Living in Spain for 2 school years I encountered a lot of great reasons to live there, and reinforced reasons I went in the first place. The only thing I knew for sure was that I had to pay homage to Vigo in honor of a Spanish professor at the University of Iowa whose love for Don Quijote affected me permanently.
I remember telling a lot of people that I had to go to Vigo the first year I was in Spain and they were like….why? It’s not a huge city, not particularly beautiful, no must see cathedrals or anything; but for me it was something to connect me to Don Quijote in a way more than seeing the windmills could have (although I have to go back and see those too).
It was going to be my own Camino de Santiago that involved no walking, hardship, or purposeful spiritual revelations (but maybe i’ll go back and do that too).
I was going to take a train, but luckily my most amazing Diego was able to join and drive and help me navigate the interesting world of renting a car. The actual rental place was not going to accept my American credit card- HOWEVER, when I rented the car online I could- and still picked it up from the same place. Moral of the story is never take no for an answer. (The moral of SO many stories by the way).
Our first challenge was figuring out the best route and stopping points. We settled on Ponferrada to lay our weary traveling bodies before we set off for Vigo and Las Islas Cies the next day.
Ponferrada is not a place I had ever heard of before, and it’s not exactly a destination you would stay for a week, but you could have a great weekend here despite it’s small size. First of all, free and delicious tapas when you order a drink- and pretty good size. Second, a castle! Third, great views- situated in a lush valley. There is also a fair amount of good shopping and excellent restaurants that we didn’t even have time for. I know by the end of our short stay we said it was a place we would go back to. If you are in Spain, check it out!
Below, a church built into the mountainside along the way. This is also when I was yelling “Buen camino” to people biking and walking in the rain. I felt guilty being so comfy in the car so yelling made me feel better. The Castle in Ponferrada Don Quijote!! Castle ruins
This is just part one of our trip that included Vigo, Islas Cies, and Santiago de Compostela. Shout out to my girl Leslie also for lunching with us in Leon, another highlight of the trip and a great city in Spain.