in conversations with the office and some journalists. One of the calls was even taken in the loo!!!

The cross at Cape Finisterre

Cape Finisterre
We then made our way down to the town of Finisterre to see yet another harbour village with picturesque fishing boats from out of a picture. Just as we were getting back into the car, a local lady approached us offering us a fish called Merluza (sort of hake) going for a song. Unfortunately we couldn’t buy it as there would have been nowhere to cook it!!

The harbour at the village of Finisterre
We got back to the hotel very late but not too late to walk to the famous Loliña restaurant to try out the dishes Ana had recommended us. That night was to be the first of 3 dinners at Loliña where we nearly always ate the same: caldo gallego (broth), fish pie and a single scallop (viera) in its shell. Loliña is now added to my list of favourite restaurants globally. It is a small old fishing harbour village house with its original stone walls and wooden furniture decorated with locally painted pictures. The service is great – the owner is also a waiter and metre in one and the food is out of this world.

Drinking Albariño at Loliña

Scallop at Loliña's
Day 3 – Wednesday 25th July 07
The feast of Santiago – the patron saint of Galicia – visit to Portugal.

One of the main items planned for this holiday was a trip to Portugal. Portugal means quite a lot to the 3 of us and of course Portugal being so near to where we were staying was an obvious must.

I studied Portuguese at University and spent many a Summer there on language courses. Then when Eladio and I first met some nearly 30 years ago we went camping to Portugal and toured the coast from north to south. And just before we were married we took my Mother and Father there too to visit Nazaré, Ovidos, Lisbon and the Algarve. So we had all many happy memories and had not been back for many years and were therefore very much looking forward to another visit, even if it was only for one day.

But, oh what a wrong day to choose to visit Portugal. And why you will say? Well we chose to go on a Wednesday because we had been told that Wednesday was the market day in Valença do Minho, the main border town. Of course, we also wanted to go there to buy what everybody who goes there from Spain wants to buy: fake brand items but mostly household linen such as towels and bedclothes which are made in Portugal, are very good quality and are very cheap. But it was also a holiday in Galicia because of the feast of Santiago so the road into Portugal was probably the fullest day in the year. What a wrong decision we took to go that day because the traffic and the crowds were horrendous.

We actually made it to the open market but it was so hot and the produce so typical of most markets with an awful lot of rubbish that we headed back to the car and made our way to the town of Gondarem in search of a lovely old hotel in the mountains called Estalagem do Boega, where we had a table booked for lunch. It had been recommended to us by my sister-in-law, Dolores and it turned out to be yet another extremely good recommendation.

The Estalagem da Boega
The Estalagem nestles at the top of a tortuous mountain road overlooking the Miño river, so the view is spectacular. The Estalagem itself which is a remarkable building in typical Portuguese architecture was previously a convent and then a hospital for the poor. It also served as a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. The dining room traditions still remain today and the meals, at least at lunchtime, always start at 13.30 and are announced by a gong. The dining room itself is a jewel of a room with wooden panelling and ceiling. When people are seated (only by reservation), the buffet dishes appear and the gong sounds again to announce the first course. The second courses and desserts are also announced by the gong. The system is a bit archaic and has you sitting at lunch for over 2 hours. Also people tend to behave like vultures with their prey and as soon as the gong sounds rush to the table to overfill their plates.

The view of the Miño valley from the Estalagem
After lunch we wondered through the gardens of the Estalagem and made our way to the swimming pool which was located on a plateau overlooking the Miño. There the 3 of us enjoyed a long siesta reading the papers and eventually I took a dip in the freezing cold stone made pool. Very refreshing I must say!

After our long siesta we made our way back to Valença where we had heard that the shops which sold household linen were located in the Fortaleza (Fortress). I think most Gallegos had had the same ideas as us, to judge by the amount of cars and the time it took us to find a place to park our car. But the effort was not made in vain as the produce on sale was well worth the effort. We eventually bought sets of towels for the whole family as well as kitchen cloths. The same way I have a “thing” about capes, I actually have a thing about towels and am a sucker for nice ones as Eladio kept trying to point out. But I didn’t take one bit of notice.

Shopping in Valença do Minho
On our way back to the hotel we made a quick stop at the Spanish border town of Tui which has a great Cathedral to visit.

Tuy Cathedral
Once back at the hotel it was very late and this was when our stomachs began to complain about the crayfish we had eaten at Muros. So we made our way to Loliña with the idea of just having the caldo (broth) for dinner but again it was closed, this time because of Santiago. So we went some nasty little restaurant next door where the broth tasted a bit on the off side. That certainly didn’t help our stomachs.

Day 4 – Thursday 26th July, 07 – Baiona and Tui

On Thursday we went to visit Baiona which perhaps with Sanxenxo and La Toja is the most aristocratic holiday location in Galicia. It is yet another harbour town but with beaches on either side and in a valley with stunning views of both the mountains and the sea, including the Cie Islands. My first thoughts when I saw the bay of Baiona for the first time was why in earth my Aunty Masha hadn’t discovered Baiona instead of Benidorm all those years ago! It was through her that I first came to Spain and it would have been far nicer to get introduced to Spain through Baiona rather than tacky Benidorm.

But what dominates Baiona and makes it so special is the fortress overlooking the whole of the town. On the fortress itself is the Parador de Gondomar which is perhaps the most spectacularly located Parador I have ever seen, even more so than the one in Jaen. We made our way up to the Parador and immediately booked a table for lunch. Then in order to work up an apetite we walked all the way round the fortress stopping at every nook and cranny to take pictures. Here again we were to see hydrangers in all the colours possible including the most difficult colour to bloom which is blue. Hydrangers seem to be the most typical flower we were to see in Galicia.

View of the sea around Baiona from the Parador

Eladio outside the Parador
Lunch with a view of the Cie islands consisted of a buffet which seemed to include all the Galician fare possible. So here was where Eladio and I tried one of our favourite Galician dishes, “Lacón con grelos” and it was good. Unfortunately we were not that hungry because of our funny stomachs.

After lunch we made our way down to the nearest beaches and were in great luck to find 3 empty sundecks with parasols which we immediately grabbed for our daily siesta. The men slept but I made my way into the freezing sea as this was my first chance to swim in Galicia. The beach (praia de barbeira) was in a cove that formed part of the fortress and was very pleasant indeed with not many people.

The beach where we bathed in Baiona Praia da Barbeira
We then went for a walk on the promenade and also went inside the town to take a look at the little stone streets and the omnipresent church and its “cruceiro”. We had a bit of bad luck on the walk as a seagull decided to drop its “doings” on Eladio’s stomach and legs. No sooner had we cleaned off the **** another little surprised landed on his shoulder, this time, from a pigeon. So not a very nice end to our day in Baiona!!

That night we were luck as Loliña was open again and for the second time we dined there and enjoyed their wonderful food and drink; not to forget the great Albariño wine.

Day 5, the last day – Friday 27th July 07
The Morrazo Peninsula

Friday was our last day and the only peninsula we hadn’t visited in the Rias was Morrazo and more specifically the famous seaside town Cangas de Morrazo. So it was to Cangas that we headed on our last day. It was market day there too and very difficult to park. I was a bit disappointed when I first saw Cangas as it wasn’t particularly pretty with a lot of industrial looking buildings on the sea front. So we made our way to a lovely little beach at the entrance of Cangas where we both bathed to kill the heat a bit. Against all forecasts, we actually had great weather in Galicia all week apart from the rain of our arrival.

After lunch in a little restaurant overlooking the Ria, we set off to visit the rest of the peninsula but ended up going to the first beach we could find which was near Bueu. The beach was called Praia Agrelo and this was where we had our siesta except that there wasn’t enough shade for Eladio and I and we got rather burnt, or least the prominent parts of my face did!

Praia Agrelo in the Morrazo peninsula
We had our last dinner at Loliña’s and then went back to the hotel to pack because the next day we were leaving Galicia for the annual family reunion the next day in Montrondo, Eladio’s family’s village. The car next day was going to be very full, not only of our suitcases but of the bulky towels and the many boxes of Albariño we had bought, including a pack of 3 for all 5 of Eladio’s brothers and sisters.

And so a good time was had by all 3 of us. We all want to go back next year and cannot decide between O Grove, Sanxenxo, Cambados or Baiona. But I think it has to be Baiona. Well only time will tell.