OK, so we left Leon early on Friday morning and made the three and half hour drive across to Vigo. We didn't have time to visit the city as we wanted to get the earliest boat possible in order to maximise our stay on the Islands. During the peak season, the limited places in the campsite tend to get booked up quite quickly and in our case, only Friday night was available, so we planned on getting there as early as possible on Friday, stay the night, and then leave on the last boat out on Saturday evening.
We rocked up in Vigo an hour and a half early for the boat we had booked so decided to rush to see if we could get the earlier one. I'm not sure if there are many alternatives, but we decided to leave the car in the car park of the shopping centre which is literally directly next to the quay from which the boats leave. It's not cheap (more than €30 for the period we left the car), but it sure is convenient. Once out of the carpark, you make your way to the little 'terminal' building across from the shopping centre. There you can retrieve your boat tickets from a machine using the booking reference you got online and get your camping reservation stamped, which will get you access to the campsite. It wasn't busy when we got there, so the whole thing took less than 5 minutes. We asked if we could catch an earlier boat than the one we had booked, to which the answer was 'yes, if there is space'. Five minutes later we were at the quay, and five minutes after that, given that there was plenty of space on the 12.30 boat, we were on our way to the islands. In the late morning sunshine, the boat ride to Cies from Vigo is a very pleasant appetiser to what awaits on the islands. Speeding through the Ria de Vigo you get an expansive view back to the city, over to the small towns and villages along the Ria, east to the Ons Islands and eventually towards the looming Islas Cies in the near distance. I must admit that, as the peak of the Isla del Faro loomed ever closer, I was more excited than a five year old at Christmas.
As the islands come into view, you get an immediate sense of their small size, but impressive topography. The main peaks seem very high from sea level and little lighthouses seem to emphasise their scale. The first close up views of Cies are of the incredible Playa de Rodas, voted by the Guardian as the best beach in the world, sweeping between the two main islands. The first sun worshippers were laid out on its golden sands and a steady stream of day-trippers were already making their way from the landing quay down to the sands. As the boat draw closer, we could see the campsite just beyond the still laguna and the thick wooded forests dispersed all over the islands.
From the boat's arrival point, the campsite is a 10-15 walk across the bridge which links the two islands. If you have too much stuff to carry comfortably, there are carts of various shapes and sizes that you can load your stuff into to make the journey a little easier. Check in at the little hut at the campsite, collect your tent tag, and you are then free to pick a spot and pitch up. Luckily, the weekend rush hadn't started yet and we were able to find a nice protected position with a beautiful view out of the Playa de Rodas and towards Vigo - it was a privileged window with a stunning natural view.
Our balcony looking out onto the Playa de Rodas and the Ria de Vigo in the distance. And now to lunch. This is a food website, so I can't possibly finish this article without going into the gory details of our picnic. Although you could quite happily eat from the bar, restaurant and shop on the island, which, being Spanish, are of good quality and not hideously overpriced, it would detract somewhat from the fun of camping, so here are my recommendations for some good stuff you can grab from a supermarket before leaving:
- Tortilla: a premade tortilla will keep for at least the first day of your trip in a cool bag with a few ice packs.
- Chorizo and/or salchichon: grab the most cured ones you can find and they'll be fine for a couple of days without refrigeration.
- Cheese triangles: Dairylea or the local brand 'El Caserio', will also be fine without refrigeration.
- Small tins of pate.
- Prepackaged toasted bread slices.
- Individually wrapped croissants, pan de leche, bollos, magdalenas etc: eat the savoury ones with the chorizo and save the sweeter ones for breakfast.
- Pasteurised milkshakes: again, great for breakfast and don't need refrigeration.
After lunch, we packed up and got ready for our first expedition. Watch this space. Jessi plans out first expedition out into the island. Looking back over the campsite as we leave for our first walk.