When we were exploring options on where to live in Spain, Santiago de Compostela was at the top of our list because we have some very special friends from Clemson who live there.
Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is in northwestern Spain in the region of Galicia.
It is a verdant area, and in addition to Spanish, they speak gallego (Galician). The street signs are all in gallego, which is a Romance language that seems to me to be a mix of Spanish and Portuguese.
I was torn about moving there because I really wanted to be near our friends, but at the same time I was also worried about the gray skies and rain affecting my mental health. The sunshine in Granada won out in the end, but we were so excited to visit and finally see our friends.
We had a fantastic welcome! It was so wonderful for all of us to catch up since 2019. The girls have all grown so much, but their friendships didn’t skip a beat.
We had a fun surprise the morning after our arrival. A Carnaval parade! I still don’t understand why it was in September since Carnaval is in the spring before lent and Easter. Regardless, it was such a fantastic way to be welcomed to the city. The costumes and music were fantastic.
And it was loud with these huge drums and bagpipes, which are traditional to this region with a Celtic history.
The most famous spot in Santiago de Compostela is the Cathedral. It is the terminus of the Caminos de Santiago, which are pilgrimage routes across Spain to the church with the remains of St. James.
It was exciting and emotional to see the pilgrims arrive to the church after their long journeys.
We visited the tomb with St. James’ remains. This entrance is only open every four years, and we happened to be lucky to enter.
Climbing up to the roof of the cathedral offered great views of the plaza and city below.
Around the City
We took a tourist train to get the lay of the land, and the girls brought smiles to all we passed by.
After a very hot and arid August in Granada, we savored the lush tree- and grass-filled parks and landscapes in Santiago de Compostela.
We also visited a special place called Ciudad de la Cultura de Galicia (City of Culture of Galicia) in Santiago de Compostela. It’s a complex of cultural buildings (exposition hall, event center, library, artist workspace, theater…) designed by a group of architects led by Peter Eisenman (and a also has a really fun playground.)
We had a wonderful time wandering around this medieval city.
Santiago de Compostela is famous for its many seafood dishes, especially pulpo (octopus).
We have a rule that the girls have to try everything…
After another few weeks in Santiago de Compostela, we might not fit on these walkways.
While in Santiago de Compostela, we took a short train to a town called Padrón. It was the home of the famous Galician poet and pioneer feminist Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885). We arrived too late to visit her house, but we did get to have lunch at the Sunday feria market.
Delicious food and drinks + new places + friends = A perfect day
We wanted to visit another part of Spain’s coast and visited A Coruña. We didn’t have many expectations or plans for our visit, but we loved it and decided to spend the night there.
A Coruña is famous for its lighthouse la Torre de Hercules (the Tower of Hercules). It was built in the 2nd Century and was renovated in 1791 and is the oldest lighthouse still in use.
This area was known as the end of the earth (Finisterra is a nearby city) and also as the Coast of Death due to the many shipwrecks on the rocky shore.
We weren’t in a ship so we could fully enjoy the beauty of the coast line.
We also rented bicycles and loved riding along the bikeway that skirts the coast.
A Coruña is a popular place for surfers.
We walked all around the city. I love plazas like this one that you find around Spain.
We visited the harbor and marina to see the boats that have safely fared these waters.
Castro de Baroña
We also got to visit another breathtaking place on the coast.
Castro de Baroña is a fortified settlement from the Iron Age. It is surrounded by two walls and contains twenty roundhouses that were inhabited from the 1st Century BC until the 1st Century AD. (Thank you for the refresher, Wikipedia).
We could have climbing around the rocks and watched the ocean for hours.
This place was unlike anywhere I’d been before. Walking around this old settlement, Serena and I wondered what life was like for the people who inhabited this place two thousand years ago.
We had such a fun time in Santiago de Compostela visiting our friend and are already looking forward to getting together again.
Map of Santiago de Compostela: https://dondeesta.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/%C2%BFDonde-esta-Santiago-de-Compostela-800×445.png