Santiago de Compostela

an unexpected trip to the end of the world

 

Santiago de Compostela

Upon arrival in Santiago de Compostela one may be taken aback by the lack of bulls, sangria, paella, and hot sunny days.  Everything that makes up the stereotype of Spain seems to be missing, and THAT is exactly what makes it so wonderful.

When thinking of Spain, the images that readily come to mind are primarily from the southern coastal regions. Santiago is the cultural center of Galicia and is the farthest northwest province of the country. This region was once considered the end of the world, Finisterre, by the Romans, yet Galicia is chock full of authentic experiences waiting to be had.

While most of Spain is arid and sun kissed, this region is lush, wet and vividly green. Rocky cliffs overlooking the Atlantic and moderate temperatures makes you wonder if you are really in Spain or in the countryside of Ireland.

Many people do not realize the extent of the Celtic influence on the Iberian Peninsula, yet while in Santiago you will be touched by its strong Celtic heritage. Everywhere you look there are Celtic symbols and legends, and even bagpipes droning in the distance. And at the same time, every few steps, you will encounter pilgrims of all faiths and beliefs, from all over the world, who have just arrived after walking for days, weeks or months to visit the famous tomb of St. James the Apostle, the first Christian/Catholic pilgrimage site of Europe.

Paella may have originated on the other side of the country, and sangria may not be so easily found as it is further south, but trade in those icons for the country’s freshest produce and surprising gastronomic adventures, and you will understand. Daily fresh catch of seafood unique to that region (including the famous Galician octopus), a  refreshing bottle of Albariño wine to accompany it, honey licors, flourless almond cakes and the famous Teton cheese, will make you want to explore even more area specialities.

If you want to get a real feel for the diversity of Spain, not only in climate but in culture, add Santiago de Compostela to your itinerary, and be surprised with all that Spain has to offer!

 
 
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