Day 5 Galicia: O Grove

29 Aug

So, I wake up early in Cambados (having survived the minor food poisoning and night in the The Shining hotel) and decide to go see the ruins in a graveyard before I hop another bus to a town called O Grove, which is also known for its fabulous seafood. I forgo the breakfast at Casa Rosita because we all know what happened last night when I ate there.

I go get a café con leche, a fresh squeezed o.j. and an empanada at a cute café in old town.

The empanada, which was perfectly adequate:

Then, I look at my map and go wandering to find the ruins that are inside a graveyard.

Below is the entrance to the ruins:

A closer view, just inside the entrance:

A view looking back out toward the tower from inside the ruins:

I snapped about 20 pictures because I fell in love with the architecture and stonework.

They indeed were very cool and an architectural marvel in their day. I start to look around the cemetery and realize I’ve never been in a cemetery that is so elaborately decorated with large graves and gravestones. Here is one pic on the outside of the ruins. People really respect the dead, here.

I go back to my hotel and decide I can’t face another make-me-want-to-hurl bus ride, so I decide to catch a cab to the next town. This was the best 25 euros I ever spent on transportation! I get picked up in a black Mercedes town car. The air conditioning is set to a comfortable 75 F (I’m guessing, but that’s my preferred temp and it was mighty comfortable in there), the driver has road skills, and he sets the tunes to 80s U.S. rock. I love you!

30 minutes later, happy, smiling and singing to Duran Duran, I arrive at my least favorite hotel of the journey. Seriously? This has 3 stars and it has no A/C? It’s like 96 degrees F today. Receptionist: I know and I’m sorry, but it doesn’t usually get that hot here. Internally, me: Hmmm, I doubt that. But, whatever, I’m only going to sleep here and I don’t see Jack Nicholson or Shelly Duvall around, so I’ll bear with it.

I dump my bags, finally get on wifi and chat with my darling husband for a bit, and then set off to figure out how to rent a bike for the day. Yeah, biking, or “bicing” as it’s called in Barcelona when you rent a city bike!

O Grove is a peninsula with the character of an island. On the map of Galicia (Day 1 blog post), you’ll see that O Grove is slightly southwest of Cambados and it sticks out in the Atlantic Ocean.

Here’s a map of O Grove that I used to explore that day:

It also shows that is looks more like an island than a peninsula except that it does connect to land on the very southeastern tip.

The main tourist part of the town is at the very top of the map, which is the northern part of the peninsula.

The pic at the very top of this post is a view from the bridge looking at the “entrance” of O Grove. There’s apparently a 19K loop I can do on the bike, so I’m looking forward to that, but not before I eat some food.

I’m really torn at this point because I really want to try the vieires and the percebes, which are river scallops and barnacles, respectively. I’m in love with percebes and they’re very reasonably priced in this town because you can see the people out in the water gathering them. I wish I would have taken a picture of that.

Anyway, I see vegetable paella on the menu and a “traditional Galician cheese salad.” Salad and vegetable rice? I’m all over it, as I’m thinking I better lay off the seafood after last night’s disaster.

Here is a pic:

It looks pretty decent, right? Well, yuck, yuck, and yuck. This is now the second day in a great little coastal pueblo that I’ve had a disastrous meal. And, this restaurant also had a Michelin nod. Here’s the sign of the offending restaurant:

I guess I have to take some responsibility here, as the restaurant name is about seafood and everyone else was eating fresh seafood and it looked marvelous. So, I probably ordered the wrong things. But, at the same time my thoughts as a chef are don’t put items on the menu that are after-thoughts and in which you’re not going to take the same amount of care to prepare. It’s not like I asked for pizza, or something off the menu. You clearly had a whole paella section and a whole salad section. Shame on your house!

Anyway, I decided to eat the delicious crusty bread and down ½ of a bottle of Albariño. Now, it was biking time!

I rent a beach cruiser with a big saddle and a basket in front. Here’s the darling thing:

I know that the young woman at the tourist office is thinking that’s just my style. The problem is she forgot to inform me that there will be hills along my route and that although the bike rental is only 4 euros for the day, for 2 more euros I could get a 10 speed that actually might be more beneficial to deal with the hills. No matter. Simple is probably best at the moment and considering my biking history (I once fell off a motorcycle ride at an arcade. I was not drunk.) So, away I go, armed with a super simple map, backpack in the basket and my bathing suit on. I am ready to find a secluded beach!

I first decide to go to the baby island off O Grove that’s connected by a nice bridge. The island is called Illa Da Toxa. Here’s a view as I’m heading to the bridge that connects to Illa Da Toxa:

Here’s a view from the bridge over to Illa Da Toxa (I’m on my bike at this point).

The waters are beautiful and so are the beaches!

I ride around the island in about 15 minutes, stopping at a café for a quick drink. There is some serious wealth on that island and a golf course.

I cruise back toward the pier and toward the way the Spanish Julie McCoy pointed. Along the pedestrian and bike promenade, they have these great art pieces that really show you it’s a “fish” town. Here are a few:

I pop in and out of these cute little coves. Here’s a pic of my favorite cove as I love the wrecked boat:

I keep cruising – uphill – and I come to a point where I look and there are 6 possible small roads I can take. Hmmmm. Where are those on the map? Oh, I see, they aren’t. The is a macro view of the biking route I can take. No micro view to be had. So, I decide to stop and ask a kind, older looking gentlemen who’s hanging out in front of his house (presumably).

I pull out the map and ask, “where am I on this map?” He starts to stutter in Spanish. And, he goes on and on and on and I can’t even interrupt at this point. I’m just hoping I’m not staring too hard as I’m really trying to concentrate on what he’s saying. But, I’m just not getting it. After 10 minutes, I try to politely interrupt him 3 times to say thank you. Finally, I give up and get back on the bike. As I randomly pick one of the roads he’s still calling after me and pointing at all of my choices. So, I start down this road that smells like manure. I decide that’s not the road for me, so I turn back and take another road. 15 minutes later, I’m now in the interior of the island and I have lost the beach route.

I decide to backtrack but then I forget where I came from. I’m not worried, as how lost can I get on a peninsula that is 19k in circumference? I stop and ask a woman who is getting into her car and she explains where I am on the map and where I need to go to get to some nice beaches. Yeah!

By this time, I’m pretty sure I’ve gone at least half of the 19K. In fact, I’ve gone about 4K, maybe 6K since I got lost.

I find a nice beach. I dive in. Ahhhhh, soooo cool and refreshing. The water is super clear and the water quality seems excellent. I’m super happy. Here’s a pic of Playa Rons:

And another view of the lovely Atlantic waters:

I end my day with the awesome 3 hour bike ride and decide it’s time to pack it in. I’ve had 2 days of bad eating in what are suppose to be 2 tremendous seafood towns, so it’s fruit, nuts and Gatorade for me tonight. Despite the bad food and that’s it 100 degrees F in my hotel room, I’m still in love with Galicia. The terrain, the water, the food in both A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela – me encanta!

I would go back in a heartbeat.

(As I’m writing this I’m looking at my notes I took throughout the day at O Grove. I’m in the first class cabin of the Renfe train from Madrid to Barcelona. I decided to pass on the “free” airplane looking food. But, in honor of my husband, I’m drinking coke and whiskey. Oh, and eating dark chocolate. That’s a lunch of champions, right? See pic below.)

I’m looking forward to my next journey south to Córdoba, Málaga and Seville!

3 Responses to “Day 5 Galicia: O Grove”

  1. Bev August 30, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    You are completely amazing! (entertaining, too) . . .so when are you going to add a plot and make this blog into a book? I’m certain that I wouldn’t be able to put it down!
    Take care

  2. Denise Dunsing August 30, 2012 at 12:30 am #

    Looks like our first stop on the cruise is Myorka. Any thoughts on where to go and or what to see on our stop there?

    • rachelogdie August 30, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Hi Denise, I have never been to Mallorca, but I heard they have some lovely beaches if you like beach-going and also in the old quarter of the main city Palma de Mallora there are lovely gothic churches, cobble stone streets and baroque palaces. Sorry I can’t be more help here.

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