It Paines me to admit it, but I am a summer patriot. My outlook, home and travel destinations are all sunny. My job? Monetizing photons. I choose the sun. So today’s unsettled weather unsettled my plans.
We rolled with the thunder and made best use of the cloud cover. I worked, wrote, rode and researched; the boys studied, gamed and played hoops, and Sue broke out the camera, taking advantage of the day’s even lighting:
By afternoon the skies had cleared enough for an outing, so I biked to Santiago de Compostela’s overly ambitious City of Culture development. City planners bit off a bit more than they could chew – the complex is out of proportion for this small city, and while the project has been scaled back, it’s still massively empty and has been. I had the place to myself, so explored and biked a bit on the sloping building sides. The development suggests high architecture and low construction quality… many of the millions of tiles coating the facility are loose or broken… oops. But kudos to the Galicians for keeping it clean and sleek… I hope they grow into the project.
To escape the forecast heat Wednesday we drove an hour north to Costa da Morte, an angry intersection of surf and turf that has sunk its share of ships. To make the most of the day we focused on rural Galicia’s largest city – A Coruña – which packs 300,000 businesslike residents into a sheltered peninsula. A Coruña’s fine harbors have attracted for millennia: in addition to sheltering ships it hosts the world’s’ oldest lighthouse, the roman-built Tower of Hercules, a marvel of roman engineering.
Our day starts with science and a visit to a branch of the National Museum of Science and Technology (MUNCYT). The exhibits are fun and interesting – they include a 747 cockpit and important innovations ordered by decade. I’m a bit proud to see most are American, and hope we can get back to the business of innovation soon.
Next up we park under the harbor, surface at the Praza de María Pita, so named for the heroine who successfully lead the 1589 defence of A Coruña against Sir Francis Drake’s English invaders. “Quen teña honra, que me siga” – now that’s girl power. We hit old town ahead of the lunch crowds, so get in a little shopping and fill our bellies with pizza, döner kebabs and some disappointing polbo á feira. I bust a crown on the polbo… it’s not painful but it will get worse, so I’ll have to do some dental homework when we get back to the flat.
After old town we motor north to visit the Tower of Hercules. I can’t lure the family up the 245 steps so go solo. Always happy for the exercise and “me time”, it’s worth the 3€ entry fee to see the roman foundations, history displays and to take in the view. Then we’re off to the small but fun Aquarium Finisterrae, with its monster lobsters, Nautilus room and tidal seal chambers. The drive home is an easy hour with the wait wait – don’t tell me podcast keeping us company.
Once home I research dentists, and find that they’re open 4-8PM (I love the Siesta break), so find a well recommended dentist and schedule an appointment for 9:30AM tomorrow. Our host runs a background check and gives the dentist a thumbs-up. Thursday morning I bike down and show up sharp… they’re ready and welcoming, and in 5 minutes I’m in the chair with a mouth full of mirrors and tools. An hour and 70€ later my crown is patched, they’ve xrayed an email to me and my dentist back home, and I’ve got a goodie bag full of traveler’s toothbrushes and paste. I love Spain!
Today’s Galician air is crystalline so we stay and enjoy Santiago’s perfect weather. Sue and I drag the boys out for a stroll through the market, then soothe the savage beasts with beef and gelato. A camino down through through pretty little Parque da Alameda, a shady stop above the swan pond then back home via grassy hillside parks and rest our feet. I drop the family off then hop on my bike to circle the city and pick up those last sites we missed – a necklace of hilly urban parks and trails takes the Natural History museum at the University of Santiago de Compostela (the other USC), then to the nearby Museum of the Museo do Pobo Galego, with fine exhibits on Galician life in an elegant convent setting. I return the bike and hike back home… lots of walking today. These are times that try men’s soles.