OK, so it’s hardly a patch on James Bond’s strapline, but hey, I’m quite chuffed that I’m now legal – I can fish anywhere I like off the coast of Spain, and nobody can stop me! If only I knew how to get any of those fish out of the damn water, it would be fantastic. Cue Youtube searches for ‘sea fishing in the Atlantic’, ‘fishing for mackerel off a boat’, and other such desperate attempts to learn how to snatch just one of the buggers for tea.
Half a dozen people have told me I must go and get a fishing license now that I’ve got a boat in the water here, so I decided to have a go at a pastime that until now I’ve never once in my life bothered with. I never liked the idea of sleeping in a tent at Wesport lake with a rod in the water to catch something I’d definitely never put in my mouth. People love their fish here. We’re in coastal Galicia and it’s not just food, it’s part of the culture. Which I suppose that brings me to the point of today’s blog. What’s this place they call Galicia all about, and why did I want to come and live here? Well you could write a long series of articles about that subject, but for now I’ll try to give you a taster of what I think is so special about it. You never know, for those of you from overseas or from other regions of Spain, it might convince to you to come and take a trip over here to see for yourselves. And for anyone I know from the local area, I hope you’ll be proud that an Englishman like me came to Galicia and loved what he found…
There’s the obvious: La Lanzada, 2.5km of golden sand home to surfers and sunseekers alike, and a host of other blue-flag beaches from the sheltered coves like the stunning Paxariñas (little birds), to the beautiful boulders of San Vicente and its numerous beaches connected by a boardwalk that runs around the rocks along the coast. There are many, many more; these are just some of the best in the area in which I’m lucky enough to find myself.
And there’s the less obvious: as you veer off the main roads, and into the lanes that connect the villages (por dentro), you’re just as likely to meet a tractor and trailer full of potatoes, or corn, or seaweed (depending on the time of year) as you are a pedestrian. This region, as well as having the allure of the coastline, boasts some lovely countryside, much of which is farmed – not by commercial farmers with hundreds of acres or a huge herd of cows (is it a herd of cows?), but by the local people, who make it their lifestyle to grow their own in fields of their own. It really is ‘the good life’, the kind of thing that UK city-dwellers eager to escape the smoke would swoon over. It’s fresh tomatoes, that have so much more taste than the crap we get served up at the supermarkets, lettuce onions, potatoes,and neighbours with orchards of trees bearing fruits from average apples and oranges to kiwis. And the best thing, perhaps, is how basically everyone grows the local grape – from the vines of the renowned Albariño – and makes their own house wine…to varying degrees of quality depending on whose house you’re in, of course!
There are dozens of other reasons I love the ‘Rias Baixas’ – the name given to the region thanks to the inland estuaries that are also the haven for its wealth of seafood. But just one thing to add for now. You get all of the above, and so much more, and you don’t get ripped off. This is not like the South of France. There are huge million pound yachts in some of the marinas. But here, you can go out for a coffee for a couple of Euros (and I haven’t seen a Starbucks since I left the UK, thank God). The only thing I don’t seem to be able to get away from is Brexit. Thanks to Gibraltar, it’s on the TV here now, too.