Tuesday 25 October 2016

My Travels: Carlos Núñez reveals Galicia's secrets

Short breaks in Spain

Carlos Núñez

Published 21/02/2016 | 02:30

Carlos Nunez
Carlos Nunez

Galicia and Ireland have been connected since ancient times, says musician Carlos Núñez.

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Why Galicia?

It's where I was born, but it's also got many connections with Ireland.

Galicia is one of the seven Celtic countries, but this one has lots of sun! It gets Atlantic weather, but some Mediterranean micro-climates too - the symbol of my hometown, Vigo, is the olive tree.

In the cliffs near the Cíes Islands, you can see breathtaking sunsets from a Celtic sanctuary, Donon, connected to Ireland via the legendary Galician Celtic king Breogan. The Irish Book of Invasions says he led the Milesians to Ireland from Galicia.

The first thing I should do?

Keep off the beaten path. Even if you choose a guided tour, use your spare time to talk to locals. You're likely to make friends for life. They'll recommend their secret places, and maybe even take you there!

The must-sees of course include the islands in Vigo, Santiago de Compostela and A Coruña - even Red Hugh O´Donnell visited. In the interior, look for the Roman walls of Lugo - named after the Celtic god, Lugh.

What should I pack?

Some photos of yourself in Irish landscapes.

Galicians will love to know that you're a "Celtic cousin" and see the similarities. Even if they don't understand the language, they'll find a way to communicate with you (Irish are good at that too!).

Best food and drinks?

Spain is a world leader in avant garde cuisine, and you can get that in Galicia too. But what's special here is that you can get small restaurants - or even homes acting as taverns - that will serve you seafood a relative has just brought through the door, vegetables they grow themselves, or a broth with pork that they have raised and smoked at home.

If you need an Irishman's advice, my friend and mentor Paddy Moloney from The Chieftains - who's been coming to Galicia for decades - would tell you: Galician style merluza (hake), pulpo (octopus) and pimientos (small pan fried green peppers that come with a surprise!). The wine is pretty special too...

What should I bring home?

Pilgrims used to bring the symbol of Santiago, the scallop shell. Nowadays it's very easy to come by plane - though sailing still works, as my friend Matt Molloy has often proved! I'd suggest bringing your new friends' contacts, so you can come back.

Any musical tips?

Of course! I'm celebrating 20 years since my first album (recorded at Windmill Lane in Dublin). I'll have a bunch of Irish musician friends over to celebrate... my last big concert at home took place by the Cathedral in Santiago, and we had The Chieftains with David Brophy conducting the Galician symphony orchestra. It was great!

See carlosnunez.com and spain.info for more.

PS. The Lighthouse Way

By Pól Ó Conghaile

You've heard of the Camino de Santiago, but what about The Lighthouse Way?

Galicia's Camino dos Faros isn't a traditional pilgrimage route, but the seven-day hike offers an awesome immersion in the seafood and spectacular landscape of Galicia's Costa da Morte. Starting in Pontecesco, the trail stretches 131km to Cabo Fisterra (or Finisterre, the rock-bound peninsula once said to be the end of the world).

Think of it as Galicia's Wild Atlantic Way, with summer the best time to get the most out of the beaches. Camino Ways (caminoways.com) has seven-night, half-board packages from €751pps, excluding flights.

Irish Independent

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