Wednesday, 30 January 2008

What to do in Vigo on a winters day...

...go to the beach of course.

I took this photo on a Sunday afternoon down at Playa Smail. This isn't something that happens every weekend, this type of weather in winter is very unseasonal for Galicia.

To the left of the photo, just out of the picture is a two kilometre promenade on which every family and their carry dog were out for 'un paseo' the traditional Spanish walk, taken after the big lunch and siesta.

The promenade has everything, cafes, bars, restaurants swimming pools, playgrounds and picnic areas in a lovely wooded setting. Buy yourself an ice-cream and join the locals in this afternoon ritual and you'll know a little more about what it is to be Spanish.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

El Mirador Castro, Vigo

On the top of the hill leading back from the old town, is one of the best places to sit down relax and sip a cool drink, and take in the stunning views across Vigo, the bay and out to the islands. You may well deserve that cool drink as it's quite a hike up to the cafe, not that it involves ropes or karabiners!

El Mirador Castro is a one of two cafeterias/restaurantes situated at the top of Parque do Castro. (as close to the top as you can get with a car) It's made up of two parts, a large indoor area, with an outdoor terrace all accessed by walking down a set of external stairs and up along side the road is a large terrace area looking out over Vigo Bay. The atmosphere is relaxed and the road is merely for access so has little traffic, a world away from the hustle and bustle of Vigo.

Tips: try to get up there early, the cafe opens around 10:30am and avoid the tourist buses especially during the summer months, enter the old 16th century fort further up the hill and take in more stunning views of the bay, whilst walking around it's lovely gardens, then take a stroll through the woods further down the hill and view the remains of a Celtiberian fort.

El Mirador Castro doesn't tick all the right boxes for an excellent cafe/restaurant. On the two occasions we've been for an evening meal, we were disappointed with both, but as a cafe it does most things right but charging premium prices isn't one of them, I assume only for it's location. A shame it can't deliver the full package and warrant a deeper review. Don't let me put you off though it's still well worth the walk to the top!

The evening is another great time to be up here. While your sitting back and relaxing and watching the sun set over the Atlantic, just remember that what your seeing was once the edge of the known world, enjoy...!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Santa Claus Owns a Cafe in Vigo

I couldn't help myself with this one...

Travelling home one night from Bouzas, up a one way back street we use quite often, we had stopped to chat to one of my wife's cousins.(I don't know about anyone else but when your out and about in Spain you always happen to bump into people you know, especially family, almost like it was pre-planned...) When I spied a cafe I hadn't seen before with a name that made me chuckle, so I took out the camera and took a shot from the car, the picture speaks for itself...

Monday, 21 January 2008

Real Club Celta de Vigo Sociedad Anonima Deportiva

Vigo's football team is described by one guide book as a 'have-a-go football team', this isn't far off the mark, although I prefer to call them the 'yo-yo team' as they seem to be up in the first division (La Liga) one season then down in the second the next.

Real Club Celta de Vigo Sociedad Anonima Deportiva is the teams full name or Celta Vigo or just Celta. The team was founded on August 23rd, 1923 from the merger of two Vigo teams, Real Vigo Sporting and Real Club Fortuna de Vigo, this merger gave the chance to perform more competitively at a national level.

Celta's performance in La Liga has been mixed, their best achievement was finishing 4th in 1947/1948 and 2002/2003 season, earning them the right to play in the Champions League. In total Celta have spent 45 seasons in La Liga, 25 in the Second Division and even one in the Second Division B. Celta have never managed to finish top of La Liga and have had three attempts at winning the Copa del Rey (Spanish equivalent to the FA Cup) but on each occasion, even though they went in as favorites, have stumbled at the last. They have been referred to in the past as 'giant killers' and are not a team to be taken lightly, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Juventus and Liverpool are a few of the big teams that have been on the receiving end of Celta on a good day!

Celta don their sky blue strip at Estadio Municipal de Balaidos (Celta's home Stadium), with a capacity of 31,800 and is situated 3km to the south west of town. The stadium inaugurated 23rd August 1923, also houses a Museum and a shop for all your Celta needs. El Museo Deportivo was opened on the 12th March 1999 and covers all Celta's history since it's inception.

There is one match that has to be watched at Balaidos and that's the derby between Celta and Deportivo La Coruna, the atmosphere is amazing and you can't help but be swept up in the euphoria! Unfortunately there will be no derby during the 2007/2008 season as Celta were relegated to the Second Division last year... never mind there's always next season!
If you are in town and there's a match on, make the effort to go along and watch a game, you won't be disappointed, it's hard not to get caught up in the emotion with the locals, whilst watching Celta's highs and lows!

Those wishing to see a game can buy tickets from the stadium a couple of days before the match or ticket booths which open a couple of hours before the game.
Adults prices start from €10 for the cheap seats and €35 for the best in the house.
Junior starts from €8 - €20

Getting There:
By Bus: From Porta do Sol (centre of town)
Take the C4 "A" Fragoso - Coia
Then get off at Plaza Manuel de Castro, stadium can't be missed!

By Taxi: Expect to pay around 7-8 euros and will take less than half the time.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

The calm before the storm in Vigo...

Well we're not having a wonderful start to 2008 weather wise, with gale force winds and driving rain. Early today wind gusts were topping 149km/h. Although we don't really feel the affects of this weather front in our 12 storey block of flats, maybe the odd rattle from a window but nothing more.

Conditions out at sea are a lot worse. Off the coast of A Coruna, 160km north of Vigo, five fisherman have lost their lives due to rapidly deteriorating conditions. Questions are now being asked, why didn't the boats return to port earlier. One of the boats that went down was well equipped with all the latest equipment for weather tracking. But sadly, I'm sure these questions have been asked a thousand times before.

January so far has been a complete contrast to December, which was one of the driest on record, in fact Vigo had received only ten percent of it's normal rainfall up until December! Obviously making up for lost time now...

Monday, 14 January 2008

"Car-nage" on the Streets of Vigo

This is not something I would normally write about, but it's close to home and it also highlights one of Spain's major problems.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, in the centre of Vigo, two cars, one an Audi A3 and the other a BMW 328, driven by a 20 and 21 year old respectively where racing along la calle Jenaro de la Fuente at speeds of 130km/h (80mph). Without going into detail, a Citroen AX with a married couple of 55 and 53 years of age, were travelling in the opposite direction, the driver of the BMW had moved into their lane to avoid the Audi which was avoiding a double parked car, the BMW hit the Citroen head on causing the instant death of both occupants, the driver of the BMW sustained minor injuries and the driver of the Audi fled the scene in his car, although was not physically involved in the accident. Police later tracked him down and was arrested.

This senseless, needless act has ended the lives of two Innocent people, I only hope the punishment handed down by the courts will be fitting for such a callous and indiscriminate act.

For those wanting to see the aftermath of the accident, click on the link below.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Getting to know Vigo

Vigo is a large city and can be a bit daunting for the first time visitor, especially when you'r driving, getting into the city is easy, it was the getting out that was the hard part (I speak from first hand experience!). Although this isn't a bad thing as you can easily lose yourself in what Vigo has to offer.

Casco Vello, Vigo's historic quarter, is a lovely reminder of Vigo's humble beginnings, where you can still buy fresh oysters from the bay from the old women on the street who have been selling them there for generations.
Much of the old quarter has been sympathetically restored, but there still remains a large portion in need of restoration. Fortunately the Vigo Council with help from the EU (URBAN project) are slowly undertaking the refurbishment of this area and when completed will revitalise this otherwise neglected jewel in Vigo's crown.

On the waterfront with Casco Vello behind you lies the Real Club Nautico, Vigo's yacht club, then take a stroll down Rua de Montero Rios a new development with its many cafes and bars catering for the cruise ships and the well heeled, seemingly a world away from the old quarter.

Further back from the waterfront and up the hill, you'll find Puerta del Sol the very centre of Vigo, where a very curious sculpture stands a top of two very high columns. Walk up Principe a pedestrianised shopping area with every manner of designer fashion store, but where you'll also find the MARCO (Museum of Modern Art) housed in the old (refurbished) Civil Guard headquarters/courthouse/jail.

If Principe is Vigo's high street, then Calvario is a high street from another time, situated approximately 1km from Principe and in fact is on the same road which turns into Urzaiz.

Moving further round to the south is Mt Castro rising some 150m above sea level. At the top you'll find fortified ruins offering stunning views across the bay. Head back down into the city along Rua Areal for all your late night requirements.

Taking a stroll up Gran Via (when I say up or down, I don't mean figuratively, Vigo is a very hilly city, you've been warned!) on which every street leading off reminds you that there are a lot of countries in South America! You'll also find shopping malls and department stores. And lets not forget the five running horses at the top of the hill!

If footballs your thing then head to the south west of town and watch the local team in action at Estadio de Balaidos, after the match you may want to head up the hill from the stadium and try your luck at Bingo (yes there is Bingo here!). Or head east and relax in the wonderful Castrelos park with the Quinones de Leon, Municipal Museum.

Fancy the beach. There are more than 40 beaches to the west and south west of Vigo, there are nine beaches within 4km of city centre.

There are many things I haven't mentioned but will be covering them all in due time, such as the many more museums and galleries, exhibitions, theatre and traditional fiestas, the various nautical activities, the beaches, parks, the islands and sport. Gastronomy, something not to missed! The many urban sculptures and where to stay.

If anyone can think of anything else...

Hasta Luego