Leaving the aire at Guitiriz early, we were in A Coruña by 10am. There’s a car park there, by the Tower of Hercules, which has dedicated parking for motorhomes which still had some free spaces. On the downside, you have to drive right through the city centre to get there, which wasn’t much fun in the van, though the same holds true for most cities. It didn’t help that the roads were busy with rush hour traffic, cars double parked in places.
We took the bus to the old town. Gawd knows how the bus driver got through some of the narrow spaces in the back streets, but I guess he’s just used to it. My first impressions of the city as we drove in weren’t great, it has a shabby inner city look, but as we walked around the city centre it really grew on me.
Like most Spanish cities it has a main square as a focal point, and here it is named after a lady called María Pita, who in a pivotal moment killed a soldier of Drake’s army, inspiring the Spanish to repel the British invasion. It’s a grand looking square, with lots of cafes around the perimeter. While we were there it was being used by the local infant school for what looked like drama lessons, and there were quite a few nippers running about. I can’t see that happening in Trafalgar Square!
The old town was picturesque and pretty unspoiled, with several churches, convents and the like. There’s also a garden called San Carlos, the final resting place of General Sir John Moore who was killed in 1809 fighting alongside the Spanish army, this time against Napoleon’s troops in the Peninsula War.
The city has a lovely marina, lined with more cafes and bars. We stopped for a coffee and used their WiFi to download app updates for our phones. I don’t know if it’s just me, but the frequency at which some apps get updated seems ridiculous. Many of the updates are quite large, so we always download these in a cafe given that we’re constrained for data.
We went for lunch in one of the narrow lanes, and I went for the local speciality of Pulpo a al Gallega – grilled octopus in olive oil sprinkled with paprika – and it was the best ever, the octopus was so tender and full of flavour.
Back to the marina, we caught a bus to the shopping centre, and in next to no time we were in the customer service department of El Corte Inglés. After first tapping the wrong number into the computer, the lady found our prize and gave me the gift card, and Carol now has a lovely new watch.
After a stroll round the shopping centre, we took another bus back to where the van was parked. The bus service in A Coruña is great. Reasonably priced at €1.30 a ride, the buses are new and clean, and run frequently.
The Torre de Hercules is a lighthouse which dates back to Roman times, and is another UNESCO World Heritage site. The exterior of the tower is more recent, but there is apparently lots of the original Roman construction on the interior. However, at €3 each to get in, we gave it a miss.
Our planned stop for the night was a free aire at Ferrol, whose claim to fame is that it was Franco’s birth place, and so we drove through the A Coruña evening rush hour traffic and onto our destination. The aire turned out to be in a large car park next to a stadium and sports centre. The place was deserted and felt very exposed, so neither of us were happy. We have a rule that if one of us isn’t comfortable with a stop for the night, then we move on, and move on we did. This meant another hour and a half of driving to Foz, but it was well worth it.
The aire is free, situated right on the coast with an unobstructed view of the sea. It’s beautiful, and we decided that we’d stay for three nights. We coincidentally parked next to the same Dutch van that we’d parked next to when we arrived at A Coruña – small world!
We’ve had a lovely, relaxing time in Foz. The weather has been lovely, not too hot. We’ve been out for walks and I’ve been for a ride on the bike. The coastline here is very rugged in places, reminiscent of Cornwall.
The plan now is that we’ll get to San Sebastián before the end of the month, and then tour through southern France and into Germany. I’d have liked to watch a couple of stages of the Tour de France in July, but we’ll be long gone by then (though the Grand Depart is in Düsseldorf, so you never know!).