May 17 Ribeira - Luarca

We would normally have wound our way along the coast or up and down the valleys, passing through every little village and town on our way east, but we were late getting away, and expecting a long, tedious drive to Luarca, so we stayed on the autovia as much as possible. To our pleasant surprise, the new highway was complete the full distance, its massive viaducts spanning valleys and rivers, leaping from ridge to ridge, bypassing towns and villages and providing some rather spectacular bird's eye views. The route to our next camp took us through the middle of Luarca, along the waterfront, and up past the cemetery on the promontory east of town. The small town atmosphere, the lack of tourists, the active fishing port, and the stunning setting captured our imaginations. Despite our late start, the new highway had gotten us in quite early. After a little difficulty finding it, we checked into a small campground perched on a cliff edge with sensational views of the coast and promontory we had just traversed. After lunch in the van and a nap, we headed back in to explore the town. We found parking along a seawall west of town. Walking back along a sandy shore under clear skies and bright afternoon sun, the tang of a sea breeze, wind in our faces, a fishing port and town waiting to be explored, the sense of anticipation and discovery, these are things of travel memories. The bright, white washed building that greeted us at the harbour turned out to be a yacht club, rather than the church we had expected, but it made a picturesque book end for the harbour. Small open rowboats and large commercial trawlers, all brightly painted, filled the harbour but despite the yacht clubhouse, we saw few pleasure craft. Restaurants and bars ringed the harbour but except for the few pilgrims on their way to Santiago, we saw few people on the street. It was siesta time and the shopping district was mostly closed and nearly deserted. It was however attractive and appeared prosperous. Come evening, the harbourside came alive. The sun was lower and the light much softer than earlier in the day. Parking was no easier, in fact we had to park even further along the beach but with the wonderful light, the slight chill in the air, the warmth of the sun on our backs, and the people along the waterfront, the walk was no great hardship. Around the harbour, children skateboarded, played football, or just hung, young parents pushed prams, grandparents played with grandchildren, older men and women enjoyed the late sun and gossiped, and the young adults gathered around the harbourfront bars to socialize. We were still having trouble adjusting to Spanish mealtimes, the wait from 2:00 in the afternoon to 10:00 at night for a “proper” meal is just too long. Finding a restaurant serving a hot meal between 6:00 and 10:00 is well nigh impossible. We had checked out restaurants earlier in the day but the one Sheila had favored (the Baltic Hotel) was either closed or had no patrons, the other restaurants had people drinking but no one eating. We sat down at La Darsena, a small, unassuming restaurant/bar on the harbour. The waitress spoke no English and despite the outlandish hour, found us an English menu but recommended the fresh octopus (not on the menu) by bringing it out for our inspection. We ordered the octopus, garlic shrimp, and a bottle of Riberia wine (Sheila thought it was a red, but it turned out to be a white and went very well with dinner). The octopus was lightly sautéed in olive oil, butter, and paprika, and served on boiled potatoes. There was a hint of smoke and heat from the paprika, and it was incredibly light and tender, almost delicate but meaty. It seemed nearly to dissolve in the mouth.  The shrimp sauteed in garlic and oil and served sizzling was amazing. Succulent, tender, and delicate with garlic. We managed to finish the wine and even shared a creamed cheese (almost like creme fraische) topped with a delicate, spiced honey for desert. My favourite meal of the trip and one to rival my favourite meals ever. As the sun set, the waterfront, street-side cafes, bars, and restaurants were even more crowded and livelier. People were drinking and snacking, but by 9:30 were still not dining. Tired from our long day, we waited for the sun to set and then returned to camp to make coffee, have a second desert of chocolate and grapes, and retire for the night.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map The Luarca cemetery The Luarca Yacht Club Luarca harbour. Late evening at a harbourside bar/restaurant Early evening, harbourside Luarca

May 17 Ribeira - Luarca

We would normally have wound our way along the coast or up and down the valleys, passing through every little village and town on our way east, but we were late getting away, and expecting a long, tedious drive to Luarca, so we stayed on the autovia as much as possible. To our pleasant surprise, the new highway was complete the full distance, its massive viaducts spanning valleys and rivers, leaping from ridge to ridge, bypassing towns and villages and providing some rather spectacular bird's eye views. The route to our next camp took us through the middle of Luarca, along the waterfront, and up past the cemetery on the promontory east of town. The small town atmosphere, the lack of tourists, the active fishing port, and the stunning setting captured our imaginations. Despite our late start, the new highway had gotten us in quite early. After a little difficulty finding it, we checked into a small campground perched on a cliff edge with sensational views of the coast and promontory we had just traversed. After lunch in the van and a nap, we headed back in to explore the town. We found parking along a seawall west of town. Walking back along a sandy shore under clear skies and bright afternoon sun, the tang of a sea breeze, wind in our faces, a fishing port and town waiting to be explored, the sense of anticipation and discovery, these are things of travel memories. The bright, white washed building that greeted us at the harbour turned out to be a yacht club, rather than the church we had expected, but it made a picturesque book end for the harbour. Small open rowboats and large commercial trawlers, all brightly painted, filled the harbour but despite the yacht clubhouse, we saw few pleasure craft. Restaurants and bars ringed the harbour but except for the few pilgrims on their way to Santiago, we saw few people on the street. It was siesta time and the shopping district was mostly closed and nearly deserted. It was however attractive and appeared prosperous. Come evening, the harbourside came alive. The sun was lower and the light much softer than earlier in the day. Parking was no easier, in fact we had to park even further along the beach but with the wonderful light, the slight chill in the air, the warmth of the sun on our backs, and the people along the waterfront, the walk was no great hardship. Around the harbour, children skateboarded, played football, or just hung, young parents pushed prams, grandparents played with grandchildren, older men and women enjoyed the late sun and gossiped, and the young adults gathered around the harbourfront bars to socialize. We were still having trouble adjusting to Spanish mealtimes, the wait from 2:00 in the afternoon to 10:00 at night for a “proper” meal is just too long. Finding a restaurant serving a hot meal between 6:00 and 10:00 is well nigh impossible. We had checked out restaurants earlier in the day but the one Sheila had favored (the Baltic Hotel) was either closed or had no patrons, the other restaurants had people drinking but no one eating. We sat down at La Darsena, a small, unassuming restaurant/bar on the harbour. The waitress spoke no English and despite the outlandish hour, found us an English menu but recommended the fresh octopus (not on the menu) by bringing it out for our inspection. We ordered the octopus, garlic shrimp, and a bottle of Riberia wine (Sheila thought it was a red, but it turned out to be a white and went very well with dinner). The octopus was lightly sautéed in olive oil, butter, and paprika, and served on boiled potatoes. There was a hint of smoke and heat from the paprika, and it was incredibly light and tender, almost delicate but meaty. It seemed nearly to dissolve in the mouth.  The shrimp sauteed in garlic and oil and served sizzling was amazing. Succulent, tender, and delicate with garlic. We managed to finish the wine and even shared a creamed cheese (almost like creme fraische) topped with a delicate, spiced honey for desert. My favourite meal of the trip and one to rival my favourite meals ever. As the sun set, the waterfront, street-side cafes, bars, and restaurants were even more crowded and livelier. People were drinking and snacking, but by 9:30 were still not dining. Tired from our long day, we waited for the sun to set and then returned to camp to make coffee, have a second desert of chocolate and grapes, and retire for the night.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map The Luarca cemetery. The Luarca Yacht Club. Luarca harbour. Late evening at a harbourside bar/restaurant. Early evening, harbourside. Luarca