01 October 2013
After a couple of nights at anchor we were in Ria Arousa. We had arranged to meet our former neighbours Sandy and Sylvia at Vilagarcia Marina. They had booked flights to Santiago many months before, trusting that we would be in the vicinity for a visit. This worked out better than any of us could have hoped. After checking out Santiago they joined us and sailed with us to Caraminal, Illa de Arousa and Vilanova. The weather was great, mid 20's, fairly light winds and flat water in the Ria. We even had the spinnaker up! - at last! They checked in to a Paradore hotel in Cambados close by.
The Paradore's are state run luxury hotels, usually in historical buildings, which seem to offer excellent value. If you ain't got a boat, it would be a great way to explore North Spain, which after two months here, we can definitely recommend!
Ria de Arousa is the biggest Ria. Lovely protected sailing waters and anchorages, but intensive fish farming, mainly for mussels. They do this using floating grids "bateas" from which ropes of mussels hang. We sailed among these wooden platforms all week. The intensity of fishing in Spain is in all ways dramatic, but sorry I need to bore you with the mussel stats; The Galician Rias generate 95% of the mussels grown in Spain. This accounts for 60% grown in the world! 250,000 tons per year. The quality control is rigorous and the size and quality produced excellent.
We bought 2 kilos of big fresh mussels at the market in Caraminal to cook on board, biggest meaty efforts I have seen; 4.50 euro. Quite a different food from the nice wee shells we usually see in Scotland, and indeed in France on our way here. Sylvia and Yvonne are not really into mussels,(evident by their choice in men) but agreed these were a different prospect.
Sandy and Sylvia are both great cooks and know their wines, so mussels apart, we really enjoyed dinning out much of the week. So happened Cambados where they were staying is the home of the famous Albariño wines. They naturally took the opportunity to do a tasting tour. Needs said, it is rare not to be really impressed when eating out at any level in Galicia and the wine is a match. I think they take their foods every bit as seriously as our French cousins, but without all the fuss.
We really enjoyed the company for the week. Real treat to introduce friends to this lovely place and well deserved for them as they committed very early to our dream.