Sunday, October 1, 2017

Ria de Arousa

A Pobra de Caraminal from the Ria

We sailed off in light mist, fog and showers to the Ria de Arousa, rounding Cabo Corrubedo and bypassing Illa de Salvora to the next stop on the ICC Rias Baixas Rally, A Pobra do Caraminal.  We weren't sure whether they'd have room for us, so we anchored and went ashore. The anchorage was very protected in about 30 feet of water. It was quite an international gathering there with Dutch, French, Swedish, Irish and Spanish vessels anchored nearby.

The marina is a work in progress. They had showers and a cafe but no laundry. The shops in the massive complex built on the waterfront were only partly occupied and not terribly useful to cruisers. Caraminal itself was nice enough, with tree lined promenade along the shore. The old town has a church and high walled estates that remain in private ownership. You can't see over the walls. Along the waterfront are restaurants and several large supermarkets, the largest of which is half way down along the popular beach.

We had a free BBQ at the marina, with free wine and beer, and got a free copy of the book A Galician in Ireland by Placido Castro who visited the Blasket Islands in the 1920s. If was a truly delightful account of his visit and beautifully written. His family are trying to rekindle the cultural ties between Galicia and Ireland.

We took a bus tour to the wine country and stopped at a sacred monastery along the way, Mosteiro de Armenteira. Peter Haden told us a story associated with it. A soldier got tired of fighting and decided to become a monk. He used his fortune to establish a monastery and became the Abbott. One day, while he was sitting in the garden, a bird sat on his shoulder. At that moment, he became so content --because he suddenly realized what heaven would be like -- that he fell asleep. When he awoke, things looked a little different. He approached the monastery and a monk opened the door. "Who are you?"  asked the soldier Abbott. "I'm the Abbott," replied the other. After some discussion, the soldier Abbott realized he'd been asleep for 300 years, such was the strength of his contentment. There is a church and a cloister now occupied by nuns who tend to the place. It is a very special place for Galicians.

Bodega Granbazan

This region is the center of the albarino grape and wine production and there are numerous wineries one can visit and sample the local wines. We visited Granbazan, the largest of the regional producers; we were fascinated by the way of training vines to grow horizontally on trellises about 6 feet off the ground. It provides maximum exposure to sun and keeps the vines off the wet earth while providing ventilation below. The grapes are harvested by hand from underneath. They made a big deal about being close to the sea - 2 km - with the salt air infusing their wines with a special salt touch. That was good to hear. Read more here

We also had about 200 of us there for a 5 course lunch. Each lunch was paired with the different wine, not all of which were great but one was outstanding. Tapas to start, a shellfish ceviche, then a typical Galician pancake stuffed with langoustines. We were of course stuffed by then but it was by no means over. The main dish was roast pork with potatoes and peas; finally a flan and ice cream accompanied by coffee and liqueurs. We were all feeling happy after four hours of food and wine and singing "que sera sera". 

Five course meal at Granbazan

I was sitting next to Peter from s/v Zig Zag. He made his fortune in jelly beans. It was a great story. He and his wife, who was originally from Oregon, would be leaving their boat, a Beneteau 50, in Xufre, which we were thinking about, too. 

Connected to the mainland by causeway is Illa Arousa. We visited the haulout facilities at Xufre where the owner, Nito, is a yachtsman himself. The facilities were pretty good and well priced, but there's no marina so you can only haul out. Their tiny dock was full. There's really no anchorage except across the inlet along the wooded point. We liked Nito and we saw Jaime Young who was there working on Killary Flyer and Tara was being repaired. We moved on. 

The anchorage off the beach at Punta Caballo was a nice getaway with most visitors leaving by nightfall. The lighthouse is now a high end restaurant.  To get there, one must negotiate between mussel rafts but that's no problem. We also stopped in Villagarcia but didn't stay. The restaurant right on the harbour was very nice, but the pontoons really needed work. 

The marina in Caraminal

Playground in the waterfront park

Getting water from the town well

A horreio

The walled grounds of private estates

Restaurants on the waterfront

View from the anchorage

Mosteiro de Armenteira

An ancient wine press?

Mosteiro de Armenteira church

Cafe in Meis

New scallop shell signs for the camino

The cemetery at Meis 

Grapevines at Granbazan 

Granbazan winery




The balcony at Granbazan 

Kids walking along the beach

The beachfront in Caraminal, Gadis supermarket on the right

The beach and anchorage

Friends from Ireland


At Nito's yard in Xufre

Festival days in Xufre
The anchorage at Illa Arousa

Leaving the Ria

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