The town of Oin
The reason Oin is mentioned here is not because of any hidden importance or historical relevance, but simply because it is typical of the many small towns and villages you will pass on a typical country drive in Galicia. Please excuse the fact that this description may have the character of a travelogue, but that's the best way for me to describe Oin.
Our trip to Oin
We first encountered Oin on a warm sunny day at the end of July 2002. We left our apartment in Noia at about 10.30am and decided to head up into the hills and simply go with the flow. We drove through various quaint and picturesque towns and, after seeing various signs for Padron, decided to make it our target destination. In total the journey there lasted about two leisurely hours, but ten to fifteen minutes before we reached Padron (although we did not know that at the time) we entered Oin. We had spent most of the previous hour ascending various hills and looking back at spectacular views when the descent to Oin started. If you have ever been somewhere and had that feeling of familiarity, or having been there before, then this is what I felt when we entered Oin.
Left, a view looking back towards the hills that surround the village of Oin. The crop you can see growing in the fields is the obligatory Galician sweet corn (July 2004).
A typical Galician village
Oin is really nothing more than a little village straddling the road to Padron, but with a couple of bars and a mixture of traditional style houses and an old church it has all the "wish list" items of the perfect Galician village. Anyway we decided to park the car and have a look around. Oin is in a bit of a valley and as we looked back towards our incoming route we were faced with lush green hills and mountains and we realized why our ears had "popped" during the descent.
We explored Oin for about half an hour and found that, in addition to the small church and several other interesting looking buildings, it had a beautiful little mansion house on one of the lesser roads leading back into the hills (see the picture to the right). The lower part of the garden, surrounding the small mansion, also had several orange trees in full fruit which made the whole scene even more picturesque.
After wondering around and taking a bit of video footage we felt the need for some refreshment and decided to try one of Oinís bars. On entering the bar we were faced with the traditional Galician sight, a room full of men. Bars are still rarely frequented by women in Galicia and there was an uncomfortable silence. I suggested to Maria that we try the other bar over the road, but my English voice attracted the attention of the drinkers and we felt compelled to approach. Unable to order in Gallego myself, Maria broke the silence with a female voice and asked for a couple of cokes. All eyes were now on us and the initial feeling was that I had broken some unwritten rule by bringing a women into this male bastion.
No sooner had we both decided that the coke venture was a big mistake, than every voice in the bar directed questions at Maria, asking where we were from? did we like Galicia? and how nice it was to see English holiday makers in their little bar (Maria is actually Galician, but her accent is English). In addition to the two cokes, we were each given a plate with a selection of tapas, all at no charge, and left the bar shortly after, followed by the good wishes of all its complement and the hope that we would visit again. The photo above left is the bar in which we initially thought we had made an error of judgement, but which proved very friendly and hospitable (July 2004).
Not surprisingly we have very good memories of Oin and we have visited it, albeit briefly, on each of our last two Galician holidays.
To the right, a final shot taken in Oin which aptly illustrates the climatic and floral differences between Galicia and the more southern regions of Spain - Galicia really is called "green Spain" for a reason. The steeple that you can see in the distance (center shot) is the towns small church and the crop in the foreground - you guessed it - sweet corn.
Tell us about your encounter with Galicia
If you have holidayed in Galicia and would like to add your experience of a town or city you visited to our guide, get in touch, we are alway looking for new content, especially when it relates to a visitors first hand experience of this region.