Waves crashed on the granite rocks out at sea, the sun bore down and an agreeable whiff of eucalyptus drifted down from the hills.
Galicia is part of ‘Green Spain’ in the country’s north-western corner: rugged, hilly and showery (hence ‘green’). It’s a favourite with Spanish holidaymakers who come from the parched plains in search of temperate summer breaks, but not Brits, who prefer to fry.
The main attractions of Galicia are the pilgrim hotspot of Santiago de Compostela and the holiday resorts of La Toja, Baiona and Sanxenxo. Those apart, there isn’t a great deal to look at. After a bustling Middle Ages, Galicia lost most of its rural population to emigration, so much of it retains a slightly forgotten air.
At the bottom end of Galicia is the River Minho, where Spain meets Portugal. Rendezvous in A Guarda, a salty fishing town hard by the border and take lunch at the Bitadorna restaurant, with a few glasses of Albarino, the life-affirming Galician white wine, and some percebes: purply-black barnacles that are a local delicacy and the caviar of Galicia.
Just outside town, a road led up to the Monte Santa Tegra, a sentinel-like hill that looks over the border, providing panoramas of Portugal, the Minho estuary’s yellow beaches and the glittering ocean. Down beside the Minho, turn inland and pass lush countryside, running alongside the river. Park in the lovely old town of Tui, and lunch on the local eels, another piscatorial speciality, before heading around town.
Tui, small and peaceful, is a town of past glories. Walk down some lovely medieval streets to the banks of the Minho, and take some time to relax, the only sound isthe wind in the trees and the odd per-lop of a fish rising.
Visit Baiona. This elegant little resort, a kind of Galician Biarritz, has the Parador de Baiona: a medieval fortress turned hotel, in pole position on a headland by the beach. Take a drink on the terrace and enjoy the hotel literature about Sir Francis Drake, a “pirate” who “destroyed nearby Vigo” then take a stroll around the charming backstreets. Next, a hearty caldo gallego, a soup of beans, cabbage, potatoes and pork, before heading hotel-wards, several pounds heavier.
Enjoy some extreme fishing at A Guarda. Percebes live on rocky outcrops in the Atlantic, so percebeiros have to jump from a boat on to a rock, prise them off into a net bum-bag, then bring them back to the market