2003 09 27

Join Chris and Jackie Lambertsen and their two cats, Nevis and Saba, in Galicia, Spain during August-September, 2003.

 

Rias Baixas, the Cruising Ground of Galicia

Chris and Jackie have sailed the northeast coast of New England, the Chesapeake Bay, the sounds of North Carolina, and the inlets around Charleston, SC and down the Caribbean chain, but we have never discovered a more idyllic cruising area than the four bays composing the Rias Baixas, or “lower bays”. 

Each ria contains multiple harbors to explore, each with a medieval “old-town” which is normally being transformed into a tourist-restaurant-with-inns section. Spain has also invested heavily in the infrastructure of most of these ports by creating solid breakwaters for the commercial fishing fleet and non-commercial boat traffic and with promenades for the people in town.  Granite is the dominant building material.

In the open air cafes and restaurants, one ria’s dominant choice will be shellfish and seafood, octopus in another ria and cockles in the next.  All rachiones, or “single servings”, are prepared simply to avoid masking the flavor of the seafood.

By the time we entered the Rias Baixas, we were already enjoying the Spanish climate and the food.  But an additional treat here is the architecture and art displayed everywhere.  Simple, and sometimes not so simple, sculpture appears in the smallest hamlet and the largest city.  Sometimes modern, sometimes medieval, but always appropriate.

The city of Vigo prides itself on the artistic adornment of each of the “auto plazas” or round-abouts.  In the center, you will find a sculpture or monument in granite.  In the farthest port, the granite sculpture theme survives. 

The cathedrals are slowly but surely being converted from houses of worship to museums or art galleries.  Convents transformed to hostels and museums.  Catholic Spain seems to be in some sort of a transition, but we can only sense, not understand, this mystery.

The month of August is fiesta season in Spain.  Greeted by fireworks and band processions in the morning, surrounded by multiple events catering to different lifestyles, and serenaded by mega sound stage speakers until all hours of the night, fiestas have surrounded us since our arrival in Muros.   Interpreting the schedule of events is one of the major challenges and attractions!  Which events are for the children and for the adults? 

Fiestas have many aspects:  religious, cultural, carnival, and entrepreneurial.  There seems to be a sub-culture of street merchants that travel from fiesta to fiesta hawking everything from clothes to food to tourist trinkets.  To announce that the day is an official fiesta day, at least twice the city band is required to parade down the main avenues of the parish. 

We now understand why the Spanish are known for their love of life as well as their love of beaches!.

Prehistoric man thrived in circular huts on the hilltops of the Rias Biaxas.  The landscape is littered with archaeological ruins, over 5,000 sites in Galicia alone.  The climate and the abundance of water and food provided the required natural environment..

As we studied the charts to seek quiet anchorages near small but bustling communities, we also found everything we needed to thrive:  provisioning for the boat, supermarkets, open-air markets, vinotecs (wine shops), hardware stores, and boat part suppliers, to name a few. The further south we sailed, the more options we encountered.  Reluctantly we are now preparing to depart from the Ria of Vigo for Portugal and the Mediterranean.  

One day we will return.  During our trans-Atlantic cruise in 2000, Jackie missed the Spain from the early 70’s that she remembered fondly.  The essence of her Spain is Galicia.  We both hope that Galicia survives the explosive growth that we sense here.

In a change of structure, we defined Galicia as a whole in a set of photo essays:  the people, the climate, the food, the lifestyle.  Galicia is the sum of her wonderful parts.

Updated Pages:
bullet Port Summary

New Pages: 

bullet Voyage 0309
bullet See individual ports on Port Summary
bullet Galicia
bullet Art In Galicia
bullet Fishing in Galicia
bullet Wine Production in Galicia
bullet Lighthouses in Galicia