I have recently joined a club whose alumni span centuries. Earlier this year I completed the final 100km of the Camino Frances, earning my Compostela from Santiago de Compostela cathedral.
I could easily list through my personal highlights of the 7 Day walk, but I would ramble on for a long time (and probably will in a future blog post – watch this space).
For now, at least let me tell you about one of my many highlights from my short time in Galicia. The food. For those of you who have already earned a Compostela or 3, you’ll agree with me in saying that Galician cuisine is wonderful.
You’ve already heard that there are Pilgrim Menus aplenty along the Camino Frances – so what more is there to know? Well, particularly if you start your journey back in St Jean Pied de Port, you will experience your fair share of Pilgrim menus I’m sure! However, I thought I would share with you my top food & drink highlights specifically from Sarria to Santiago – once you have reached the final 100km, you deserve to treat yourself!
We arrived in Sarria, and the first thing on my list was to try Padron Peppers. Luckily for me, these are pretty much a staple tapas dish so I was not disappointed!
Sarria had many restaurants to choose from, you couldn’t go wrong. I sampled my first of many, many tapas dishes at Dpont café on the Calvo Sotelo Main Street. It was great to sit alongside local residents as well, which is always a good sign, isn’t it? If you fancy meeting fellow pilgrims, I’d recommend heading up into Sarria’s charming old town, where you can sit outside on the narrow pedestrianised streets and soak up the atmosphere.
One of the biggest surprises for me was the following day arriving in Portomarin. Seeing the stretch of busy little restaurants and cafes made my heart sing. After my first full day of walking, I could not wait to relax and look over the reservoir with a cold glass of Estrella Galicia. And I can confirm that it went down a treat!
Carrying on the beer theme, we also stumbled upon an amazing outdoor bar in A Calle, where there were bottles hanging from almost every branch.
Unsurprisingly my Estrella Galicia came with a huge bowl of complimentary olives – I’m stating the obvious when I say that the Galicians are not only very friendly but very generous as well. At Casa Camino in Palas de Rei, we were treated to a feast. And I can confirm that this was very well received!
I particularly enjoyed the traditional Galician dish Polbo á Feira – this is octopus boiled in a copper pot, served with olive oil, salt & paprika and it’s absolutely delicious!
In Arzua, after our longest day of walking (28km), I wasn’t sure if I fancied taking a taxi to the restaurant – I could easily have slept straight through dinner, to be honest. This restaurant, however, was not an experience to be missed.
Pazo Santa Maria is a beautiful 18th-century property situated just outside of Arzua. Hosted by the wonderful Jose and sitting comfortably across from a cosy open fireplace, this was probably my favourite meal of the Camino (although it is so difficult to choose just one!)
The Camino was tough at points, I’m not going to lie! Maybe it was my new shoes (rookie error), or maybe I simply wasn’t accustomed to the terrain. I have to say though, that the meals at the end of each day were the perfect reward.
Once we reached Santiago, as you can imagine it was overwhelming. But in a fantastic way. It was incredible to see all our fellow pilgrims meet in Plaza de Obradorio with us, and there were hugs galore of course! After soaking it all in, we decided to venture into the charming old town and refuel. What a choice there was, though. After meandering through the windy streets of Santiago for a while, we found a lovely café called Abella on Rúa do Franco, and sat down to some heart-warming Galician broth.
In the evening, we had our final meal of the Camino at O Curro de Parra in the heart of the old town. We were treated to delicious Galician seafood and sampled some of the regional wines. There was such a warming, cosy atmosphere in there I could have easily stayed there all night! It was a lovely way to wrap-up our time in Santiago, and a send-off that will be hard to forget.
Having such an enjoyable time in the evenings, exploring my new surroundings and sampling the local delicacies of Galicia, was such a bonus on top of what was already an unforgettable experience on the Camino. I can’t recommend it enough, and I can only suggest that you get out there and try it for yourself!