Galicia (pronounced Gah – LEE – thyah, or something close to that), the autonomous community right above Portugal in Northwestern Spain, is usually plagued by rain and fog. Fortunately, when we visited this past weekend there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Galicia is known for its Cathedral of Santiago, beautiful coasts, distinct dialect/language and amazing seafood, all of which I got to experience when I was there.
El Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James) is a famous route that many religious pilgrims take each year to visit the remains of the apostle Saint James the Greater in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The seashell has come to be a symbol of Saint James, due to one legend or another about his body’s arrival in Galicia. These shells can be seen all of the city as well as Spain, pointing towards the endpoint of the pilgrimage:
The shell has a metaphorical meaning as well. The lines on the shell are said to represent the convergence of the multiple different routes that end in Santiago de Compostela. Oviedo has La Cathedral del Salvador (The Cathedral of the Savior) and I actually learned a saying in one of my classes that goes something like this:
Quien va a Santiago y no al Salvador visita al criado pero no al Señor
Which translates to:
He who goes to (the Cathedral of) Santiago and not (The Cathedral of) The Savior visits the servant but not the Lord
Regardless of whether a pilgrim stops in Oviedo or not, they finish their journey at Cathedral of Santiago, a towering building constructed under the reign of Alfonso VI of Castile in the 11th and 12th centuries, although altered and embellished in later centuries.
After staying in Santiago de Compostela overnight, we left for A Coruña the next morning. A much bigger city on the Atlantic coast, La Coruña is the second most populated in Galicia. I knew it was a city world-renowned for its seafood, so I went planning to EAT. And eat I did. After seeing some sights though. We stopped first at La Torre de Hércules (The Tower of Hercules), a lighthouse supposedly dating back to the second century. Actually, this lighthouse is the oldest functional lighthouse in the world. Here’s a photo:
We spent some time here, also checking out the coast:
After taking the bus back into the city, it was time to try this seafood Galicia was famous for. A friend and I stopped at a little restaurant and went to town. We tried percebes (barnacles that grow on the rocks on the coast), some of the biggest mejillones (mussels) I have ever seen and pulpo (octupus) that was to die for. I had eaten it once in Oviedo and once in Santiago de Compostela beforehand, but the octupus in La Coruña, served over potatoes with oil and paprika sprinkled on top, was beyond what I could have imagined. It wasn’t chewy like I was expecting and it tasted fantastic, plain and simple.
I certainly enjoyed it. After a weekend away, I’m ready to hang out in Asturias for a little bit. We have a four day weekend for Carnaval and I’ll most likely be traveling to Avilés and Gijón, two nearby cities, for the festivities. I’ll be sure to post about that next time, maybe with some pictures of me in costume. As they say in Spain, ¡Hasta luego!