Gallivanting around Galicia

In March, my friends and I took advantage of some phenomenal Ryanair flight deals and visited a region of Spain I had never seen: the northwestern Galicia. Staying in Santiago de Compostela, we also visited the beach town A Coruña, celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, and generally had a fabulous time.

Three of my favorite fellow auxiliares, two American and one British, Sara, Linnaea, and Gagan, were my travel companions. We arrived in rainy, cold Santiago de Compostela, found our way via public transportation to our hostel, and began wandering the town. Santiago is known for its cathedral, shrine to Saint James the Great and inspiration for the ever-popular Camino de Santiago (Saint James’ Way), a pilgrimage across Europe ending in Santiago.

The bleak weather and small size of the town inspired us to hop on a train 80 kilometers north to A Coruña, a coastal town and the second biggest city in Galicia after Vigo (though that’s not saying much!). With no particular agenda in mind (or even a map), we meandered about the city, exploring parks, plazas, and beaches. Better weather would have made the city much more appealing, but we still had a great time.

Sara, Gagan, and Linnaea on the beach in A Coruña

Perhaps the highlight of our visit was lunch. We walked around until we found an inexpensive-yet-delicious-looking restaurant, ultimately settling at a place called Café Bar Mazaricos near the Casa del Hombre museum. Tapas were shockingly cheap and large (I think I paid about €1.50 for a dish that was too big to even finish!), and we got to try the typical Galician dish zorza, spicy pork. Best of all, we got to experience the warmth and friendliness that’s typical of northern Spain. The owner joyfully chatted with us about our travels and even left us with some parting gifts: tourist pamphlets and personalized coin purses. She was the best.

Zorza at Café Bar Mazaricos

Next, we visited the Casa del Hombre, an interactive science museum, where we had way too much fun trying out all the exhibits and displays. I adore science museums. We continued walking from there to check out one of A Coruña’s main landmarks, the Torre de Hércules, an ancient Roman lighthouse. Then, we slowly made our way back to the train station and caught a train back to Santiago.

Gagan and Sara experimenting with sound at Casa del Hombre

Back in Santiago, we made cheap sandwiches at the hostel and called it an early night. We began the next day by braving the rain to visit a quaint farmer’s market. We then entered the famed Santiago cathedral, because what European trip would be complete without too many cathedral visits? Upon exiting, we found that the skies had finally cleared. Hooray!

Santiago's (finally sunny!) cathedral

We walked through a park, posed with some statues (obviously the best thing to do on any trip), stopped in an art museum, and had delicious Indian food for lunch. We then found a spooky yard that looked liken an Irish cemetery (appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day!), visited a Galician anthropology museum with a super spiffy spiral staircase, and ended the day, of course, at an Irish pub.

Spooky Santiago

Museo do Pobo Galego's spiral staircase

The pub was giving away green wigs and glasses for purchases of Jameson or Guinness, so we decked ourselves out St. Patrick’s Day style and celebrated the holiday. Galicia was once home to Celtic tribes, so it was a semi-appropriate place to celebrate the Irish, I suppose? We had awesome kebabs for dinner (oh how I wish doner kebabs were popular in the U.S.!) and then went to bed, returning to Sevilla bright and early the next morning.

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

Though Galicia’s often rainy weather doesn’t make for the best sightseeing, the region was beautiful, the people were friendly, and I’d love to return to see more of Galicia. Yet another fantastic European journey!

5 Responses

  1. I would love to explore Galicia and the north of Spain more. I find Galician food to be just as good as Basque and cheaper too! (I guess I mean that the pinchos in the Basque country get all the fame.)

    Hope you’re getting excited about Madrid! Which barrio will you be living in?

    • Kirstie says:

      I’m hoping to live near the Tribunal metro stop (my school’s at the end of the 10 line), but I’ll see what my best options are when I arrive! How about you?

  2. Gammy says:

    Hi Kirstie! I think you should write a book about Spain! Your travels are extremely interesting and so explcit. The pictures are great, too! I am with you all of the way! Love you!

  3. Cassandra says:

    What a great story about the bar owner in A Coruña! I have a friend who’ll be living there this year so my ears perked up as I read about your positive experiences. The Casa de Hombre museo sounds terrific, and I’ll have to scribble Café Bar Mazarico down in my travel notes, as well.

    Ps. We may be vecinas this year!

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