COMING TO BAIONA
After doing one last minute shopping in Santiago de Compostela, we left the city early Friday afternoon. It was cloudy and cold, and the way to Baiona did not make our trip more pleasant. Along the way, we passed by bigger places like Pontevedra and Vigo, but it was impossible to park there, so we just drove through. We also tried in a small coastal village called Arcade, but it was also nothing. We drove along the coast, made few wrong turns, until we were both getting tired. Finally, after driving about 125 kilometers, we reached Baiona, our last chance to stop. Luckily we were able to find a parking with view of the sea. It was a rather small mix-parking infront of Playa Santa Marta, which is about 600 meters from the center. Services for RVs like water is available at the Repsol tank station opposite the parking area. We stayed here undisturbed, together with one more RV, for two stormy nights (November 20-21, 2015).
Campsite : Rua Santa Marta 36300 Baiona, Spain
Coordinates : N: 42.11415 W 8.83821
CHARMING TOWN OF BAIONA
Baiona is a coastal tourist town in the province of Galicia. With an area of 36.35 sq.km, its population of 12,000 (2014), rises up to 45,000 in the summer. Honestly, we did not know what to expect when we came here. We haven’t read anything about it; just planned to stay the ngiht and then drive again further. But the town has surprised us. It was charming, with history and also cozy.
Baiona has a historical center or an old town, which was declared as a Historical and Artistic Interest in 1993 by the Xunta de Galicia. Walking around it has cost us just less than two hours. Walking the nice beach promenade along Avenida Montereal, we passed by the Puerto pesquero and estacion maritime before we arrived at the Tourist office, which is situated near the MonteReal Fort. From there, we went to the old town via Plaza Abastos where we immediately passed by one of its old churches, the Dominican Convent, which has an altar piece of Our lady of Annunciation, the town’s patron saint. We just let ourselves got lost in the old town’s small winding streets, which were all paved, by the way. There were lots of small bars and restaurants along the way, which came to life later in the afternoon. Continuing our walk, we came to Plaza de Santa Liberata, a rather big space where two of major old churches are located: the12th century Ex-Collegiate Church of Mary and the St. Liberata’s Sanctuary, dedicated to St. Liberata, the first Christian woman to receive martyrdom on the cross. We had a short break in one of the cafes here in the square. Afterwards, we followed the way to the Blessed Virgin on the Rock, a 15-meter high statue built in 1930, portraying the Virgin Mary carrying a boat in her right hand. The way to the Virgin of the Rock (Virgen dela Roca) was magnificent, offering us vantage points of the sea and the Fort. There are crosses for stations of the cross along the way. As usual, Hans and I took the wrong path, but nevertheless, we arrived at our target destination. It was very windy up in the hills and very cold too! There was a possibility to climb the Virgin statue for 1.50 euro. We did. We climbed the very narrow spiral stairs and came out in the small boat which the Virgin holds. The view up there was very impressive and magnificent. However, we did not stay there for long because of very hard wind. Besides, the height made me dizzy!
THE CASTILLO DE MONTE REAL
Another major attraction which is not to be missed in Baiona is the Castillo de Monte Real. This 16th century old castle was built to defend the town from its enemies and pirates. At present, a very luxe 4-star hotel, the Parador de Baiona, is built within its walls. Located on the Monte Boi peninsula with an area of 18 hectares and surrounded by 3 kilometers of battlement walls, the castle or fort has been occupied by many settlers and has been as a walled precinct for the past hundred years. Hans and I enjoyed an almost 2-hour stroll along the walls of the castle. The paths were good, but we had to take good care not to walk too near the edge of the walls. We started our walk by entering the Main gate or the Phillip IV gate, and then followed a clockwise route around the bastions (again, the ideal is doing the stroll in counter-clockwise manner).
Anyway, it was a leisurely walk, we passed by many interesting bastions, towers, batteries, and gates, and even old canons. Our walk brought us to the Parador de Baiona, which I mentioned earlier. We went inside and wanted to have a drink there, using the Pintxo route. The interior was grand and chique, but the bar was not to our liking, so we just continued our walk, passing the old canons and the chapel. All the while, we had grand views of the sea and the beaches too! The castle is really a must when you are in Baiona.
LAST NIGHT IN BAIONA AND SPAIN
What better way to spend our last night in Spain than to watch a football game. And coincidentally, during our last night in Baiona, there was a an El Clasico game, between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It was even difficult to find a good bar because almost all of the bars were full for the game. We went in one of the inner streets and found a small bar called Café-Bar Begonia. We stayed here and watched the whole game. Incidentally, the owner has lived a long time in Arnhem (Netherlands) and could speak good Dutch. We received from her two small Spanish omelette on the house. It was a bit quiet in the bar because all of the guests were fans of Real Madrid, who lost by 0-4 against Barcelona . After an interesting football night, we went back to the camper, had another drink, and spent one more rainy night in town, hoping that the weather would improve the following day, as we were about to enter Portugal.