Traveling this year in Spain has been close to non-existent for me due to lack of money and scarred from making travel plans. But my surfer, German friend Emily made me go outside my comfort zone by urging me on a road trip with her this holiday during Letras Gallegas, the long weekend off when Galicians celebrate their language. And what a thrill it was getting back to traveling.
We met Emily’s friend from Madrid, Alex, at the La Coruna airport. After a short meet and greet, the three of us hopped in our overpriced rental car and Emily floored it to Portonovo.
Once the car was parked and the bags were down in the Airbnb, we hit the paseo marítimo (promenade) that took us on a beautiful walk along the coast from Portonovo to Sanxexo. Sanxexo is one of Galicia’s richest beach towns. And the money showed as countless fancy bars and restaurants met the coastline. Life flowed in Sanxexo. And so did the moolah.
After tomando algo (drinking something) at a bar playing 70’s tunes, we stopped at our first restaurant of the trip to eat some authentic Galician cuisine consisting of squid, pimientos de Padron (green peppers), croquetas, and some meat. I learned a valuable lesson at this dinner: never talk while eating a tiramisu. I almost choked to death from inhaling the cinnamon powder. I’m sure I frightened the entire restaurant with my excessive coughing and tomato face. Once I recovered myself, we hit the paseo to return home and called it an early night.
The next day brought us howling winds and sideways rain. But that didn’t stop us from walking 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) on Lanzada Beach. Every time I’d pass some rocks by the water I would go check out the cool wave pools filled with marine life. Who doesn’t love a free aquarium?
Later we drove to San Vicente to tomar algo at a chiringuito (beach bar) before heading to O Grove.
At O Grove, Emily and Alex passed out on the beach. While the wind covered them in sand, I had some Pat time, soaking up some sun on a bench and taking a little walk to see the fishing boats.
When the two sleepyheads recovered with rejuvenating life, and after cleaning the sand from every nook and cranny, we walked to Isla de La Toja. Hungry donkeys greeted us on our arrival so we fed them some fresh grass. Once the donkeys were satisfied with our offerings we found a path taking us deep into the forest filled with elves. We knocked on the doors of their little homes, but it seemed no one was home. So we continued on our way, keeping a wary eye out on the road.
Eager to escape the heavy southern winds, we followed the coast, taking us north of the island. We lost the path, probably some trickery from the elves, so we had to create our own, fighting our way through thick shrubbery which eventually spat us out on a fancy golf course. Dirty, smelly, dressed in hiking clothes, and lacking golf clubs, the golfers gave us odd looks. One seasoned man told us we were on private property and pointed us the way out, ending our planned walk along the northern coast.
But his directions led us to a private beach just next to hole nine, hidden by thick shrubbery. Emily and I stripped down to our bathing suits to take a much needed afternoon dip while Alex watched from the beach.
The night brought us out to discover the quiet streets of Portonovo. We ate some pretty damn good pulpo (octopus) and I got to try Ceviche, a traditional Peruvian dish filled with fresh raw fish sprinkled with citrus juices. When the wine was hitting and the food was all gone, we asked the waiter for saliendo (going out) options which led us to the bar Cubaney. This Cuban-styled bar was filled with photos of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, photos from Cuba, and signatures of Cubans who had visited the bar. As the rumba blasted in the background, and the bar filled with the local crowd, Emily, Alex, and I played one of my favorite card games called Shithead.
The next morning hit us hard and everyone slept in. We had a nice last breakfast together before saying goodbye to Portonovo and hitting the road in our rental car to our next destination: A Illa de Arousa.
This island was precious. We drove to the smallest lighthouse I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m still on the hunt in Europe to find a lighthouse as tall as the lighthouse in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Look at this little nub:
We went for a paseo along the coast, bringing us to a small fishing village filled with a fleet of mussel farms.
A local granny gave us her recommendation of climbing to the Jesus statue at the top of the mountain for incredible views.
After appreciating the beauty this vista (view) offered us, we headed into town for our final supper of authentic Galician cuisine. We ate at Aldea, the most local Galician restaurant I’ve ever been to. The locals here spoke Galician, asking us how we enjoyed our five euro pulpo sandwiches. I liked it very, very much. I’d even consider calling it orgasmic.
We ended our trip by doing a paseo around the supposedly most beautiful pueblo (village) in Galicia called Muros. And I was fairly impressed.
The center was filled with old, deserted buildings for sale. It was a big change from the modern city life of La Coruna.
When we dropped the car off at the airport, we took a taxi back to the center and said our goodbyes at Plaza de Pontevedra. This trip made me realize how much I missed traveling. It’s a shame what’s happened the past few years. I literally have trauma from planning trips, especially when it comes to flying. But this gave me the push in the right direction, reminding me why I came to Spain in the first place, to experience new things with great company.