Sunday our friends, David and Terri, took us for a day trip to Fisterra, a lighthouse town on the coast, almost directly west of Santiago. They picked us up around 9:30, and David drove, since they know the route well. The weather was with us: a warm sunny morning, and a golden afternoon.
We went south to Ourense along a steep road that winds past vine-terraced hills and stretches of gorse and broom and purple heather. After the point where the river Sil joins the Mino (pronounced “minyo”) we continued along the river, smooth as glass: villages clustered on the banks and above reflected like mirror images of stone and red tile and white plaster. From Ourense we took the toll road, going north again, bypassing Lalin, skirting Santiago, and traveling west through verdant countryside to the Atlantic, where we followed a sparkling blue bay. On our right, small villages alternated with pastures or villages edged and splashed with yellow broom. To our left, the blue waters stretched, with occasional white sandy beaches. At harbors, fishing villages were mirrored in the waters, and fishing boats bobbed alongside colorful buoys.
We took a coffee break at a bar in Noia, where “market day” was in full force. and tables and kiosks lined the bustling streets. We continued on through Muros (a lovely village/town with its own lighthouse), and stopped for lunch at a charming harbor town called Corcubion, where we sat at an outdoor table of a cafe-bar called Alborada. Our lunch consisted of raciones. (A racion is a serving less that a full dinner plate, but more than a tapa.) We settled on three: revueltas with championes; calimari that melted in your mouth, and a plate of fresh mejillones (mussels) that had been caught that very day and had a flavor like poetry.
Still, the highlight was our waiter, Jose Antonio Trillo Gonzalez. He had lived in England for several years, and he surprised us by breaking into English with a thoroughly London accent -- and a sly, witty humor to go with it. The website for this cafe, by the way (for travelers to Galicia) is: http://www.mi-bar.es/bar.alborada/
After lunch we proceeded on to Fisterra. The countryside changed to rock face as we drew nearer -- rock-face covered with gorse, creating a golden sheen, like a layer of pollen. Fisterra is in the part of the coast known as Costa del Muerte (coast of death), because in olden days there were so many shipwrecks in its rocky harbors. At the lighthouse itself, you could see the bay on one side, and the Atlantic ocean on the other (the Atlantic in the picture above). Stalls outside the lighthouse sold the souvenirs you would expect: starfish, seashells; seashell jewelry, ashtrays with marine themes, etc. We strolled around, taking pictures, feeling the cool breeze off the ocean (it wasn’t cold at all), and smiling at fellow travelers.
On the way home, we stopped at a cafe in the plaza in Muros, and then headed back, enjoying the drive all over again. By the time we reached Ourense, the sky was deepening to early twilight, and shortly after, sunsetturned clouds a billowy pink, like cotton candy. The last stretch was in late twilight and early darkness. A yellow full moon hung low in the sky, glowing like a Chinese lantern. At the house, we ate food I’d cooked the day before, and sipped wine and recounted our magical day.