An Eco Green Holiday
- visit Ribeira Sacra Galicia
- stay at the Casa de Flores
What is Eco travel / holiday?
International Ecotourism Society : "… responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people".
World Conservation Union defined it "…visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas …has low negative visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations".
Having read a lot about Eco, green and sustainable tourism and holidays I studied some of the Eco friendly advertised locations and opportunities. Having had a chuckle about prominently featured recycled toilet paper, - an indication of a thin green veneer or green wash? -, my personal conclusion is that we can offer a perfect balanced Eco friendly holiday here at the cottages Casa de Flores and Zapatero in the Ribeira Sacra Galicia Spain.
Lets start with the house:
Stone, brick, chestnut, pine and lime for the structure. Breathable paint throughout (National Trust F&B). Due to the climatic circumstances we have aluminium based windows. The roofs are fully breathable and tile clad.
Floors are tiles or wood, just waxed or sealed with linseed-oil. Additional insulation when used is cork, but kept to a minimum, thus avoiding problems with trapped damp and moved dew points.
Very few advanced materials have been used and only when unavoidable.
In the sometimes very humid conditions here in Galicia these (old and environmentally friendly) materials work best.
Lets look at the utilities and amenities:
Water comes from our own well and is checked. Its 6.7ph and of high quality. Even after two years it still takes getting used to the fact that only minimal soap is required.
Waste water is reintroduced into our grounds.
Heating is by wood burners and the central heating is based on wood pellets.
For hot water we do use distributed small gas boilers, as the pipe runs for solar are just too long and would require constant circulation. Thus it's just on demand, powered by a readily available source which can be easily converted to bio gas once it becomes more common available.
The same goes for cooking, which is on gas but we also have permission and use our neighbours wood fired bred oven.
Lighting is a combination of standard, halogen, power saving and LED wherever appropriate.
The combined living space, of all cottages, the one to rent and ours, is in excess of 200m2 and we run this on a single phase 20 to 25A with the help of some ingenious wiring and electronics. (Avoid blowing fuses - stretch it)
All wet rooms are automatically air vented and do have under floor warming / drying and this runs independent on a small amount of electricity. The advantage is that the overall temperature can be kept lower without compromising comfort or introducing damp. When needed or desired a nice wood fire looks after real cozy comfort, specifically when, according to the time of year, its supposed to be warm, not to forget that the nights are nearly always cool here in rural Galicia.
The washing machines are so effective that we could run them just with a bucket of water when our central pump failed (washing with no running water).
Need to stay in contact? WiFi is provided but sorry, tranquil location, no radio or TV.
The bigger picture:
The Casa de Flores is in a tiny farming hamlet. Surrounded by small fields and woodlands.
Galicia exports hydroelectric and is a large installer of wind turbines.
The dammed up rivers produce not just power, but also the micro climate for excellent wines, are full of fish and have small hidden beaches.
Thermal hot springs make the indulgence of hour-long bathing in hot water fairly carbon neutral as driving there is offset by not spending on heating.
Galicia and specifically the Ribeira Sacra lends itself to indulge in walking, cycling, swimming, fishing, horse riding and more.
Eco tourism, specifically off season, is a way to make the fading rural communities sustainable and keep the often ancient customs, arts and crafts.
Today, tourism, see the article - A word about Tourism - Ribeira Sacra - , is far and few between to say the least. Except in August, the main holiday month of Spain, and away from the pilgrims way, the Ribeira Sacra is certainly a sleeping beauty to be discovered.
Yes, there is the issue of getting here. Ferries from the UK, trains, driving and even walking the pilgrims way are options. Dare I say it, taking a plane and hiring a new efficient car, is a viable alternative. Once arrived here, all the above kicks in and money spend locally, when shopping in the still existing small shops, drinking the local wine and eating the local food, is money spend to support a sadly fast shrinking rural community. Kayaking, riding, guided walking are just a few of the initiatives around here. A bit more considerate tourism will help to make these viable and sustainable and may well help to stop the depopulation.
My verdict: Within the modern confines and restrictions, a holiday here in the Ribeira Sacra in Galicia and staying in the Casa de Flores or other suitable accommodations, is a step in the right direction. It results in a well balanced Eco or green holiday ticking all the boxes. Offering you a real holiday, whilst supporting a rural community in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
Want to know more, want to see it virtually, want to stay – visit us at LifeinGalicia.com Correspondence from Mer Sober Galicia.
PS May I recommend you quickly glance at the article - Tourism Ribeira Sacra - Does it exist? -
PPS Just successfully installed an irrigation system with a solar pump !