A Little Personal History
Next week I embark on a new, long-awaited journey. It’s been fourteen years since my first time in Spain. Returning from my first trip to Europe, my fifteen-year-old-self was so excited to show my parents all of my pictures and tell them stories of my excursions. My parents, having never been to Europe, waited in anticipation for pictures of castles and fountains and the refined European streets. They had to sift through quite a bit of my pictures (this is in the day of physical printed photographs), before finding anything of Madrid. Instead, most of my pictures, and most animated stories, were of the antiquated cathedrals, a rugged coast, dilapidated Celtic ruins, and succulent seafood. My favorite part of the trip had been what they least expected; Galicia.
This Northwestern region of Spain holds the history of Roman roots, as well as Celtic roots. The Galicians are known for the best meat in the country, as well as some of the best seafood and wine. They are actually one of the largest exporters of Seafood in all of Europe. Here, you can find some of the most rewarding ocean views, with the freshest seafood paella, and a crisp glass of Albariño, or an Estrella Galicia if you’re more of a beer person.
Here the seafood is fresher. The history is richer. The beer is maltier. The weddings are longer. The friendships are deeper. The parties are crazier. The views are endless. The language is sonorous. The culture is resonant, and its fully impossible to explain all in one post. See other posts such as Fraga, As Pontes, A Coruña, Rias Baixas, Bodas Gallegas.
Some hidden treasures of Galicia
This is a constantly evolving list, as I discover more and more with each visit. But here are a few of my current favorites.
El Banco Más Bonito del Mundo
The Most Beautiful Bench in the World can be found in Ortiguiera. Difficult to find, but completely worth the journey through hilly countryside scattered with windmills. The best time to venture here is during that “magic hour” right before the sunsets. And of course, stay to watch the sunset. The bench itself, isn’t much of a site. It’s old, and sea-sprayed and covered in graffiti. But the view from the bench, is priceless.
Praia das Catedrais
Or, Playa de Catedrales, en español. These amazing rock formations between San Cosme de Barreiros and Ribadeo really speak for themselves. The pictures don’t do them justice though. Be sure to check the tide (low tide is ideal) and to register online for tickets if you’re going mid-Summer, before trying to visit!
Torre de Hércules, A Coruña
Actually the entire city of A Coruña, but that will have to be its own post. But this first century, Roman light house is one of gems of Coruña. Trying to wrap your head around the antiquity of this place, and trying to climb all its steps, will make your head spin. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre. Information for visiting is here, but I recommend going when the skies are clear for the optimal view, and if possible, early in the morning to avoid crowds.
Nine years after my first taste of Galicia, I found myself teaching a class full of adults from Spain. Although I had segued to study other cultures and travel to other places in the world, I always felt most devout to Spain, since it was my first international experience. Going around the table introducing themselves, I rejoiced in nostalgia as they listed the places they were from, places I had been. Madrid, León, Segovia… all around until the last guy to my left. “I’m from the Northwest part of Spain, you’ve probably never heard of it…Galicia”. Heard of it?! Not long after I fell completely in love with this gallego, and after several trips back, I have also fallen more in love with the Terra Celta and the people there. Finally, sixteen years later, I am bringing my parents to Spain, and they can finally know this place so close to my heart, and what it means to “vivamos como galegos!”