Vigo Splish Splash And Get Sun-Kissed
It’s raining. If one’s lucky to be there when the first drops fall you will get the smell of rain on dusty tar and it’s just amazing. In Redondela we took deep breaths of rainy air, it was heaven, but, not quite like our African rain, here we smell dust, dry grass, and the blue of water drops. Sometimes if one’s lucky you can even smell the animals roaming on the plains. We didn’t expect rain and we didn’t mind. After unpacking all our raingear and bedecking ourselves we would be off to Vigo. A welcome relief.
As a South African you might understand my reluctance to hand over my camera, my pride and joy, to a stranger, who offered to take our photograph. I had to swallow and just do it. Trusting him to do the job and then not run away with it. How cynical we've become and all my fears were unwarranted, as they would be here too I'm sure.
We’d spend two nights in Vigo in Galicia. Depending on where you point your lens, Vigo is a historic and cultured city or a gritty industrial port. Home to Europe's largest fishing fleet, this is an axis of commerce in northern Spain. Yet its central areas are very walkable and full of intriguing nooks, winding cobbled lanes and it's the main gateway to the beautiful Illas Cíes. Above all, Vigo is a welcoming and confident commercial city. Shops displaying up to the minute designs in homewear, clothing and shoes are plentiful. Here citizens really know how to enjoy life, especially after dark in the many buzzing tapas bars, restaurants, music bars and clubs. I loved the way the locals got all dressed up in the evenings to go out. Beautifully dressed ladies in high heels. All the things I love about summer.
The Casco Vello (Old Town) climbs uphill from the cruise-ship port; the heart of the modern city spreads east from here, with Praza de Compostela a welcome green space in its midst. At dawn I'd be up with my camera in hand and set off to see the city before it unfurls itself for the day. Quiet streets, with just the occasional person about.
It was while we were waiting for our ferry, to Illas Cies that the 5 0000 passengers disembarked from their cruise-ship, the city was literally swamped by tourists, they poured into every cobbled street, flooded every café and like someone starving grabbed, pushed and shoved their way into the small stalls and touristy shops to spend their money. It was mayhem. This Tsunami of tourists put the final X on any ambitions I might’ve had to go on a cruise. It will not happen.
Getting onto the ferry was another eye-opener, standing in line patiently waiting your turn just does not happen it seems. No, it’s like a mini running with the bulls in Pamplona, when the gates opened it was every man for himself. Fortunately we managed to get ourselves seated after being trampled, pushed and shoved. The beach was calling!
Lise couldn’t wait to throw herself down on to the beautiful white beach. I had to do some exploring and went on a leisurely walk all along the board walk. I was fascinated by the “camping” set-up, tents are permanently set up, and it certainly makes sense as all equipment has to be ferried over from the mainland. It was amusing to see couples trekking all the way with camping chairs, cool boxes, umbrellas, hats and baskets, which all had to go back later.’ A few ancient looking cottages are still dotted around the island and there is a shop selling things tourists have left at home. We had no beach towel, but our kikois would have to suffice at EU18 I wasn't going to indulge.
A large well run canteen style diner serves delicious simple local meals, the usual, fish and chips, calamari and chips, salads, various baked goodies, a few pasta dishes with the usual pre-packaged snacks, cool drinks, beers, wine and coffee. As options are sold out they’re removed from the black board. We were the last to get a good helping of their delicious calamari and battered fish. Priced reasonably.
I had hardly spread my napkin on my lap when a huge gull swooped down trying to help himself to my meal. It was then that I noticed people feeding the huge forage of gulls. This of course didn’t help as they’ve become really irritating scavengers. So while I swatted and swore I managed to gulp down a few crispy golden morsels. A shame tourists feed them as they're despised now.
After lunch Lise and I napped in a secluded cove away from the crowds. Our reverie was soon eclipsed by a loud gaggle of American tourists fresh off the ferry. I sat up and gaped open-mouth at them. Never in all my born days have I experienced such blatant disregard for other people as they took over our beach. They were arrogant, rude, loud and bombastic. The children were unruly, disobedient and crass. In their defence, I later conceded, they were there to show off being American to their reserved families left behind in Spain. Fortunately they couldn’t stay long, their Cruise ship would be leaving and they had an appointment at the Captain’s table!
Like all days spent on the beach, we loved the tingly feeling of too much sun, we had sand in our hair, and our bathers smelling of the ocean and sunblock. As the sun turned golden we headed back to the ferry. A much quieter crowd this time. We were all feeling drowsy from a day in the sun.
Supper was to be at the Othilio Bar Restaurant – we arrived at 21h00 to find the restaurant fully booked! Our disappointment brought the chef right out of the kitchen, where he conceded to have us sit outside at an extra table, we were delighted! Moments later the waiter arrived to tell us that a couple who had a reservation had heard our story and were offering us their table inside and would take ours! They were adamant. We had a tremendous meal. Each course surpassing the previous one, dessert was the climax, of course! We swooned.
According to my diary we enjoyed all our meals in Vigo as one is really spoilt for choice. The meal we had at the Tapas Bar 78 Gastro Bar was superb too, I dipped into Lise's spicy tomato sauce surreptiously helping myself to half her potato chips. My risotto was heavenly. I could even indulge in a cupcake and we enjoyed ice creams on a few occasions too.
Although our path is clearly laid out, sometimes we need to veer off, take a breath and enjoy our surroundings before we continue. We were ready for bed, we had an exciting day ahead. Butch was flying in and we had to get to the airport in time.
P.S. Butch was very worried about travelling with his Nordic walking poles and after much contemplation decided to order a new pair on Amazon. Even in Euros they were reasonably priced. He would have them delivered to our hotel. Risky we thought. No problem for Amazon, when we arrived at our hotel there they were neatly stacked against the lift walls. Brilliant!
Rúa García Olloqui,
5, 36201 Vigo,
Phone: +34 986 22 82 27