Los Cañones del Sil

Last weekend, we took a boat trip to the Cañones del Sil.

We drove a few hours, wound our way up and down mountains, and finally came upon this little dock on the river where we boarded a catamarán.

The view of the canyons from the river is absolutely beautiful, and since this is one of the few areas of Galicia that has a lot of deciduous trees, you can even see a little bit of fall color creeping in.

Besides the beauty of the canyons themselves, one of the most astounding things we saw were the many viñas (vineyards) scored into the mountains, with what seems like a very steep incline and little room for error.

We were lucky to have chosen a beautiful day for the tour, and since we were far away from home, we decided to make a day of exploring rural Oursense. After the boat tour, we headed into the mountains for lunch, and then visited the old monastery of Santo Estevo (of course, in the middle of nowhere) that is now a Parador, or national historic hotel.

Not a bad view, huh? Although I’m sure getting here on foot years ago was no easy task, the monastery received visitors from all over because its miraculous curing powers was known far and wide. Unfortunately, when the Spanish government began to reclaim some of the extensive landholdings of the Catholic church, this monastery fell victim and the monks were sent elsewhere. Luckily, it is still in use and you can stay here and enjoy the same beautiful views the monks did.

Aside from enjoying the views, we also enjoyed the monks’ chestnut trees. A sign down a winding path pointed us to an old chestnut grove that was literally bursting with ripe chestnuts. Isaac, always a sucker for a good chestnut, couldn’t believe his good luck. But we hadn’t brought a bag or anything to collect them in! So I tied a scarf I had with me into a bag and we greedily filled it with all the chestnuts we could carry. Don’t worry, there were still thousands more left that made us sad to leave.

After pilfering the monks’ chestnuts, we had to hightail it out of there, so we continued our journey along the winding roads past villages and rural houses with magnificent views of the canyons. Along the way we stopped to take some pictures as the sun was setting.

To give you an idea of the size of these mountains, that white blotch in the water is the same boat we took earlier in the day. It holds sixty people but it looks like a tiny canoe down there.

And of course, no trip through Galicia would be complete without seeing evidence of the camino de Santiago everywhere, in the shape of a tall stone cross that can be seen from afar.

It was a beautiful day to enjoy the best of what Galicia has to offer: nature, architecture, and of course, food!

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