June 7th – 10th 2017 (Days 30 – 33) This week’s photo shows the Tower of Hercules lighthouse in A Coruna. There has been a lighthouse at this location since Roman times and it is one of the most famous lighthouses in the world. Any medieval Irish pilgrims sailing from Ireland would have passed by this lighthouse on their way to complete the Camino. So while it was a 20 km de-tour to go visit the lighthouse, I felt it was worth it as the building and it’s location are simply stunning. Cycling through A Coruna is not for the faint-hearted but getting to see the Tower of Hercules was worth it or as Mastercard put it, priceless.
Travoy leaving Camping Vegamar near Ribadeo. I ended up staying 2 nights in Camping Vegamar the campsite was that good.
Total cycled Wednesday June the 07th from Ribadeo to Viveiro – 65 km (includes 1,000m of climbing). Total so far – 1875 km. After a good day’s rest and with the help of a strong tailwind, I found the route today easy.
Crossing over the Rio de Ribadeo on the A8 motorway. The motorway bridge had a cycle path fixed to each side with a huge barrier in between.
Graffiti for an independent Galicia or Galiza Nova. The Rio de Ribadeo marks the boundary between The Asturias and Galicia. Galicians just like the Basques have been campaigning for greater autonomy from Madrid. Just like the Basques, the Galicians have their own languge though it is very similar to Spanish unlike the Basque language which is totally different from every other language.
Poster for a seafood platter at the Palacio de Cristal hotel in Burela. At €19.50 a head, that is quite a good price for a seafood platter.
Field with about 100 dairy cattle in it. Dairy cattle are a rare in Spain and most herds are small so to come across a field of about 100 head of cattle was an incredible sight.
Mural showing the Galician tradition of decanting your drink. It is a tradition in Galicia to pour drink into your mouth as shown in the mural above. There is a knack to doing it without spilling though drinks are served in glasses with long spouts which helps somewhat.
Playa Pampilosa near Fazouro. Another day, another deserted golden beach along the northern coast of Spain.
New road bypassing Xove was closed to cyclists and slow vehicles. This road was not a motorway and was just a single carraigeway but it had a sign saying no access for cyclists. I had to backtrack for almost 1 km to take the old road to Viveiro via Xove.
Rio de Viveiro estuary. The views just got better and better as I approached Viveiro.
Beach near Viveiro. Despite the sunshine, this beach was also deserted.
Harbour at Viveiro. The campsite in Viveiro is right in the town centre not far from this marina. It is only a small campsite but it was a lovely place to spend the night.
Total cycled Friday June the 8th from Ribadeo to Perbes – 100 km. Total so far – 1975 km. Very long climb out of Viveiro but after that the route today was mostly downhill.
Wind turbines were a common sight today. The climb out of Viveiro was very long. The climb from Viveiro to the Porta da Ganidoira is 24 km long and rises 720m. That is an average of 3% but in places, the gradient is over 8%.
Sign asking motorists to reduce their speed due to wild horses. The road from Viveiro was quiet but any cars or trucks that passed me were going fast.
Highest point on this year’s Tour de Travoy so far at the Porto da Ganidoira. It took me 3 hours to reach the top or a vertical speed of 240m per hour. In the Tour de France, the top cyclists can climb at speeds of up 2,000m per hour.
As Pontes coal fired power plant. The electric power station at As Pontes is absolutely huge and all 4 cooling towers were belching steam when I went past. The plant has a total generating capacity of 1.5 GW which is more than any power station in Ireland.
Ostrich or maybe an emu at the As Pontes power plant. There were also ponies to be seen grazing at the power plant. Coal generates more greenhouse gases than any other source of fuel. So to boost their green credentials and improve their image, it looks as if the management at the power plant bought a number of animals, which are being kept in the grounds.
Children’s graveyard in the small village of Chaos. There were hundreds of graves in this cemetery and what makes it even more touching is that all the graves were of children. Cemeteries in Spain are often well out of town and at the top of a local hill, so to come across a cemetery after a long climb was not that unusual. But what is extraordinary about this graveyard is that is was built just for the children of the local area. It was an incredibly poignant place to come across but unfortunately, the gates were closed and I couldn’t enter to get any good close-up shots of the graves.
The sign says “Children’s cemetery. Constructed for the children of the Capella region in 1931.” Nowadays, children normally buried alongside adults and relatives but back in the 30’s, there must have been so many children dying that a decision was made to build a separate graveyard for them. The graves were not in the ground but in alcoves built above the ground. Some of the boxes were tiny and obviously housed babies that died maybe during childbirth or soon afterwards. I don’t know if this was built only for children who hadn’t been baptized or if older children were also buried here. I have done a quick search to find out more about it but turned up very little. When I get the time, I will search in Spanish to see if if I can find out more.
Sign for the Camino de Santiago in Cabanas. There were a few Camino signs when I got to Cabanas but no sign of any pilgrims. It is roughly 25 km from Ferrol to Cabanas and 75 km from Cabanas to Santiago so you could gain a Compostela by walking this route as the total distance is around 100 km. You have to walk a minimum of 100 km or cycle a minimum of 200 km to get a Compostela.
Beach and seaside resort of Ares. The Camino route from Cabanas is very scenic and there are great views around almost every corner.
Sign warning motorists to allow 1.5m when overtaking cyclists near Vizus. You see these signs occasionally in Spain and they are an admiral attempt by the Spanish authorities to highlight cycle safety. A typical car is 2m wide so to give cyclists 1.5m clearance , the road must be a minimum of 4m wide allowing 0.5m for the cyclist. But in places, the coastal road was less than 4m wide so at times, it would have been impossible to allow 1.5m clearance.
The beach at Perbes was mostly deserted due to the cloudy evening. Perbes is only a small seaside resort but the beach is easily accessible as it is right beside the road. There are quite a few campsites here so I decided to stop for the evening at Camping du Perbes.
Travoy all loaded up ready to leave Camping de Perbes. There was heavy rain overnight in Perbes and the next morning, the grass waas still wet except for where I had pitched my tent.
Total cycled Friday June the 9th between Perbes and Santiago – 105 km (includes 2,100 m of climbing). Total so far – 2080 km. This was the toughest day’s cycling I have ever had on the Tour de Travoy. The heat, the traffic and the hills combined to make it a terrible day’s cycling. The profile doesn’t look too bad but I ended up climbing 2,100m, the same as if I was in Pyrenees or the Alps.
Insua bridge across the Rio Mandeo. This was the first of about a dozen bridges and flyovers I had to go across to get to A Coruna.
AC-12 dual carraigeway into A Coruna. Believe it or not, but this was the road I cycled along to get to A Coruna city centre as there is no alternative road.. Unlike other cities, there are very few bikepaths in A Coruna and you have to take your chances dicing with the local traffic on the main roads. The dual carraigeway was very busy and worse again, there were hundreds of cars parked on the hard shoulder. No other city in the world would allow cars to park on the hard shoulder of a major road for safety reasons but in A Coruna, the car rules. It’s road network is much more similar to an American city with massive flyovers and lots of lanes rather than your typical European city. It is the most bike un-friendly city I have ever been to and I am never going to cycle there again.
Ayunamiento or Town Hall in A Coruna. Once in he city centre, the traffic is fine and there are some beautiful sights. The city’s name translates as The Crown and this building is probably the Crown Jewel out of all the buildings in A Coruna.
Statue of Maria Pita in the square opposite the Town Hall. Maria Pita is the Joan of Arc of Galiia and this statue is dedicated to her.
Marina in A Coruna. A Coruna has had a port since before Roman times and while the harbour is much quieter than in the past, the local marina was filled to the brim with small craft.
Lots of visitors at the Torres de Hercules lighthouse. The Tower of Hercules lighthouse is about 5 km from A Coruna city centre but it is well worth a visit as it is stunning to see up close.
The Riazor stadium where Deportivo A Coruna play. This has to be one of the most scenic locations for a frotball stadium anywhere in the world.
Camino de Santiago sign in the suburbs of A Coruna. The outskirts of A Coruna are a bit run down and this was the only place I saw where the Camino signs were splattered with graffiti.
Climb of 8% ahead. I must have passed by 20 of these signs on the road between A Coruna and Santiago. It was just one hill after the other.
Mural on the outskirts of Ordes. This apartment block was 4 storeys high and the mural was absolutely huge.
What’s Another Hill. Johnny Logan famously won the Eurovision Song Contest singing “What’s Another Year” which was wrote by Shay Healy. However, if Shay had been a cyclist in Galicia, he wouldn’t have wrote about another year, his song would have been about another hill. “I have been cycling such a long time, Looking out for you, But when you’re going through the mill, what’s another hill” Whether it would have won Eurovision though is debatable.
Huge paper mill on the outskirts of Santiago. There were dozens of double trailer lorries with lodas of timber logs on the road between A Coruna and Santiago and I couldn’t understand why as there are relatively few forests in this part of Galicia. It was only when I got to the outskirts of Santiago and came across this huge paper mill, that the reason for all the timber lorries became clear.
Spires of St. James Cathedral from the approach road to Santiago. For a World Heritage Site, the view of St. James Cathedral from anywhere on the approach to the city is very disappointing. Having cycled 2,000 km from Dublin, I expected a better view of the cathedral than that shown in the shot above. But even most pilgrims who approach the city from the west on the Camino Frances barely see the cathedral until they turn the last corner.
After 10 hours on the road, I made it to the campsite in Santiago. I had left Dublin on May the 9th and exactly a month later , arrived in Santiago. It had taken a total of 32 days with 26 cycle days and 6 rest days. Out of the 26 cycle days, at least a dozen were 100 km or more. So to cycle 105 km was not that unusual on this tour. But what the computer doesn’t tell you is that I climbed 2,100 m which is double what you normally climb when cycling you cycle 100 km. I have cycled from Dublin to Donegal 3 times which is around 270 km but the total amount of climbing is also around 2,100 m. Donegal is famous for it’s hills in Galicia, the hills never end. Combine those hills with an insane amount of traffic and a hot day with temperatures close to 30 degrees, just made for an insufferable day. I don’t think I was ever as relieved to finish a day’s cycling in my life before.