032 - Baiona city - Spain/Galicia

Ocean, islands, fortress, petroglyphs, fish, burgers, beautiful sand, long beaches, mountains to climb and the best frozen yogurt. Now what is the name of that place? Baiona! OK, let’s discover!

Click here to see the map.

This article would have been too long if not split in half (and even so…).

This first part will focus mostly on Baiona itself with the beaches, fortress and other places, while in the second part we explore the more rural and natural area of Baiona.

032.1 This view represents most of Baiona, in just one picture. To the left we see the statue of the The Virgin of the Rock looking over the ocean at 100m above sea level. To the opposite side we see the Monterreal Baiona fortress, and in the middle a big football field (major sport/entertainment in Spain).

032.2 For many, the main attraction in Baiona is the Monterreal Castle (the fortress). It is a place filled with legends, very well maintained, built upon other fortified settlement (pre-dating the ancient romans).

032.3 The fortress lies on a peninsula, with a hill in the middle, surrounded by the ocean, and by well preserved two rows of walls. It is a signature look for Baiona, however this is not my absolute favourite part of the city. That will come up in the second article.

032.4 From late spring to early autumn, there is a visiting fee however it is really small (back in 2018, cash was needed) and it is totally worth it. This is the main gate, and be careful, many cars do come here, as there is a hotel (named Parador).

032.5 We can walk outside of the walls while being very close to the ocean, or on top of the inner walls and even inside the main area, where the hotel is found.

032.6 As of 2018, I don’t think we could walk inside the little forest, unless we are talking about goats. It is strange that here there aren’t hundreds of small houses, all crammed inside the walls, protected from outsiders and instead we find hundreds of trees. I guess royals here really hated others to be near them… weird how that goes, and how today we find the same … democratic… behaviour in EU.

032.7 Walking on the fortress walls I did not get the feeling (as in Obidos 012) of “wow I can easily imagine people walking here 500 years ago (or more)”. Even so, in this place, there has been a fortified structure since Julius Caesar (who actually conquered it). The one we can see today, dates the 16th century and it is mostly well preserved with many towers still in place. It was even a private residence until it returned to the state who gave it to another wealthy to make it into a … paying hotel + paying visiting place :) 

032.8 There are beautiful views over Baiona and Nigran (more on that later), and sometimes even dolphins can be spotted, jumping out of the water. Here we can see the alley that goes around the Fortress, at ocean level (count more than 4h if you wish to do both). There are also towers along the walls, and plenty places to take pictures.

032.9 Ermida da Nosa Señora do Carme

032.10 This is the first place I visited when I got to Spain (my very first time outside of my country, for more than a month). Here I first really meet my best friend, who later became my wife and mother of our children.  Walking along these walls, we got in love, just like some local legends, however we did not suffer the same faith as the prince and his maiden :)) Our story has a happy ending. Read the legend, as always at the end of the article.

032.11 This hotel can be visited, is just I don’t really know if I must book a night. There aren’t really signs saying, tourists come here! In fact, in Galicia and especially in the region between A Guarda and A Coruna -> there are no signs for tourists. Like we said in the previous articles, Galician people prefer strangers to stay in the beach area and not go in more private/sacred places.

032.12 Parador is actually a company, that uses historic places in Spain (and Portugal) as luxury hotels. You would be amazed to find some really good deals on Booking.com (like 80e per night) that will allow one to spend the night where only royals could (prior to early 1900s) and enjoy local food (like pulpos and churros - maybe not churros, but definitely pulpos). In this photo, to the left, we see the Prince Tower, featured in the legend at the end of the article. 

032.13 There are many more sights here, on the fortified peninsula, such as canons, towers, a paid telescope to see the Cies Islands, but the most amazing thing I ever saw in my life, concerning caterpillars -> on Christmas of 2017 -> these caterpillars were almost everywhere on the fortress walls.

032.14 They were in the hundreds, all marching one after the other one, in one continuous line, that in some places was longer than 20-30 meters. It was really impressive!!! Needles to say we made dozens of photos and videos. I never saw this before! I don’t know if this phenomena is happening every December, however it is something that you must see to believe! There are also large cocoons in the trees, big as a rugby ball, and those also can be spotted while walking on the fortified wall. 

032.15 Winter in Baiona is pretty awesome, a lot calmer than summer, with fog almost every morning, frozen yogurt every day, some community activity almost every evening and a great feeling of: “I wish to grow old here!”

032.16 Summer in Baiona -> now that is a totally different story. The resort is packed like nothing else and if you own a car, it will take ages to find parking. Best is to come by bus here (there is no train).

032.17 Hundreds of boats will port here in Baiona, with the recreation of the ship La Pinta being the only one that sits alone. The original ship (La Pinta) was one of the fastest used by Christopher Columbus in his first transatlantic voyage. On 1st of March 1493, this boat reaches first mainland Europe, more specifically, Baiona, and bears news of the discovery of the Americas. This means that Baiona, is the first European city, to first find out about the Americas.

032.18 There is also a commemorative plate for both La Pita and the new Scarlet Knight (the first submersible robot glider to cross the Atlantic Ocean).

032.19 Baiona is right next to Nigran, and they do share a huge sandy beach - here is low tide. This is yet another big reason for hundreds if not thousands coming to Baiona every summer. This beach will soon be filled, at 110% by tourists - see article on Nigran 035.

032.20 Baiona is not your typical fisherman town, it was and still is an important resort in Galicia, being one of the two ports to be first allowed to make trade outside Spain. (the second one is A Coruna)

032.21 Not sure if we can rent a smaller, more private boat, however if you are sea sick, we advise to take the big boat (we took a smaller one to Ons Islands and it really wasn’t that funny after half an hour). We will see more on 034 Cies Islands article.

032.22 We will get to have a better look at Cies Islands in article 034 but just remember that you can walk along the coast, towards the lighthouse, or you can ride a bike, or take an electric scooter, or even drive and park in the many areas designed for picnic. 

032.23 This view is signature of Galicia - white windows, split into dozens of smaller square/rectangle glass, also framed in white. To the left we see a monument of Alfonso IX of León. Also Bico de Xeado is my favorite frozen yogurt (simple).

032.24 What I do love the most is the ability to ride the bicycle close to the ocean (for many kilometres/miles as seen in previous two articles), enjoy mountain and sandy beaches, and as a bonus, the food here is diverse, great in many ways, and on top of all, there is frozen yogurt almost everyday, even in winter time. And I also love Gauffres de Liege (and not because my wife is Belgian). My wife prefers the frozen yogurt and the pulpos, that are really good!

032.25 However good the food might be, and however slow you wish to eat, watch out for these guys. There are plenty videos, with the seagulls entering shops, and instead of stealing the chips on the tables (in Galicia, while waiting for food or drinks, they serve free chips or olives or some hard to eat asian snacks), or stealing the chips on display outside, no… they enter the stores, and find the ones they like, and leave with those. Then fly across the street and open the bag of chips using their beak and the asphalt :)) While I did not see this live happening, I did see seagulls pretty close, at restaurants, coffee shops etc. opening bags, and eating from them. Many seagulls will wait for the thief to steal and open the bag, and after that the fight begins. They are a protected species here, and they somehow know that.

032.26 Another thing to watch out while in Galicia, is the sunset. Since the article about A Guarda (028), I did not stop saying that it is a blessing every day to see such a beautiful sky, for many minutes, almost everyday (if there are no heavy clouds or fog) and it is one of those things that I miss a lot (both me and my wife). We have dozens if not hundreds of photos of sunsets, one more beautiful than the other.

032.27 Then, even better, is to take the bicycle (you can rent by the way), and on a summer day, start pedalling from 19 a clock, to 21 or so, and catch that sunset close to the Lighthouse (article 031). It won’t get dark for another 20 minutes or so, enough time to be back to Baiona in a no-stopping manner.

032.28 Combine the sunset with the powerful healing lavender smell (found all over Baiona) and if you will visit Baiona, and look at your photos in a few years, you will still “feel the perfume” as you scroll on your photo library. 

032.29 If I would not have visited Sintra, or Mont Saint Michel (in France, future article) I would have put Baiona as the most romantic place to visit in this side of Western Europe. Great atmosphere, diverse beaches, plenty things to do even on bad weather (as we shall see in the next articles), lots of food choices from traditional, Asian, Italian and more. The only downside is if you have rooms up on the hill. Tired after a day at the beach… is not that easy to climb steep roads to reach the top, where most summer houses are. However, those houses have private pools, and that water is actually great during summer. Cannot say I enjoy the cold Atlantic water, not even in super hot days (it is almost never super hot here, unlike in some other southern areas of Portugal, Spain).

032.30 It is time to finish this article, and continue with another side of Baiona, one that most tourists don’t know about, and yes… you can also visit and see these things (maybe not all, but most). This image is my first long exposure photo that I did with my (back then) new camera. I was waiting for my wife to come from the hotel booking, while I was trying to catch on camera my first ever really beautiful sunset. (from where I come from, these sunsets are rare, and they last just a few minutes, enough to loose if I waste time looking at the camera. Here however I had enough time to tryout many things, like this long exposure)

Thank you very much for seeing this article, and please remember to check Baiona part two -> we will see 2000 yrs old writings.


Source: https://misteriosleyendasdegaliciayasturias.wordpress.com/2019/10/04/castillo-fortaleza-de-monterreal-baiona-pontevedra/

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