Discovering the North of Spain: Galicia
I live in the south of Spain which is very dry and looks like a dessert area. Even so, you can find a bit of green nature if you go to certain places like regional parks. Plus, you can see palm trees almost everywhere and I really like that. However, in January I wanted to discover the north of Spain and I booked an entire week to do so.
First stop was Galicia. First reaction: wow, it is utterly green. I landed in Santiago de Compostela. That famous city where pilgrims from around the globe come to start or finish their ‘Camino’. Though I haven’t seen many people doing the pilgrimage, probably just 3 or 4. This was probably because of the cold and rainy winter; not the best idea to walk around 25 km per day under those conditions.
The ‘Camino de Santiago’ is known in English as the Way of Saint James. This serves as a pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in Galicia at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
I went to visit the cathedral, the city centre with all those amazing squares, their beautiful and big parks and the auditorium which is a very nice modern building. Being a curious eater, I tried their regional almond cake called ‘Tarta de Santiago’. It was very delicious.
Tarta de Santiago
After spending half a day in that monumental town, I headed to Ferrol where my friend lived. She was also an ESC (European Solidarity Corps) volunteer. To get there I used BlaBlacar - another way of cheap travelling, it’s a type of car sharing. I had a very pleasant ride because of my talkative and lovely driver. She talked to me about some of the differences between the north and the south of Spain. It was also really funny that she had some Romanian colleagues and described them as shopaholics, yet elegant (well, yeah, in order to be elegant you have to shop a lot, don’t you? haha).
I found it really weird that they have many private highways and if you use them on a daily basis you still have to pay almost the exact amount of money like a tourist - the tax was 10 euro one way, but for a local, it was 15 euro both ways, instead of 20. Still, at the end of the month, you have to give an important amount of money to the company which is taking care of the road. For a Romanian, this is a bit unusual (haha).
Ferrol is a very small town where everybody knows everybody. They always greet each other when meeting at the corner of the street. I really liked that close-knit community. The harbor is pretty and they have a pedestrian route throughout the Ferrol’s estuary (the famous ‘Ria de Ferrol’).
Ria de Ferrol
Whenever I travel I am more interested in discovering the green surroundings and my friend knew this, so I had a very adventurous stay. We went to the ‘Fragas do Eume’ Natural Park, an amazing place which is really close to the town.
Since it was winter, their rainy season, the weather was super tricky. We left the house while it was still sunny, there were only a few drops. So, we started our wonderful hiking route within the park. Everything was very well organised, there were several surveillance points where you can go and ask for indications. It was funny that when we mistakenly entered one of those tiny houses, the guy inside told us to leave because the park was closed. Well, we were already there, so why not do the entire route? Who cares about the pouring rain and that the paths have been destroyed? We’ll create our own path. Sometimes I wish I was less stubborn. But that time I was supported (haha) and it turned out to be a great adventure. The landscapes were stunning and we also found a monastery (while walking about 10 km in heavy rain). Obviously, we were shaking like a leaf, but a hot tea warmed us right away.
The monastery from the park
The next day we went to ‘San Felipe’ Castle, a gorgeous fortress with protruding walls. This is considered the most important military construction in Ferrol. From there you can see another castle, ‘La Palma’, which is in Mugardos. These castles were part of the defense system of Ferrol. A very interesting story relates that, at night, the castles of ‘San Felipe’ and ‘La Palma’ were linked by a chain in order to prevent the passage of enemy ships.
San Felipe Castle
‘Camino Ingles’ (The English Way) starts from Ferrol, so if you want to try one of the shortest routes of the ‘Camino de Santiago’, come to Ferrol and begin your adventure. Mine continued with Oviedo, the capital of Asturias.