Month: October 2013

Where it started and ended: Santiago de Compostela

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We clean up pretty nicely

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Pink blazer saves the day

 

I wasn’t going to go to Santiago originally. I had this thought that if I made it there it would be because I did at least part of the camino. I have realistic expectations of myself and my capabilities, and I know that time, lack of foot comfort and my iffy about camping attitude are not the ingredients to being a successful peregrino. So it was going to be another place where I was like oh yeah, I’ll go back. I am going back to Spain of course. However….being that I was already over on that side of Spain with a car and that ever lovable time….well here’s the trip.

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Being in the plaza with all the walkers, bikers and other tourists was a trip in itself. Some groups of people came attached to each other like five year old children on a  field trip holding a  rope and singing a song I had never heard before. Other people were doing what I imagined I would do- laying down relieved. Most people were just pushy and it was kind of annoying to try and have any kind of peaceful thought provoking experience when it seemed like this was nothing more than the largest ball of twine in Spain. All a big show made popular by some religious freak, but there I was. Part of it. I even bought something at the gift shop and lit two “candles”

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Candles lit for special people

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Here, you can enter and touch St. James James! Well, I don’t honestly even remember what the wait was for because everyone was so pushy and the people watching was way more interesting.  My memory is weak now, but I do remember being by a group of older ladies. Actually, a majority of the crowd were older ladies having some kind of ladies visit/vacation. Perhaps their version of Vegas. Unfortunately it seemed wrong to complain about clusters of shrunken perfume reeking vessels cutting me in line to see something I wasn’t exactly waiting my whole life to see. What was another five minutes…plus we already ate lunch so I was content.

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After a good amount of walking about, I can say that Santiago is a nice city and has some charm aside from just the cathedral, but I really would not plan on spending more than one day there. Luckily Diego booked us a special place to stay, and it goes down in the history of my life as one of the best places ever and solidified the happiness and joy of the whole trip.

http://www.bachao.es/

It is a rural house just outside of the city and you get to it on a tiny winding road. You’ll think you have arrived a few times, but you haven’t until you’re pretty sure you are just driving deep into an unknown forest, and then the property just pops up like a glowing and beautiful siren calling to you except you aren’t in the Odyssey and everything will be okay if you just follow the two overly friendly dogs that just ate half of the snacks that fell out of your side car door. (ehem, Jimena).

We went all out on our room and got the giant suite because you know we had to have the best after camping….

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We feasted on our St. James cake in bed along with other bits of food we had been schlepping around with us and totally passed out with big plans to explore the beauty of the grounds in the morning.

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These two dogs may look like your average fools, but when we asked about a good route to walk and see the river, the owner said oh just follow the dogs, they’ll lead you. Even if you don’t want them to, they’ll go with you. So with no actual idea of where we would go, and with the hope of ending up back at the house we let Jimena and the other old mystery dog lead us down to the river. Really legitimate.

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Before we started off on this journey I personally wished that I had had the appetite of Michael Phelps upon seeing the breakfast buffet….yet the word buffet does not do this spread justice because for some reason buffet has come to be an ugly word for me. It brings to mind Old Country Buffet…which I used to love and I think goes without saying why I perhaps have grown to not love it.  IMG_5158 IMG_5159

They had the most amazing homemade tortilla, yogurt, fresh juices, jamon, olive oil, toast, coffee, really great coffee…..just all you could ever want in a breakfast. I wish I had taken more pictures now but I felt like enough of a dork taking this one because I was trying to keep it cool like this was the kind of trip I go on all the time. And I was wearing a Pull & Bear windbreaker with the American Flag on it and that was probably enough.

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Jimena flouncing about. IMG_5171 IMG_5172

Really she was a decent guide but she could have gone with a few less bathing breaks. IMG_5181 IMG_5182

My pictures aren’t doing the justice I want them to to the scenery. You just have to go to know. I think it was also the feelings I was having at the time of the trip that made the green greener, the river more beautiful and the rain even rainier. I just know that I’ll always love that day and smile when I think about it. Thank you to the kind people at the Casa do Bachao, and thank you to your wonderful dogs that crack me up.

I am finally coming to the actual final leg of the trip: A Coruna.  I am way late on all of these but it wasn’t that long ago that I made the final payment on the rental car.

The one year anniversary of my sisters wedding also just came and went….and it will be one year ago that I flew back to Spain for the second time to meet my crazy high school students. I’ll make sure and wrap it up by next weekend.

besos

 

 

Where it started and ended: Vigo and Islas Cies.

We didn't eat here- but maybe we should have...

We didn’t eat here- but maybe we should have…

For the millionth time (feels like it anyways), Don Quijote truly lead me to Spain by way of a teacher from Vigo. After almost 2 years had flown by of me living in Spain I made it to Vigo and the precious Islas Cies, voted the most beautiful beach in the world a few years back. We didn’t have much planned to do around the city of Vigo since we were going to stay overnight on the island, but I had to make sure and eat some pulpo. I take recommendations adventure and travel pretty seriously, and If i’m in the place that is known for octopus why would I eat anything else? It would be like eating a hamburger in Valencia when you could be eating paella in its birth place. Duh!

Pulpo- Octopus. Always try new things.

Pulpo- Octopus. Always try new things.

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A little gallego and sweetness

A little gallego and sweetness

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After a brief walk around of the city we got  tickets for our little ferry ride over to the island. The boat photographed below is what we did not take 🙂 I forgot to snap a picture of our actual ride, but since we were going just before the start of high season the numbers and importance weren’t great enough to offer that kind of luxury. For June it was pretty cool and we had our fingers, toes, eyes, and legs crossed that it wouldn’t rain the one night we decided to go camping on an island.

Waiting to head to the Islas but this wasn't our boat

Waiting to head to the Islas

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Not the perfect day, but at least it didn't rain the whole time.....

Not the perfect day, but at least it didn’t rain the whole time…..

The Island having been voted most beautiful held a lot of promise. The truth is that I consider many things more beautiful than this island, but the special part is that it is well conserved and anything you come with you leave with- yes all the garbage from the snacks you brought goes  back to the mainland with you. Even though we saw some jerks leave a can of coke or beer. Either way, really?

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Just the old hike with a fringe purse look!

Seagulls. Creepy and very watchful of their babies

Seagulls. Creepy and very watchful of their babies

Since it wasn’t exactly sun bathing weather 😦 we had little to do besides take some walks and explore the farthest ends of the island. We made our trek up to the lighthouse which was a good workout and a good experience in seeing how territorial seagulls are. It seemed to be the season of having sea gull babies- whatever their special name is- so we had to tip toe by them on a narrow path that held jagged rocks as our option to fall over onto.

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Made it to the top to see the lighthouse.

Made it to the top to see the lighthouse.

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We had flipped open our tent and puffed our air mattress ready to settle in for a cozy nights sleep. Alas, it was freezing and raining so this is a reason that in real life I do not typically choose to go camping. But this was fake awesome Spain life, and even though we suffered and shivered our way to the morning it was a unique experience so we can just check it off the list and not go back unless Galicia decides to become a non rainy place jajajajajaja.

Waking up sore, cold and probably pretty dirty, it was almost beyond perfect that our next stop was Santiago de Compostela. We would look just like the peregrinos that had walked on foot for kilometers on end when really we had driven.  I was ready to light all the candles possible in honor of my somewhat spiritual Spanish journey, so after a quick rinse in the mall bathroom we were off.

besos!