Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Islands, Combarro and Pontevedra


    We departed Vigo on 3 September for the Islands. The first night was to be spent anchored off Isla De St Martin which proved to be a well sheltered bay from the wind and swell. It was only a short 2 hour journey from Vigo and there were about 10 boats in the anchorage with us, 7 of which left at sunset. There is a lovely beach but being a nature reserve, no walking inland on the island was permitted. Frustrating for Ginny who likes to explore every hill and cove! Still, it was a peaceful anchorage away from all the city lights of Vigo which reminded us of anchoring in the Hong Kong islands many years ago.

Skipper With The Islas Cies Ahead
Isla De St Martin Anchorage
Isla De St Martin Beach
Isla De Cies Anchorage From St Martin Bay.
Nightfall At Isla De St Martin.
      We reluctantly moved on 4 September to anchor off Rodas Beach on the Islas De Bayona, also called the Islas Cies. We first completed a tour between the islands off Mount Del Faro. Rodas anchorage had much more swell, mainly from the constant flow of tourist ferry boats bringing day trippers and campers to the island. The beach itself is stunning and has a large lagoon behind it which fills up with the tide. There are plenty of walks on the island to please everyone and a large well organised campsite. Guy decided to have a swim and after several attempts knowing it was 17C managed to flop in but was out quicker than his entry! The water has been disappointingly cold in the western rias but were informed they were much warmer earlier in the year. We awoke early in the morning to be surrounded by 6 small diving boats each with 2 to 4 divers and air pumps. They would spend about an hour below in 10 - 15 metres diving for clams to supply the many tapas bars.

Skippering Through The Islands
Mount Del Faro
Rodas Beach With Lagoon Behind
Rodas Beach Anchorage And Lagoon At Low Tide
Lagoon Causeway
Guy Braving Himself For A Swim (17C)
Surrounded By Early Morning Clam Diving Boats
Departing Islas Cies
     We departed for the final island, Isla Ons further north on a very dull cloudy day. We dropped the anchor for lunch and as the wind was picking up to an uncomfortable level, we decided to head up into and explore the Ria De Pontevedra. We followed the 20m contour line in past Porto Novo where we came across more Dolphins then headed right up the ria to the Isla Tambo to a very old fishing port called Combarro and a relatively new marina. 

Not More Dolphins!
Lighthouse On Isla Tambo
Fishing Boat Heaped Full Of Muscles From Viveros
    We took the opportunity to bus it into Pontevedra on Fri 6 September to visit the historic area of the city. It was again very similar to Santiago but this time with a large bull ring. There were the usual beautiful churches and old administrative buildings as well as houses, shops and tapas bars. The area seemed deserted so we stopped for our usual tapas lunch in one of the squares to use wifi and catch up on the world. After an excellent meal and free drinks provided by the proprietor we found out that the whole city was celebrating the following day with a massive medieval party. Joy to Guys ears!! We visited the very well organised museum also in a very old building and got a real feeling for the history of the city.

Guy The Bullfighter!!
Ginny At The Foot Of A Statue Celebrating The Defeat Of The French
Statue To The Weights Inspector
Church
The Church Of St Mary
The Tapas Square On Friday. See Saturday Picture Below!
     Combarro is an ancient fishing village which has been relatively unspoilt and developed for years, less the creation of several waterfront tapas bars and gift shops. It is a glorious village to amble around and get lost within the various narrow streets, alleyways and paths that weave their way around the small old solid rock fishing houses and farmers shacks. Little has changed except clever commercialisation of the village into a tourist hot spot. Much of the old way of life remains.

Combarro Fishing Village
Combarro Waterfront Tapas Bar. Very Greek.
    After a good rest in the morning, we returned to Pontevedra to attend the Medieval Party and what an amazing party this proved to be! The whole town seemed to turn out in full medieval costume dressed for the occasion. The whole of the historic area had been transferred overnight into a medieval film set and we entered probably the biggest party we will ever attend. It was fantastic. The Galicians were all so very friendly, welcoming, happy, charming and full of fun. They were all eating lunch at fully laid out banquet tables as we arrived and events took place all day with musicians moving around, much singing and plenty of drinking. However, there were no Police to be seen, there was no real drunkenness to be observed and everybody was clearly having a great time. As we have said before, the Galicians certainly know how to party. This party is held on the first Saturday of September every year. Put it in your diary combined with a visit to Combarro and Santiago and you will have a wonderful weekend. Don't forget your medieval kit! 

The Knights Templar
Obvious Why Guy Took This Picture!
A Medieval Street Scene
One Of Hundreds Of Street Banquets
Our Lunch Time Friends. The Owl Is Now On Kisti Two!
Ginny being chatted Up By A Street Peasant
The Whole Family Join In.
The Friday Tapas Square Now A Street Banquet
Guy And Knight Exchanging War Stories
Ginny Explaining How Sail mMaking Is Done Now
Never To Old To Be A Knight For a Day!
The Vegetable Market.
     We have stayed in Combarro for a week! It has proved to be a beautiful sheltered spot and a good marina while Guy tries to recover from a back problem. We don't know how it started and at first were convinced it was a kidney issue from too much tapas, wine, beer and partying but our good friendly doctor from UK thinks Guy has done something not too serious to his back and it is just age creeping up!! Oh dear. We have now got to know Combarro and its streets quite well. 

Fishing Boats And Combarro
Combarro Street Cross And Grain Stores
Grain Stores. They have To Be Preserved.
Narrow Combarro Street
Combarro Fishing House
    We will leave Combarro on Thursday 12 September and go to Vigo or Villagarcia to meet Zoe, Tom and Louise who are coming out to join us on Sunday for a week. Should be fun. The snap shot below shows were we are now, yellow arrow and the black track the route we have taken around the Bajas Rias. It is a fantastic area to sail with plenty of marinas, good anchorages and beaches, lovely wind and weather. It is relatively cheap with plenty of places to visit and most hospitable people. Much more enjoyable in every respect to over crowded and expensive western France. We cant recommend this area strongly enough to all those who have not ventured further than La Rochelle. Read Lord Tennysons poem, Ulysses and get inspired.