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Spanish Secrets: Discovering A Gold Bar

"...history has a tendency of converting architects into artists. Imagine the emotions and feelings of ancient Egyptians when the pyramids blighted their landscape...'' Craig and Melanie Briggs, on one of their beloved exploratory road trips, discover a splendid bar in a dramatic setting.

My wife Melanie and I, have a passion for exploration, particularly road expeditions. It was on one such road trip that we discovered a golden bar. If by chance you find yourself in Galicia, Spain, you may wish to retrace our steps and discover this hidden treasure.

From the historic town of Monforte de Lemos follow the sign posts for the town of Chantada. The main highway, the CRG2.1, winds its way through picturesque countryside.

A patchwork of lush meadows, ancient deciduous forests and small conifer plantations are stitched together with a network of dry-stone walls, wooden fencing and unkempt thickets. Sprinkled over this landscape are the white washed walls of tiny hamlets and stone built farmhouses.

After driving approximately 10km, the road crosses high above the deep valley gorge of the river Mino. This magic carpet of tarmac is supported by concrete tablets rising hundreds of feet from the valley below.

A short distance upstream from this is a huge grey concrete dam. Capturing the awesome power of the river provides renewable hydro-electricity. It stands as a testament, not only to mans ingenuity, but also Galicias’ commitment to the environment

Its location provides a stark and conflicting contrast to the beautiful surroundings. Some might even label it, “an eyesore”, although history has a tendency of converting architects into artists. Imagine the emotions and feelings of ancient Egyptians when the pyramids blighted their landscape.

Before crossing the river, bear left. This narrow, tree lined lane meanders down the valley side. The trees green foliage providing a leafy tunnel to the river bank.

Spanning the river is a medieval stone bridge, its shadow reflecting like a mirage in the still water. Bypass this and continue along the river bank for a kilometre, to the small riverside village of Belesar.

The village is divided in two by the river, and linked by a steel railed bridge. Before entering the village you’ll find a parking bay on the right. A wooden sign marked “Bodega”, is nailed to a rocky outcrop at the roadside, alerting thirsty travellers to this hidden treasure. Descend the thirty-or-so granite steps to the rivers edge, and the bar.

Although very modern, the bar has been built in a tasteful and traditional style. Once inside, the natural stone walls keep patrons and visitors cool. Perched on ledges and wedged between cracks in the walls, are various coins left by visitors from all parts of the globe. Behind the bars counter, the riverside bedrock provides natural shelving for bottles and glasses.

Take a seat at a window table and enjoy the spectacular scenery. The valley sides are covered with terraced vineyards rising hundreds of metres from the valley floor, like a staircase to the clouds. The ghostly reflections of the bridge and village houses shiver in the dark water, which with almost supernatural regularity flows upstream.

During the summer months visitors can sit outside next to the shimmering river. The luckiest of which might be surveyed by a majestic bird of prey, resting only 10 metres away.

After leaving this riverside treasure, the more adventurous amongst you will continue along the river bank. In an hour, you might find yourself back in Monforte de Lemos, or better still, discover your own golden bar.

If you do, please share it with us all.

email address
craigandmel@msn.com

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