What Walking the Camino de Santiago Taught Me About Life

‘El Camino no regala nada.’

I was trailing Iván, using his walking stick as a third leg as we trudged up a muddy incline somewhere between Santa Marina and Ballotas. I had joked around that my first and second breakfasts had not prepared me for the day’s long haul up and down ravines through western Asturias. But he was right – nothing on the trail came for free (except for the blisters – those were definitely free).

When Hayley and I decided to walk the Camino de Santiago two years ago, my mental preparation had begun and, even though my body never got the prep, I looked forward to two weeks where I had nothing to do but wake up, pull on my hiking boots and walk.

The Camino was, in many ways, a fourteen-day break from myself, from the pressures of daily life, from makeup and straightening irons. I cleared my head. I focused on eating and on sleeping and little more. Books and films paint a rosy picture of how the Camino has healing powers, about how one reaches the top of Maslow’s pyramid (totally made that up, but it’s not that far off), about how people’s lives change simple by trekking. Maybe they do, but mine certainly hasn’t changed in any profound way.

Don’t get me wrong – the Camino is still in the front of my recollection and I loved the experience I had (even the blisters – chicks dig scars, right?). Walking 326 kilometers along the coastline of Northern Spain may not have given my life a huge kick in the pants, but I wasn’t looking for it to, either. I didn’t go with a big question to wait and see if the road or God or another pilgrim answered it for me, nor did I set off hoping to find myself.

What I did take from the experience, though, was a better understanding about myself and my capabilities, a new dedication to seeking more from within myself, and the discovery that I have been me for far longer than I knew.

The Camino, as it turns out, it a great teacher.

What the Camino taught me about inspiration

“I don’t know,” said Antonio as he slid his insoles back into his boots. “For some reason, 3.000km just seemed like a good goal.” As we sat in the twilight of the municipal albergue in Vilalba, my jaw dropped. Hayley and I had done 200km or so, nothing compared to the number of footsteps Antonio had taken from Lourdes, France on his second Camino.

I was constantly inspired by the people with whom I shared the trail. Each person has their own story, their own reasons for walking to Santiago. The cook at the parador in Vilalba had walked to Santiago in 19 hours and was planning on walking the medieval city walls in Lugo 79 times for the victim of the Santiago train crash. Or the mother and her teenage daughter from Germany who were trying to learn how to get along. Or Pilgrim Peter, who was looking to find himself again after several jobs and not a clue what to do when he got back home (he never made it to Santiago due to a blood clot in his leg, and my heart broke for him).

I was inspired to come by a Spanish teacher, and just needed the impulse to actually go and do it. I needed to feel inspired. Once we set out, I was fascinated by the untouched landscapes, by the people we met, by the simplicity of pilgrim life. So inspired, in fact, that I can’t wait to do a second Camino.

What the Camino taught me about positivity

“I could complain, but it’s really no use.”

My friend Hayley says she’s a born complainer, but we realized its futility once we were walking on the second day near Soto de Luiña. This would be the day I’d get two blisters on my left foot and we’d arrive to Santa Marina with cramped muscles, but it was only the beginning.

Injuries, getting lost and arriving to find that there was no more room at the inn temporarily dampened our spirits. The thing is, there were always other pilgrims who had more ailments, or personal demons, or didn’t get along with their companions. Guido got shin splints from pulling a cart along the looooong stretch of the N-634, the Coastal highway that hugs the Bay of Biscay and the Cantabrian Sea. Iván’s back was so sore, he couldn’t carry his bag, let alone walk the 26 kilometers from Ribadeo to Lourenzá uphill. Hayley had sun rash on her right arm.

Everyone suffers on the Camino.

But everyone also pushes on within their abilities. My biggest ailments were my bad knees and shins after years of gymnastics wreaked havoc on an otherwise healthy body. I could have complained that there were snorers in the albergues, that some pilgrim meals were not worth the 10€ they charged, or that townspeople seemed to think everything was only a little further one (three kilometers after 25 of them is NOT ‘only a little further along’). But it didn’t make sense to sweat the trivial parts of the experience.

What the Camino taught me about vanity

I didn’t even bring a pair of tweezers with me on the Camino (thank goodness there was a pair of them in my Swiss army knife – saved!). Makeup, moisturizer and other beauty products, minus my sunscreen and a comb, never made the cut when packing my backpack. Every day we’d wake up, slather on some sun protection, put our hair in pony tails and arrive a few hours later, sweaty and dirty, to the next pilgrim inn.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I forgot all about how I looked, if I had any zits or I had forgotten to suck my gut in. I wouldn’t consider myself high maintenance by any stretch of imagination, but I’ve noticed that I’ve become even less so in the six weeks since the Camino. I did treat myself to a pedicure because my feet actually hurt with the blisters, and I think the girl who had to buff off the old, dead cells was disgusted by the state of my tootsies.

I came to love my fresh faced look, and found my skin even seemed to improve. I felt more, well, me.

What the Camino taught me about my body

Speaking of vanity, I think I came to know more about my body while walking. When you’re in the middle of a forest or skirting around some hidden beach, there’s nothing between the ground and the sky but you and your body. By not worrying about makeup or clothes, I could concentrate on getting to know my body and its grievances. I listened when it needed water or a snack, and I allowed it to have a nap for as long as it needed. As a matter of fact, my body felt more rested at the end of the Camino!

Every morning, my body took priority over anything else – I would wrap my blisters, spread vaseline on my feet, gingerly put on my socks and hiking boots. I’d then spend 10 minutes stretching every single muscle, just as I did when I was a gymnast. I could soon feel every rock under my feet, I knew just where my back would be sore according to how I’d re-packed my bag that morning. While on the trail, I could calculate just how much fuel it would need during the day, and I rewarded its hard work with half a litre of vino nearly every afternoon at lunch (que Dios bendiga pilgrim meals!!).

When I didn’t cooperate, my body made sure I knew it – I had knee problems thanks to an old injury and tendonitis that had me ready to flag down us a bus when we were in Mondoñedo. Knowing that the rest of the day would be an uphill climb to Gondán, I freaked myself out, thinking it would be impossible to push on. But Hayley and I had promised that we’d be purist pilgrims and walk every last kilometer into Santiago. That night, we had to decide between sleeping on the floor of the sports center, or shelling out 19€ per person for a hotel room. Duh.

I also realized just how strong I got during the two week trip. After four days, we could log five kilometers in an hour and we could walk longer and farther after a week. My calves and glutes were working on overdrive. When we got to Santiago, I had half a heart to cancel my plane ticket and arrive to Fisterra. Even after returning to Seville, I began walking more often to the center (about four kilometers) or even Triana.

What the Camino taught me about grieving

I wasn’t only carrying a 15 pound bag on my back during the Camino – I was carrying my friend Kelsey in my heart. Kelsey fought cancer for seven years before she passed away in late 2011 at 21. The Oficina de Acogida de Peregrinos allows pilgrims to walking in memory of someone who has died or is physically unable to make the trip, something called ‘Vicario Por.’

Whenever by body hurt, I thought of Kelsey. As I curled up in bed one drizzly night in Miraz, I buried my head under the thick wool blanket and cried soft tears until I fell asleep. And when we arrived to Monte do Gozo, the final climb before entering the Santiago city limits, I cried for her and for her memory, big sloppy (and most likely, very, very ugly) tears while Hayley told me to cool it before she lost it, too.

I expected to grieve for Kelsey on the trip, and it felt right to remember her in this way. In some strange way, everyone on the Camino is grieving or remembering or getting over something or someone, evident by the piles of rocks left atop way markers and the need to go to Fisterra and burn one’s clothing. I left small orange and purple ribbons – the color of sarcoma and leukemia awareness, and also her favorite colors – in important places during the last few days, as well as a photo of Kelsey and a small scallop shell in St. James’s tomb when we went to pay our respects.

I left behind a part of me that will always remember, but I did the grieving I needed to in order to move on. Kelsey said she always wanted to go to Spain. She didn’t get there physically, but she’s been all over the North by now.

What the Camino taught me about myself

I didn’t expect a grand epiphany when we ascended Monto do Gozo and finally saw the end in site – in fact, I was quite sad to know that the journey was all but over, and a day later I’d be sleeping in my own bed in Seville. There was no moment of clarity or understanding or forgiveness or whatever it is that pilgrims are supposed to feel when they complete the Camino.

In fact, I was the victim of a surprise attack from a pilgrim we’d run into two or three times who hugged me before I could hug the one who’d stuck with me through the whole thing. Maldito Tomás.

I knew I would enjoy the Camino, despite the warning of ampollas, of cancerous peregrinos, of the threat of getting bedbugs for the third time. I just had no idea how much I would love the experience of sharing the road with strangers and of hearing the ground move under my feet. In fact, my feet became the center of my universe for 14 days.

I learned a lot from doing the Camino de Santiago, but mostly about me and my capabilities. I’m strong physically and mentally. I’m headstrong and can push myself.

As my friend Alvaro from Bilbao put it, “Every step you took towards Santiago was a step towards your own destiny, to a story that you have for yourself that no one else will ever have. It’s all yours.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Camino de Santiago, check out my articles on what to pack, how to read the waymarkers across Asturias and Galicia and about the beaches and quaint towns we saw along the way. 

Spain Snapshots: Playa de las Catedrales, Galicia

After my disappointing jaunt to the ‘Most Beautiful Village in Spain,’ I had even higher expectations for the ‘Most Beautiful Beach in Spain,’ Playa As Catedrais. Arriving to Ribadeo, the first town in Galicia along the Camino de Santiago del Norte, we were exhausted and our muscles needed relaxing – we raced to the pilgrim’s inn on the quay for a bed in the small, cramped place.

Crossing Puente dos Santos, a 600m-long bridge over the Eo River (lo juro), we got a first glimpse of Galicia from the road. The town spilled down a gentle slope towards the Ría and out to the sea, and the pilgrim’s inn was located right on its banks, next to a private beach.

After a splurge on lunch at La Botellería, Iván woke me up from a deep sleep, and we caught a cab with Sandrine and Mikel towards the beach. Iván had called the local government to see when the tide would roll out, allowing us to walk along a pristine beach that spends half the day covered in water.

Walking down a set of aluminum stairs, the flat, horizontal beach stretches out before you. The waters were calm, so we waded out into the surf to rest our aching feet for a while. Being on the Cantabric Sea, the water was freeeeeeezing, but it’s honestly the best thing for your feet after 130km.

Las Catedrales, or As Catedrais in local tongue, is actually called Praia de Aguas Santas, but the soaring rock formations and arches appear to be flying buttresses. When the low tide is in, shallow pools form under the rocks and you can see mussels and goose barnacles growing along the crags. The whimsical rocks have been carved by years of erosion from the wind and salt water, and half of the beach gets covered up in high tide as proof!

If you go: The beach is a 13€ cab ride from Ribadeo’s town center and the albergue. Be sure to check when low tide occurs, as this is when you can see the rock formations from below. There are lifeguards, a full-service restaurant and a souvenir shops located at As Catedrais.

What’s your favorite beach in Spain? Beach season may be over, but visiting in winter means fewer crowds and cheaper food!

Roots&Boots: Santiago de Compostela’s Pilgrim Hostel

The elation of arriving to Santiago de Compostela after 200 miles and 14 nights alternating between pilgrims inns and pensiones was only met with the elation that we’d have a place to rest our heads. We took rounds of photos in the Plaza del Obradoiro, packs over our heads, sunbursts creeping in our shots.

Located just 350 meters (and downhill!) from the magnificent square, Roots&Boots hostel was to become the roof over our heads that night. A cross between a pilgrim’s inn and a hostel, the owners converted a gorgeous four-story casa señorial, or a state house, into a hostel complete with intricate woodwork, creaky floors and a huge outdoor terrace with bean bag chairs.

Admittedly, Hayley and I spent very little time in Roots&Boots because we had a beautiful, compact city to enjoy and a dozen other pilgrims to meet for a goodbye beer.

What I liked

The common areas and bar – For me, a hostel must have comfortable common areas with wi-fi. Since Roots&Boots is in a huge house, the yard is equally as large, with couches, tables and plenty of grass to read or check your email. They’ve also got a bar that serves breakfast for 2€, beers for 1,50€ and enormous bocadillos for 2,50€. The staff even let us use the space after we’d checked out, and we had lockers to store our bags until our late flight out. Roots&Boots also has a huge kitchen with a parrilla in the garden with enough room for many guests to eat comfortably.

The location – Roots&Boots is located adjacent to the beautiful Alameda park and has priviledged views of the cathedral through the alleyways. If you want to be close to the pulse of the city and all of its sites without dealing with the tourists, the hostel can’t be beat, and the prices are on-par with any hostel in the area.

The staff – The three people we came across at the front desk were beyond friendly – they gave us our room early, let us shower the following day after we’d checked out and even gave us leftover shampoo to use.

What didn’t work for me

The hygiene sheets: Alright, I get that the hygiene sheets are the best for combating against bed bugs and smelly pilgrims, but come on! For 15€ or 17€, I think I deserve a clean set of cloth sheets and to have someone put them on the bed for me. What’s more, there were rooms upstairs with real sheets, so what gives?

The lack of bathrooms: When we got to the hostel around 11:30a.m., our room was ready, but I had one order of business: use the facilities. Unfortunately, there was a severe lack of aseos in this hostel. We had to wait to shower, wait to pee, wait to brush our teeth, wait to change. In a hostel that has four floors and four dozen beds, four bathrooms doesn’t cut it.

The specifics

Like any hostel, Roots&Boots offers free wi-fi, lockers, city maps and a fun mix of travelers. There’s also a few computers to use with printers on the second floor. Rates vary by season and type of room, which are bunks of 4, 6, 8 or 10 beds. Expect to pay up to 17,90€ per person per night in the high season for a bed in a shared room.

I used the site Your Spain Hostel to look for and book a room, an excellent resource that focuses on all types of lodging in Spain, from hostels to paradores. Its easy-to-use interface makes searching for a room or bed beyond simple, and the site offers discounts on for groups, as well as vouchers for saving on tours, breakfasts and rentals.

You can find Roots&Boots at Rúa Campo do Cruceiro do Gaio 7, near the Alameda park. Call them at  699 63 15 94 or shoot an email to  info@rootsandboots.es.

My stay was provided by Your Spain Hostel after my long walk on the Camino. But don’t worry – my post is as real as the sore muscles after 200 miles.

Meredith’s Camino: Clarity and Accpetance on the Way

I’m touched that several of you have reached out about my journey on the Camino de Santiago to honor my late friend Kelsey and raise money for the University of Iowa Dance Marathon. By far one of the biggest draws of walking the Way is the time it gives you to think and to work out issues, and Meredith Spivey’s month on the Camino Francés two years ago was all about accepting and moving forward. Want to share your story? Email me!

Two years ago today I wrote this in my diary:

This morning I woke up at 5:30 and stretched a while. My right knee is killing me and my calves are obviously not strong like they used to be. I got operated on this morning by a friend to treat my ampolla – apparently the key to prevent them is just cover your feet in vaseline.

I am now sitting on a curb in Pamplona trying to see if a pharmacy will open, but moreso thinking I just can’t go on today. Maybe if I had different shoes or different feet…

This was a rocky point in my life. I had graduated from college during the highest point of US unemployment, had a terrible break-up, saw most of my steady college life crumble in front of my eyes… In short, the only thing that could turn me around was moving somewhere and getting a job. Starting up as we good Americans are taught. So luckily the program that originally told me “don’t hold your breath!” wrote back and said to move to sunny Murcia, part of Spain’s sunny Mediterranean coast.

I moved there and fell in love with Spain again. I had studied previously in the students’ haven of Sevilla and got back into the slow pace of life. I could go for coffee, spending every day with my friends having thoughtful conversations or gossiping because we were relaxed (and everything else is closed till 5 in Murcia anyway).

But then I had decided to get a change of pace and I moved to the big city. Madrid! I had been before with my mom on vacation and at that point had decided that it was just “OK.” But I packed my bags and moved to Spain’s buzzing and sprawling capital.

And it was terrible!

My job and workmates were wonderful, but different. Otherwise, the city was immense, packed with tourists, three times more pricey than my previous southern Spanish locales had been, and lonely. I spent the first year in Madrid literally running to catch the metro, bussing between work and nannying and tutoring, trying to find a decent supermarket, escaping each weekend to the mountains or back to Murcia to get out of the busy hum I had become such a foreigner to by living in my college town and then in Murcia. One of my friends who had continued on at the coast commented that my Spanish was worsening since I was surrounding myself with American friends and I thought it couldn’t get much worse.

When the end of the year came I decided to finally do the Camino de Santiago. I had spent years at university trying to plan out a perfect time to go, with different friends or via different routes, but it was now. I had to go. I had to go alone.

I started out fine. Shucks, I started out amazingly fine – my Spanish pilgrim friends said later, estabas corriendo, and it was true. I had been running, trying to do everything new and differently at once. And I ran up the Pyrenees the first day from France down into Spain on a steep decline. And bummed my knee and hurt my pride in the process.

When I wrote about needing new feet while sitting on the curb in Pamplona, I wasn’t kidding. I was in so much pain. I called my mom crying that old German couples were buzzing by me – how was I in such terrible shape?! I felt like I couldn’t continue – the Camino or maybe another restless year in Madrid. But later that day, a friend I had met along the Way two days prior was having a slow day, too. She convinced and inspired me to walk up and down a big mountain that day in sweltering heat, but we made it to our destination. And I finally decided to listen to myself.

I sat it out. I could not walk for a few days. All my years of dance training told me that I needed to listen to my own body and when I finally did, I could walk within the next 5 days. Eventually, with a new pair of shoes, I walked every step with my pack and without excuses from León the 400km to the end of the world: Finisterre.

I listened to a lot of people share their wisdom and advice along the Camino, including one Spanish pilgrim who promised me that Madrid wasn’t so bad and that I could have a really wonderful time there. I conceptualized what I needed from living in Madrid and how I should change my life and add my own little yellow arrows along the way. I knew the best advice would come from my own mind if I just stopped long enough to think it through. Luckily the Camino leaves a lot of time for thought!

On my birthday I arrived to Santiago and later that month I figured everything out. I registered for Spanish class at one of the Official Language Schools, found an amazing apartment with a great flatmate, made new friends and continued to visit my pilgrim friends I had made, I worked more normal hours and picked up new classes that really made me enjoy planning the lessons, I didn’t try to escape every weekend and instead, kept up with my friends and chose to visit them instead of fled to them. In fact, I didn’t even leave Spain that entire year other than a trip home for Christmas with my family. I finally got it. And I was so, so happy.

I still keep up with my pilgrim friends and the one who got me on my feet that toughest day is going to have a baby come December. And my Spanish friend that promised me Madrid would improve was there in the pouring rain to take me to dinner when I arrived back to Madrid this April. The Beatles were always right when they said that we get by with a little help from our friends. And I am so glad for that, and being able to change a few things (sometimes as simple as your shoes!) to get back on the right foot and find your way; your own camino.

Meredith Spivey has spent nearly fourteen seasons in Spain and will be returning soon to her beloved Madrid to begin another year of teaching English. She is a self-proclaimed “happy wanderer” and this past year spent some months in Italy eating pasta, sailing, and talking like the Pope (they both speak Italian with a Spanish accent!). Meredith prides herself on her prize-winning apple pie recipe!

Seville Snapshots: Waymarkers on the Camino de Santiago

My flashlight bounces off the ground, searching fanatically for a spray painted yellow arrow on anything – a rock, a tree trunk, an abadoned church. It isn’t even 6am yet, and the rain drives down steadily as we pad silently down the N-634 towards Miraz, where we’d spend the night.

Hayley spots the road marker up ahead, just off the highway. The stone obelisk is worn, and the plaque the kilometers to Santiago, long stolen. The mythic 100-kilometers-to-Santiago mark (the minimum distance to get the Compostela) is barely visible between the rain drops and the darkness, but it takes us off the highway and into a dense ecualyptus forrest.

These road markers – but way of yellow arrow, blue and yellow tiles adorned with a scallop shell or even sticks stuck together whenever the former lacked – lead us all the way from Avilés to Santiago de Compostela, 326 kilometers along the Northern coast of Spain. Sometimes we’d had to use our gut, keeping the ocean always on our right, and the relief of coming upon the next one flooded our consciousness more than once a day. The ancient pilgrims used stars, but we got to use the fabled way markers to make our way to the Obradoiro.

Between Asturias and Galicia, the two autonomous communities we passed through, the road markers changed. In Asturias, where we found the markers to be further and further apart, the ridges of the seashells converged at a point, and this was the way to turn. In Galicia, the opposite was true, and the kilometers were marked near the bottom of the base. This was both motivating and discouraging.

Within cities, the waymarkers sometimes became gold-plated shells on buildings and the sidewalk, or even stickers, such as in the town of Figueras. Still, we only got lost twice, arriving to Santiago on August 11th with enough time to pose in front of the monstrous cathedral, bask in the late morning sunlight and get to pilgrims mass to really rid ourselves of sin (it lasted about five minutes, after which we needed a glass of wine).

Does the Camino de Santiago pass thru your city or town? What are the waymarkers like? To see more pictures, direct yourself to my flickr page.

Eating Coruña: The City’s Best Restaurants

Galician food makes my heart flutter – the piping hot pimientos del padrón, raxo smothered in roquefort sauce, fresh-caught shellfish displayed  in every window of every bar on every street.

There are two reasons I spend my summers in Coruña, crossing my fingers that there will be little rain: one is because it’s way cooler, and the other because the food is incredible.

Even though I spend the majority of time eating in the camp cafeteria, the other teachers and I get the chance to actually go out and get some good food in our bellies. Before I tell you where, you need a primer in typical coruñés fare:

polbo a la feira – boiled octopus served over boiled potatoes with olive oil and paprika

navajas – razor clams that are pan seared and often served with lemon

pimientos del padrón – flash-fried green peppers. As the saying goes, some are spicy, others are not

empanada gallega – a pasty, most often stuffed with tuna or ground beef with peppers and onions

percebes – goose barnacles. I didn’t like them on my first run and now love them!

raxo – marinated pork loin, typically served with potatoes

zorza – spicy ground pork, treated with paprika and marinated in other spices

queso tetilla con membrillo – creamy ‘tit cheese’ served with a quince paste for dessert.

La Bombilla

Javi picked us up from the airport high above Coruña’s city center and promised us a surprise. We elbowed our way up to the counter, toasted to new friendships and chose tapas of off the short menu – tortilla, milanesa and croquetas the size of a baseball. La Bombilla, with its turn-of-the-century-esque bar and cheap thrills (aka tapas for just a euro apiece), is a staple in Coruña and one of my favorites. Locals sidle up to the bar at seemingly all hours of the day, so be sure to arrive early for lunch or dinner, or you’ll be forced to grab a plastic plate and find a place to sit on the ground outside. Calle de la Galera, 7

update: I read the sad news that La Bomilla will be closing on December 30th. Rumor is that it will re-open, but likely without the same encanto. Really bummed I didn’t get one last giant croqueta.

O Renchucho de Mayte

Far and away my favorite in Coruña, this little corner bar is always packed for its cheap, home-cooked food and exceptional service. You can’t miss the raxo con roque or the crispy calamares, and the bar now features takeout, too. I am a sucker for their croquetas and cheese, and the tapas are generous and inexpensive. The bar is closed Sundays. Portico Andrés, s/n

The cafeteria at the Yacht Club with no name

Oftentimes, a menú del día, the Spanish equivalent of a three-course meal, is too much for me to eat. But everytime I’m in Coruña, I’ll skip breakfast in favor of the views of the port and across the bay to Santa Cristina beach from the yacht club. While the food is often billed as generic (think caldo gallego or a mixed salad for firsts), it’s served fresh and in heaping portions. What really makes the meal is the atmosphere, with the sea breeze ruffling your napkin and the sun peeking around the enormous glass building. Located in the Club Náutico on Avda. del Puerto.

Parillada Alcume

After all those rounds of pulpo and empanada, I need meat. When it comes down to it, I am a corn- and beef-fed Midwesterner, so I can’t pass up on a parrillada, or a restaurant where meats are grilled over open coals. I’d passed Alcume loads of times, as it’s just off the shopping district, but it wasn’t until a camp vegetarian suggested its mixed plate of meaty good that we decided to try it.

You know it’s good when even the veggie-lover wants to go. We often have to wait to sit down, particularly at the wooden tables outside, but filling ourselves to the brim with sausages and flank steaks makes it worth it. And it’s a lot easier to identify the parts than it is in the camp cafeteria. Calle Galera, 44-46

Pan de Lino

I heard a rumor that there were bagels in Coruña. I gasped, horrified that there would be a place that sells my favorite breakfast food in a small port city before my beloved Seville.

As it turns out, this was merely a rumor (though I did have a bagel sandwich in Cafetería Vecchio, near the Casino), but Pan de Lino’s inviting bakery counter, beautifully mismatched furniture and organic menu is a nice change from the old man bars I usually frequent. The service is terrible, but as long as you’re accompanied with friends and something delicious, you can let it go. Calle Rosalia de Castro, 7

O Mesón Galego

The cream of Galicia’s crop is, without a doubt, its shellfish. As has become tradition, we take our camp cash to the nearest marisquería for a mariscada, or a seafood smorgasboard. I’m sure there are places that are much better (and thus more expensive!), but we group into three and split a 46€ heap of shellfish with a bottle of crisp albariño wine. The kitchen is open, and you can watch the robust cook hack away at crab legs like it ain’t no thang. I’ve also had their pimientos and empanada and approve. Calle de la Franja, 56.

Asiayu Japanese Restaurant

I thankfully have a few friends in Coruña who are always quick to point out new finds and tear me away from Mayte and Bombilla. When Julie and Forrest discovered an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet next to the beach, half of the teaching staff went down to pig out on something other than carbs. The dinner menuú runs 13,95 plus a drink, and you can choose two hot plates in addition to everything that comes around the belt. The sushi was hand rolled right in front of us, but I was too busy pouting about sitting at the end of the loop and not being able to grab the fried sushi or the dumplings before the greedy hands of the other Ts got them (though this did distract them from my terrible chopstick skills). Calle Buenos Aires, 7 Bajo

There are loads of other places I’ve tried – a hidden Mexican joint with great margaritas, an Indian place with an affordable menú, nondescript holes-in-the-wall whose names I’ve long forgotten. Then there are the places I’d love to try, like Spoom’s creative cuisine. But, somehow, the appeal of one euro tapas, a sushi conveyer belt and the tried and true always win out. But really, I’ll go anywhere I see an upturned octopus in the window.

Have you ever been to La Coruña and have any places to recommend? 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...