The Rias Baixas

The Rias Baixas

For us, September is holiday time and it usually means a road trip into Spain. We had an ulterior motive this time – we were also looking for a possible place to live.

We had decided to head due north from our house in central Portugal to the Rias Baixas of Galicia. It was motorway most of the way so it only took us 3.5 hours to get to Camping Aldan. As it hadn’t taken us too long we had arrived in time for lunch. The campsite is only a short walk from a beach which in turn was overlooked by a seafood restaurant. This was another reason for coming to the Rias Baixas – the seafood. After lunch we were back to the campsite and as it was September we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

The following day we were off to Pontevedra, the main town of the area. It’s a solidly built town with many attractive buildings and pedestrianised old streets. Of course one of the places we headed to first was the fish market. What a variety of seafood.

But of course one of the other things we like to do is walk in the countryside and we weren’t disappointed on this front either. There are plenty of marked walking trails and interesting old villages in the hills outside of town. This trail was near Ponte Caldelas and then on the village of As Bolinas.

One of the most popular things to do, is simply take a drive along the coast. There are quite a few interesting little towns such as Combarro, Sanxenxo, A Toxa and Cambados, where we had another delicious seafood lunch at the Fonte do vino restaurant. We also visited the interesting Museo Etnografico e do vino where we saw exhibits connected with the region’s wine and culture. Perhaps we were more interested in the excellent white wine which we sampled on more than one occasion on this trip.

After a few days in the delightful Rias Baixas (promising to return for an extended trip) it was time to head south and swap the campsite for a more salubrious hotel in Baiona, the Tres Carabelas located right in the centre of things. Baiona itself is quite a nice little resort, presumably much busier in the season than it was in September, but it was still buzzing at the weekend with its many bars and restaurants in the alleys behind the seafront. And yes, of course, time for more delicious seafood meals. We also had time for a couple of museums, the Pinto which was a replica of the small boat which was part of Christopher Columbus’s small flotilla. It arrived back in Baiona 1493. We also visited the equally interesting Navigation house detailing the part this small port played in the early days of the exploration of the Americas.

From here we also did a day trip to A Guarda, an interesting little place. It too has an interesting museum of the sea by the port but is more famous for its hilltop fortress on the steep slopes of Monte de Santa Tecla which dominates the town and provides excellent views across the Minho river to Portugal. Here is one of the most complete Celtic castros (settlements) in Galicia which has been partly reconstructed. An impressive place.

From here we headed back to Portugal and sited ourselves in the pretty town of Vila Nova de Cerveira which is attractively situated on the River Minho. It had a lovely big square in the middle of town circled by open-air restaurants. Another of the reasons we like this area and something which Central Portugal generally lacks. It also had a great hotel, the Quinta da Sao Roque.

Just enough time for some more exploring this time to the small town which faces A Guarda from the Portuguese side of the Minho, Caminha. It also has an interesting museum and an open square and in fact an added bonus, a cafe serving craft beer – perfect!

What did I say about the ulterior motive at the beginning? Well we also managed to do a bit of house hunting on the trip as well, but didn’t find our dream home. That was to wait a few months.

More photos of our trip to Galicia here

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