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From Santiago I traveled the short distance south to Vigo, a large fishing and cruise ship town on the Atlantic coast. Beautiful panoramic views were available to those who climbed the steep hill crowned by the Castro Fort. My apartment was on the pedestrian street Rua Principe, the main elite shopping district, directly across from the Marco Museum (Museum of Contemporary Art). I could tell the time all night by checking the clock tower just outside my window. Though I admit to not having much appreciation for contemporary art, the free entrance to the museum, 20 steps from my door, pretty much guaranteed my visit. ‘Somewhat interesting’ will remain my critique.
Vigo is well known for its splendid variety of fresh seafood. I ate late dinners (around 9pm) most nights at one of the many seafood restaurants lining the old market at La Piedra. Lots of clams, scallops, mussels, giant shrimp, octopus and squid, along with many species of unknown fish, all bony – most rather pricey. Scallops (Zamburiñas in Gallego), seared in the half-shell (the shell is Santiago’s emblem) with a tangy butter-olive oil drizzle, are to die for – 2 Euros a pop. I ordered a half dozen of these every place that had them.
It rained on and off most days, but was great sitting out under umbrellas at the maritime port, drinking cappuccinos and eating chocolate napolitanas, watching the cruise ships refilling with passengers back from day sight-seeing trips.
I traveled inland from Vigo to the hilly city of Ourense with its old walled section on the south side of the Rio Minho. The original roman bridge over the river carries inlaid bronze shells, marking this as the route of the Camino de Santiago. The old bridge is unusual with its high pointed arches, and provides a great view west to the novel modernistic design of the Millenium Bridge.
My apartment overlooked the small Praza do Ferro, just a block from the Romanesque Cathedral, which original 12th century Portals of Paradise form a fantastic detailed colorful entrance (paint added 18th century). The narrow passages threading from my plaza to and around the cathedral to the Praza Maior (the names here are Galician, one of the official languages of Spain, more closely related to Portuguese), simply are filled back-to-back with tapas bars. A few blocks of climbing from my apartment gets to the Romanesque-Gothic transition San Francisco Church Cloister, a stunningly beautiful double columnated square. It also contains a one room Museum of Archaeology of Ourense, and out on the hillside the large ancient cemetery of Ourense. Just below the Cloister is the Mirador (lookout) over old Ourense with the cathedral backed by distant green hills – this my favorite spot for cappuccinos in Ourense.
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