Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 08/04/10
IBERIA2001 #24 Vigo-Pontevedra-Baiona
I got up and ran through the old city around the Catedral and wind up running UP several flights of stone stairs (no choice). It was a killer and my gastrocs are still killing me. After my run I visited the places I missed like the Catedral Museum, the Mateo Crypt and the Treasury. I also got to photograph the other sides of the Catedral which I had not seen. I also saw several other historic churches and had a cortado at a local cafe and relaxed with a crossword puzzle. We checked out of the hotel and set the GPS for Vigo (bee-go), our next destination. On the road I get a call from Dr. Luis Cadarso, an ophthalmologist friend of Dr. Aramberri (San Sebastian), telling me to meet him for lunch in the town of Pontevedra (half way to Vigo). We drive into the town and find the little circular church in the center after parking illegally with others in a loading zone (only place we could find). It seems the entire downtown streets are being torn up. Nothing much interesting here but Luis finds us and takes us to Restaurante Ramon and as soon as we sit down the lights go out. Even without lights, I discovered a new dish that has now become my favorite; it is called San Jacobo. It is like Wiener schnitzel (or Veal Milanese) but with an additional layer of cheese and prosciutto (Jamˇn = Iberian ham, which is sliced a little thicker than prosciutto). I never eat breakfast or lunch, so this lunch (at 3 PM) of grilled scallops (delicious-best I've had), the huge San Jacobo with perfect fries and a dessert tray of crepes & custard rolls had me limping out of the place. The reason the lights went out was because of one of the worst storms of the summer, but we didn't know it at the time. It started to sprinkle as we got into Luis' car. He drove us to the peninsula which allows you to drive onto a beautiful little island called Isla de la Toja (toe-chah in Galician). It is very nice and we stopped for coffee at the bar in the Gran Hotel de la Toja. Then the storm hit big time with thousands of lightening strikes and the lights went out here as well. After waiting several hours, the storm finally slowed down and we got back on the road. Luis showed us the coast beach cities and we discovered that the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, was there for his favorite boat regatta. By the time we got to our car (with a ticket), drove the 21 miles to the hotel, a nice one but way out in the south part of Vigo (nothing to see) it was 10 PM. Luis told us he would pick us up at 11:00 to take us to dinner. I was stuffed so I took a 20 minute siesta and was ready to go. He took us into the main town of Vigo (bee-go) and to the Restaurante Paco Feixˇ (fey-ee-show). I felt like I had just gotten up from the lunch but I ate dinner anyway. It was very good and Luis would not let us pay for lunch or dinner. He is an excellent phaco surgeon who does LASIK and Staar ICLs (done 50 so far and very happy with them). We got to bed finally at 3 AM.
Luis is going to meet us in the morning, so we get up at 10:30 and check out of the hotel. Luis is there waiting with his Yamaha motorcycle to lead us 18 miles south on the coast to the last city in Spain, A Guarda. There we stop at a boat dock and meet his two friends, Kiko (a Pediatrician) and Kiko (a Dentist). They put us in a small motor boat and we go out on the Minho River (Rio) [Rio Mi˝o in Spanish] to cross into Portugal. [In Portuguese, a river is called a Rio and an ocean inlet that can go into the land like a river is called a Ria]. We land in Portugal for the first time at the sandy tip of the peninsula. There, we are joined by two more friends, Javier (a shipping magnate) and Javier (an OB-Gyn doctor). We find out these guys do this every Tuesday. Guess what we are going to do - have Lunch again! Well, it was impossible to say no with these folks and I ate a paella like dish (more liquid than in Spain) and wound up eating most of a King Crab. Then we had Bacalao which is their favorite, dry salt cod followed by Portuguese broiled chicken which was wonderful. The French fries were the best I can remember eating and I couldn't stop munching on them. At least I passed on the red wine and the glass of Port. I was stuffed again. Again no one would let us pay. We took the boats back to Espa˝a (photo) because Luis had patients to see. He told us what to see for the rest of the day and we said good-bye.
From A Guarda we drove up the mountain of St. Tecla (or Tegla in Galician). From here we could see all of the city, the Spanish and Portuguese coasts. It was fabulous. The little church of St. Tecla (photos) was built in 1075 and is a functioning church today, amazing how it has been kept up. I climbed the final peak for some good photos and we saw the Roman artifacts museum. On the way down we saw the excavations of the village of castros, which are little round stone houses (photo) that had conical wooden roofs. That is where the name Castro comes from. Throughout Galicia many houses have these little buildings up on stilts. They are called hˇrreos (photo). They were built to store corn and the round capitals on the legs were to keep the mice from getting in. They are more for decoration now (or hanging clothes out to dry). Very interesting; they are found no where else in the world. After reaching A Guarda again we stop at an antique shop Luis recommended. We see and I almost bought a wooden crucifix carving dating from the 1400s. It cost $686 and Luis told me not to buy anything without him there, so I delayed the purchase.
We then drove back north to the beach resort town of Baiona (buy-ohn-ah) and found the Parador. This place is incredible. It was originally built by Franco as a gift to Juan Peron of Argentina but he never got it. It sits on the promontory (photos) with beautiful views of the bay and town. Manuel suggested we stay here 2 days and I agreed after seeing it. I did my run around the bay along the beach and then Marcia joined me in town and we had dinner at Il Mosquito. We had a bottle of the special fruity wine indigenous to this region called Albarino (al-bar-een-yo) and it was very good. The walk back up the hill to the Parador was steep after a full meal. To bed at 3AM.
The next day we really needed the sleep (and for me NO food) so we woke at 2 PM and lounged around this beautiful place. Good thing because it rained hard all morning. I did my photos and email writing on the terrace looking out over the bay with a fairly good real cappuccino. The day disappeared rapidly and I didn't run until 8:45. This time I found the walk path around the Parador Cabo and ran around that and then into town. I found the Internet Cafe and found 198 emails. It took me 1.5 hours to finish and cost me 800 pesetas. Marcia joined me and at 11 PM we went to the other place that Luis recommended called Pedro Madrugo. After being shown it, I ordered a 1.5 Kg lobster (3.3 lbs) and when they brought it to me I thought it tasted a little dry and crumbly. When I complained, the waiter agreed that it had been boiled too long and brought me a plate of sole instead. What a shame that lobster had to die for nothing. Marcia had a large cold King Crab which wasn't as good as the one in Santiago that I had. We won't go back here. We drove back up the hill and got to bed at 3 AM. Next morning we rise slowly, check out and relax on the terrace overlooking the gorgeous bay where I am writing this.
Manuel has planned some places and made reservations, so we will drive to Tui and then cross the bridge over the Rio Minho into Portugal and go to the first town on the coast called Viano do Castelo. In Portugal they call their Paradores, Pousadas. We will stay at the Pousada Monte de Santa Luzia.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #25
Baiona, Galicia, Espa˝a
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
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