Friday 30th September
Up and away early before breakfast, but stopped for the usual “empty the facilities” whilst we have the chance!! Then out of a rather quiet Valladolid, probably too early for the locals.
Autovia all the way and apart for a couple of “aborted” stops for gas, it was a reasonable run arriving at our motorhome pitch around 1400hrs.
Lunch was had before we checked in and wandered into the historic part of the town. We did have a shock when we paid for our two nights though; €59 (including IVA), but we are in a marina car park in the heart of everything.
From our parking spot we can see the ramparts surrounding the old town so when we set off we “marched” straight up a steep hill interspersed with steps. At the top we wandered around the quaint narrow streets but being a Friday afternoon, rather chilly and rain was threatening, there weren’t many people about, but still enjoyable.
A Coruna is a small peninsula dominated by the historic centre with much of the original ramparts still visible but the narrow strip of land leading up to it has been completely built on and merges into the old town. We eventually came across the main square dominated by the town hall, but again not the bustling place one normally finds in Spain. Today the most active thing going on was the erection of a stage, council depositing dustbins and crash barriers being erected; tomorrow must be a “big” day in A Coruna. Apart from a gentle stroll to get our bearings, we were also looking for a nice restaurant for tomorrow, being our last leisurely day before setting sail to our new life back in England. This was quite difficult as all the restaurants were closed so had to make do with a couple of beers instead; tomorrow is another day.
Returning, we couldn’t face walking up and over the big hill through the old town so elected to take the flat way, walking along the harbour and passing two marinas; though longer it was flat!!!
Back in Rosie we settled down to watch a film but half way through the ‘phone rang, it was a very excited Ashleigh, she had been to a graduate assessment centre for a very large international logistics company and out of a roomful of candidates, was offered a placement. We also had a drink to celebrate. Ashleigh suffered through her University years due to Covid, she didn’t get to enjoy the normal “life” associated with university and worse, her freshman’s year was spent at home!!! Under these tough regulations she did well to achieve a law degree, well done Ashleigh, and good luck in your new career.
We resumed the film then hit the sack, tomorrow we’re going to look for the tomb of Sir John Moore and other things.
Saturday 1st October
No rush this morning, sightseeing and a nice lunch is our itinerary for today.
As I stated in an earlier post, I have wanted to come here for a number of yeas mainly due to my time at school. I was always fond of history and had an interest in the time around the “Peninsular war” and also as a part of English, had to learn Charles Wolfe’s poem, “The burial of Sir John Moore”; first verse:-
Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried,
not a soldier discharged his farewell shot,
o’er the grave where our hero we buried
I could go on with the next 7-verses, but I won’t!!! So great excitement to visit his tomb.
Leaving Rosie we headed out to the “Castelo de Santo Anton”, the 16th century fort constructed to protect the harbour and part of a network of forts to defend the city and the region of Galicia. This fort was declared a Historic-Ancient Monument in 1949 and since 1994 has been considered a site of Cultural Interest. Additionally since 1968 it houses the Archaeological and Historical Museum of A Coruna and though there are many interesting artefacts stretching back to Roman times, all descriptions are in Spanish and in their own local language, “Galician”, so short of using Google translate at every artefact which would take months!!! We had to make educated guesses, which we did and enjoyed it. One interesting commentary was the Spanish “take” on the Armada 1588 and no doubt taught in schools so I did a Google translate and their “take” on the outcome if anyone is interested is at the end of todays blog.
Like many other similar monuments there are the usual medieval lookouts and old cannons, manicured gardens etc., but from the top one had a wonderful view of the bay and harbour; these medieval chaps knew a thing or two!!! The only issue for us was getting to the top. We had to climb up this very narrow spiral stone staircase and what with our collective bone issues it was a challenge to get up however, getting back down was worse. It was a good job it was quiet, we didn’t want to meet others either going up or coming down!!!!
Having done the fort it was time to head up the hill to the “Xardin de of San Carlos”, for me one of the reasons to be here was to see the tomb of General Sir John Moore which is in this park. Having puffed our way up the hill, we found the gates were locked and chained👹👹 but there was an arrow pointing round the corner, but opposite was Bar, so a rather late mid-morning coffee was had.
Refreshed we set off, following the arrow around the corner, nothing!!! Round another corner we did find another entrance but no, the gates were also locked; what’s going on?? So I didn’t get to see his tomb🥵🥵🥵🥵. Maybe the locals heard me “scoff” at their story about the Armada and had their own back by preventing me entering the aforementioned park 🤔🤔🤔. Something to do when we return!!
We then strolled through another part of the old town and arrived in the main square. The good news; today it was vibrant with restaurants opening, so after studying several menus selected a very nice, classy one. Being the first in I was a little anxious, it’s never nice to be the only diners, the mind wanders and you start wondering what’s wrong. We ordered a bottle and said we would order later, we just wanted to enjoy a drink first. Our minds were soon put at rest as within twenty minutes the place was half full, so we ordered. Now we had been recommended to eat fish in Corunna, being a fishing port the restaurants all serve good fresh fish and seafood. Having made our choices of fishy starters and mains we were apologetically told everything we chose was un-available, they couldn’t get any from the fish market, so we had another go, but again, unavailable. What they recommended was Merluza (hake) but that didn’t inspire us so we paid for our bottle of wine and took it with us as we left They were very nice about it and couldn’t apologise enough about the lack of items on the menu. Maybe they have a cash flow problem!!!
Out we went but decided to give up on the square and headed to the harbour front, bound to find somewhere there🤞🤞. We walked the full length but nothing we fancied, after all we are in a fish port, we don’t want Italian, Asian, burgers etc., etc., we want fresh fish. So kept wandering, this time away from the big square and the sea front and, looking up a narrow street “clocked” some tables so wandered up. This was a small fish restaurant heaving with locals, nothing special to look at but we just had that feeling, so we sat down outside; inside was totally full.
Unlike the earlier restaurant with all the paraphernalia, white linen and smart waiting staff and chandeliers etc., this had paper table cloths on wobbly tables a scruffy looking waiter but the fresh fish in the window said it all. We ordered another bottle of white, €7 cheaper and just as nice, and the good news everything on the menu was available!!!
We settled for a couple of moderate starters but then for the main course, we ordered a fish parrillada for two; Christine was a little reticent as her last 2-experiences with sharing a parrillada we’re not good, perhaps third time lucky.
We hit the jackpot with the prawns in garlic, they weren’t the normal sized ones, no they were big ‘uns, and so fresh, yum yum. Our parrillada soon followed and it looked good but once we got stuck-in, we both agreed it was excellent, very fresh and all the different fish cooked to perfection; yes third time lucky. It just goes to show, it’s not about the surroundings, it’s about the food and yet again we’ve proved to ourselves that many restaurants in backstreets can be extremely good.
Concluding our meal a couple of hours later, we then headed back to Rosie. We had an appointment with Channel 4; qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix.
The other monument we wanted to visit was the “Tower of Hercules”, an ancient lighthouse constructed by the “Romans” about 2000-years ago, and today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sea around this area is known as “Cape Finistere”, named by the Romans and meaning “end of the earth” in Latin. Unfortunately time prevented us carrying out this mission today but will try and get there tomorrow as we head out. .
We were a little surprised when we returned to Rosie; we had parked in an fairly isolated spot but to our surprise others had parked around us, whatever next!!! Having paid extortionate fees for this site, we both went and used their showers as well as their electric hook-up points.
The Spanish view of the Armada
“SHIPWRECK OF THE “II INVENCIBLE ARMADA” 10-28-1596, FISTERRA (A CORUÑA) Invincible Armada is a term of English origin, referring to the Company of England of 1588 projected by the Spanish monarch Philip II to dethrone Elizabeth I of England during the Anglo-Spanish War of 1585-1604. Felipe II ordered the formation of a fleet that he called “Great and Happy Armada” whose mission was to facilitate the transfer from Flanders to the Spanish Tercios, who would be in charge of invading the British island. This invasion did not seek the annexation of the British Isles to the Spanish Empire but rather the expulsion of Elizabeth I from the English throne. Directed by Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, 127 ships departed from Spain, of which 122 entered the English Channel. The Spanish navy failed in its mission due to the bad state of the sea, the means and the cartography of the time. However, the tradition, popularized by the Anglo-Saxon world, maintains that it was the English fleet that defeated the Spanish navy in combat, even annihilating it. But today it is known that most of the shipwrecks were caused by the weather , and that three quarters of the ships ( 87 boats ) returned safely to Spanish ports . In 1596, a total of 170 ships were preparing to set out for the British Isles with the intention of compensating for the failure suffered eight years earlier by the Spanish Armada. The so – called Invincible Armada II , led by Martín Padilla , was off the coast of Fisterra in A Coruña , when on the night of October 28 to 29 , 1596 , a strong storm surprised them causing the sinking of around 30 boats and the disappearance of of approximately 1,700 people. This episode , less known than that of the Invincible Armada , has gone down in history , however , as the largest shipwreck recorded on the entire coast of Galicia.”