Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Of Patos and Pazos

Normally in the morning I leave the hotel, go down to the Paseo Marítimo and turn left to run to the lighthouse and back. How much we humans are creatures of habit. This is day 4 of our stay in Sanxenxo (5 if you count Saturday when we arrived half way through) and I have a routine established and can talk about what I “normally” do. Be that as it may, this morning I went down to the Paseo Marítimo and turned right to run to Portonovo, the bit of Sanxenxo round the corner and over a bit of a hill and where they have a nice beach of their own. The “over a bit of a hill” part is reasonable hard going but then you get to run on the boardwalk and on the beach instead of along a paved walk. 

On the beach I was accosted by a chap who asked me, “¿Miraste a pata y os patitos? Están allí.” You don’t expect people top start asking you about ducks and ducklings when you go for a run, especially in a mix of Castilian and Gallego. But indeed Mr Duck and ten by now fairly large duckling (teenage ducklings?) were paddling and then swimming in the sea. I’ve never seen ducks in the sea before but I suppose that if they nest on the coast – two ladies told me that they nest in the dunes and waddle down to the sea every morning – then the sea is the logical place to take the youngsters for a swim. 

Later Phil and I set out to walk the “ruta urbana” that the young lady at the tourist office had pointed out to us yesterday. 

As we set out from the hotel we could hear a lot of whistle blowing and hooting of horns. A demonstration? Well, there was little sign of one but then I noticed a bunch of people kind of straggling along the Paseo with placards of sorts. When they stopped for a bit of a shout down by the town hall you could see that these were the people of Portonovo, protesting about “inxusticia” and demanding the right to some autonomy. “¡Queremos festas de Portonovo! Let them have their fiestas, say I. 

The “ruta urbana” is supposed to take you past several Sanxenxo “pazos”, Gallego for “palacios”, stately homes rather than palaces. I seem to remember we tried this unsuccessfully last year and didn’t find any “pazos” except the very first one: the Pazo Emilia Pardo Bazán. This is in fact a conference centre which has been named for this woman writer who has been described as one of the most remarkable Spanish intellectuals of the 19th century. The mad lady who recently wanted to sign me up for a series of packs of information about Galicia and its culture told me that Emilia Pardo Bazán was famous as a writer of cookery books. When I told her she had written poetry and essays among other things she told me once again, “Pero escribió libros de cocina”. Emilia Pardo Bazán wrote precisely TWO cookery books and a whole pile of other stuff. 
Anyway, she was born in La Coruña and is a famous Galician woman, en example to feminists every where, I expect. Here is a link to some information about her. Today, we once more found the Pazo Emilia Pardo Bazán and to prove it I had my photo taken next to a statue of a rather dumpy Victorian-looking lady.

Moving on up the hill we had some difficulty locating the Pazo de la Torre de Miraflores. Phil set off up a track which looked promising but only led to a vineyard. 

So we retraced our tracks since the road appeared to be leading us way out of town. And we almost missed it again but at the last moment I spotted some once grand but now rather neglected looking gates. Behind the gates was an equally neglected looking building which, since it had a tower of sorts. we assumed to be the Pazo de la Torre de Miraflores. 

Next on our list was the Pazo do Virrey de Padriñán. Once more it was a case “blink and you’ll miss it”. But we found it, intrepid explorers that we are. Someone needs to do a bit of signposting of these bits of heritage, especially if the tourist office is going to give out maps with routes and bits of information about them. 

On the way back, it tried to rain on us but not really serious rain, just a summer shower. So, were we downhearted? Not one bit! A successful bit of tourism completed!

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