Bidding a fond farewell to Andalucia, we boarded our high-speed train bound for Ourense, Galicia! The purpose of our journey to this region (in the north-west of Spain) was to visit Daniel’s family, who call Galicia, and more specifically Ourense, home!
Apprehensive due to our limited Spanish (and zero Galician – the regions official language), we arrived in Ourense and were greeted warmly by Daniel’s extended family. Our base for the next four days was Casanova, a tiny village just outside Ourense where Daniel’s grandmother was born and raised with her 11 siblings! The same house where Daniel’s grandmother was raised continues to exist, owned jointly by Daniel’s grandmother and her siblings. No wi-fi here!! Next door, a new home has been constructed; paying respect in style to the older version. Out front is a cement cross (La Cruz) which has stood proud probably since the beginning of time. No trip to Casanova is complete without a family picture in front of the cross; the houses and people may change, but the cross will remain forever constant!
In the cul-de-sac, the ladies meet for a daily tournament of Brisca (Spanish card game). We were told that Daniel’s grandmother once joined in with this daily championship; not surprising as she continues this tradition in Australia! At night, the neighbours pets roam free, eating more than one dinner, travelling between the neighbours home for each meal. We befriended a French bulldog named Claire, who quickly became Anne’s numero uno amigo (Anne’s best friend)!
Our four days in Casanova felt like home. We spoke no Spanish or Galician, the older family members no English. Yet, there was a unity between us; bonded over the mutual love for Daniel’s grandparents. Gestures and some broken Spanglish, we somehow made it work. Luckily, Daniel’s cousins spoke great English and were able to translate for us!
The food will forever be a prominent memory of our time in Casanova. In one meal we managed to consume empanadas, eggs with tuna, salad, paella, cheese plate, jamon/meat plate, pancakes, fruit, ice cream and of course, as is tradition with every meal, pan (bread)! The jamon is not purchased sliced, rather a pig leg stands proud in kitchen, bolted to a wooden device for ease of slicing. The was some of the best jamon we have ever tasted!
Over the 4 days we subscribed to the Varela tour (Daniel’s cousins).
- Day 1: a boat ride through the Rio Sil (River Sil), visit to the Monasterio de Santa Cristina (constructed in the 10th century).
- Day 2: A road trip to Santiago to visit the Santiago de Compostela. This church is the final destination of the holy Camina de Santiago hike (pilgrim routes through Europe).
- Day 3: A road trip to Vigo to enjoy some seafood for lunch, visit the Dinoseto (the cute dinosaur hedge) and a swim in the Atlantic Ocean at the Playamérica beach. The cold undercurrents were not pleasant but the beach was beautiful! But the highlight, was a tapas tour with Daniel’s cousins. Bar hopping Galician style on a Monday night; felt indulgent but oh so enjoyable! Along the way, Daniel’s cousins gave us a tour of Ourense, including the public thermal springs.
As if their hospitality and time over the four days wasn’t enough, Daniel’s cousins insisted that they would drive us to Porto, Portugal. But that is a story for our next blog post. Shout out to Carmen, Andres, Alfredo, Juan, Matilda, Camilo & Dolores; thank you thank you thank you! Your hospitality and generosity made us feel at home. We cannot wait for the Australian re-union tour 🙂
Until next time,
AP & DT