Over the years I have found one of the best things about traveling is reconnecting with old friends. This time around in Madrid, I was fortunate to find myself living very close to one of my best friends from high school, Carl, who is studying abroad for the semester. It’s been great being in the same city with him and getting to spend quality time together that just doesn’t rival the catch-up sessions we regularly got when home on breaks from college. We knew we wanted to take a trip together before he returns back to school stateside, so this past weekend we traveled up north to the province of Galicia, an area I have always wanted to check out.
As fate would have it, an old friend from middle school named Michelle contacted me when she caught on from Facebook that I was living in Spain. Turns out, she is teaching English in Santiago de Compostela and had nothing but great things to say about it. She encouraged me and Carl to travel up there, arranged a place for us to stay with her friends, and was the best tour guide we could have hoped for. Times like these, I am very thankful for Facebook. It also worked out well because Carl and Michelle know each other from our days in the Colorado Children’s Chorale and although she hadn’t seen us for over 8 years or so, we all got along great.
Due to Galicia’s location, it tends to be rainy but we lucked out with the weather and although it was sprinkling a fair amount, we didn’t experience torrential downpours that could otherwise put a damper on our trip.
The main attraction in Santiago is a giant cathedral that I remember first learning about when I was 12 years old. It was definitely rewarding to finally see it in person. It’s significance arises from the fact it’s the ending point for the famous pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago taken by many every year. It was stunning.
The city is divided into two parts- the zona vieja and zona nueva. We spent plenty of time walking around both but I favored the cobblestoned streets of the zona viejalined with cafés, bars and shops. We also visited the town’s market which as chock-full of surprises like entire pigs hanging by their hoofs, chicken feet and furry (yet dead) rabbits. Thankfully, those things don’t make me squeamish.
On Saturday me and Carl took a quick train to A Coruña, a neighboring city nestled by the coast. Once again, we experienced bearable weather that made for a refreshing walk along the water that ended with a trek up to the top of their famous lighthouse. The city was breathtaking and being by the sea was relaxing to say the least.
Afterwards, we had an amazing meal. Galicia is known for fresh seafood with their specialty being octopus so, of course, that’s what I got. Another staple treat of Santiago is the tartade Santiago which me and Carl tried yesterday. It’s a moist and nutty cake that was delicious!
We spent yesterday checking out the cathedral, shopping, and eating with Michelle and her friends. We got home late last night and now it’s back to the work, but this week is a little different. I only have to work Monday and Wednesday (Tuesday is a holiday) and then Thursday night me and Anna are off to Switzerland for four nights and five days! This weekend definitely reminded me how much I love traveling so to say I am excited for my first trip to the Alps would be the understatement of the year.