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A Taste Of A Place – A Coruña

Intriguing, is the word I would use to describe this bustling port city in the far north western corner of Galicia. In March, we hopped on a train from Santiago de Compostela following our camino, in search of something a little different to Santiago’s somewhat overwhelming clerical pomp and its sheer volume of folk.

After less than 1/2 an hour on the train and a taxi journey which seemed to bisect the entire city, our driver dropped us to what looked like a fairly nondescript neighbourhood of Montealto.  It was late in the evening and we were still feeling quite disorientated after 12 days on the camino. After struggling mightily with the hi tech entrance system to the apartment we decided to head out in search of refreshments.
On turning the corner, we came across the friendly “Cafe Bar Ansu” where the football was on (a big thing round here, apparently…) After fortifying ourselves with the local brew (Estrella Galicia) and crisps, we felt much happier and confident about the location for our mini break.
The next morning, in a much more buoyant mood, we were back at what had now become our local “Ansu” for good coffee, before heading on our own version of a walking tour, based on little other than our instincts…
We headed down one side of the Montealto peninsular to the majestic Riazor beach, marvelling at the sight and smell of our favourite Atlantic ocean.
The beach itself was beautiful and deserted (it being March) and the weather was far from the inclement climes we had anticipated in Galicia. So we happily ambled along some of the 13km Paseo Maritimo seafront, enjoying the sculptures and fountains which were in abundance here.
At one point we decided to head into the city in search of a market place which we duly found in Placa Humor. We passed through the small, churchlike structure of the San Augustin market and stopped a while at the charming Bar A Cunquina, where we were surrounded by pavement art of famous humourists (the clue was in the name of the square!). We were also happy to see that wine was still being served in the traditional drinking bowls here – just a little too early for us to indulge…
Following this we headed to the impressive Plaza de Maria Pita, named after the 16th Century woman who warned of Francis Drake’s invasion. We found a bar with an interesting offer – the tequeño, which turned out to be a fried dough stick stuffed with cheese (Venezuelan in origin, I believe).
We were delighted to finally see the iconic galleried buildings on the seafront that A Coruña is so well known for. These were once fishermens houses as they provided interrupted views of the sea and Brian likened their appearance to that of a Viennetta ice cream- which sounds a bit out there, but I knew what he meant!
Lunch was fast becoming a pressing issue for us and we opted for a leisurely, and perfectly good “menu del dia” at A Portela in the shady Rùa Franja.
Later, we headed down the hill on the other side of our neighbourhood to catch the sunset at the famous Torre de Hercules lighthouse. This Romanesque beauty is apparently the oldest, still functioning lighthouse! We ambled around the beautiful sculpture park with some impressive pieces, perched like sentinels, staring out to sea.
We spent a relaxing evening dotting about the local bars of this regular neighbourhood, Montealto. Our favourites included O Polvorino and Cafe La Luna, where I have to say we met the friendliest and most helpful people. We got the feeling that tourists might be a bit of a novelty here and the welcome we received everywhere was so lovely. The chap at O Polvorino, sent us to La Luna as his bread delivery had not arrived. In turn, the chap at La Luna set about knocking us up a couple of fish/cheese based tapas, all off menu.
On the next day, our final one, the weather was less kind to us, but nevertheless after a coffee and a croissant requiring a knife and fork at O Polvorino (note to self – we must return here one day for their vermouth/music sessions!) we headed to the municipal market in Plaza de Lugo.
This was an impressive operation with different floors for meat, fish and vegetables. We noted the deliveries being packed and the refrigerated bike set up outside to take the goods to peoples homes.  Just outside the market, we also saw a great Ecotienda vending machine, selling eco friendly products 24/7 and mused on where we could put one in our town centre…
Lunchwise, I followed my nose back to a small place we had passed on the walk in. I can’t say particularly why Bar Amsterdam appealed to me, but it did! Our curiosity paid off – we were far from disappointed, with the food, the vintage decor and the hosting. Here we had one of the best menu del dias on our trip.
With a simple but excellent cucumber salad (just delicious with smoked paprika and parmesan) and super fresh grilled mackerel with the best garlic chips. The guy who owned the place, was so generous that he brought us more mackerel and it was so good, we couldn’t refuse!

And so, our “taster” of this unique city came to an end. We really only had a chance to dip our toes in and without doubt this super friendly city deserves a lot more time and attention than we were able to give it (this time).

I have since read about the buzzing nightlife and the fine food scene (which i imagine is all over this lovely place). I have also read about the Mega Museo Estrella Galicia, which surely has our name on it….

We will definitely return, hopefully before too long. And most likely will stay again in the bustling and super friendly little neighbourhood of Montealto which is so well placed for exploring this intriguingly low key city. It was the perfect antidote for a spot of R&R after everything that came with the camino. And it definitely has us hooked!


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