Friday, June 30, 2017

Riverside Ribadavia, Spain

Northwest Spain holds so many treasures along its winding Atlantic coast, from big cities like A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela (okay, half an hour inland) to natural wonders like the Cíes Islands and the Ézaro waterfall. These are all fine and wonderful—I didn’t live and work in this part of Spain for two years for nothing!—but the further inland you go, the more cozy and comfortable Galicia gets.

Ribadavia, Spain
An important conversation
La Galicia profunda—Deep Galicia, as locals call it—contains lush, old-growth forests and thriving vineyards, dying villages and the region’s third-largest city, oppressive summer heat and fondant layers of winter snow. It was here that hermits fled worldly pleasures for lives of isolation and prayer, yet here today that Carnival celebrations are their most colorful. Sometimes, on dark rainy evenings, you swear you caught a glimpse of the Santa Compaña, the procession of dead spirits passing through the woods.

Ribadavia is one of many villages in this part of Galicia, one that will make you feel home as soon as you hop out of the car (or the train, which stops in this tiny village!). The town will welcome you with a glass or two of Ribeiro wine, the foundation of the local economy in the Middle Ages, and it will invite you to wander through its cool, shaded streets on a hot summer day.

A ruined castle

Ribadavia, Spain
What little remains of the walls
This pueblo sits on a commanding point at the confluence of the Miño and Avia rivers, and one of these rivers forms the root of the town’s name: Riba d’Avia. For the longest time I never could parse town names in northern Spain like Ribadeo or Ribadesella, until I realized that “riba-” means “river banks” and “-de-”  means “of.” Duh. Ribadavia means “On the banks of the Avia River,” Ribadeo means “On the banks of the Eo River,” and so on.
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