A Travellerspoint blog

North Coast of Galicia

Top tourist destinations: managing them ….. and creating them

sunny 19 °C
View GAT1 on Hollysutherland's travel map.

Having crossed the border into Galicia from Asturias the first beach we tried to visit was the Praia As Catedrais, highlighted in all the guidebooks. This is sandy beach with dramatic rock formations that appear as the tide recedes. When we arrived, however, we found that not only is tourist impact minimised by e.g. using boardwalks to cross the clifftop vegetation; but also access to the beach itself is only possible if you have pre-booked a time slot (just like visiting a popular exhibition; I am not sure if you have to pay). Of course, we hadn’t done that. But we found a very good nearby second best alternative where I had a lovely splash about (too rough and rocky to swim). A couple of pictures taken from the water:
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This trip has repeatedly prompted me to think about how tourism to hotspot destinations is managed, given the huge growth in the amount of travelling about in recent years (it would be nice to give some figures here, but I don’t have them). Also, how second best is often better because it is less crowded.

The next day, struggling to find information about walks to do (online maps here seem not to be great and there is a confusing multitude of agencies responsible for various paths), we decided to follow the one to “the best sitting bench in the world” (meaning the best view), while being somewhat sceptical about the notion of this as well as not looking forward to the inevitable selfie-taking crowds. As it turned out the cliff-top walk to the bench from Praia Esteiro was wonderful, past many gorgeous beaches and with amazing views of rough sea and rocks, and with few other people, as shown by these photos.
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There are in fact lots of benches from which to enjoy variants of the view. The so-called best bench is identified by a sentence in English on its back which says “the best bank in the world” (“banco” which is bench as well as bank in Spanish, being charmingly mis-translated). And there was no hoard of tourists, just a few like us trying to work out which of the several possibilities was THE bench and offering to take pictures of each other and the coastal view in relaxed and friendly style. So, as an exception to my usual rule, and in recognition that my expectations are not always proved correct, here is a photo of me on the bench with the excellent (but not necessarily best anywhere) view.
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Next we reached A Coruña which has several historical links with Britain. Aside from various battles, the overland part of the so-called “English” Camino route to Santiago starts from here and is just 75 km to its final destination, with the bulk of the pilgrimage journey being done by boat from N Europe. The majority of pilgrims came from England (hence the name) but also via the Atlantic from e.g. Ireland, Denmark and Poland. In the 1990s this route was re-recognised as a pilgrim route. Relative to the other routes it would seem quite easy, even if the sea passage across the Bay of Biscay can be unpleasant and was risky in the past. This lighthouse (Torre de Hercules) is at the entrance to the natural port of A Coruña and would be a welcome sight for a seasick pilgrim. Its own claim to fame is that it is the oldest working lighthouse in the world, with an original Roman core that was strengthened with a new façade in the 18C. According to my guidebook, the Romans believed that A Coruña was at the edge of the world.
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Posted by Hollysutherland 12:47 Archived in Spain

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