If I had to choose one word to describe the region of Galicia, I would use “magical”. I studied in Santiago de Compostela as an undergrad and this city holds a special place in my heart. It is the destination of a famous pilgrimage which, according to Wikipedia, tens of thousands of people attempt each year. It is called El Camino de Santiago. The cathedral in Santiago claims to have the remains of Saint James. Here is a really nice history of Santiago de Compostela by Unesco. So in the warmer months of the year, the city is swarming with pilgrims…on bike, on foot and on buses.
This place is also special for its Celtic influence (~1,000 BC). And it is GREEN. I tell everyone to imagine Ireland and that is sort of what it looks like. There is a slight mist to rain nearly every day, so the stone in the old part of town glistens under the street lamps. Bag pipes, flutes and cathedral bells are common sounds that one hears while walking through the old part of the city. I get the feeling that a fairy will pop out any second and buzz around my head.
Galicia is also famous for pulpo. Well, it is famous for all of its seafood for that matter. I’ve been vegetarian for 4 years, but even I give in and have seafood in Galicia. I think it is an expectation.
The other thing to love about Galicia is the people. Not only do they have a beautiful language, Gallego, that is music to my ears, but they are also very warm and hospitable people. The second leg of my trip to Galicia was spent in a town called Villagarcía where we celebrated my friend’s birthday. I met Tamara nearly 10 years ago while we were both studying in Santiago. She and her family have been very good to me over the years. I’ve stayed with her several times during vacations to Spain, her aunt taught me how to make tortilla española, and above all she has been a good friend to me over the years. What I forgot is how long we would go out for. We went out for her birthday dinner at midnight and then went dancing until 8 in the morning. Then we had breakfast. Then we went to bed. Then we woke up at 2 pm and ate again. This would have been a normal Sunday for us while we were undergrads, but now we all feel it much more than we did 10 years ago. The next morning, I woke up with a cold. 😦
Additional sights and sounds of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (borrowed from the web):
Biquiños! (That is besitos or kisses in Gallego)