Yesterday morning we woke up and went to Vigo’s port. That was basically the only visit to Vigo that we did, and it was enough – it didn’t look interesting at all (poor Vigo!). And parking, even on a Sunday, was challenging.
We boarded a little ferry that, in 40 minutes of uninspiring views took us to the Isla Cies, one of the four or five islands that sit in front of Galicia. A natural park, very strictly managed, that only allows a certain amount of visitors per year and closes in winter…except this weekend! Aren’t we lucky?
On one side of the island the water is calm and safe. On the other, that faces the open ocean, huge waves crash and rumble constantly.
Created when part of the coast of Spain sank, what you see are the tops of granitic mountains. And you can tell that they’re not volcanic or of other origin – the cliffs are steep, there are caves and rocks that look so old they can only be sunken mountains.
We walked all the way up one of them, to see what is known as the Bell Rock. Maybe because it looks like a bell. Or maybe because when the strong winds from the Atlantic hit the island, they pass through the holes at such speed they make a noise like a bell. Or maybe when the island was inhabited and used as a look out for attackers, they hung a bell right there and left a guard watching, with strict instructions to ring the bell if he saw any strange boat approaching.
I tried to take a panoramic photo with my camera and then coarsely stuck it together 😀
Then we went back to the beach. There’s a sign that says that the reason the sand is so white and soft is because it’s mountain sand, millions of years old.
It’s been a natural park since 1980 and you can tell. The central “lake”, that sits between a man-made bridge (on the violent, ocean side) and the main beach (on the calmer side), is a saltwater lake that was full of fish of all sizes.
The beach was declared the “best beach in the world” by the Guardian in 2007. While probably not the best beach in the world (come on), it was still quite beautiful and the sand was spectacular. So so so soft. Littered with giant dead mussels, uprooted seaweed and other ocean treasures it was great to walk down.
The water was crystal clear and must have been really deep, because the waves that crept up broke right on the sand in front of us.
Birds chirped in the eucalyptus and pine forest. There were signs and paths clearly informing you where you could and couldn’t go, and why (a touch that, as a teacher, I appreciated. If you tell people why, they are more prone to listening to your instructions).
At five, our ferry came back for us. After a day of hiking, exploring (we saw otter tracks!!), taking photos and relaxing on the beach, we were a bit sad to leave. Maybe we’ll come back in summer and stay the night.