On my third and final day in Santiago, Patricia insisted we visit her “favourite place”; a beach on the Northern coast of Galicia called Playa de Las Catedrales. It was a two hour drive away, so that’s how I found myself wedged into the backseat of her flatmate Francisco’s Volkswagen with her other flatmates; two Austrian girls named Stefanie and Miriam. The vehicle still smelled pretty strongly of some kind of decaying seafood that Fran had forgotten in his car a few days prior, but it was Shakira’s greatest hits on repeat blaring through the radio that was more offensive to my senses. While Patricia danced in the front seat to Hips Don’t Lie for the third time, I daydreamed out of the window, watching the scenery pass.
I’ve been to the country before, but what I had seen of the countryside in those visits had left me with the impression that Spain was a rather arid and dusty place. Flying into Santiago airport had revealed how different the north west was. It’s a bit cliché but lush and verdant are the words that spring to mind! As we drove along the coast, I was treated to views of forested hills, dramatic rocky bays and more scenic panoramas than I could appreciate. Patricia and Fran had said of the region when I arrived that it was similar to England… which I thought was kind of an unfair comparison. Perhaps they were referring to the climate, cus apparently it rains here all the time. I had fortuitously happened to arrive on the hottest and most gorgeous weekend of the entire summer, which my photos can attest to.
We had one stop before arriving at the beach however; a particular seafood restaurant in the village of Ribadeo. Galicia is all about seafood, and the food at La Solana was reputed to be some of the best in the region. We didn’t hold back on our order; prawns, lobster, salad, and of course pulpo, the local delicacy. And some excellent Galicia Estrella to wash it down. It was possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and I was especially pleased when the feast only cost €14 per person =D
We somehow managed to spend two and a half hours eating, so we hastened to get to the beach while it was still low tide. Playa de Las Catedrales is renowned for its incredible rock formations and caves, which are in theory as grand as cathedrals, hence the name. However they’re not visible at high tide as the water is so high that the beaches are inaccessible and the caves hidden. We had spent a little too long over dinner because we had missed the lowest tide by two hours, but we were able to explore the caves briefly, just as the water started rushing in and the lifeguards ushered us further back. As the encroaching waters pushed the sun worshipping Spaniards back towards the cliffs, we climbed the steps and made tracks to our next destination; Estaca de Bares, the northern most point of the Iberian peninsula.
We arrived around sunset, and some dark clouds had moved in, giving the viewpoint a definite end of the world ambience. With the wind whipping around us and Stefanie plucking her ukelele, we admired the dying light streaming through the clouds some way off, illuminating some lonely rocks off the coast. It was a perfectly dramatic yet comforting end to a wonderful stay in Galicia. Onward to my next destination; Salamanca =)