Last year (October 2021) we took an epic family adventure to Europe. Have you heard of Santiago, Spain? It was one of the stops along our Oceania cruise.
Xulio (Shu-lee-o) was our tour guide. The locals speak Castilian Spanish and Galletian (mix of Spanish and Portuguese). The most common trees in this area are oak and chestnut. Driving from the port to Santiago is about 1.5 hours. We pass through what appears to be old growth forests with very tall trees. A lot of pine varieties. This makes sense with the high humidity, a lot of fog and overcast weather.
Most tourism in this area is centered around gastronomy. The Galletian lamb are world renowned for meat flavor due to the high salt content in the grasses they eat. The seafood is known for being diverse and fabulous. Most plentiful (and consumed) shellfish are the barnacles (how are these prepared?) around Santiago. Clams and lobsters are well known. Lobsters and rice is a typical dish. The dish has a lot of sauce and liquid made from cooking the lobster, almost like soup. The best known culinary dish is the octopus. You submerge in boiling water three times and then cook to your desire. They prepare with boiled potatoes and then parts of octopus on top. With bit of paprika and olive oil. Very simple. 😋😋 i found an awesome recipe here: https://www.bascofinefoods.com/spanish-recipes/pulpo-a-la-gallega/
The Galletian culture is very closely connected to the Irish Celtic culture. 🍀🌈. You can really feel the Irish roots with the street bagpipes!
Xulio, further explained that there is a traditional tale of apparitions dressed in white clothes walking through the forest and they visit the home of the next person to die. 😳 If you ask me, that sounds like the plot of a horror movie!
The tour guide told us about a hiking pilgrimage called The Comino Trail that brings almost 300k people per year to Santiago de Compostella. The sign that the pilgrims follow is the yellow shell which looks like the sunset shell from Kauai. This shell is the symbol of the pilgrimage path, similar to a blaze on the AT. The Comino was named as a cultural path in Europe. I definitely want to come back and walk the entire Comino at some point in the next few years!
Interestingly, while we were standing in the plaza several groups of pilgrims were finishing their journey!! It was so very inspiring, with bells ringing and people shouting, even in the torrential rain!
Although deeply rooted in Catholicism, the Galletian culture believes in Witches, goblins and faeries. Very much adopted from their magical Celtic beliefs.
Lunch was at the oldest hotel in the “World” (as proclaimed by our tour guide), Hostal de Reis Católicos.
Lunch was a solid five star event! I had no real expectations coming in to it. Maybe a sandwich and some soup, but this was a culinary adventure! Do Spanish people eat like this every day?!
After lunch we had time to walk around the village and do a little shopping. The streets are super quaint and the shops are plentiful.
Recap: we really like Spain…a lot. France was beautiful and “edgey”. Whereas, the people of Spain are very welcoming and warm to interact with; way more relaxed in tone and approach to tours. I highly recommend this town and definitely lunch. Next time we will stay in the hotel we had lunch at!