As you’re probably aware, one of my close study abroad friends, Tess, has been living in Northern Spain this year. We’ve had the opportunity to see each other in Madrid twice, to vacation in the North, and to spend Easter together in Sevilla. We had talked about potentially visiting Santiago de Compostela in Galicia and I am so happy that it came together! My grandmother’s family is originally from Galicia and I was very curious to see the province where my Spanish family originally lived.
Day 1: Santiago de Compostela Museums and Views
Highlights: I almost missed my flight because I forgot my passport at home and had to turn back to retrieve it but I made it! We stayed in an adorable Airbnb in the old city near the Cathedral. We saw the Galician Heritage Museum, the Contemporary Art Museum, the museum and Iglesia de San Martin Pinario, and went to a park with beautiful views of the Cathedral. We finished our day with some delicious raciones and albariño wine, followed by a tunero (men dressed up in medieval outfits who play folk songs) concert in front of the Cathedral.
Day 2: A Coruña
Highlights: We took the train to A Coruña (talk about a short and cheap train ride)! A Coruña is the city where my Galician family used to live. The landscape looks like it belongs in Ireland or Scotland. We explored the old city, saw the Plaza de Maria Pita (she defended the city from Sir Francis Drake!), the Torre de Hércules and part of the surrounding sculpture park. We then walked along the coast to the Domus museum, which features exhibits all about human evolution and development. Of course, we ate more delicious seafood.
Day 3: Completing our Pilgrimage
Highlights: We saved the Cathedral for last. We saw the museum and the Cathedral and stayed for the Pilgrim’s Mass at noon. June is not a busy time for the city but we saw so many pilgrims and tourists crowded into the Cathedral for the mass. People from Korea, Australia, the USA, the UK, Spain, France, Peru, Germany, and other countries that I can’t remember walked or biked to Santiago de Compostela from different cities in Spain or France. They list all of the pilgrim groups, their home country, and where they began the pilgrimage at the beginning of the mass. While we didn’t see it swing, we did see the botafumeiro hanging from the Cathedral rooftop. Historically, it was swung from the Cathedral roof to cover the body odor of the pilgrims with incense. We ended our Cathedral-dedicated day with a tour of the roof. It was spectacular! There were amazing views of the Cathedral and city. Not to mention, it features areas that probably should have safety rails…
I’m ecstatic to have made it to such a famous Spanish city and to have explored A Coruña, the city that previous Spanish generations of my family called home.