In Cambados - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

September 20, 2019

In Cambados

Last night

We’re laying over today to avoid a significant rain front, the bikes holed up in the garage of our hotel.  To begin though, let’s go back to the first look at Cambados that I promised yesterday, from my walk around town while Rachael caught up on missed sleep.  I wanted to make the most of the sunny conditions, assuming it would be too wet and grey for much photography the next day.  

Cambados makes a great first impression, and I was immediately taken with it.   It spreads for about a half mile around a bend in the bay, with a fine bayside promenade spanning the whole extent.  Our hotel is right at the center, about a five minute walk from the large plaza we saw coming in and about fifteen minutes to the harbor at the south end.  I didn’t have too much time, so after a few minutes admiring the center I headed south to see Torre de San Sadurniño, the ruined tower that is the most important waterfront feature here.

I made it back to the room at 8:30, right on time to meet Rachael for a sundown walk north to the plaza for dinner.

There’s the seaside promenade, but there is also this appealing seaside park right at the heart of town.
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The Convent of San Fransisco
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I can never remember what these unusual conifers are, but they’re a bird magnet. This evening there are hundreds of starlings roosting in it and chattering loudly. Intermittently a cloud of them will explode from the trees, circle the sky, and then get sucked in again.
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Andrea BrownThese look like a beaten-up version of Norfolk Island Pine.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownThat’s it! They’re fairly common here. So distinctive, you can’t really mistake them for anything else.
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2 months ago
I’m glad I could zoom in to get a better look at the starlings. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have seen the tree’s unusual green cones too.
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Andrea BrownOh, yes. Confirmation with this cone photo. NIPs for sure.
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2 months ago
I was really excited to happen upon this house, with its south wall surfaced with scallop shells. I thought it was one of a kind and maybe a tribute to the Camino, but tomorrow we’ll find that there are a number of houses in town just like it.
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Wedding!
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This morning

Breakfast at our hotel doesn’t begin until 9, but we don’t mind the late start.  Sunrise isn’t until 8:30 anyway, and it’s pouring outside.  The storm front arrived a few hours before dawn and we’re in no hurry to step out the door.

Breakfast is simple but sufficient - yogurt, a variety of fresh fruits, breads and cakes, a few slices of cheese and meat.  Better than we expected, really.  The best thing though was our conversation with another inspiring couple, this time one much younger than us.  They’re maybe in their mid twenties, and just arrived here yesterday from their home in the Appalachian foothills of Georgia.  They’ll be here all winter teaching English at the local schools, and are staying at the hotel while they get oriented and search for an apartment.

They’re fresh out of college, fresh into adulthood, and very bright and enthusiastic.  They’re here on some sort of program that they applied for, and didn’t even know what town they’d been assigned to other than that it would be somewhere in this part of Spain.  They were thrilled when they arrived in Cambados yesterday and found what a charming place it is that they’ll call home for the next year.  We’ll hopefully see them again tomorrow morning and I can ask them again what their names are and snap a photo to remember them with.

After breakfast we went back to the room and listened to the rain hammer outside.  After a couple of hours it died down and we ventured out with an umbrella from the lobby.  We have two goals today - to see the tower, and to walk up to the mirador above town.  With luck, there will be a few dry spells today to help us out.

We don’t get much luck this morning.  It’s grey and very windy - we are so happy with our decision to sit today out!  We make it along the waterfront to the island the tower sits on, out at the end of a long narrow causeway, and are about to walk out when the rains begin again.  We scurry back behind a wall for shelter, and when the rain stops we dash out again.  

It’s quite unnerving walking out to the tower.  The wind is blowing straight sideways across the long narrow bridge, is quite gusty, and we walk quickly and gingerly to reach the far side without getting blown off into the bay.  We aren’t on the island long because we want to get back before the rains return - just long enough for a decent look at the ruined tower and to gaze in astonishment at the waves whipping in the bay under the force of the winds.  I’d have taken a video, but it’s too damp and misty - as it is, I did my camera no favors with the few photos I did take.  By the time we make it back to shelter it’s starting to jam up, and I’m hoping it will be fine after it dries out.

The morning includes a near catastrophe - along the waterfront, I stumble while walking atop a low sea wall trying to get a better look at some beached dories.  I miss spotting a cobblestone that had spilled onto the wall, step on it, and go down.  It is a near miss - I could have fallen to the side and off the wall, or dropped the camera, or smashed it on the wall when I landed.  Fortunately I react well and experience a controlled slump, ending on top of the wall with the camera stopping inches from impact.  No harm done except for a few aching muscles that were stressed in unfamiliar ways.  I’ll be stiff the rest of the day, and probably into the next as well.

I was surprised to look across the way this morning, with the tide out. Last night the water was up nearly to the sea wall.
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Damp, very windy.
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Another scallop wall. They’re everywhere.
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Our first look at the Torre de San Sadurniño, out on its Island.
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It looks so wide and tame here, but neither of us feel that confident crossing it.
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Someone can help me out here, I’m sure. Sorry it’s not more in focus - it’s too windy to hold the camera still.
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Bill ShaneyfeltGull... Species might be laughing gull. At least it matches images fairly well for nonbreeding adult.
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Laughing_Gull/id
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2 months ago
And one more, an egret of course.
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The Torre de San Sadurniño. When I have more time I’ll read upon it and its history. It makes me think of the ruined seaside tower at the tip of Cap Corse in Corsica, where I really did ruin my camera by flinging it on the rocks. That was awful - the first day of the tour.
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And back again, in a hurry - it’s starting to rain again.
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One more. Looks like a black and white somehow. A grey morning.
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Some of the houses here are reminding me of Portugal, which isn’t surprising - it’s only a days ride south of here.
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This afternoon

After our late morning walk we head straight to a restaurant for a late lunch. When it works out, as it does today, we’re going to make lunch the main meal of the day here rather than waiting for Spain’s very late supper hour.  It is lovely sitting inside this warm and welcoming place, watching people walk past the door beneath umbrellas.  Afterwards we return to the room to wait out the weather and hope for improvements.  Improvements do come by about six, bringing surprisingly sunny skies and leaving us a few hours to explore before sundown.  

We spend a wonderful next few hours, beginning with a short hike up to the mirador overlooking the town and a visit along the way to the somber  Ruins of Saint Mariña Dozo, the ruined former parish church that now is surrounded by a modest cemetery.  Its exposed arches remind us of Jedburgh and the other ruined abbeys in the British Borderlands.

The mirador is at the crown of small granite knoll, surrounded by a small wooded park.  It’s an impressive viewpoint, overlooking Cambados and Arousa Bay to the west, and the Umea Valley and the next peninsula to the south.  After leaving the viewpoint we take the long way back to town, following a reasonably well marked walking route that descends south through the vineyards to the Umea River and then follows the water back to town again.  A beautiful, roughly three mile loop.

Back in town, we return to the ruined Torre de San Sadurniño, enjoying a much more leisurely visit in the late afternoon sun.  while there, we are entertained by the interactions of a patient man walking with his small black dog.  Just as the man is ready to leave the island, his dog finds something irresistible in the shallows and starts digging furiously.  The man watches for a few minutes, then calls the dog and starts walking back across the causeway.

Nothing doing.  The dog isn’t about to abandon the rotting fish or bird or whatever prize he’d sniffed out, and continues digging.  The man comes back, and hurls a stick or rock for the dog to retrieve.  That works for a moment, in that it breaks his pet’s concentration - he chases the object, returns, but then immediately beelines back to the shallows to resume digging.

We leave the tower and island just before sundown, and head straight to restaurant row where we find an appealing tapas bar.  Misgauging, we over-order by choosing a cheese and meat plate and a revuelta (scrambled eggs) mixed with mushrooms and prawns.  The cheese and meat plate are huge!  We’re still learning how to gauge our servings by the price, and are still surprised by the results because meals are so inexpensive here.

Cambados is wonderful - just the right size, just the right aura, surrounded by beauty.  We fantasize about returning someday and use it as a base for a significantly longer stay.  We think envious thoughts about the young couple we met at breakfast and the fabulous year in store for them here.

I think this is just a prickly pear, but we’ve never seen one this colorful.
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Beneath the mirador stand the Ruins of Saint Mariña Dozo, the remains of Cambados’ original parish church. Built in the 12th century, it was later abandoned and fell roofless. Today it is listed as one of the Significant Cemetaries of Europe, and described as ‘the most melancholy cemetery in the world’.
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Climbing to the viewpoint, Mirador de A Pastora.
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Now I’m sure there pedunculate oaks, Bruce. The identification plate at the base gives it away.
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At the apex of the mirador, Rachael admires the view over the bay while I admire this splendid holm oak arching above her.
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Bruce LellmanThat oak could be way older than any of us would guess.
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2 months ago
The article describing the holm oak says it has dark grey, very cracked bark. Yup, this fits.
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The view south from the mirador. The ridge is the peninsula between this and the next bay, and tomorrow night’s destination, Pontavedra, is just on the other side. In the foreground is the Umea River, which we’re about to walk down to.
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Walking through the grapes down to the Umea River. This is a significant wine region.
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Scallop shells aren’t just a feature by the shore - here they highlight this vineyard estate.
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One willow, or two?
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Two. Like a lovers embrace.
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The Umea River. We’re walking in the other direction today, back toward town, but it looks like it would be a fine walk upriver also.
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We saw this view yesterday as well, but it’s worth seeing again in a different light.
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Back on the promenade in Cambados, on the hunt for a tapas joint.
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At A Casa de Lena: a few hams and a tempting tortilla.
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Patrick O'HaraHi Scott.
Looking at your pics of Cambados reminds Sus and I of our visit there only a couple of months ago. Looks like you are following a similar itinerary to us from our trip this year. As always, your journals are entertaining and informative, with stunning images. Your journals have become Susanna and I's bedtime reading. Tail Winds!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonWe were thinking of you when we were biking through here, and especially when we came to the ferry at A Guarda. After your experience I’d meant to check to make sure it was running, but never got around to it.
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekYikes! Watch those stumbles. Glad you caught yourself in time. The benefits of staying active and clean living, I suppose.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekGives me more credit than I deserve. Dumb luck, mostly.
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1 month ago