Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spring Break Trip to the North: Santiago de Compostela

The last stop of our trip was in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.  We arrived late at night on Holy Thursday and took a quite round about way to our hostel, so after that we decided to just crash out and get a good night's rest.  The next day we woke up to a rainy day, but not to be deterred, we headed out anyway.  After grabbing a yummy ham toast for breakfast, our first stop was the Cathedral.  This cathedral supposedly houses the remains of Saint James, or Santiago in Spanish, and is the end stop of one of Europe's largest pilgrimages.  
The altar of the cathedral, surrounded by pilgrims and shushing priests.  I gave the longest confession of my life here, as well, with an incredibly chatty priest who wanted to talk about everything.
The cathedral facade, from under an awning where we hid from the rain.
Lunch: spring rolls with awesome plum sauce and coconut soup.  I also had spicy vegetables with Thai basil.  We sat and chatted and drank beers for hours, looking out at the downpour and laughing with the owner.
a church featuring people burning piously
me in the rain
Then we headed out to watch the first cofradia's parade.
We had dinner at a pulperia, or octopus house: delicious (!!) pulpo a la gallega (octopus Galician style), which is cooked with garlic and paprika in wine and then roasted on a wooden platter, with padron peppers covered in sea salt, some french fries, and Galician beer.  The place was absolutely hopping, with tons of people eating atop barrels and more waiting at the bar for their turn.
We also got some fruity white wine, which was served in little bowls.  The white wines in Galicia were really super, crisp and delicious... plus they cost pretty much nothing.
The next day we headed to the supermarket to get breakfast, with nutty bread, jam, and local cheese we'd bought the day before.
Legend has it that a sculptor had made a voluptuous statue that distracted the locals too much at mass, so the church ordered him to modify it.  The locals missed their statue so much they started making "titty cheese" (yes, that's it's real name) as a form of revenge.  Anyway, it's delicious.
me with the cathedral in the sunshine
pretty plaza
We also visited the museum of the pilgrim, which contained tons of information about the historic pilgrimage and old artifacts as well.
The seashell was Santiago's symbol and can be seen everywhere, such as this canteen.  The seashell also marks the whole route of the many pilgrimage trails, so we'd seen it on sidewalks all week as we traveled across the north.
After visiting the museum, we sat in the square behind the cathedral and ate Easter bread.
Then we headed back to the main square to see another cofradia performance.  That night, we got pizza and chicken wings for dinner in pretty much the only restaurant open in town.
Our last day was Easter Sunday.  We spent a quiet morning, and then headed to the town to spend a last afternoon.  Here's a little worker dude statue. 
We found a park full of some old buildings and some cool statues.
It also afforded some great views of the Cathedral and the town.
Lyla, the Cathedral, and I
The city was so hopping, you wouldn't have been able to tell it was Easter.
Lyla and I got a fantastic lunch at a beautiful little restaurant.  First course: sauteed octopus and shrimp in garlic and white wine with some peppers.
Main course: beautifully fried salmon (crispy outside, rare inside) with almond sauce.  Dessert was tiramisu and the wine was a gorgeous Albiol.
We saw one more cofradia before heading to the bus station to catch our night bus home and end a fantastic, fantastic trip to the north of Spain.  Go, people.  Go.


Anonymous said...

Your trip sounded so nice and you looked so pretty Food looked good but don't know anywhere that cooks octopus someday maybe I will get to try it Glad you had a good time miss you love and kisses xoxoxo

LL's Mom said...

Wings....LOL. Glad you had a great time. Food looked great. Love and miss you. Mom o0oxo00ox