Combarro 21.6. – 24.6.
Uncomfortable Atlantic swell in the anchorage of Islas Cíes made us rethink our Midsummer plans. Instead of trekking on the islands of Islas Cíes we sailed one ría north to the Ría de Pontevedra and to an exceptionally pretty village in Galicia, the village of Combarro.
The distances in rías are short, indeed. Each short sailing trip brings you to a new idyllic location. Now after 16 nautical miles we arrived in Combarro and got lucky that we still fitted into marina just before Midsummer. Like in Finland, the Midsummer or the festival of San Xoán is celebrated here in Galicia as well.
The time in Combarro was quickly flying when we explored the historic narrow streets. Even if Combarro is one of the most popular sights in Galicia the locals were super-friendly and had relaxed chats with us visitors.
We had noticed small funny looking raised granaries here and there along the Galician coast. Galicians call them horreos. Now however we took an opportunity to admire them at close range. There are tens of horreos granaries in Combarro of which there are many all along its waterfront. These characterful structures were built in the 18th and 19th centuries stand proudly on six or eight stone pillars. While the pillars prevent small animals from accessing the grains, the crosses on the top of horreos protect the food from evil spirits. Narrow slits in the walls help circulating the air and that was the way of preserving the crops in moist Galician weather.
In Combarro Suwena’s fridge door remained mostly closed as there were many small idyllic restaurants in the waterfront of the historic center offering plentitude of sea delicacies. The restaurants situated along the Rúa do Mar street offer seafood and fish in amazing delicious portions. Especially, in the Midsummer on 23rd of June when the feast of San Xoán is celebrated, already in the early evening we could smell the grilled sardines on the streets and alleys. We had an amazing dinner in the restaurant Entre Pedras and to rejoice the feast the restaurant offered everyone grilled sardines as a starter for free. Albariño white wine was the prevalent drink in most tables and people were happily babbling and waiting for the midsummer night.
Another big thing for us was the midsummer bonfire. Lighting bonfires on Midsummer night is a big tradition in countries around the Baltic Sea. However, we have been sailing quite a few years on the Atlantic coast and there have not been any big midsummer celebrations there. So we were kind of missing a decent Juhannus party like we Finnish call it. Anyhow by chance we found a local San Xoán party on the beach just next to Combarro’s historic center where many families had come together for a fiesta. Most people had brought something to eat and had coolers full of refreshing beverages. Boombox was letting out Spanish latin hits and the most daring were jumping over the bonfire to bring a good luck for next year. The bonfire was built just below the tide line on the sandy beach and the rising tide extinguished the flames on the early hours of the morning. This was very safe and something new to us as there is no tide in the Baltic Sea.
When returning back to the boat there was still party going onboard yachts and in the marina restaurant. We also sat in the cockpit for enjoying silky smooth summer night. Soon the fireworks started, and our stern deck was just a perfect place to witness the grand finale of the evening. This was all good until our heart skipped a few beats in horror. The fireworks were fired from the roof of a two-story tall marina building and our berth was no more than ten meters from it. Suddenly one of the rockets did not go up to the sky but instead flew horizontally towards the terrace of the restaurant and our pontoon. This evening we must have had a guardian angel with us because the rocket passed Suwena and dropped into the narrow strip of water between us and the terrace. It could have been much bigger fireworks if any of the fiberglass boats had catched fire. I must say that during the rest of the night my heart was pounding for quite a long time.
On Saturday there was the gorgeous sunshine and we wanted to have a swim, thus we put our dinghy Pikku Suwena into water and went exploring. Our destination was the island of Illa de Tambo located about a mile from Combarro. The island has a very nice sandy beach on its north-eastern side where we went for a swim and spent a day. The water of the Atlantic coast tends to be rather cold even at the height of the summer but here at the bottom of ría the water is shallower and heats up better. The sea was just perfect for having a relaxed day on the beach.
We really liked Combarro a lot. This is the perfect place to spend a few day’s holiday and we hope to return some day here.