All Camino roads lead to Santiago de Compostela in the province of Galicia
Join us for a very special insight into the cultural journey of the famous Camino de Santiago, with all Camino roads leading to Santiago de Compostela in the province of Galicia, known to be the final resting place of St. James the Apostle.
Our travel writer, Vanessa Lynn Uzcategui, gets up front and personal with her emotions when walking 25k a day along this ancient network of pilgrim routes.
“I think I am really close to crying,” I told Bradley at that killer hour nearing 4 pm. It was so hot. Every day, between 3pm and 6pm, I felt the heat baking my bones as if I had swallowed the sun. I got a heat rash, and a weird craving for Nestea. I never drink soda or anything like it. My drinks strictly revolve around water, coffee, tea, red wine, and beer. That’s it. But I wanted that iced, freezing Nestea with a passion. I also wanted Coca-Cola. It was a Camino thing, and it ended as soon as I stopped walking an average of 25km a day.
We chose to start the Camino de Santiago de Compostela each day no earlier than 9 am, which delayed us. But I was never so inclined to sleep all morning. Me, the girl that wakes up with the sun since childhood. The Camino was crushing my limbs. Bradley was in pain, too, he said. But Bradley looked like he was carrying feathers in his backpack, stepping on cotton candy clouds. Maybe it was his military school experience. Maybe it was his British accent.
Bradley and I talked about all the food we were about to eat in the city when we arrived! Not that we starved on the Camino. There are plenty of places to get cheap, delicious food on the way. But…we heard friends say how the food in Santiago de Compostela is incredible (perhaps the best in all of Spain?)! We arrived in the city mid-afternoon. It was beautiful, medieval, lively!
For our first dinner in Santiago de Compostela, we decided to go tapas hopping on Rúa du Franco. This street caters to tourists, and you will find all kinds of delightful tapas to eat! My favorite dish had to be the thin eggplant slices, baked with honey, and melted goat cheese poured on top. We also had Galicia’s famous octopus for the third time since we started the Camino. In my opinion, the octopus served in the small towns was better than the one we had in Santiago. But it is still a must-have wherever you end up in Galicia. The dish is simply served with olive oil and paprika. You eat it with wooden toothpicks, never with a fork.
The next day was a spiritual experience, walking down Rúa da Raiña. The restaurant: Maria Castaña. The menu: written in Gallego (Galicia’s dialect). Location: discrete (hole-in-the-wall style). Prices: NICE! Oh yes. Our last supper would be in Maria Castaña if only because this whole trip was A Pilgrimage after all, and the smell of this place moved my soul. We ordered at least 5 dishes, and the traditional red wine: mencia. The wine was so good. It had a strong grape flavor. The food was so good. We giggled, and discussed the flavors like it was the meaning of life. Sharing the last piece became a Samaritan’s good deed.
When I asked my friend Cat – who walked 200 km of the Camino in 10 days – what was the best part, she gave an inspiring answer: “The Camino provided me with everything I needed- with joy, time, space to process, love, and with people who I formed special relationships with and who pushed me to think and be better.” My friend Matt – who walked the entire Camino in a little under a month – honestly exposed the hardest part of his journey, which was also the hardest part of mine: “…sore legs that never stop being sore. It would keep me up at night,” he said.
My Camino started back in my Madrid home, just like any adventure – it began with an internet search. It happened to be the escape I needed to launch the next stage of my living abroad experience. With all that time walking, I began to reflect on my life, my happiness, and started a whole new stream of ideas I am eager to try. It gave me courage to go to those foreign countries I was more hesitant to visit. It made me feel capable, daring, and accomplished. Whether it is taking a very long walk like this, moving to a new country, or learning a new language…such are the adventures that excite me to make the most out of life. If you are ready to go for something outstanding, sign up now!
Here’s a little Camino Checklist I made to help you get started: Checklist.
If Vanessa’s blog has inspired you, see her checklist to get started and be sure to learn a little of the local language of Galicia as a first step to enjoying this beautiful landscape and culture.