Ribadeo and Ferrol
12.09.2012 23 °C
These "high" rias encompass some amazing landforms. As the bus neared Ribadeo, we glimpsed great mud flats with lines of water cutting through. The land on each side, presumably once water's edge, was now covered in crops. Gradually, the valley became an expanse of water often disappearing up some other small river valley. We came down put of the forests and farms onto the town of Ribadeo. This has a charming marina, fishing port and, across the river, more commercial Loading areas and what appeared to be ship building.
The town has had times of great prosperity with buildings reflecting when money came in. We spent quite a lot of time on the central plaza with its somewhat battered but still impressive architecture, as (specially for us there were musical and art events. One evening, we nursed beers and applauded a local hip hop band. Definitely picked up a few subversive and provocative words in the rap! Dancers put on a great old school show, strutting their stuff, which comes naturally to some Spanish boys. Then came the main show, an experienced group who rocked the square.
Our small hotel is off a side street with glimpses of the water nd the elegant bridge. It was built in the eighteenth century and provided stores to the ships in the port. Nice to open the shutters, lean out and imagine the bustle.
Ribadeo is famed for its attractive beaches on the Atlantic, so we caught a bus to Praia das cathedrales where water has worn the slate rock into arches, only visible at low tide. It is the end of summer, and locals were all enjoying the day at the beach.
There were not so many people the next morning as we arrived at the tiny rail station to catch the narrow gauge train west. All two carriages arrived and for three hours it threaded along the coast or occasionally inland. Great views of sea, villages and forested hills. And out at Ferrol on the next great Ria.
Ferrol was more pleasant than suggested. It is very dependent on business in the port and fortunes fluctuate with government decisions. We chatted with one man who proudly told us he helped build the Canberra here, and another Australian who visits regularly to follow a huge ship building construction contract. Jobs are down at present, but the town seemed prosperous.
A boat trip down the ria to the sea gave us a better idea about why Ferrol had been such a protected port, lots of forts and cannon to keep out those invaders from the north and calm water in the bay. Much of the central town was planned and built in a rush when the navy and arsenal arrived so there are many charming examples of the galleried facades which became very fashionable throughout the region. Lots of photo opportunities as another variation appears.
The fishermen still bring in their catch and unload on the dock for sale. They were using scoops on long handles, we think for clams. And over the other side are enormous cranes with serious sized loads.
To reach A Coruna, we took a bus "por los pueblos", via the towns, rather than the rapid route. Two hours and some winding back roads, a market and a couple of great little estuaries and the city was in sight.