9. Sep, 2021


THURSDAY 09-09-21

Thankfully I did manage to get some sleep last night, though I did still need to keep up my medication of 2x600mg Nurofen +2x300mg Asprin as required, though I doubt it will do my liver much good.

My first job this morning was to drive the vehicle back a bit before putting the levelling blocks in front of the two front wheels. We were in fact tilting in two directions but as we wanted a nice hot shower, I just got it almost level back to front so that the shower tray would clear. At  08:00 I was greeted by a very dull, damp drizzly morning. Never mind we'll soon be away from this coast.

The weather forecast for today was for rain, some quite heavy, beginning at 15:00 and lasting for the rest of the day. Therefore we deemed it prudent to get going as soon as we were ready and try and finish walking our circular tour before the worst of the rain fell.

We were off at about 10:45 with me armed with the backpack containing our macs and waterproof over-trousers etc. First we followed the promenade where locals were huffing and puffing up and down to keep fit and show off their latest Spanish fashion trend - a face mask worn over the upper arm. Not worn, just secured there. We passed a nice looking lido next to a small beach next to the sea. We have always been impressed at how the Spanish authorities do provide facilities for their citizens, especially sports facilities.

So a bit about A Coruna:

A Coruña is a port city on a promontory in the Galicia region of northwest Spain. It’s known for its Roman lighthouse, the Tower of Hercules, which has sweeping coastal views. In the medieval old town is the arcaded Plaza de María Pita, surrounded by narrow pedestrianised lanes. In this square is the Estatua de María Pita, a statue of a 16th-century woman who warned the town of an invasion by Sir Francis Drake.

A Coruña spread from the peninsula where the Tower of Hurcules stands, onto the mainland. The oldest part, known popularly in Galician as Cidade Vella (Old City), Cidade Alta (High City) or the Cidade (City), is built on an ancient Celtic castro. It was supposedly inhabited by the Brigantes and Artabrians, the Celtic tribes of the area

The Romans came to the region in the 2nd century BC; they made the most of the strategic position and soon the city became quite important in maritime trade. In 62 BC Julius Caesar came to the city (known at the time as Brigantium) in pursuit of the metal trade, establishing commerce with what are now France, England and Portugal. The town began to grow, mainly during the 1st and 2nd centuries (when the Farum Brigantium Tower of Hurcules was built), but declined after the 4th century and particularly with the incursions of the Vikings, which forced the population to flee towards the interior of the Estuary of O Burgo.

The city was a port and centre for the manufacturing of textiles. In 1520, king Carlos 1 of Spain, met in the courts of A Coruña and embarked from its harbour to be elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (as Charles V). He allowed the government of the Kingdom of Galicia to distribute spice in Europe between 1522 and 1529. Commerce with the Indies was allowed between 1529 and 1575. San Antón Castle was built as a defence of the city and its harbour.

From the port of Ferrol in the Province of A Coruña, Philip II left to marry Mary Tudor in 1554, and much later, in 1588, from the same port the Spanish Armada would set sail to the Spanish Netherlands and England.

In the following year, during the Anglo-Spanish War, Francis Drake besieged A Coruña, but was repelled, starting the legend of María Pita, a woman who took her dead husband's spear, killed the flag bearer of the British forces and rallied support to deny a breach in the wall to the enemy.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the wars of the Spanish monarchy caused a great increase in taxes and the start of conscription. In 1620, Philip III created the School of the Boys of the Sea. In 1682 the Tower of Hercules was restored by Antúnez.

The city is also well known for its characteristic glazed window balconies, called galerías. Originally, this type of structure came about as a naval architecture solution for the challenging weather, particularly designed for rainy days. This fashion started in nearby Ferrol in the 18th century when some of the technicians working for the Royal Dockyards had the idea of using the shape of the back of a warship in a modern building. Soon afterward, most seaports in northern Spain, were adding these glazed window balconies to their city-port houses.

Picasso lived here as a child and there’s a trail you can follow, from the family home on Calle Payo Gomez to the shop where a teenage Pablo had his first exhibition.

Global high street brand ‘Zara’ was born in the city and the first Zara store opened in 1975 at Calle Juan Florez 64, and is still trading.

Next it was in to the Old Town, which was all very nice. In the Plaza Maria Pita we found the very grand Town Hall outside which under its colonnade we sought refuge from quite a heavy rain shower listening to the clock tower chime mid-day, not 15:00 as the weather forecasters had predicted/guessed.

In the square stood a statue to Maria Pita, a woman who was some kind of hero and who I believe the Greeks named a bread after.

After the rain eased off we walked up and down a few back streets before deciding we should look for some lunch. I don't do sea food, apart from a bit of cod or haddock, and my darling Chef developed an allergy to shellfish a few year ago, which has resulted in her carrying her EPI Pens with her whenever we go out and may possibly eat. So we have to be careful where we eat and try to avoid eating places where there could be a risk of cross-contamination in the kitchens.

In the end we sat in a small eatery and had a filled roll each, a cake and coffees. I normally drink tea, but being mindful that so many people have their own ideas of what a good cup of tea looks and tastes like, I normally go for coffee when I'm out. A simple drink that has now been turned in to a science since some inventor or other came up with a machine that can grind beans boil water and froth milk. Well our coffees were frothed all right. In mean, who the hell invented frothy coffee? Who sat in the test laboratory sucking in coffee flavoured froth and thought it a good idea? Ours was nearly all froth which meant mine was all sucked before I had even started on my cake. I think in future I'll just ask for a black coffee. There's not much they can do to begger that up.

After lunch we went in search of the Marina an area where we, according to the information on the back of our free tourist map, would find the 'Marina Gallery Windows'. Having found them we weren't too impressed, though the man that gets the contract to replace them all with uPVC double glazed units will be a rich man when he's finished. Apparently it was shipbuilders back up the road in Ferrol who came up with the idea of boxing them in as they had been doing something similar on sailing ships to protect the rear, probably, Captains cabins from the wind and rain for years.

By now it was pouring down, our bottom halves were getting really wet which served us right as we hadn't stopped to put on our over-trousers. Never mind, we were British and used to this kind of weather, though I was suspecting that we'd need to hang everything in the bathroom when we got back and whack on the hot-air central heating to dry them out.

Our next navigation challenge was to cross to the other side of the peninsular  and return past a long lovely beach and  back to where we started from. We got lost naturally, but sorted it out at just about the same time as the sun came out. The first time we'd seen it all day. Lucky for us it was bright and strong enough to dry our clothes out as we walked along.

Just before we got back I took a few more pictures of 'The Tower of Hercules', a Roman lighthouse, and the main reason I thought A Coruna would be interesting. Do you remember the 'Only Fools & Horses' episode where road sweeper Trigger gets an award from the Council for making his broom last so long, despite him telling Del Boy that it had had 17 new heads and 14 new handles in its life? Well, we carry two guidebooks to Spain, one is the 'Eyewitness Travel' book 'cos it's easier to take in the information, being full of maps and pictures as well as text, and the 'Rough Guide to Spain', which is a harder read but contains far more information. So there I was thinking that this grand structure, surely the 'Trump Tower' of its day was a magnificent example of Roman engineering when in fact it is the outer shell built in the 18th century. There isn't a Roman stone to be seen. I imagine the builders working on the project took the originals home with them and now have grand rockeries in their gardens.

So that's us done with A Coruna. My darling Chef has, on reflection decided she doesn't want to go back and take a look at the coastline back up the road because unless the road passes right by the sea she won't see anything anyway, plus there will likely be the mist and rain interfering with visibility should she even see it. That decision will save us up to two days and about 200  miles, much of it the very challenging coastal road.

So tomorrow we are off to Santiago de Compostella, maybe I'll get to give some of the pilgrims who walk there from miles away, a good beating with a big stick to complete their penance. I think I will now close this 'chapter' and start a new one as we now begin to work our way inland.