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davidx Ribadavia - A travel report by David
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Ribadavia,  Spain - flag Spain
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davidx's travel reports

Ribadavia, Pontevedra and southern Galicia

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What madness! I’d booked a night in Ribadavia in November and then meant to look around Galicia! I asked for advice. It was bound to rain - so I prepared a get-out plan via Portugal to Badajoz. I didn’t have to use it! The sun shone in Galicia.

Plaza Mayor, Ribadavia, looking away from the Hostal
Plaza Mayor, Ribadavia, looking away from the Hostal
Getting to Ribadavia was fraught after I’d stayed in Ávila the first night. The Wednesday bus to Zamora wasn’t running. So it was train to Salamanca and a horrendous taxi ride to the bus station. I arrived in Zamora and asked for a ticket for Ribadavia. From the level of consternation it might have been the planet, Uranus. Didn’t I know about All Saints Day? He was kind enough to check. One seat in the Talgo – first class – from Zamora only. So I bought the Talgo, or so it seemed. Then it was late – then the local from Ourense to Ribadavia had to wait for the Talgo to pass! Four days of Sunday timetables messed up my plans quite a bit but I always read enough in advance for flexibility. Ribadavia is simply a delightful Gallego town. The Hostal Plaza, in the Plaza Mayor, had been an almost inspired choice to stay and from the Plaza there were steep and narrow roads or streets down into the old town. I’d only planned for the one night and I was able to go, with more trouble than I’d expected because of all those saints, to the border town of Tuy. Here I stayed for three nights and enjoyed two day trips into north Portugal [see my Porto report]. I had a quite ridiculous time looking for a particular hostal, only partly because I thought a woman was telling me ‘cerca, cerca’ meaning really close, when she was actually saying ‘cerca circo’ or ‘near the circus’! You could easily stay a whole week at Tuy – but not in the accommodation where I ended up. From there I went to Pontevedra, a city that lives up to all the good things written about it. There are limited individual attractions but it’s a treat to stay there. I was very disappointed with Santiago de Compostela. I’d looked forward to seeing it so much but I found the cathedral overlarge, over ornate and just generally over; not the normal view, I know well. After three days here I took the train via Vigo to León [see Salamanca report] and then to Madrid.

Favourite spots:
Pontevedra is acclaimed in any guidebook I’ve seen, terms like ‘quintessential Gallego city’ being plastered around. It’s hard to know what’s left to say, even harder to explain why buying a bag of roast chestnuts, sitting down and eating them hot whilst watching the people in the superb square of Herrería and looking at a church shaped like a scallop shell, should be so very much more stimulating than it sounds. You can follow the part of the old Portuguese route to Santiago de C which went through Pontevedra or take a set route to see the maximum number of old buildings – but don’t bother. Just wind round in the old, narrow, winding streets, preferably without a route, going in for some pulpo [octopus] in one, or probably more, of the innumerable pulperías. However there is one MUST. Get a bus that goes to O Grove along the south side of the Ría de Pontevedra and make sure the driver tells you where to get off for Combarro. – see next section.

What's really great:
Horreos, Combarro [lurking places!]
Horreos, Combarro [lurking places!]
Once you’ve been to Combarro, you would know where to get off the bus. The first time it’s not in the least obvious. However, follow the bus a very short way and take the first left and you are there in no time. What is it? Well, it’s certainly a village – even now, with building spreading all round it – but what a village it is! The first thing to grab you might well be the group of horreos. These look vaguely like tombs but are in fact grain stores with legs to keep out rats and crosses on top to keep out evil spirits. On local postcards the term ‘horreos’ is helpfully [?] translated into English as ‘lurking places’. The next thing that will take your fancy are the streets, several of which turn into tracks with stone runways going into the ría. There is a small museum, which was closed and a good-looking eating-place, which would have kept me beyond the last bus. Still, never mind. Just go.

As I said, I don’t rave over Santiago de Compostela and soon found myself making for the bus station, where the bus for Noya and Muros was just leaving. I stood in the way and the driver kindly stopped for me to get on. This was really good. Galicia is usually pictured as underdeveloped and poor, though picturesque. You really have to be pleased that there’s a lot of building for returning Gallegos who’ve made a bit of brass somewhere – but it’s still great, if selfish, to get to the parts that remain more undeveloped. Of the riás, the Ría de Noya y Muros was the most unspoilt I saw; i.e. of the Rías Bajas on the west of Galicia. You may well never have heard of it after all! The route along the Ría is scenic indeed, with frequent horreos to remind you that you’re in Galicia.
There were several other buses in Noya [going where?] but Muros, out along the estuary is a peaceful and elegant town, where I enjoyed a stroll and some shellfish before returning.

I’ve already mentioned the Hotel Plaza in Ribodavia. [00 34) 988 47 05 76]
I was very satisfied also with the Hotel Mexico in Pontevedra, [Hotel Mexico, Andres Murvais, 10
Tel: +34 986 859 006]

In Tuy I give the one I didn’t find until too late – but I should certainly try there next time - Hostel San Telmo 91
Adam. de la Concordia, 88
Slap opposite the station, which only serves the two trains each way daily between Porto and Vigo.

In Pontevedra almost every little bar is also a pulpería – that is it serves octopus. Is it like squid? No, squid’s like rubber; octopus is marvellous – you may need to avoid looking at it but do try. There are strips of paper hanging from the ceiling in some with the different amounts you can buy. The same applies to wine – you pick your bowl and the wine is served in it – FULL!
In another bar I was trying to sample the local pepper delicacy but it was out of season. The boss offered to cook me peppers with fish. I asked what sort of fish. He went off, doubtless to consult. He came back and said that unfortunately he didn’t know the type – but I could choose between large fish and – [long pause] – small fish.
I dutifully chose large and it was both delicious and cheap.

Ría de Pontevedra from Combarro, [Pontevedra away to left]
Ría de Pontevedra from Combarro, [Pontevedra away to left]
In Pontevedra, forget it. [see above]
In Ribadavia the Hostal Plaza has an excellent restaurant with moderate prices.
In Tuy you have to try Mesón Cabalo Furado Vello,
Seijas 2, brim full and

Other recommendations:
As stated above, you could stay a week at Tuy [or Tui – I forget which is Gallego and which Castillian]. I only did the route below as far as Vigo, then caught a bus on to Pontevedra but I present it as a circuit.
Stage 1 is a bus from Tuy to A Guardia, through woods near the valley of the Miño [Portuguese Minho] with the occasional view of Portugal on the far side. In A Guarda itself, fabulous views can be obtained on both sides from the end of the headland. There is an ancient settlement on a hillside a short walk away.
Stage 2 is the journey to Vigo around the coast through Bayona and along the southern bank ot the Ría de Vigo. From here, as from a ferry I took later on a circuit from Pontevedra, there are stupendous views of the Islas Cies at the mouth of the Ría. Only one thing could have stopped me going. There are no trips in November!
Stage 3 is the bus back to Tuy.
That just leaves me space to praise the area at the top of Tuy around its fortified cathedral.

Published on Saturday January 29th, 2005

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Wed, Nov 02 2005 - 09:51 AM rating by peresabate

como siempre muy buen report

Sat, Jan 29 2005 - 09:57 PM rating by gloriajames

another well written and informative report

Sat, Jan 29 2005 - 02:34 PM rating by rangutan

This man knows how to write excellent reports!

Sat, Jan 29 2005 - 01:06 PM rating by nbrito

5 stars in advance, so plz do a go job !
Best wishes :-)
Nei Brito - Rio, Brazil

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