I’ve fallen in love with Rianxo – not some hot young Galician clam fisherman, but a delightful town tucked into the northern corner of the Ria de Arousa. We spent two nights on a pontoon at Rianxo’s Club Nautico, the only people aboard one of the few yachts amidst small fishing and power boats. Most of the harbour is taken up by the larger fishing pontoons, home to the town’s many mussel and oyster boats.
Arriving on Monday morning, we ran the gauntlet of a fleet of small cockle-fishing boats across the harbour mouth, taking up the prime cockling sites. In each small open boat one or two fishers used rakes on long extendable poles to rake the seafloor for cockles. We barely had space to squeeze through, but the sight was impressive.
Is it just my imagination, or are there more tall blond Spaniards here than elsewhere? Well, the Vikings did invade back in the 11th Century, and a festival is held each year to commemorate the invasion, complete with replica long ships and locals dressed as
Vikings. Along the seafront a street sculpture recalls the prows and oars of a long ship.
Rianxo’s public spaces are many and varied. On the seafront, in the centre of town and elsewhere, are large open, but shady tree covered plazas, with benches, sculptures and busts of celebrated locals. They are cafe free, and the largest of them, The Xardina, was and continues to be a public meeting place. One can imagine rousing speeches from the steps of the town hall located at one end of The Xardina. On market day it was filled with market stalls selling clothes, shoes and household wares.
Rianxo has a housing style known as casas de remo. Remo means ‘oar’ and the tall narrow houses are only the width of an oar. The streets are narrow, some tiled, some cobbled, with cafes, butchers and bakers tucked away down narrow alleyways. The town rises from the seafront and from the streets running parallel to the sea one can catch occasional glimpses of the deep blue sea and the hills rising up on the opposite side of the Ria.