Calypso Capers

Vilagarcia – dos festas

Alex at Xufre had told John and Debbie about a Viking festival in his home towm of Catoira, not far from Vilagarcia de Arousa. It sounded to be one of the better “festas” and so on Friday 2nd August we made the long (by this year’s standards) trip from Combarro to Vilagarcia, only to discover that this was also the weekend of the Albarino (wine) festival in nearby Cambados – two festas for the price of one!

On a day of clear blue skies but little wind we headed back into Ria de Pontevedra for the 29 nm trip, motoring the entire way.

On the opposite side of the ria we passed Marin with its impressive looking naval college. We have traveled through here twice by bus and would like to visit, but it’s not clear whether it is possible or how easy it would be to visit by yacht.

Soon afterwards we passed the small cove at Agra, with its great beach bar.

As we traveled down Ria de Pontevedra we saw more dolphins than we had seen in one area before – one seen here in front of Agra. Maybe it was easy to spot them in the calm waters, but they were everywhere!

As we headed up Ria de Arousa at over 5 kts we reminded ourselves of the last time we motored up this ria at 1.8kts (against 20 kts of wind but around slack tide) and what a good investment the new Featherstream propeller had been!

We tied up and turned the engine off 5.5 hours after turning it on – a very pleasant trip in spite of the constant drone of the engine!

For the sailors following behind us – we visited last year and you can find more detail about the marina from that visit HERE.

The marineros remembered us from last year; we were greeted like old friends and had a chat. Telling our friend that we were going to the Viking festival on Sunday (two days away) he told us that the Cambados Albarino festival was also held this weekend.

That was a festival that we had wanted to visit but lost track of the date.

Surprisingly there are virtually no buses to Cambados on a Saturday and we shared a taxi with John and Debbie. Ian, on Seascape, said he would come also but would anchor off Cambados and come in by dinghy.

The Albarino festival was everything we had hoped it would be (except for free wine, that is).

There were a few dozen stalls with wine producers selling their wares by the glass, with a sizeable crowd of tipsy but good humoured wine samplers!

This one asked us to take a photo with his friend and then insisted on having his photo taken with us!

We sampled the wine with titbits of food on offer – some stalls offered just dry biscuits to clear the pallet, others cheeses and meats to suit their wine. 

We already were pretty tipsy and enjoying the party atmosphere before Ian arrived.

Sadly we didn’t get a good photo of Ian, but here he is resplendent in red t-shirt and Panama leading the charge to the next stall!

We had heard that the approaches to Cambados are shallow and the anchorage is a fair way off, and Ian confirmed that he was anchored “half way down the ria” hence his late arrival!

However he soon got into the spirit and caught us up in the sampling stakes.

Ian and Paul particularly liked one Albarino called Illo, which is not sold through shops but only to restaurants. Ian blagged us a personal visit to the winery a few days later (which sadly we couldn’t make – but we did take a few bottles home with us).

We headed up towards Plaza de Fefinanes, a very characterful old part of the town where the Fefinanes winery is located, along with numerous restaurants and wine and gift shops – Cambados tourist central!

We stopped at a bar and sat in the shade of a tree covered square for a drink – “cinco aguas con gas por favor” was all we could manage. Service was slow and one of our group succumbed to the excesses of the festival and nodded off!

A quiet night in was had by all to prepare for the following day’s activity – the Viking festival.

On Sunday we went to the train station to discover that the only available train was fully booked and so we shared a taxi. We were dropped off near the train station and decided that as we were early we would have a coffee/tea at the old bar opposite the station.


As we sat quietly in the covered terrace outside the bar a group of Vikings arrived. Now these guys obviously started their festival yesterday and had not been to bed since. Good humoured – but very loud, they attacked and pillaged!

Sadly Paul’s Viking festa lasted only a few minutes before being slaughtered – but having the good sense to take off his white shirt before it was covered in blood (red wine – sadly the amount that entered his mouth confirmed that this was the cheapest of cheap red wine!)

And his demise saw him unable to protect his wife’s virtue. And then, when Val was no longer useful to the Viking, she was slaughtered too.

Recovering miraculously from our slaughter we continued on foot to the site of the festival which takes place on the site of an old castle on the banks of the river, oversailed by a very modern bridge.

A small part of the castle is seen top right in the photograph.

A good part of the site is waterlogged, which would provide amusement later as drunken Vikings bathed in it – but quite why one of several mussel stalls was sited in the water we know not!

Huge pans of mussels were steamed and then spread out along wooden testles to be eaten with fingers – we didn’t try them but think they were free to attendees – none of whom will have paid to be here.

Our Viking slayer soon found us again – just as drunk (his eyes were glazed over) but just as much “fun”.

We have a suspicion that he is a really nice guy and only suited to being a Viking after a good deal of red wine!

At the allocated hour the Viking flotilla of four ships made its way upstream, accompanied by the obligatory rocket explosions.

After a couple of circuits of a small island the marauders marauded – surprisingly intoxicated for a band intent upon raiding and pillaging!

They must have been at the same all night party as our friendly slayer!

They all seemed to like mud, and soon most were covered in the stuff!

Videos of their antics, including drunken demolition of a trestle table by muddy Vikings (!) and the drum band that toured the site can be found  HERE  and  HERE

Sadly our friends Adam and Lynne were back in the UK and couldn’t be with us – but that didn’t stop them joining in from a pub somewhere in London!!

After showering back at the marina we rounded off our weekend of festas with a very good meal at La Malquerida – near the marina and highly recommended for something different form the standard fayre around here (good as that is!) and good wine.

Distance traveled since leaving Xufre – 182 nm

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