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Introducing Santiago de Compostela
I recently spent a pleasurable few days in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain which has been gaining in popularity over recent years as people from across the globe and of all persuasions are beating the proverbial (and literal) path to its door by way of the Camino (meaning path).
The city is located across a range of hills and boasts many public parks for a city of its size. With a population of around 100,000, Santiago has a distinctly small-town ‘feel’ to it yet is well served to accommodate the thousands of visiting tourists. There are over 1,000 eateries, restaurants, bodegas and café’s to satisfy everyone’s gastronomic preferences.
Santiago is the capital of Galicia, a semi-autonomous region in the far northwest of the Iberian Peninsula with a people proud of their distinct culture, language and Celtic roots. The city is dominated by its cathedral which represents an amazing amalgam of different architectural styles. It is a huge structure that has been added to on a piecemeal basis across several centuries, culminating in the sprawling edifice one finds today. No visit to Santiago is complete without undertaking a walk across the cathedral’s impressive roof, providing tourists with a unique perspective across the cities’ spire-dominated skyscape.
Galicia’s Signature Dish
One of the other must-do’s when in Santiago is to experience some of its many culinary specialities — octopus in particular. Prepared in the simplest of ways by boiling in a large tin or aluminium pot, the octopus is then sliced extremely thinly along the length of the tentacles, marinated in olive oil before being sprinkled with paprika. I can honestly say that it is the most delicious octopus that I’ve ever tasted!
Santiago: The High Points
Even if you’re not the Pilgrim type, I highly recommend having a few relaxing days in this attractive, safe and friendly city. It’s steeped in history and makes a perfect base from which to explore this lesser known corner of Spain. You’re also within a short enough drive from the Portuguese border – just under two hours. For somewhere to stay in Santiago, I highly recommend the San Francisco hotel which is located just a few minutes’ walk from the central square. The hotel is a converted monastery offering excellent accommodation at reasonable prices, even in high season.
Getting to/from the Airport
Santiago airport is a gleaming modern structure approximately 20-25 minutes outside the city and connected by a regular bus service which costs approximately €3 to €4. A taxi transfer costs in the region of €20 so quite similar to Ireland.
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