October 4, 2014
We spent a long time exploring the Monastery-turned-into-a-Parador in the Ribeira Sacra, and then wondered what there was to do if one actually stayed there.
Our guidebook noted that there was a 7 mile walking trail through an old chestnut forest that ended up at the ruins of another monastery. We weren’t planning on doing the whole walk, but it was still interesting to go a short way and see the chestnuts that were just about ready to harvest.
Inspired by all the photography we did inside the Parador, we began discussing what was a good shot, or does this great light make this a shot? or not? kind of stuff.
I don’t know. Is this a shot? Or not?
We also found several Walking Trails sign: Caminos Naturales. This map shows a few of the trails but not the one in our guidebook.
Driving a bit further along we saw this view of the River Sil from the Mirador (Lookout) de Cabezoás.
Still want more to do? Jessica, a long-time resident of northern Spain, sent me these tips, which indicate that we missed a ton of stuff and now have to go back!
- This is my favorite area of Galicia. You can visit the Cañones del Sil (canyons of the river Sil), where the wineries have their vineyards along the cliffs. You can take the catamaran along the river (I think 14€? – they do them every day at 1:30 and sometimes at 4:30) or you can drive along the river and stop at the somewhat-marked lookout points. If you want somewhere to eat nearby, try the Parador de Santo Estevo. It’s an old converted monastery that’s now an elegant hotel with a great restaurant.
- Casa Nova: we visited this winery on our honeymoon after serving this wine at our wedding (white wine -Ribeiro-which the region is known for). The owner, Faustino, was very informative and took us on a pub crawl afterwards. He also lived in NY for many years so probably speaks great English. You can also visit other wineries, and many of them are really well marked on the highways so you can find them easily (look for green signs).
- Casal de Armán: This is a winery, hotel, and restaurant near Ribadavia. Excellent food, excellent views. Worth the trip even though it’s a bit out of the way.
- Termas: In Ourense, there are many hot springs. In the middle of the city, A Chavasqueira is a great option. There are some that are free and others that you have to pay 5€. I think they are open 24 hours, or just about. Our favorite is closer to Ribadavia and is called Prexigueiro. It’s run by the same company as the other ones, but it’s in a forested area so it’s much more tranquil and secretive. It’s the same price.
- In Ribadavia there is a famous castle and it’s known for having a lot of Jewish history, but other than that there’s not much to do. We love Allariz, which is an old town that has been lovingly restored almost in its entirety. It’s known for outlet shopping and has some great restaurants (O Muiño da Acea, or something like that, along the river is one of our favorites). If you go to Allariz, look for the beer Dama Alaricana. It’s one of our favorite local brews!
- If you need somewhere to stay near Ourense, we recommend the rural inn El Rectoral de Ansemil, in the town of Celanova. It’s an old restored rectory and even has a private cabin with a fireplace. The owner is also the head chef and the food is excellent.
Jessica has since opened a Bakery Café in Santiago de Compostela called Lusco & Fusco, and you can find her on Facebook at Facebook: Lusco Fusco Bakery Café.