When you first tell people that you've 'bought a house in Spain' it certainly gets their interest.
No matter how casual the acquaintance you can see the thought process etched on their faces (I know because before I was a proud Spanish property owner, I used to go through it). It is a process which goes something along the lines of;
"Lucky swine. A place in Spain. A place in the Sun. A pool. Sun and a pool. Sangria. Tapas. Paella...sun, a pool and paella with beer. San Miguel. A villa...a shiny new villa...with a pool. Lucky, lucky, swine. Could I be friends with this person. Sun. Pool. Beer. I guess he's okay. Now I need to look really interested...he may invite me out. Pool, wall-to-wall-sun, beer. Lucky swine!"
That all happens in a millisecond and then they say "really, Spain...where abouts?".
It is at this point that I can drop my little bombshell, with a smile on my face, as I know what has just gone through their mind. 'Galicia', I say with chest puffed out with pride, as I ready myself for the next inevitable question.
To a man, or woman, the reaction is the same. A furrowed brow, a crumpled nose, that vacant look as they search the brain archives of their 'O' level geography for any trace of Galicia in relation to Spain. 'Is that near Malaga?' comes the follow up.
Then I can make a start on the long explanation.
Galicia is the north western bit of Spain. The bit that runs across the top of Portugal on the Atlantic coast. It's a square, about the size of Belgium, sparsely populated but eye-achingly beautiful. As green as the Lake District, as diverse as the west coast of Scotland and covered in beautiful little coves and beaches like Cornwall. It has world heritage sites (Lugo, Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, and in nearby Asturias, Oviedo) , a world biosphere site and acres of rolling unspoilt countryside.
It is split into four provinces; Lugo, Ourense, Pontevedra and A Coruña (working clockwise from 12). Each has its own character and loyal citizens but all share a common language (Gallego), love of food and good wine, Celtic heritage, and all of which were devastated by mass migrations away from the area over the last two centuries.
There is no denying that it rains a lot, it takes the worst that the Atlantic Ocean can throw at it, but if you can define rain as 'happy' and 'sad' then Galicia definitely has 'happy' rain. Santiago de Compostela, for example, experiences rain on around 100 days per year but these will often be showers which blow through after thirty minutes followed by glorious sunshine. And in the summer it never gets excessively hot, pleasantly hot, but not the kind of heat which cooks you from the soles of your flip-flops upwards. It's where Spaniards go on their holidays, which is why they keep it to themselves.
And the food is to 'die for', although as it is very healthy you are unlikely to do so. The finest and freshest of seafood, fresh vegetables and beans, salad, empanada, pork and beef. All this washed down with the wines which the Galicians, and Spaniards, keep all for themselves. Even a 5€ a litre house wine is usually better than a £20+ UK restaurant bottle.
And the people are so friendly. Always willing to help, to explain, to buy you a coffee. We've been welcomed by everyone we've met since we started looking for a house. People seem generally pleased to have you around and when we tell them we are setting up a hotel they seem delighted that we are to become part of their community, even through their disappointment when we tell them that we've not got any children (but that is a different story).
I stop for breath, and so does my newly 'Galicia educated' acquaintance. They are still thinking 'beer...sun...pool', but it is enhanced and embellished with thoughts of 'culture, food, wine, scenery, health, and friendly people. And my job is done.
Hopefully we've just got another potential visitor on the hook who will come to spend some time at our future Casa Rural and who too will discover a new Spain...the paradise that is Galicia.