Christmas in Santiago de Compostela ~

A Return to Santiago de Compostela

After 35 days and 350 miles we walked in to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, on May 17, 2015.  We were beyond tired and physically beat.  The next day we witnessed the pilgrims mass at the Cathedral and garnered our certificates of completion from the pilgrims office.  The day after that… we boarded a train for Porto.  Our 48 hours in Santiago were not much more than a blur of exhaustion.

Two and a half years later, on December 4, 2017, we arrived back in Santiago, only this time we arrived by train.  As we stood in the square outside of the Cathedral, I was overwhelmed with a flood of Camino memories and emotional tears quickly fell.  It was surreal to be back.

Christmas in Santiago de Compostela

Christmas in Spain can be a lovely experience and since we were somewhat nearby we boarded a train in Porto, Portugal with our sights set on a return to Santiago de Compostela.  Our goal was to retrace a few of our final Camino steps, relieve a few Camino memories and enjoy the city decked out in Christmas splendor.  The trip did not disappoint.

Although it is somewhat small with just 30 or so kiosks, the city does host a Christmas market – Mercado de Nadal.  With twinkle lights flickering against the cold night sky and the wonderful smell of freshly fried churros in the air, the charming little market is a must see.

And, the market’s location is just across the road from the Alameda Park which was equally decked out with twinkling Christmas lights and a couple of welcoming local women were on hand to wish passers-by a Bo Nadal.

Santiago de Compostela

Bo Nadal

Sangria and Tapas

Christmas is also a great time of year to try a few new culinary taste treats and what better place to do so than in Santiago de Compostela?  There is absolutely nothing better than the combination of Sangria and Padron peppers and we think Spain offers up the best.  And, if you’re looking for a little more sustenance, look no further than the windows of bistros where you can watch the chefs grill your steak over an open fire.  Seriously, yum!

The dining choices in the city are plentiful and offer everything from local specialties to KFC, depending on what you’re craving.  We enjoyed the local favorites by indulging in Sangira, Padron peppers, Spanish tortillas (which we ate every day while walking the Camino) tapas, tapas, and more tapas, and grilled steak with potatoes and salad, which was beyond delicious.  So, no, you won’t go hungry!

Santiago de Compostela

The open flame grill at El Papatorio. The restaurant is a local favorite known for grilled steak. Yum!

Hidden Treasures

One of our favorite things to do – and I’ve said this many times – is to just head out the door of our accommodations and start walking.  We’ve been known to get lost but we always manage to circle back and most often we discover a hidden treasure we had no idea to even look for.  We found such a treasure at a small church, the Igrexa San Fix de Solovio.  A nativity scene like we’ve never seen before greeted us as we stepped inside.  It must have been 40 feet long by 12 feet wide, and it was not only illuminated, there were hundreds of figurines of people and animals that were animated.  Even the sheep were baa, baa, baaing.  It made me feel child-like as I stared at the scene in wide-eyed wonder.

In the end, we came full circle so-to-speak by returning to Santiago de Compostela.  This time we were wide awake and ready to explore the city that hosted our final steps of our Camino.  And, it turned out that it was a lovely time to return as the city was beautiful with so much to offer our senses.  Not only with the merriment of twinkle lights illuminating all of the historic narrow streets of the city center, but also with the quietness of the time of year.

It’s a city that’s known for its rich religious heritage and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims taking their final steps on their Camino journeys each year.  To experience the city at a time when it’s not about all of that, but rather just about being there in the cold crisp air of December, was the perfect ending to a journey we physically finished 2 1/2 years ago, but emotionally finished just a few days ago.

 

Santiago de Compostela

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11 Responses to Christmas in Santiago de Compostela ~

  • OK, yet another Romance language in Spain. Are the names of many of the places you identified in Gallego? I’m glad you had the opportunity to complete your emotional journey. The fewer loose ends (especially emotional ones), the better.

    • Honestly, I don’t know, Suzanne. In all of our travels in Spain I’ve never heard any language other than Spanish, but then again I’m not sure if the difference between Spanish and Gallego is easily noticed by the untrained ear – or read by the untrained eye.

  • I can’t wait to see this city. I will probably never walk the Camino, but it will be a pilgrimage for me anyway. I the the creche’s in Spain. So many details.

    • Another very large nativity was being set up in the Santiago Cathedral but they had a long way to go before they were finished so we didn’t get to see the end results. It looked as if it would have been quite impressive.

  • It must be very rewarding to return to the place where you completed such a tremendous accomplishment. And, to be there at Christmastime has to make it even more special. Thanks for the wonderful photo journey of this beautiful town.
    Suzanne recently posted…Christmas in Florida – Our WayMy Profile

    • It was rewarding, Suzanne, and super emotional. I was not expecting the flood gates to open but seemingly I was holding on to a few unfinished memories. I’m so glad we made the trip and closed the pages on that chapter.

  • Such a wonderful experience to return to this place of endings, and beginnings.
    Gaelyn recently posted…Outdoor art installation at free Goldwell MuseumMy Profile

  • Such a wonderful way to relive your memories of your walk (the good as well as the bad) and celebrate your accomplishment in completing such a difficult journey. Sometimes revisiting a place is much more satisfying than the initial visit and a chance to see it in an entirely different light. Love the decorations and thinking about a grilled steak got me drooling!

    • It really was quite special, Anita, to be in Santiago again and to feel such an emotional connection to the city. It was the final piece of our Camino journey.

  • You actually drank Sangria? Uayargh! That stuff is vile. You’ve got more guts than me. Good for throwing over each other at the San Fermin though.
    Ted recently posted…The Doors and PortalsMy Profile

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We are Patti and Abi. We retired early to live a simpler life, travel the world and hopefully, inspire others to redefine retirement.

 

3 years, 107 days ago!

 

 

 

 

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