033 - Baiona part 2 - Spain/Galicia

From the very busy touristic area to the more untouched nature, this is the best part of Baiona, and it involves thousands of years old “writings”! Let’s discover!

Click here to see the map.

I loved so much going to the petroglyphs in Baiona, that I did the trip three times in the same year. This is why images in this article are looking like they are shot in different seasons (because they actually are). I will present the images as if you are also travelling from Baiona residential area, walking on the streets, getting in the forest and finally reaching the petroglyphs.

033.01 We start this adventure from the summer houses (up on the hill) in Baiona. From here we can see the clouds rising and going above the Cies Islands mountains. To the right we see the trees from Monterreal Castle (and a bit of the wall).

033.02 On many houses, we can find the Saint James Way or El Camino symbol (it both looks like a sunrise and a yellow shell) - this means that there is a church nearby that is part of the official route, or simply, you are now on the official route to Santiago de Compostela. Quite a few people start the route to Santiago de Compostela, from Baiona.

033.03 Speaking of churches, I found one in Baiona (on the Cruceiro street, close to the Pombal fountain), that is deserted. There is no entrance and you really have to be tall to see above the fence. Lucky me, I have a zoom lens so I could reach this beautiful, chapel in ruin. I wonder why they don’t maintain it.

033.04 Not that far from that church in ruins, we found kiwi trees (this is the very first time I saw kiwi outside the store. In fact I never knew they grew in trees - we don’t have that from where I am coming from). This is actually Spanish variant, and by that I mean that: first of all the fruit itself is yellowish and the hair on it is short and rare; second - when you cut it in half, is not kiwi green inside, but actually yellow… like a very well done pear; last - when you taste it, it is very, and I mean, very sweet with a hint of green kiwi taste. I still prefer the green kiwi over this one, but this one has seeds that are not that hard. Anyway, when I first saw them I did not know there are two variants, my wife actually told me (for her this wasn’t something new; far from it actually). 

033.05 Many houses will have either oranges (and see article about Vigo 036) or lemons. And these lemons are huge! Don’t they look just great? They actually taste good and can be eaten as they are. They can get really get sweet, specially if you know when to pick them (I took one that had fallen on the floor). Now I don’t think anybody is reading this text, but if there is one -> do not eat oranges unless you know for a fact that they are for consumption. In Vigo especially, orange trees can be found on the streets/boulevards. Those are not for eating, or at least this is what several people told me. Perhaps, same thing can be said about the lemon trees found in Baiona, however I did take a few times from the ground and made tea with them and did not get sick or something. The oranges I never tried because they told me at the hotel from day one. 

033.06 Probably there are more exotic fruits in Baiona, in gardens or even on the streets, but I will share this last image (on the topic): banana tree, and it’s flower is opening. Just like with the kiwi, I never saw in real life a banana tree and the most shocking aspect of it was the flower - it is huge and very odd looking. I fact, I first saw that huge bulb and wondered what it could be. There was nobody to ask about, so I just took the picture. Back home I did some investigation and … I was shocked I did not look better at it :)) This very common kids fruit, that most of us eat all year around, was right there in front of me.

033.07 I think this is a terrace for vineyard/grapes, in ruins. My immediate thought was -> wow this is a first! Usually vineyards are being used from generation to generation, but in this example, clearly a few family members decided to never bother and instead they do something else or even live in a different place. I wonder if they left for America as most do in western Europe. I wish I had a vineyard that looked like this, with stone floors, raising like stairs in an amphitheatre. I would clear the vines and the bad herbs and remake the walls that are damaged, make a Motel Villa, and have people stay and enjoy their time.

033.08 Baiona in December. So dreamy and beautiful! I guess is self understood that in this part of Galicia we won’t be skiing anytime soon. In fact is enough warm to enjoy frozen yogurt (all year).

033.09 This image has two architectural symbols of Galicia: the traditional stone farm house (made only with stones, no paint, no insulation materials on the outside, no big windows, but with beautiful ceramic on the roof) and the “hórreo” that is a granary usually found everywhere in Galicia and Asturias.

033.10 Just like in Oia (Mougas - article 030) in Baiona also we will find horses, however they don’t roam as free or at least we don’t see them on the paths. I personally did not see any and went on paths towards the forest quite a few times. I took this picture for the beauty of the horse but also to provide another example of horreo building (granary), seen to the right of the image. Also did you see the pumpkins?

033.11 Here is picture of another horse, this time in December, heavy breathing in the cold morning. I really tried hard to get that V shape exhale from the horse, plus the heavy light shinning his right side.

033.12 Patiently waiting for nothing bad to happen - perhaps you already saw it in the news that summer time can be very dangerous in Spain/Portugal, in the forest. This is one of those reasons why people of Galicia, prefer tourists to stay to the beaches/pubs area and don’t venture into the mountains. However, please don’t smoke in any forest…

033.13 We are getting closer and closer to the petroglyphs, and we even found a sign telling us where to go. In fact, this is exactly how I found out about the old writings. I was planning just a walk in the forest, using maps.me application (that I do not recommend anymore), trying out my 70-300mm lens, hoping for some eagles or rare birds. Then, just like that I got in front of this sign. Nobody from work/town told me about this and… I understand why, I am a stranger, from another country, I could set the forest on fire… Still, this is the reason why doing research on the internet (in native language) can be better than just to rely on what the Hotel reception or even Tourist Info Point.

033.14 The paths in the forest can get really wide. I suspect they are made and maintained like this to be easily accessible in case of wildfires (more on that in another article). Or maybe so that a school bus can get here…

033.15 Out of nowhere we reach an opening in the forest there are little info signs and a bunch of uncovered rocks - plus one big stone cliff.

033.16 At approximatively 190 meters above sea level we find 30 rock surfaces, including this huge facade, that present markings, older than 4000 years. There is a wooden path to walk on, so please respect it (say that to your kids also). There is no supervision or entry fee or anything like that, but I suspect somebody does watches from some webcams somewhere. However it is great to visit such a great place, as if it was 100 yrs ago or more. Free and in Peace.

033.17 Mostly, these are animal shapes carved in stone (horses, sheep/goat, cattle, deer). It all seems like a calendar that counts how many herds have passed through here each season - giving an idea of the prosperity of the region. It is like at my countryside where there are for each little village, one herder and they talk about the population of cattle/sheep and and pasture. Also carved on stone we see a fish like symbol, that so far has no known signification but it is the symbol of this petroglyphs site . While to the left side there are clear symbols representing various 4 legged animals, on the right side we see more abstract shapes that are believed to be also sheep or horse/deers.

033.17 The animals are represented very simplistic, some with just 3 lines (2 for the legs, and one horizontal for the body). Others are more in detail, with all 4 legs, a tail and even head with ears - this one looks like a donkey to me, but could be a cattle or a horse. There are plenty information panels, that describe some of the symbols (especially the animal looking ones) but in most cases (as of 2017) most things about this site, is surrounded in mystery.

033.18 The view from the plateau is very beautiful with high hills filled with trees that are all year, green. Here we actually see a plantation of a new forest (maybe because of a wildfire).

033.19 Initially I went to the forest for a nice walk in nature and hoping the chance to see some bugs/birds. This is the first “catch” of the day: Plumbago auriculata - native to South Africa. I like how when there is not much wind, a telephoto lens can really make small flowers fill the photo. I try to focus on petals and on the stamen/pistil area and decide home which one is better. Usually I prefer the petals.

033.20 This is a more native flower - Laurel-Leaf Cistus. Here I picked the photo version with the focus on the stamen.

033.21 These are very beautiful and filled with hard working bees (I wasn’t so lucky to get a good shot of any bee or bumblebee) and the name of this plant is Heather (Calluna Vulgaris). Interesting name… I must have heard it plenty in movie series (especially those with USA law enforcements - Agent Heather etc) but never knew it was the name of a flower.

033.21 Walking away from the Petroglyphs, we can either return to Baiona main area using the same road or continue towards the reservoir (lake) - here we see the side with the dam of the fresh water Embalse de Baina (I think the running water in Baiona comes from here).

033.22 This image of Embalse de Baina was done in 2017, probably the water level of the lake is very much different today, most likely lower than this. Even here we see how low the water got in autumn. Usually in the summer, people take good care of their water consumption, but not as drastic as in other parts of Spain.

033.23 And where is water, there are also dragon flies - this is a photo of Roseate skimmer who apparently is native to the Americas.

033.24 While walking back to Baiona, we reached the houses areas and here we spot this beautiful and quite still Boyeria dragonfly -> named after Etienne Laurent Joseph Hippolyte Boyer de Fonscolombe (this is one of the longest french name I found so far… usually Spanish/Portuguese people have such big names).

033.25 While trying to take photos of bees (bumblebees) I heard fast movement in the not so far bushes. And voila! this beautiful rabbit was silently watching us (me and my wife) struggling with the camera.

033.26 Just a few images above we saw the 4000 years old petroglyphs counting the population of animals that people owned across the years, and here is an image with a little herd of sheep (actually there were some goats also to the right side, but I decided to crop on these sheep instead).

033.27 We are finally back at the touristic area of Baiona, on the beach that separates it from Nigran (which is on display right now). I might feature this city in the next article, or Cies Islands… i did not make-up my mind yet.

Since I finished the articles on Baiona, it is perhaps time to make a recap:

First of all, I gave it 4 stars because it has everything that is great about a summer vacation: sand, sea, fortress, great food, plenty of places to go if there is bad weather outside, mysteries to see (petroglyphs), unforgettable sunset walks, ocean trips to visit some islands, close to lighthouse, close to camping, close to … It is even a great place to start the El Camino trip to Santiago de Compostela.

In fact, instead of saying again in 50 images why Baiona is great, perhaps I should say why it is not great: well, it is hard to get here… sort of.

First you must land on either Porto Airport (in Portugal, article on this website: 006) or in Santiago de Compostela (future article on website).

Then, let’s say you go to Santiago de Compostela, because there are more ways to get to Baiona = plenty of fast and regular trains (less than 1h) to Vigo (all of these, feature articles). From Vigo you can take the bus ATSA (if it is still called like that) from across the street from Mc Donalds (Av. Gran Via). I think it is 4e the ticket so have some cash on you, the ticket is bought from the driver. I took the bus many times (I used to work in Vigo, but lived in Baiona). From Santiago to Baiona, there are plenty choices to come to Baiona, regardless of the hour (even cab is not expensive). You could also go to Madrid, and from there to Vigo (this is what I was doing).

From Porto there is a train to Braga, and from Braga another train to Vigo… but that one is tricky to get and you might need to spend the night in Porto -> just see articles 006-007 if is that the case.

I really recommend Baiona, and as you could see, there are plenty of things to do here even in December! Hard to say that about other locations…

Thank you very much for reading or going through this article, or any from this website and we do hope this helped you in some way!

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Source: https://www.elespanol.com/treintayseis/articulos/actualidad/de-donde-viene-el-nombre-de-baiona-el-origen-del-toponimo

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