I knew nothing about La Coruna before I arrived. A smallish city of around a quarter million inhabitants on Spain’s north-western coast, I was there only to visit Craig and Linda, good friends that I seem to keep bumping into all over the world..
I boarded the train six days later enamoured with the place. Narrow cobbled streets snaked through the old town with no discernable order to the untrained eye. Families strolled together ambling towards dinner, the restaurants barely starting to open at a time when those in other parts of the world have already shut. The ever-present Atlantic breeze kept temperatures cooler than the rest of the country, but the ocean views that came with it were adequate compensation.
The long curve of the beach looked perfect for sunbathers, albeit only populated with the ambitious or foolhardy while I was there. Delicious tapas filled my stomach, washed down with red wine or frothy beer for a pittance. Other than the driving nothing seemed to happen quickly, the screeching tyres of passing cars at odds with the afternoon siesta. Coffee featured heavily.
After an inappropriately early start in Amsterdam I wasn’t really in the mood for sightseeing by the time I got to La Coruna, three planes, two buses and a train later. My arrival coincided with free museum day, however, so my options were limited to one. Do it anyway.
The highlight by far was the aquarium, with its Nautilus-themed 360-degree tanks and dozens of smaller watery displays. I’m a fish geek, what I can say? Although the jazz concert in the main square wasn’t bad either, an appreciative small crowd gathered in front of the brightly lit palace building.
On another crisp afternoon of the sort that characterised my stay in La Coruna, a rambling walk led us past the fishing boats rocking gently in the harbour and on to a medieval fortress that once helped defend the city. These days the fortress is a museum, housing a collection of military and archaeological history from the area … not to mention a motley collection of seagulls that hang around keeping a watchful eye on visitors.
A lengthy trek the following day took us along the length of the beach and gently overgrown coastline to the Monte de San Pedro, complete with a glass-walled sphere that lifts visitors to the hilltop several dozen metres above. With sharp drop offs and expansive views, gazing out towards the ocean felt a little like leaning out over the edge of the world. Albeit an edge with a stylish cafe nearby.
On my final afternoon in La Coruna it seemed as if even the weather didn’t want me to leave. Bathed in glorious sunshine we lingered over lunch, where three courses, beer and coffee cost under ten dollars. Even the baleful eye of my delicious deep-fried main course wasn’t enough to put me off.
As we finished our meandering stroll past the (closed) Tower of Hercules, I turned to my hosts with a contented smile. Not for the first time in my life I uttered those fateful words:
“I think I could live here.”
Like I needed yet another place to add to the list…