Wednesday 22nd May
With a sad goodbye to Louro we plugged the coordinates into the satnav and crossed the Galician peninsula to for A Coruña. The journey was good apart from a dicey moment in the city as we went down an underpass that at 3.3 metres was only just tall enough for us to get through. Wendy was crouching in her seat as she drove ‘fearlessly’ through. We emerged blinking into the sunlight and pulled up on to the car park of the marina which was to be our stop for the night. A Coruña is a beautiful city and even though the sun hadn’t read the forecast it looked great. We were surrounded by yachts and gigantic cruise ships on one side and elegant buildings on the other.
The city is built on the isthmus that connects a rocky headland to the mainland. On the eastern side is the very busy working port and the western side is all glorious beaches. We walked round the headland to get to one of my ‘must sees’ for this trip, the Tower of Hercules. The tower is in fact the oldest working lighthouse in the world. It was built in the second century by the Romans (what did they ever do for us, eh?) and has been shining its light to keep sailors safe on the Costa Morte ever since. The original tower was refurbished in the 18thCentury very carefully, they built a new tower around the Roman core. This was then repaired and improved in the 19thCentury. Now when you visit, and you must, the layers of the tower have been revealed so that you can see exactly how amazing the Roman builders were.
In the Dark Ages (those that followed the fall of the Roman Empire, not the current one since the European Referendum) various myths grew up about the creation of the tower. One said that Hercules built it as one of his labours, hence the name. Another is an Irish legend that says that the hero Breogán built it so that his son could see Ireland and lead the Gaels home. This has been used as evidence of the regular trade route between Ireland and Galicia over 1800 years ago – now that is interesting isn’t it Holly?
A Coruña was the scene for another fabled sea crossing, five years ago, when Andy and gang of chums, limped into the harbour having crossed the Bay of Biscay with the engine running on fumes as they had almost run out of diesel trying to make headway directly into a strong wind.
From there it was back through the modern city centre to see the old harbour, known as the ‘Harbour of Glass’ because it is surrounded by buildings who have encased their balconies with windows that glint in the sunlight.
Two tired dogs were wrapped up in the cosy vans while their owners donned their finery and hit the town. Dinner in Spain, especially the cities, doesn’t begin until late and we couldn’t find a restaurant that opened before 2100. We had a drink in Plaza de Maria Pita which is a front runner for Spain’s prettiest town square and then dined very well at la Escondita a little place in the corner of the square at 2130 which as most of you will know is very late for me! It was a great little restaurant and very popular. We got one of the last two tables left in the place and the remaining one was taken as we sat down.
Just to squeeze another interesting fact into this for my appreciative offspring, the Plaza is named after Maria Pita the city’s heroine, who in the 16thcentury led the successful defence of the town against Sir Francis Drake and his English buccaneers according to the plaque on her statue.