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Trip Report Part 2: The Mystery and Beauty of Galicia

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Going into a bit more detail here about my recent time in Galicia: Rias Baixas wine region, Sanxenxo, Ribeira Sacra, Ribadeo (Ourense and then on up into the mountains and hills), Rinlo and Cathedral Beach, and Pontevedra.

The highlights of the entire trip for me were Rinlo and the hike from Rinlo to the famous Cathedral Beach (as well as the other beaches you pass along the way from Rinlo).

Rinlo itself was the perfect little seaside village for me. Tiny. Not even big enough for a supermarket or a gas station or indeed any businesses other than the few seafood focused restaurants that double as cafes/bars during the day and are there for purely touristic purposes (though this doesn't mean the food isn't good-seafood is abundant here and doesn't need much special treatment to be excellent!)

When you drive into Rinlo from nearby Ribadeo you find yourself suddenly on tiny streets in an even tinier village and it's not clear in what direction you should head. Just keep following along in the same direction and you'll quickly pass through the tiny town and end up crossing a little bridge that leads to an open parking lot where you can park for free near the water (sort of like a small boatdock type area with no boats).

The air is full of the smell of salt, the wind is crisp and you'll see signs pointing you to trails that will lead you various places, one of which is Cathedral Beach (8 kilometers or so) on your side of the bridge. But crossing back over the bridge into the village you'll head towards pastel and bright blue painted restaurants (like something right out of a painting) and past them, to tiny cobbled streets. Surrounding the entire village, are walking paths, access to the rocks and water, and vistas of the ocean. it feels like being on a tiny island. No knick knacks for sales, no shops to go shopping in. Just simple, tranquil, oceanic and sea air bliss.

A bit farther inside the village (literally could walk through whole center of village in less than 5 minutes) is another restaurant (or cafe before 1:30pm) called Porto de Rinlo.

We had lunch there and it was very good. The specialty in Rinlo is their Arroz Calderoso which is basically a big pot of rice stew that has been cooked with a whole lobster and spices. It's so popular literally every table orders it, and if you don't call ahead (or come into town early like we did and check in with the restaurant about their opening times) to reserve your lobster and make a reservation for a particular time you won't be tasting this special dish. It takes 45 + minutes to prepare so they need advance notice. Their mussels and pulpo were great (not surprising in this area) and their house white was so-so (hit and miss with Albarino house wine in this region)

The restaurant was also attached to a little motel-vacation apartments rental spot that would be well located to enjoy this lovely village for a few days or a week (some might be bored in such a small village but my bf and I would have loved to stay a week and take hikes, eat seafood, and read-relax by the ocean!)

After our lunch in town, the weather suddenly stopped being so lovely (aka the sun disappeared and a misty rain started). We didn't have rain jackets (my Galician boyfriend had told me 'no way it will rain!' even after I asked him three times 'are you sure? It's Galicia....') and were wearing shorts because it had been very warm. But we were not going to change our plan to walk along the cliffs and the paths from Rinlo to Cathedral Beach.

Heading out of Rinlo, just outside, there are some lovely ruins (of what we're still not quite sure) near the ocean and along the walk we saw a lot of lovely old abandoned stoned cottages or remnants of the frames of old stone buildings. As we got closer, we came to some beautiful beaches and rocks (not at all crowded if you are before the low tide time-which is when you are supposed to go). We hung out on on of the beaches until it was time to walk to Cathedral Beach.

There is a certain time you have to go to be able to walk onto the beach and underneath all of the rock arches and formations and it must be low tide so you have to check ahead of time what time that will be. By the time it was low tide and we were at Cathedral Beach there were big buses arriving in the parking lots there with crowds of people (all Spanish or Portugese you don't see many other types of tourists in Galicia unless on the Camino typically-especially after summer). We could have taken a bus back from the beach to Rinlo but opted to walk again since we had been driving a lot (Galicia requires a lot of driving).

All in all perfect day and we really kicked ourselves for not knowing about Rinlo as a place we could stay for the night when we had made our trip plans. With Galicia unless you know the name of the place you are visiting and what towns are nearby you won't easily find info on other places except by accident (or once you're there and driving past it). My boyfriend, being from the area, had never even heard of Rinlo (or didn't remember it) though he'd certainly been to Cathedral Beach and he'd also been to Ribadeo once.

Previous to our lovely Rinlo and Cathedral Beach Experience, I spent three days solo in the Riberia Sacra Region (hours away from the coast, and about two hours from Orense, the nearest major city you can train to, by car).

I'll report on that trip in my next post. It was mostly about exploring the region getting a feel for the history, the wine industry and region and tasting some wines, as it's a much lesser known and far less touristed wine region than any other in Spain but also has some of the coolest terroir and most difficult-to-harvest vineyard conditions.

signing off for now

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