Our last weekend in Cedeira luckily coincided with their annual music festival. We happened to be retracing our favourite walk from town along the series of coastal cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, climbed the steep track through the bush and felt like we had walked onto a movie set. Carefully making our way between families sprawled over picnic rugs, we headed towards the sound of bagpipes (gaitas) and tambourines. It was a perfect warm sunny afternoon for a siesta on the grass…….and those in need were taking the opportunity, bellies out for baking! We stayed for awhile on the cool windy coastal cliffs which were ringing with the sounds of six bagpipers………I had goosebumps, it was very surreal.
I don’t think this part of Galician culture will disappear in the near future; there are over 5000 registered bagpipers in the town of Ourense. This reminds me of the very famous Galician bagpiper, Cristina Pato who was one of the team of musicians in the brilliant movie, ‘Music of Strangers’. If you haven’t seen the film, it is about the world renowned cellist Yo Yo Ma who gathers musicians from all around the world, who are masters of their instruments. Some play very unusual instruments of which you may have never heard before. Their individual life stories are fascinating and inspiring, overcoming extreme life situations and still pursuing their passion. They are called the ‘Silk Road Ensemble’ and there are some videos on YouTube if you are interested.
Here is a link to listen to some of Cristina Pato’s music, she’s a dynamo…….and no, I am not doing a painting of bagpipes for my exhibition.
PRAIA DAS CATEDRAIS: Ribadeo
On a gorgeous sunny day, this was our last chance to drive towards the town of Ribadeo and see the surrounding sights. Once again, the coastal drive from Ortigueira was, as we Aussies say ‘Gob smacking’ (‘fantastico’……just in case google translator fails on that one!). Just stunning beaches and coastal cliff tops again and again for hours…..yawn, yawn! ha ha
We then found the cutest little fishing village by complete accident, so we had to stay for lunch. Another narrow, steep and windy road down to Porto do Barqueiro just passed the town of O Barqueiro. An amazing amount of infrastructure for only 10 boats.
What a life! I am glad that my hair has grown a bit since my shearing in Santiago nearly 3 months ago, I no longer look like a Buddhist monk.
One tip for visiting popular spots in Spain, go early before everyone wakes up (about 10) or mid afternoon while they are having lunch and siestas. The Praia das Catedrais, claimed to be the jewel of Galicia, receives hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. In three months we have barely seen any tourists, so we found this hard to believe but arrived mid afternoon just in case. Yes, there were many tour buses, but thankfully most people were in the cafe. There are substantial timber boardwalks along this coastal strip for enjoying the views, my favourite area was an extensive area of vibrant wildflowers stretching like a velvet carpet over the cliff tops.
The Cathedrals Beach is a series of rock formations which remind me of the cliffs in the Great Australian Bight, with extra sculptural shapes that make it unique. We would not agree that this area is the jewel of Galicia; as I have said before, the whole of Galicia is one very large jewellery store.
JOHN’S COOKING CORNER:
Well I have to say, ‘John’s kitchen rules!’ We haven’t seen any paellas in Galicia, but compared with elsewhere, I think John managed to create the perfect paella, packed with seafood and asparagus. It was so delicious, I don’t think there was much chewing going on….
As you can see we make friends easily with the locals. There wasn’t much action in the local bars of Cedeira, but our friends by the river showed us how to shake their tail feather….
And these ones spoke English………..your kidding!
We are always sad to leave each region, however our next stop is the city of Lugo for five nights which will be different from the coastal villages we have been enjoying.
Despite scepticism from the rest of the Celtic nations as to the authenticity of Galicia being part of the Celtic League, Galicians take great pride in their heritage; bagpipes and folk songs being a key part of cultural life. The modern city of Lugo still bears the name of a Celtic god. One of the best things about Lugo is the entire historic centre is ‘car free’, resulting in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. The old town is enclosed by one of the best preserved Roman walls constructed in the 3rd century, spanning over more than two kilometres of which you are able to walk along the top and view the city and surrounds.
Our apartment was opposite the very beautiful 12th century gothic style, Lugo Cathedral.
On our first evening we heard the familiar sound of bagpipes, so we followed the music into the Praza Santa Maria. We were privileged to join in the fun of a local Galician festival, where families were gathered to witness the outstanding performances of their friends and relatives from the age of 5 up to 60’s?? Aside from the talented musicians and dancers, the costumes were exquisite.
Unfortunately, this week John was struck down with ‘man flu’……..probably recovering from me dragging him up and down mountains. There are many beautiful walks in the surrounding areas of Lugo, but we will have to wait for another visit to Galicia. Next, we are venturing into the countryside for four weeks staying on an organic farm.