This week’s dream
Hiking Europe’s last unspoiled coast
When I try to describe my most recent adventure in Spain, “serendipity is the word that comes to mind,” said Doug Hansen in The San Diego Union-Tribune. My wife and I spent seven days hiking 55 miles along Galicia’s Atlantic shoreline, and the journey was “an unexpected delight”—a chance to encounter an engaging culture and explore a wild landscape justly billed as “the last unspoilt coast of Europe.” On Foot Holidays, the British company that organized the trip, booked our lodging each night, arranged to have our luggage waiting at each stop, and provided on-call local experts and a custom-written guidebook. “Quiet and solitude were the hallmarks of each day’s sojourn,” yet the people we met were unforgettably friendly.
Our route, known as Lighthouse Way, or Camino dos Faros, was named for the many lighthouses that line this treacherous stretch of coast. But the scenery was ever changing. We passed from meadows to pine and eucalyptus forests, and the hillsides were blanketed with white daisies, purple foxgloves, and dazzlingly yellow gorse. “The ocean, however, was the star of the show.” One day, we followed a narrow trail along a seaside cliff and stopped to picnic with goats grazing on a ledge above us and dolphins cavorting in the waves below.
Spain’s wildlife and natural beauty aren’t the only draws. We feasted all week on fresh breads, cheeses, shellfish, octopus, and—the local delicacy—barnacles. Every night, we stayed in a different small village, and everyone we met welcomed us warmly: Once, during a sudden downpour, a man invited us into his home for coffee. And we had similar experiences in Galicia’s capital, Santiago de Compostela, where we began and ended our trip and where pilgrims come from much farther than we did to visit the shrine of St. James in the famous cathedral. Our most serendipitous encounter, though, occurred in a small wine shop, where I asked the owner which bottle of albariño he recommended. He promptly snatched an 8 euro bottle out of my hand and replaced it with a 3 euro choice he said was far better. “Where else would that happen?”
With On Foot Holidays (onfootholidays.co.uk), a seven-night Galicia trip costs $860.